Over at Politico, there is a two-page article on BlackBerrys. Okay?
I mean, those articles that placed the BlackBerry as a fixture of the Capitol Hill scene just seem like the sort of thing we were reading 10 years ago. It was a time we remember through those misty watercolors. Mark Halperin was still writing The Note. Lauriol Plaza was the inexplicable dining destination of the up-and-comers in D.C.'s power set. People raised the debt ceiling without succumbing to brutal lunacy. And everywhere you looked, bros were slinging BlackBerrys to denote their status as important people that needed to always be reachable.
What a time it was! In recent months, Research In Motion -- the company that manufactures BlackBerrys -- has struggled mightily to get into the tablet computing market, and it has ceded enough market share to the iPhone and Android to make stories like this one, "Research In Motion woes worry BlackBerry users," the sort of thing that you can write any day of the year, if you absolutely must.
Makes sense for Politico to write a story premised on the notion that BlackBerrys are actually engaged in some epic "battle for Washington," then, right? At any rate, here are all the things I've learned about BlackBerrys today, from this article:
President Barack Obama ushered in a new era when he insisted on taking his BlackBerry to the White House.
Yeah, when you think "Barack Obama" and "new era," you think BlackBerry. All those people who wrote articles about the nation's "first black president" really buried the lede on that one.
The BlackBerry has long been the smartphone of choice in D.C. Data from the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer last November show House staffers use an estimated 10,600 smartphones provided by the government, of which about 1,500 were iPhones and 100 were Androids. The remaining 9,000 were BlackBerrys.
This tends to indicate that BlackBerrys aren't so much the "smartphone of choice" as they are the smartphone that penny-pinching federal agencies stick you with when they absolutely have to give you a mobile phone.
But federal employees are increasingly passing over BlackBerrys for iPhones and Android devices.
QUICK! Slash federal employee compensation!
Obama, too, has relied on more than just his BlackBerry — the president has been spotted using an iPhone and an iPad.
Another messaging failure from Barack Obama.
"The BlackBerry anecdotes are a huge part of Obama’s brand reputation," Fran Kelly, now vice chairman of advertising agency Arnold Worldwide, told the [New York] Times in 2009.
Without Googling, can you name a single Barack Obama "BlackBerry anecdote?" No points for "Barack Obama has a special BlackBerry, I hear." Bonus points if you can think of one that came after 2009.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s BlackBerry habit has helped humanize her, too. Texts From Hillary, the now-dormant Tumblr page created by Stacy Lambe, recently hired as an editor at BuzzFeed, and Adam Smith, communications director at nonprofit Public Campaign, paired a photo of Clinton looking at her BlackBerry with photos of celebrities or other pols preoccupied by their own mobile devices along with funny captions imagining what the two parties were texting to each other.
I think it's a stretch to say that it was the BlackBerry that "helped humanize" Hillary Clinton. Seems to me that it was the photograph of a devil-may-care Clinton, set in the quirky context that the Lambe/Smith tumblr page established, that worked all of that viral alchemical magic. Had she been holding a Samsung Galaxy, the effect would have been the same. (Except that this Politico article would not be padded out with this information.)
Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), a lecturer at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs...told POLITICO on Monday: “My problem was not with constituents having greater access [to officials] — which would be a good thing — but with members being bombarded with emails and text messages from the most partisan and those with the narrowest agendas."
Congresscritters being bombarded with text messages that express partisanship and narrow agendas is a lot like snow falling on a snowman, no?
Jo Schuda, a spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs, told POLITICO that the smartphone’s mobility has “created an expectation among midlevel employees and management that being always willing to respond to issues, questions and requests outside of business hours is normal and, in some cases, required.”
QUICK! Slash federal employee compensation!
Research In Motion, meanwhile, is banking on what senior vice president Scott Totzke has called its “core strength”: Washington.
Ladies and gentlemen, we present Research In Motion, the last people on Earth who see "banking on Washington" as some sort of viable plan.
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