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Richard Laermer

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A Farewell to BlackBerry: The End of the Affair

Posted: 11/11/11 11:36 AM ET

Yesterday I killed my Torch -- the 13th model BlackBerry I'd owned, overused and obsessed over since 1996. The little device had been with me, on my person, since Research In Motion delivered me the teeny RIM pager that untethered me from my desk forever. The pioneering Canadian company was the first to explain and underscore fast two-way email communication and to a man on the run it was love at first tap. A plethora of colleagues, friends, family and bus-mates could never understand why I'd want to email instead of call someone on "my cell". US News & World Report even examined this behavior in a funny article titled "I Guess That's Why They Call them 'Users'" that mocked me:

E-mail, says Richard Laermer, is as integral to his life as his frontal lobes. It is "the next part of my being," he deadpans, underscoring the depth of his infatuation. As CEO of RLM Public Relations, he typically fires off 500 messages a day, an electronic blitzkrieg that has moved more than one recipient to beg for relief.

In the late '90s few people had their email sent to them -- and my friends called the funny little imCingular device "Richard's GameBoy."

iPhone mania never moved me. Sure, Apple products are high on my must-have list, and the iPod touch remains my music device of choice; but the phone just wasn't my thing. (I am wary of AT&Ts spotty service.) I type too fast for the i-keyboard while BlackBerry's simple tactile technology was tailored for people with a lot to say and little patience in which to do it.

Over the years I would journey far and wide. The Wall Street Journal had fun with my escapades -- and early on I got a breathless call from RIM's New York PR firm (Brodeur) asking me to comment to the press about how and where and when and why I tapped away to communicate or muse. My book 2011: Trendspotting was written on a BlackBerry model -- and it says so in the dedication.

The affair soured the year when the company shipped my PlayBook, the ass-saving tablet that I felt would fit me to a P. Think about it: I'd tried 13 other models the firm experimented with, so why fail me now?

But the promise of the PlayBook was a fabrication. This new "iPad killer" is instead my first-ever $600 paperweight and iwoke me up, for the first time, to why I'd want to be tethered to a firm that had deceived its customer base with useless, maddening, nonsensical rushed-out crap. And it's the real reason RIM's stock price has tumbled. (Outages are bad for business; technological stupidity will destroy a firm's rep with fanatics.)

Let's go to the tape: Most BlackBerryites were over-the-moon excited by the "BlackBerry Bridging App™" RIM promised in ads and articles that would connect our little guys with these fancy new tablets using a downloadable application that connected tablet to existing handheld. Brilliant! Whatever was on my handheld was immediately bridged to my PlayBook -- including 3G coverage on a Verizon unlimited plan.

Except neither Verizon nor AT&T will allow customers to download the app -- so here, friends, is the actual bridge to nowhere. Bad marketing? Check. Deceitful business? Check. Killing its customer base? Priceless. It took a lot to call up and shut down... but at this point it's better for both of us if I type the Small Claims Court document on a MacBook Air while I seek to retrieve six bills from out-of-control Canucks who spurned my sweet love with a smack upside the head.

The double whammy here was RIM knew the hyped "bridging" was merely imaginary -- and would rather delay upgrades and new user experiences for the PlayShnook as its new priority has become ass-kissing its enterprise customers for months of bad service that have excoriated RIM in the media.

The BlackBerrry Band-Aid has been ripped off. Heck, email can be gotten pretty much anywhere anyway. I guess I'll always have techno-stalgia for the crazy little "plumber pager" that fit in any pocket and ran on double-A's. BlackBerry Inc. has sadly morphed into one more in a long list of corporate doofuses whose right hand and left hand refuse to communicate. And when all you do is develop and market communication devices this results in mass endings of long-term affairs.

And with that, my love, I power down and type no more.

Laermer is one of the world's fastest thumb-typists; at least he thinks so.

 
 
 

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