On June 30, 2023

Sitting on top of the world

 

I was digging through some attic containers a few months ago when I came across a small black box with a familiar imprint on the outside. I knew I recognized the design, but my memory couldn’t place it. I opened up the box and pulled out some packaging before my eyes latched onto the product inside.

Inside the box was a brand new Blackberry Bold cellphone, circa 2008-2009. The device still had the cellophane over the screen and all the accompanying paperwork. 

I brought the box down to my wife and inquired where it came from. Her sparse memory suggested that she had ordered the phone for work and then switched positions soon after. When she began her new position, they assigned her an Apple iPhone. 

I vaguely remember this time-period because she put up quite a stink about having to use an Apple device, after years of bashing my love of the company and its products. 

Early on in our relationship, my wife was pure anti-Apple while I was a die-hard fan-boy. It made sense; she came of age in the utility industry, which was PC-based, while I came up on the creative side of publishing and, therefore, was fully ensconced in the Mac domain. 

When cellphones were just taking hold in business environments, my wife’s company provided her with a Blackberry, which she became very attached to (in fact, proponents like her lovingly referred to it as “Crackberry” due to it’s addictive nature). I remember being jealous that she had such a technologically advanced product while I was stuck using a base Verizon flip-phone, which had no camera and no email.

She was especially attached to her Blackberry’s keypad and thought the idea of phone with a touchscreen was ridiculous. She said she needed the tactile sensation of the keyboard in order to feel like she was typing. There was no way she could adjust to a  display with a “fake” keyboard. 

Lots of people thought the same thing.

They were all wrong. 

I was one of those people that bought into whatever Steve Jobs told me. When he said a keypad was a waste of space and that touchscreens were the future, I believed him. 

I waited patiently to buy my first iPhone, even though I thought it was way over-priced. The fact was, I had to have one given my history with the company. Every product I had ever used from Apple was better than the last (granted, I never owned a Newton). 

When I finally got my first iPhone, I wasn’t disappointed. Right out of the box (which was incredible in its own right), the Apple iPhone was not only a beautiful example of product design, but also the most functional computer device I had ever used. I knew immediately that the world was about to change.

And it did.

My wife slowly bought into her iPhone and eventually got to the point where she admittedly loved it. I still have to function as her personal Apple IT department when it comes to tweaking her iPhone’s settings, but it’s a small price to pay so I don’t have to listen to her complaints. 

I told my wife that I was going put the Blackberry I found onto eBay, convinced that it was a valuable item with historical significance. She rebuffed the idea, saying that it had sentimental value for her and that when she retired, she might consider using it again. I told her that was probably technologically impossible. 

Out of curiosity, I went online and looked up what an original,  brand new Blackberry Bold was worth. I was disappointed to discover that it was probably worth less than the cost to ship it, so I walked it back up to the attic and tucked it away. 

Coincidentally, this week’s feature, “Blackberry,” tells the story of the humbled Canadian company that thrust cellphones out of the shadows and into the forefront of the business world in the early 2000s. 

Most people recognize that Blackberry had a dramatic rise to fame and equally dramatic fall from grace as their once-ubiquitous cellphones fell prey to the massive disruption caused by the release of Apple’s iPhone. But most people don’t know what went on behind the scenes.

“Blackberry” attempts to draw the curtain back to expose the inner workings of the tech company that was, at one point, one of the most valuable companies in the world. The main players are all referenced and the basic story is told, but my research after watching the film showed there was a lot more at play. 

Nevertheless, “Blackberry” is an interesting watch as it shed light on a cautionary tale about what not do to when you’re sitting top of the world. 

Check this one out if you ever owned (or wanted to own) a Blackberry phone – the nostalgia alone makes it worth watching.

A wistful “B” for “Blackberry,” now available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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