It was only last year when I bought my first smartphone. This comes as a shock to many who know that I’ve been working as a journalist for more than a decade. The number one reason I resisted the device for so many years, was the cost. If you follow me you know my Twitter handle is @AlwaysSaveMoney. That is how I live my life. Until last year, paying for the privilege to access my email at anytime, just didn’t seem worth it.
But I have since found a smartphone and a plan that works with my budget and I really don’t know how I lived without my Blackberry.
Since getting my precious BB my life has changed. I quickly went from never answering my cell phone to making myself available 24/7 on phone, email and BBM. Honestly it’s exhausting. But as a freelance writer I want to be accessible all the time and be able to respond to each email promptly. It’s how I make money and if I leave an email unanswered that could mean a lost opportunity.
When Blackberry was experiencing problems last week my service was interrupted for three days. I was getting scattered email service and no BBM in or out. It was the same for so many of RIM’s 70-million customers around the world. But surprisingly I didn’t feel stressed about it. I quickly went back to using my desktop computer to check emails and I actually found the whole experience quite liberating. I wasn’t on a short leash waiting for that little black box to blink red.
But the outage has made me question my decision. Like anyone else I debated whether I should get a Blackberry or an iPhone for many months. In the end I choose Blackberry because it was a better deal.
But did I make the right choice?
This is not the first time RIM has been faced with service issues. Quite frankly my social networking has never been all that good on my Blackberry. I often get tweets and FB messages hours after they were sent, making it look like I’m ignoring those who have so patiently taken the time to message me. In advance I’m sorry.
The company’s future also concerns me. If you look at the stock price of RIM right now it has been hit hard in the last three years. It’ fallen a staggering 85 per cent since 2008.
Meanwhile its biggest rival Apple continues to gain market share and even with the death of Steve Jobs the company seems poised to keep on succeeding.
As most Apple users will tell you, it is a superior product.
The problem with RIM is not the product or its operating system or the widespread outage, but rather its response. It took the company several days to react to what was happening to its service and when we heard from the co-CEOs, they didn’t give me confidence that it wouldn’t happen again. Also as an apology to its users, RIM is offering what it says is $100s in free apps. Its almost comical to think that will make the problem go away. What I want to hear from RIM is a service disruption will never happen again.
The most damage has been caused by what the outage has highlighted. The fact that all Blackberry messages are routed through its own data centres means information is more secure, but it also creates a single point of potential failure.
I have my Blackberry back with full service, but now I’m debating when the time comes if I should switch to an iPhone. At this point I haven’t had this smartphone long enough to become a crackberry addict. But I do know that the most important feature of a smartphone is being reliable and helping me keep in touch. So although I enjoyed the break from my smartphone for three days I don’t want to be in that position again. RIM can you promise that?