When BlackBerrys ruled the world!



BlackBerry on May 13 unveiled the Q5, a lower-cost, brightly colored smartphone aimed at emerging markets. (CNN Photo/Courtesy BlackBerry)

by Jonathan Anker

(HLN) — Hey bud, what’s up? Got a second for your old man? I wanted to tell you about something.

Just, please, put your iPhone down for a second so we can talk, OK?

Great, thanks.

So did you see this thing in the newspaper about BlackBerry being bought out by some investors for a fraction of its former value? It’s crazy. This thing once ruled the smartphone landscape that it basically helped create. And now it’s toast.

An Atari. A Polaroid. An Edsel. Just a shiny, sophisticated relic now sitting atop the trash heap of outdated technology.

What? I lost you at “newspaper”? Right. Of course. Um, it’s like The Daily Prophet, just without the moving pictures. Your New York Times app, but with paper.

Know what, forget about that part. Let me just ask you something: Have you ever heard the term “CrackBerry”?

Yeah, I didn’t think so. But that’s the thing about BlackBerrys. When they were a really big deal, people could not put them down. Like, ever. They were addicted to them. You have to understand, they were the first widely adapted mobile e-mail devices. There was once a time that when you would stand in line at Starbucks, all you could do was just stand in line at Starbucks.

Sounds horrifying, I know.

What? No. The planet was not “like totally bored all the time.” Before the BlackBerry came along, we just did other things instead. Like have face-to-face conversations with humans.

We also had work-free vacations or weekends. Pre-BlackBerry, when you left the office that was kind of it for work e-mails. But along comes this digital tether to permanently plug you into your job stuff.

Remember that trip to New York where mom stayed in the hotel all day responding to a client emergency while you and I visited MoMA, then ate that enormous corned beef sandwich at Katz’s? I kind of blame BlackBerry for that. By the way, do you know what mom had for lunch that day? Fritos from the vending machine.

Not that the work BlackBerry was such a bad thing. Actually, it was generally pretty great. It was like a status symbol for a long time.

While almost everyone was carrying around their Nokia flip phones, the professionals tapping away with their thumbs on BlackBerrys were kind of a big deal. They may look clunky and devoid of awesome whizbang features now … but that trackball? That QWERTY keyboard? It seriously used to be the ultimate hot shot accessory.

Now it seems like everyone owns a smartphone. But you have to remember that in the mid-to-late 2000s when BlackBerrys ruled the world, most of us were still using regular ol’ cell phones. And yes, they could access the Internet (slowly) and included some games and a camera, but that BlackBerry? With its revolutionary push e-mail — and Brickbreaker? Oh my God, don’t even get me started on Brickbreaker! Well, it was light years ahead.

Celebrities and even President Obama, it seemed, were never seen out without their CrackBerrys.

Of course, dinosaurs once ruled the Earth, too. And you know what happened to them, right bud? If not, just look it up on your iPhone.

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