Whatever happened to Blackberry?

I loved my Blackberry Pearl. It was the first consumer device that was directly targeted at consumers with a usable e-mail function, and as a self employed freelancer, it was incredibly liberating to have always on access to e-mail.

I also remember my first iPhone. Either an iPhone 3 or an iPhone 3GS – I’m no longer entirely sure. I do remember clearly however getting the device and very quickly wondering had I made a terrible mistake. The virtual on-screen keyboard seemed unusable and I recall a sinking feeling as I tried to use it and realised I’d signed up to an 18 month contract with this device. So I had no choice, I had to get used to it.

But get used to it I did, like pretty much everyone else. If you’re curious what happened exactly to RIM and it’s Blackberry platform, this recently released documentary on Youtube is excellent. Get a cup of coffee and enjoy.

Okay, I think I need an iPad.

So it’s obviously April Fool’s Day today, but leaving that aside, it’s also the day that the first pre-release iPads are getting unboxed, fired up and written about. First, let’s just get this out of the way – I don’t have one. There, that’s important to say, because I’m a tech journalist and do get bits of kit every now and again to play with and write about. Not today though, mores the pity.

I have just come from reading Stephen Fry’s first look article over at Time Magazine’s website on the iPad however, and as always the wonderful Stephen has articulated something I’ve thought for a while but not put into words.

We are human beings; our first responses to anything are dominated not by calculations but by feelings. What Ive and his team understand is that if you have an object in your pocket or hand for hours every day, then your relationship with it is profound, human and emotional. Apple’s success has been founded on consumer products that address this side of us: their products make users smile as they reach forward to manipulate, touch, fondle, slide, tweak, pinch, prod and stroke.

And that’s why I’ve just decided I need to have one of these. Because I trust Jonathon Ive, the guy who designed the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone.

I’ve had an iPhone for a year or so now – so I wasn’t an early adopter. In fact, I’ve always carried with me a mild dislike of Apple’s technology. I resisted the allure of the iPhone for quite some time, opting instead for the serious business person’s preference, the Blackberry. I remember when I switched to the iPhone – I signed up for a serious contract with O2 for 18 months, got it home and started to think I’d made a dreadful mistake.

It took me ten minutes to type out a text message on the touch sensitive screen and I thought “Christ, I’m never going to be able to actually use this.” Eventually of course, I did get used to it, and now wouldn’t go back to a phone with keys. (Don’t get me started about the size of my first bill however – that’s a whole other rant. €850 plus. Grrrr.)

Anyway, here we are, a year and a half later and I couldn’t imagine running my personal or business life without an iPhone. It’s simply the cleverest, best adapted device of its kind out there — to the point that I don’t think you can meaningfully compare it to other smartphones, and certainly not to the smartphones that were around when it was first released.

But that’s old news. iPhone fan boys waxing lyrical about how good the handset is, well that’s certainly passed into cliche. I’m a fan boy, unashamedly so at this point.I will freely admit that I still don’t see the need that the iPad is designed to fill. However, everything else this company does is drenched in a deep understanding and appreciation for how technology is used, with regard for what it does and how it does it rightful moved down the list of priorities.

So I’ve decided I want one. And that’s not an April’s Fool.