Goodbye BlackBerry (and Hello iFart App?)

Published on January 5, 2009
by Kara Swisher


Hello, my name is BoomTown and I am a reformed CrackBerryaholic.

How bad was it? Here’s the worst story: I was holding my BlackBerry in my hand, inadvertently for once, when I gave birth to my son in 2002.

Long story short: I was emailing away throughout labor, suddenly had to have emergency surgery, was quickly drugged into paralysis and forgot it was gripped in my hand–all until the anesthesiologist looked at me like I was a freak.

I should have been embarrassed by that. I was not. Hence, that makes me a full-fledged Blackberry addict.

Actually, I was one.

Because over the weekend, while casting about for a good New Year’s resolution (Work less? Nope! Exercise more? Double nope!!), I impulsively decided to dump what is pathetically one of my more satisfying and reliable relationships ever for a questionable new one.

That’s right, I have finally abandoned the BlackBerry for the iPhone.

I have no idea what possessed me, but suddenly I had to change dramatically and change now. (I could blame the influence of fellow CrackBerry user President-Elect Barack Obama for that mood.)

So, I finally made the dreaded switcheroo from the devices made by the fine folks at Research In Motion (RIMM), which I have used since the first stubby little block of greyish plastic until the last stubby bigger block of reddish plastic.

To be honest, I have been flirting with the idea of leaving my longtime love for a while now.

Almost sneakily, I bought an iPhone from the get-go when it came out from Apple (AAPL) in June of 2007, because it was just too cool a device to pass up.

I was instantly delighted by the touchscreen swooshing and squinching, its breakthrough quality as a handheld media player, the Internet access that finally worked and the generally clever way of organizing contact and other information. I also liked the voicemail recording a lot.

Not so much the AT&T (T) cellular network, of course, but that was livable. What was not, as it was for a lot of people, was the poor email experience, specifically the virtual keyboard.

To say my entire life revolves around email and texting is to go overboard. But not by much. It is, in fact, the bane of my partner, who has learned to live with it grudgingly.

My obsession has even turned into mimicry by my other son, a three-year-old, who grabbed a small and rectangular block of wood recently and started tapping on it with his fingers, proudly declaring, “I’m Mama working!”

Oh dear. Like I said, I am pathetic in this regard (on the plus side, I don’t drink, do drugs or watch “Dancing with the Stars”).

But my issues with the dullish BlackBerry slowly mounted, from its too-small screen, to the substandard Internet experience to the limited ways to store emails to the overall clunkiness of it.

And when the apps came out for the iPhone, it got worse, since the ones on BlackBerry just are not as robust at all.

And with those apps, I now did not even have to really launch a browser and click away in frustration. Instead, I could largely rely on an increasingly interesting array of software that made my digital life a lot easier.

I am not including the iFart app in this group, of course, the kind of toddler programming that I had thought I had left behind when I started ignoring Facebook apps. Verdict: Eww.

In any case, my BlackBerry still had those lovely clickety-clack keys that have always been a joy to press and with which I could write a book in a very short time, I had become so adept at using them.

So, I had great hopes for the BlackBerry Storm, with a clicking-like virtual keyboard, as the solution to all my problems. Or so I thought.

When I first saw it, I knew this was not what I had been waiting for, which was underscored by Walt Mossberg’s review.

The weird push on the glass screen made me feel like it was going to break with every click. What I really wanted was the tactile feel of the keys and not the click feel.

The G1 smartphone from Google (GOOG), of course, offered a real keyboard and the big touchscreen. But it just looks and feels too much like–let’s be honest–a pair of clogs I once wore in seventh grade and have regretted ever since.

And, while there is a Palm device reportedly coming out this week with a touchscreen and a slip-down keyboard, I guess I have finally become tired of waiting for something that is perhaps not possible: A virtual keyboard that feels real.

Thus, I gave into the iPhone and learned to live with my all-thumbs typing.

And, as many have said, I am actually getting better at that. Not speedy, as I was with the BlackBerry, which–ironically–has caused me not to use the iPhone as obsessively and to put it down a lot more.

Except that, as soon as I do put it down, it is immediately picked up by my now six-year-old, the very person who had endured my incessant pregnant clicking.

As it turns out, he is obsessed with the many game apps I have downloaded for him onto the iPhone–currently “Crazy Penguin Catapult.” (Verdict: Unusually fun.)

So much so that he sneaked into my bedroom yesterday morning and spirited my iPhone away for a session while I slept late.

What can I say? Like mother, like son.

In this regard, let’s hope not.

[Photo credit: Cool, but creepy BlackBerry Baby image is from All Media.]

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