Let me just state it up front: I'm not a Blackberry user. And that's probably a good thing. I'm technoaddicted to enough devices already (my nano, my wi-fi Palm Tungsten C, my Motorola Razr...shall I go on?), and they don't call the Blackberry the "Crackberry" for nothin'. I can just imagine the physical rehabilitation I probably would have already undergone were I to have acquired a Blackberry when I first became familiar with them several years ago.
With the caveat that I'm not a Crackberry addict, however, I want my readers to know that I am extremely sympathetic to your plight and that I stand with you in thumb-numbing solidarity. The mere notion that, without warning, someone could just flip a switch and turn off your your Blackberry, forcing you to cease-and-desist all wireless email communications with your family, friends, your bond trader...well, the idea strikes me as absolutely absurd.
What century do they think we're living in? And all over a little patent dispute?? (Okay, maybe it's not so little, but hey, could all the patent attorneys pause long enough to acknowledge we've got some serious on-the-fly communicating to do here, people!).
While I will not get into the details of said dispute between NTP and Research in Motion (hereafter known as "RIM"), lest I find myself becoming entirely too familiar with my own legal community here at IBM, I will suggest that turning out the Blackberry lights is not necessarily going to be a very good thing for the American or global economy.
The Day the Thumbs Stopped Clicking
The brilliance behind the early marketing of the Blackberry was RIM's targeted focus on putting their device in the hands of Wall Street executives and CIOs, two key areas where early adoption could easily be justified, and, if successful, where word was sure to spread. And it did, like viral wildfire.
In the process, it has become part of our business, cultural, and historical lore. Twelve-step groups have had to be formed to help senior level executives deal with their Crackberry addictions. Shut it down, and I fear we may someday be talking about "Blackberry Monday" just as we do the beginning of the Great Depression or October 19, 1987.
I can see the headlines now:
"The Day the Thumbs Stopped Clicking"
"Wall Streeters Endure Wall of Silence, Market Crash, in Blackberry Crush"
"Traders Thumb Their Thumbs at RIM Patent Dispute: Bring Back Our Berry!"
Can We Use Smoke Signals?
I've already begun formulating my own Blackberry blackout hedge play, which reads like a Basic programming routine: If Blackberry goes dark, sell X shares of Y stock at (Stop-Loss) price.
But forget the stock market for a moment. What about the first responders? If the 9/11 Commission can't get the major broadcasters to give up radio frequency for cops and firefighters to communicate with one another, and their Blackberries are about to get sent back to the intellectual property dispute farm, how are they supposed to communicate with one another in case of emergency??
In some early Native American cultures, three puffs of smoke (or three fires in a row) signified DANGER, TROUBLE, or a CALL FOR HELP.
Puff. Puff. Puff.