Alas, Poor Blackberry, I knew him.

Alas, Poor Blackberry, I knew him.

Summary: After two and a half years with the BlackBerry platform, my romance with Research In Motion has come to an end. October brings the Fall.


After two and a half years with the BlackBerry platform, my romance with Research In Motion has come to an end.

October brings the Fall. The leaves turning colors, the weather getting colder. Wireless carrier contracts being canceled.

I was shocked to say the least, shocked. Circumstances had changed that I no longer required corporate email on my mobile device, my BlackBerry Bold 9000.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

I had been tethered to my BlackBerry for two and a half years. I brought it with me when I left the house, and was secure in the notion that if a business critical issue arose, I could call someone back, or I could jot off a quick note to acknowledge when I could fully address the issue. I wasn't tied to my desk at my home office. I had independence, I had work flexibility.

When I traveled to customers, the BlackBerry was fantastic. I didn't need to yank out my laptop in airports or carry printed documents with me -- I could simply pull out the device, look up an email I had sent to myself with critical information that I needed, or check in with colleagues to see if I was missing anything when I was in transit. Being part of a connected world when I was away from my desktop PC or not using my laptop wasn't a luxury, it was an essential part of the way I conducted my business life.

But now I no longer need corporate email on my mobile device. And I was given the option of terminating the contract early. I could continue paying a $30 per month BIS data plan as opposed to the $50 per month BES plan, and use it for my personal email and connectivity needs, but the device warranty ends next month and if it breaks, I'll get hit with the dreaded "Early Upgrade" penalty if I have to replace it with a new mobile device.

I wasn't eligible for another upgrade at subsidized prices from AT&T until April of 2010. Six months is an awful long time to go with no maintenance plan, particularly with my recent "Ball" problem that could creep back at any time, and frankly, In recent weeks I had  become extremely dissatisfied with AT&Ts coverage. I was dropping calls, reception was flaky. Maybe the iPhone guys were onto something, maybe the network WAS saturated.

I called AT&T Wireless on Tuesday morning to find out what the termination fee would be. $125.00. The customer service rep of course wanted to know why I was terminating the contract, and I explained that I would no longer be needing BES, which my employer was paying for.  I explained that my device was going to run out of warranty next month and I knew what the consequences were for having to buy a new device at full retail with 1 year left on the contract if it broke. I wasn't having the best of luck with the BlackBerry Bold, I had to replace it three times already.

"Well sir, I'm sorry to hear that, but as a valued customer I'm prepared to offer you a special discounted price on the device of your choice, as well as a $20 per month credit on your service bill for the next four months."

"Oh, really? Hmm. What's your price on the iPhone 3GS?"

"That's the only one I can't give you a discount on. Do you want another BlackBerry?"

"No, without the need for BES I'd rather use something else. There are more advanced products out on the market. Do you have any Android phones yet?"

"No, not yet. Maybe in a few months."

"Well, the way I see it, is that I can terminate my contract with you, and another wireless carrier will be happy to bring me on as a new customer, with a fully subsidized device. I wasn't such a valued customer and offered special pricing the last time I had a crisis with my mobile device and it was out of warranty."

"The termination fee is $125.00, you are aware sir."

"It's a managed corporate device. I'm no longer responsible for it."

"I see, Sir."

"Please terminate my account."

"I'll transfer you to billing so they can help you take care of it."

My BlackBerry Bold 9000 now lies lifeless on my coffee table. Batteries drained. We had a good two and a half years together. But now I'm looking forward to a relationship with a new, subsidized shiny toy, with a carrier that is eager for my business.

Have you also had to go through a BlackBerry break-up recently? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Disclaimer: The postings and opinions on this blog are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Topics: BlackBerry, Hardware, Mobility


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • verbs

    just my opinion but:

    I brought (s/b took) it with me when I left the house.

    ...will be happy to bring (s/b take) me on as a new...

    just my opinion.
  • Just buy a damn phone.

    Just buy a normal phone, you know, one that makes and receives calls.

    You tried phoning people lately, it's amazing, you get so much more done.

    And surely you should check BEFORE you leave the house you have everything not whilst you are on the way somewhere.
    • LOL...nt

    • Obviously, Jason finds mobile e-mail ...

      ... more convenient than voice (I know that I do) and texting is outrageously expensive (per MB) compared to e-mail. Asking him to carry a voice-only device and stacks of paper which he travels is just plain stupid.
      M Wagner
  • Maximal bang for the buck

    ... is the phone-netbook combo. My experience, anyway.

    A simple 20 euro's prepaid Nokia cell phone, the most basic model, for.... making calls. And a netbook with a 3G-modem for wireless internet on the road. Also with a prepaid chip.

    No subscription, no contracts, pure freedom. :-)
  • Carrier eager for your business???

    I bet you find several that want your business but once they have you don't expect any better treatment than AT&T. I hope I'm wrong and hope you keep us updated on the continuing saga.
    • Verizon Wireless offers a more reliable ...

      ... more widely available, 3G service than anyone else in the USA. And they have lots of phones from which Jason can choose.
      M Wagner
      • Verizon

        I'm waiting on the Sholes/Tao availability. I can go without a smartphone for two months.
  • A familiar story

    A story most of us are all too familiar with: poor carrier support, lackluster devices, weak excuses.

    Glad you weren't over a barrel on this one. I was so dissatisfied with Verizon's support of my Palm Treo, that I paid early termination fees for three phones and bought two new iphones at $400 each. I have never been happier, but you bring back bad memories.
  • Why do the ZDnet bloggers blame RIM for a lousy carrier?

    nuf said.
    • what?


      Where did he blame RIM?
  • RE: Alas, Poor Blackberry, I knew him.

    Why wouldn't you have kept the Bold until it died, and then terminated/moved carriers? I hope you are happier on another carrier. I've tried them all, and I haven't found one to be overwhelmingly better than others. For instance, Verizon offers no wi-fi on their BlackBerries which is fine when you have a good network, but even mighty Verizon, home of the oversold network, doesn't have coverage everywhere, including where my parents live. Good luck with whomever you choose. Mobile phone nirvana doesn't exist.

  • Its not RIM Jason!

    It's AT&T, thought you were a crusader for this non-journalist crap?
    • Read the story

      He said: "I explained that my device was going to run out of warranty
      next month and I knew what the consequences were for having to buy a
      new device at full retail with 1 year left on the contract if it broke. I
      wasn?t having the best of luck with the BlackBerry Bold, I had to replace
      it three times already."

      That's not AT&T
  • What Products are more advanced again?

    Android is more "advanced" than Blackberry? Are you taking too much prescription medication?

    Jason... Go to Sprint Store... Purchase Blackberry Tour, get everything Data plan.
  • I loved my blackberry, but...

    As the Guns N Roses song goes, "I used to love her,
    but I had to kill her..."

    Sure I could find a roundabout way to land me a nice
    new blackberry device like the Tour, Storm, Bold, or
    Curve 9000, but that would mean paying $720 in data
    plan fees (minimum) for the privilege to do so. Hardly
    subsidized in my opinion. When I first bought my
    blackberry device in March 2007, all I had to sign for
    was two years of voice service and my 8700c was a
    meager $70.00. Even without using the data plan, I
    loved being able to keep my appointments and contacts
    at my hip. Since my device's demise, I looked
    feverishly for a comparable replacement and, not
    wanting to spend $720.00 for a "free phone" (or
    otherwise as is the case with the iPhone), I hit up
    eBay and settled on a pair of brand new Nokia E62's.

    Sure they aren't blackberries, but they do the job.
    They make voice calls, keep appointments and notes,
    AND, I don't have to turn on a data plan to set up my
    SecurID soft token. I installed the app, imported my
    token, and am done. $130 later and I have two devices
    and the best part, NO CONTRACT!

    Vive la secondary market!
  • RE: Alas, Poor Blackberry, I knew him.

    Please do send, the lifeless BOLD to me, would pay for shipping. Thats if its really that valueless to you.

    Thanks in advance.
  • I never LOVED either of my Blackberries

    I've had two Blackberries, both company issued, and I never LOVED either of them. Maybe it was the hundreds of emails I'd get a day, maybe it's because every call that came in was always a top-level emergency, but by the last 3 to 6 months with each I was ready to throw it against the wall by the end of the day just to get it to leave me alone.

    I admit that I was mildly addicted to Brickbreaker. On a flight, with all radio devices turned off, I could get rather far along in that game. And yes, for maintaining contact and staying on top of critical situations while in the field it was wonderful to have a full qwerty keyboard.

    Now that I am without one for nearly 3 months it feels fantastic to leave the house with one only mobile device on me. My Omnia slips into my pocket comfortably, and it still receives all my important personal emails without a problem. I've had no network coverage issues with my provider in the 8 years I've had them, and voice quality is often higher than on my landline.

    So for me, the breakup with Blackberry was a painless, almost joyous occasion.
    • Your experience was not RIMs fault either

      Put simply, your employer abused their after-hours access to you. With a reasonable employer with reasonable expectations, having a mobile device connected to exchange at work is a godsend.
      M Wagner
  • RE: Alas, Poor Blackberry, I knew him.

    I had several blackberries over 6 years, all personal devices. I have recently made the jump to an android based device (t-mobile mytouch) and have not looked back. Makes me wish I'd tried other non-blackberry devices sooner.