Remembering BlackBerry

Remembering BlackBerry

Summary: The fall of BlackBerry has me reminiscing about one of the best business phones I've owned.

BB 8830
Image credit: Verizon

The web is full of stories about the rise and fall of mighty BlackBerry and I don't intend to rehash the crash. I have instead been giving thought to one of the best business phones I've ever owned-- the BlackBerry 8830 world phone.

I bought the 8830 years ago on iPhone launch day. I remember vividly seeing countless stories about the massive lines at both Apple stores and AT&T outlets. Those were the only two places you could get an iPhone back then.

There were no lines at the Verizon store that day. It only took me five minutes to walk in and out of the Verizon store with a brand new BlackBerry 8830, duly activated.

At that time I was working in my previous career as a geophysicist and the 8830 was exactly what I needed. The most important feature for me was communication with my clients. That meant voice calls, email, and text messaging in that order.

The BlackBerry 8830 was fantastic for all three of those functions. It was great for voice calls even in spotty signal areas, which were common at that time. It was able to get me the email I needed in those same areas when other phones failed miserably.

It was a world phone, too, which came into play when I travelled internationally. It handled both CDMA and GSM, a rarity at the time. I bought a SIM from Verizon for international trips and while expensive, it kept me in touch with all my clients which was a real boon.

The hardware of the 8830 was typical BlackBerry, especially the physical QWERTY keyboard. The sculpted keys facilitated typing email with ease. The little trackball beneath the screen was a fantastic way to move the cursor around the screen quickly. That was significant as there was no touch screen on the BlackBerry at that time.

The BlackBerry 8830 served me well and was the consummate business communication device. I was almost never out of touch with my clients, and that was a very big deal.

The BlackBerry Storm that came later replaced my aging 8830 and as it ended up was not as functional for my work needs. While the big touch screen of the Storm had tactile feedback when clicking and typing, the OS wasn't up to snuff compared to the new iPhone and Android phones. 

While the 8830 was a fantastic communications device, it didn't compare with the touchscreen smartphones hitting the market. It competed with them for a while as it handled communications better then new smartphones while falling short in the web browsing and app departments.

BlackBerry got in real trouble when competing smartphones caught up with the consistent communication features BlackBerries had long been famous for. The competition ended up doing that as well as BlackBerry, and the web/app functionality they also provided soon left BlackBerry in the dust. The rest, as they say, is history.

I still remember that BlackBerry 8830 fondly. It saved my bacon with clients more times than I can count, and did so simply and with panache.

Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Smartphones, Bring Your Own Device

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  • Just shows any company can fail

    I think RIM is just another example of a company that built on a great product but failed to realize that change was happening. Evolution of a product is crucial to its survival. Its clear RIM never realized this soon enough. My question is. Who is next?
    • Who's Next

      Baba O'Riley? No wait...

      I'll go with HTC though its unclear why... According to these sites HTC has the best smartphone but it doesn't sell.
      • HTC

        I agree HTC, not only is it lagging far behind Samsung, it has nothing to fall back on. Samsung has a huge corporation behind it and Motorola has google.
        new gawker
  • BB failed to execute

    The internal problems led to bad things happening to the pooch and they have burned down their own house.
  • I remember Blackberry

    Was handed a Bold as a company phone and it had more bugs in it than Windows 1.0 alpha. Horrible phone.
    Alan Smithie
    • Grave dancing

      I never really got the grave dancing thing, but fabricated grave dancing is a reflection pool.
      • Nothing fabricated

        It would fail to find a cell after switching from 3g to gsm, had a bug where it didn't save missed calls to the log. Random lock-ups and other things I've gladly forgotten about.

        Remember the blackberry world app for soft battery pull to save you pulling the battery out to solve these types of issue ?

        Go ask Jason Perlow just how buggy it was.
        Alan Smithie
    • Sorry

      I simply don't accept that this is a good faith comment, or to wit... actually true.

      The Bold came out in 2008, long after RIM was a mature company, and virtually owned the business phone industry. It doesn't hold up well to the features of today's phones, but most certainly was a high quality phone in the 2008 era. It was certainly not a "Windows 1.0" (whatever that even means) release.
      • Eh ?

        Your reading reading a tech journal but you don't know what alpha software is ?

        And yes the 9000 with OS5 was bug laden rubbish - see faults mentioned above.
        Alan Smithie
    • I had a company issued Storm and

      danced for joy when the display started to get screen cancer, because it meant I could dump the piece of junk.
    • Windows 1?

      I've had both Windows 1 runtime and the BB Bold. The bold was really useful & wasn't at all buggy. Windows 1 was like 20 years earlier and doesn't belong in the same conversation.
  • BlackBerry hasn't died, it just changed the strategy

    By the title and content of this article you are talking about the old RIM. Not the company called BlackBerry. That 8830 you talk about is a thing that doesn't even relate in anyway to their new phones. I had that phone, and while I did enjoy it sometimes it was a pain in the arse. For example, the apps limitations, constant freezes, restart your phone every time you install apps and 20 min boot time... The new phones don't have any of that and I'm glad I did the upgrade.

    My brother is getting the Z30 when it comes out, that will be his upgrade from the iPhone 4S.
  • Q10 is still the best

    I still don't know of a better more capable communication device than the new Q10. Awesome keyboard, multitasking and even HDMI built in for presentations right off the phone.
    • Secure yes

      But great no. I have a z10 from work, my original HTC Hero seemed better to use. But it is great for secure corporate email but that's it.
      new gawker
  • Lesson: Take Your Competition Seriously

    At one point in history, RIM had won. They were top of the heap in business smartphones, and as the whole smartphone industry knew, consumers weren't interested in smartphones.

    Until they were, of course. They just didn't want the same things business users wanted. Or perhaps, they wanted that (email) but a hundred other things as well. Apple starting giving them those things in 2007, Android joined that part in 2008... but the established smartphone companies, with RIM at the lead, continued to not do that.

    Even when they tried, RIM just wasn't keeping up ... they delivered buggy and slow devices, nothing comparable to the rising competition. Motivation? Maybe just the poison of success -- winners tend to think they're good at things. Sometimes, they're just better than the other guys. Plenty of success stories are about the guys who sucked the least in a sea of bad ideas.

    And RIM's final bad idea was to waste two or three years going it alone, still, in updating their OS to something that might be competitive. When you consider that the iPhone itself has only been out slightly more than six years, this was a true revolution, the consumer smartphone. RIM didn't have time to do things the old-fashioned way, particularly having wasted so much time in denial, doing pretty much nothing even as the competition rose all around them.
  • My bet for next failure is ......... Apple

    Unfortunately the sad death of Steve Jobs has proved one thing since - Apple was and is Steve Jobs. No Steve Jobs = No Apple. Look at what they have achieved since his death :

    - iPhone 5 - bigger iPhone 4
    - iPad Mini - smaller iPad
    - iPhone 5c and 5s - very small derivatives of the iPhone 5

    No innovation whatsoever. In the same time they have been slaughtered by Android and Samsung re Market Share.

    The sad thing is just like Blackberry, Nokia, Kodak etc etc, they are doing nothing about real world change and innovation, still blinded in the "we have more apps" message which is conceptually similar to "we have business email and security" touted by Blackberry in complete denial.
    • Though there are certainly many who desperately wish that this will happen

      I think we're all well aware that it won't.
      • Really?

        I'm sure that's just what the folks at RIM were saying not that long ago.
        • Maybe not the folks at RIM

          But everyone else raised the question after the iPhone was released. And I don't mean fanboys, I mean Wall St and tech publications.
          new gawker