Passions: Bye-bye, BlackBerry!

A millennial pays final respects to the first smartphone for her entire generation. One that also introduced many firsts in her life
Barack Obama was a self-confessed BB addict (above), and was the first US president who was allowed to use his “Presidential BB” in the White House. It could call just 10 numbers though, including his VP, Chief of Staff, and his wife Michelle. He reluctantly upgraded in 2016
Barack Obama was a self-confessed BB addict (above), and was the first US president who was allowed to use his “Presidential BB” in the White House. It could call just 10 numbers though, including his VP, Chief of Staff, and his wife Michelle. He reluctantly upgraded in 2016
Published on Jan 15, 2022 10:50 PM IST
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ByKarishma Kuenzang

Remember the mid-2000s when we millennials were introduced to BlackBerry phones in India at reasonable rates? Suddenly, everyone wanted to join the BlackBerry gang, each of whom was going through a series of firsts: first job, first heartbreak, first time out of college, first solo trip, you name it.

The device also seemed like the perfect fit for corporates. They came at a time when “pagers” still existed. Though they barely looked better, their efficiency made them cool.  

You could deliver “push emails” in an era when you had to log onto your computer to access your email. This brought about the “always on” corporate culture. The qwerty keypad made it a dream to type paragraphs.  

It was the first phone millennials became addicted to. Cool flip phones as well as the first touchscreens took a back seat to sleeker BB models. It even stood its ground against the early versions of the Apple iPhone. in India, iPhones only took over from BB in the 2010s. 

Some of the top BlackBerry models in India
Some of the top BlackBerry models in India

Many firsts

The BlackBerry was everyone’s first smartphone, introducing us to exclusivity with BBM chats in an era when we had to buy messaging packages from telephone services to get 100 free text messages a month. It wasn’t long before most Orkut (a social media platform) bios included people’s BBM pins. And once your devices were connected, you could even share songs via Bluetooth. BBM groups were not half as annoying as the WhatsApp groups today because you couldn’t spam groups by forwarding pictures.  

“Its amazing battery life, accurate keyboard, unbeatable email access and messenger made BB my go-to. I got to play my part in the transition of its journey from ‘corporate only’ to the best ‘consumer centric smartphone’,” says Satchit Gayakwad, who once worked with the brand.

“Back in the day, a BB was the best phone for communication. I miss its keypad and unified inbox for all email and communication,” says Gaurav Chaudhary, the world’s largest tech vlogger on YouTube.  

When my BlackBerry breathed its last due to battery issues, I refused to buy a new phone for days—the longest I’ve gone without a phone. I was forced to pick a touchscreen. Though I was armed with better technology, I felt like I’d lost a limb.

Follow @kkuenzang on Twitter and Instagram

From HT Brunch, January 16, 2022

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