I very rarely call the "time of death" of a company. It's really not my place. But, after my customer service experience with RIM (Research In Motion, the makers of BlackBerry smart devices) the other day, I think it's safe to say that BlackBerry has passed on! RIM is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you weren't holding it in your hand it'd be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now history! It's off the twig! It has kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! This is an ex-Parrot! Err, um ... smartphone.
All kidding aside, I had a 53 minute call with RIM's customer service/tech support departments that was so remarkably annoying, that I am sure there is no hope for the company or its products.
The BlackBerry 9650 is about the best BlackBerry RIM has ever created. It has a touch screen and a physical keyboard, and it's powerful enough to get real work done. It's 3G, has decent still and video capabilities and, although not "modern" by Android or iPhone standards, it was big step up for BlackBerry enthusiasts.
That said, there are many things that BlackBerrys don't do in 2012 that I consider fatal. First and foremost is the lack of compatibility with Google Apps for Business. Now, it is possible that BlackBerrys are compatible with Google Apps for Business, but I will never know. After 30 minutes on the phone with Verizon and 53 minutes on the phone with RIM, (the call was dropped at 53 minutes and I could not get back to the person and she never got back to me), the only thing I am sure of is that I'm done with RIM forever.
This particular BlackBerry belonged to my head of client services. She was having trouble getting it to see Gmail, Google Calendar and Contacts in our corporate Google Apps for Business account. I was pretty stunned at this development, so I said I'd do it (figuring it would take me 2 minutes). To my surprise, three hours later, I'm writing this article and she has a new iPhone.
The very sad news is, I know exactly what is wrong and exactly how to solve the problem. It's not a Verizon issue; it is squarely a RIM problem. Any skilled tech, who knows what an MX record is, could solve this problem in 10 seconds. But ... and I do mean, but ... there is no way to reach this person inside of RIM. There is only the voicemail tree, customer service operators reading from scripts, supervisors who will waive the $49 one-time tech service fee, but will not come to the phone. Then there are junior tech support people who don't know what an MX record is, endless three-to-five minute periods on hold (with highly distorted rock and disco music blasting) and a mysteriously terminated call at 53 minutes – no resolution – just silence.
Alas, RIM ... we hardly knew ya. It's so sad to see a once great product die such a slow, agonizing death. But it's truly over. There is nothing, short of reinventing BlackBerrys that can save RIM. From the BlackBerry Playbook debacle (someone inside the company actually thought that it was a salable product), to the needless complexity, to the lack of features -- there's nothing good I can say – even the benefits of BlackBerry ownership have ceased to be.
I loved every BlackBerry I ever owned, right up to the time each and everyone one of them became obsolete. With the Samsung Galaxy S III about to break all Android sales records and a new iPhone around the corner – I'm sorry to inform you that, we did all we could ... but RIM's self-inflicted injuries were too severe. Despite all our efforts ... well, you know how this ends.
Shelly Palmer is Fox 5 New York's On-air Tech Expert (WNYW-TV) and the host of Fox Television's monthly show Shelly Palmer Digital Living. He also hosts United Stations Radio Network's, Shelly Palmer Digital Living Daily, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group, LLC an industry-leading advisory and business development firm and a member of the Executive Committee of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy® Awards). Palmer is the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV 2nd Edition (York House Press, 2008) the seminal book about the technological, economic, and sociological forces that are changing everything and, Overcoming The Digital Divide: How to use Social Media and Digital Tools to Reinvent Yourself and Your Career (York House Press, 2011) For more information, visit shellypalmer.com.
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