I have a confession. I still use a Blackberry. And not only do I use a Blackberry, but I recently traded in a Blackberry and… wait for it… got another Blackberry! The horror!
I went to the Verizon store for a Blackberry replacement, and here is an exact transcript of my conversation with the sales associate:
Me: “I would like a new phone to replace this Blackberry.”
Sales Rep: “Do you have any preference?”
Me: “I was just thinking of getting another Blackberry.”
Sales Rep: “Are you sure? Most people upgrade to one of the new Android phones. Have you seen the Motorola Razr?”
Me: “Will it work with my email at the office?”
Sales Rep: “Sure. It is also a 4G phone, 8 megapixel camera, fast processor.”
Me: “Don’t people have a hard time typing without a keyboard?”
Sales Rep: “You get used to it. It also has ‘swype’, which is a new way of typing, and good speech to text. If you want a keyboard you can try this other Android phone, but it is thicker.”
(I stew on it for a few minutes and the sales rep returns)
Sales Rep: “Look – you have one free return within 2 weeks of purchase. Don’t make a mistake. Give this Android phone a shot and if you don’t like it bring it back. The Blackberry will still be here.”
So, I caved and bought a Motorola RAZR 4. It had a great camera, took HD video, had a big screen, came with Dropbox, and had all my apps on it. It did not have a keyboard.
I tried the phone for ten days. I thought it would get better, but I just couldn’t deal with how much slower I was on email without the keyboard. Like many people I can type without looking on a Blackberry, and I took for advantage how the Blackberry is designed for professionals like me. In spite of what people say about an iPhone or Android, I think that a Blackberry is a necessity for anyone who spends their day working in email. After 10 days I went back to the store to switch back.
When I went to return the Android phone I had the following conversation with the sales rep, which I think underlies Blackberry’s main problem in the US market:
Me: “Hi again. I don’t think this Android is for me. I would like to make the switch back to a Blackberry.”
Sales Rep: “I hear you. But keep in mind you only get one free return. I don’t want you to be unhappy and stuck with a phone from a company that is going out of business. Wouldn’t you rather switch to an iPhone?”
I wonder if every Blackberry user in the US has to go through a gauntlet like this. Out of curiosity I asked one more question:
Me: “For every 100 people like me who come in with an old Blackberry and ask for a replacement, how many people get another Blackberry?”
Sales Rep: “About 5.”
Me: “So, 95 out of 100 Blackberry users switch to a different phone?!”
Sales Rep: (chuckles) “Yeah. It is about that.”
Call me old fashioned, but I plan to be a holdout. I hope this new phone doesn’t die for a long time because it may be the last Blackberry sold in America.