Pushing All Your Buttons

BlackBerry Keypad - Mark Iafrate

If it was the Pussycat Dolls' buttons, it would be ok. Unfortunately, it's my BlackBerry's buttons.

If I had to fill out a form that would need to characterise my behaviour towards telecommunication, I certainly wouldn't tick the 'Early Adopter' box.

It took me forever to get a mobile phone, since I didn't quite get the appeal of why I should be reachable everywhere. I was finally forced to own one, and since it's bad form to throw away your spouse's Christmas gift, I kept it. Forever. To the point where it was so hilariously outdated that the spouse left me. Although maybe that wasn't the true, or only, reason.

So I had been the person with the old mobile, whilst at the same time I had grown fond of the elegance and usability of a small niche computer company which bears the sign of an apple.

When they decided to come out with a mobile phone themselves, brand loyalty succeeded over reluctance to have shiny mobiles, and I have been a passionate user ever since.

Unfortunately, I cannot just spend all my time on my iPhone. I have to work occasionally. And after many years in the industry, I have now been issued the smartphone-version of an ankle tag - a BlackBerry.

And boy, do I hate it. It's not the fact that I can be on e-mail all the time. I like being on e-mail. I have no problem with ignoring it and not checking, nor do I feel compelled to send mails at 9pm to prove that I am still busy.

What I hate is that it's a piece of machinery completely void of elegance, user-friendliness, or even smartness. Admittedly, I can still vividly remember Steve Jobs' initial iPhone presentation where he mocked BlackBerry for all their features. The stationary keyboard, the baby Internet, the buttons.

I didn't care about that back then because I had no frame of reference. But by now, I have been using my touch-screen keyboard for years. I know that I can get a bigger keyboard by just tilting the phone, remote control the stereo easily, and most importantly can always watch the video highlights of Arsenal's latest drubbing.

I also know that the necessary number of buttons on a smartphone is exactly one. So why does the BlackBerry need a dozen? Turns out that most of them don't do anything (that I can work out anyway). The one most centrally placed results in a female voice telling me to give her some orders.

Still don't know what I am supposed to respond at this stage. Maybe I ask her to dress up like an iPhone. Or at least sound like the Pussycat Dolls.