With the recent discussion of potential tablets, I’m left dreaming of my BlackBerry powered workstation.
There is just something about a BlackBerry. And it doesn’t matter if the BlackBerry is running BBOS, BB10, or BlackBerry Android. That something is how BlackBerry users use our phone. And it’s very different than how most other smartphone users use their phones. Our phone is our workstation, in the palm of our hands.
BlackBerry users, in my experience, tend to be mobile first. I believe we tend to be that way because of what BlackBerry has presented us. Even going back to my first BlackBerry Curve, I would go to my BlackBerry first for my email. That is where I worked my calendar. All these years later, all through my various BlackBerry phones, that has remained the same. Even now, I haven’t logged in to my email app on my personal computer since I first got this laptop and logged in just to check it out. And checking it out told me what I needed to know. It would work, but I preferred my BlackBerry. Granted, I do work my email from my computer sometimes, but that is through Blend. More on that later.
BlackBerry users, in my opinion, tend to be focused more on productivity and being hyper-connected. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not really talking about social media, although those that use social media can say the same thing. Many of the popular social media platforms of today never really supported BlackBerry. So many of us BlackBerry users, don’t really care about those social media platforms. I am talking about the ways we, as individuals, choose to connect. I find it funny how many times people will be shocked at how fast I reply to a text message or an email. It’s funnier still when I message someone. I hold BlackBerry users to a higher standard. When I message a BlackBerry user, I’ve come to expect an immediate response, and if I don’t get an immediate response, I just know that they are extremely busy and will get back to me very soon. Conversely, when messaging someone on another platform, I’m already prepared that the response may be a long time coming, and may not happen at all.
As I said before, BlackBerry users tend to be mobile first. Our BlackBerry is always in hand, and we tend to head there first to respond to messages. We tend to keep our media in our phones within large memory cards, many of us completely eschewing cloud services in favor of just keeping our files with us. I’d be willing to bet that there is a very large percentage of us that, if we really thought about it, see our personal computers as ancillary to our BlackBerry. And I find this to be a completely opposite case with users of other platforms.
I know iOS users that will receive and read emails on their iPhones, and wait to respond until they get behind their computer. I know android users that don’t realize that they can create and edit office documents on their phones. I actually know people that will purchase digital media on their computer and then transfer it to their phone. Why would anyone ever do that?? You’re going to use it on your phone anyway, you can do it ALL there!
I think BlackBerry users are this way because BlackBerry has created a product, the BlackBerry software, which has a workflow and UI that is inviting to users. It’s all right there in hand, it all works the way it’s supposed to, and it works better than our other options. I also think that BlackBerry has recognized this quality in BlackBerry users, and have attempted to cater to it a few times. The Playbook and Blend come to mind.
When the BlackBerry Playbook first hit the market, it was seen by most to be half-baked. Why would the king of mobile email release a tablet that didn’t have email? Why would BlackBerry release a product that didn’t have BBM? Well, we BlackBerry users knew why. It was because of something that was fantastical at the time. BlackBerry Bridge. With Bridge, we had the very same email and BBM that we had on our phones, on our tablets, with a simple connection. What we did on our Playbook happened on our phone, and when we disconnected, there was nothing left on our tablet that someone else could get into. I loved this. I think I loved it more than most. Believe it or not, I didn’t want native email or BBM on my Playbook. Bridge was just too perfect to me. Unfortunately, I believe I was an extremely small minority, and these things I considered to be ingenious features, were actually detrimental to the future of the Playbook.
BlackBerry Blend took BlackBerry Bridge to the next level. Blend allows us to work our phone through our PC or tablet. Our email, BBM, text messages, all the “important stuff” from our phone, right there on our PC or tablet with a simple connection. And again, once that connection was terminated, no remnants were left on our computer. Sadly, Blend wasn’t seen as much of a selling feature either, and that product has officially seen it’s end of life. Thankfully though, this EOL product still works, and there are plenty of us that still use it as our primary way to work our messaging on our PC’s.
Yes, BlackBerry attempted to satisfy those of us with a mobile first attitude, and yet, they never saw the success with the products we all wish they would have. But it seems BlackBerry was just ahead of it’s time. A new category is appearing. A category which BlackBerry essentially created with the Playbook. This new category, is utilizing smartphones as the brain of a workstation. To use the words of former BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, this category is mobile computing, in which our smartphone powers the station at which we work.
By now, I’m sure we’ve all seen Microsoft’s Continuum. With Continuum, a Windows Phone user can dock their phone, and it becomes the brain of a (nearly) full featured Windows workstation. Although, with the future of Windows Phone not looking so positive, who knows what will become of Continuum. Samsung has joined the fray with the Samsung DeX which also allows the user to dock their phone to power a desktop experience. There are even aftermarket products that are being created. Personally, I am still awaiting the delayed arrival of my Superbook. Purchased during the Kickstarter campaign, the Superbook is a “dumb” laptop, which, once connected to your android phone (with an app installed) allows you to use your phone as a laptop. There is also another Kickstarter project that is ending soon, for a “dumb” tablet. Called the Superscreen, this tablet simply mirrors what is on your phone, on an inexpensive 10 inch tablet.
Yes, Bridge and Blend were ahead of their time. But their time is now. The market which these products were catering to, that mobile first market, is finally becoming a reality outside of just BlackBerry users. What was once a niche category, is now becoming mainstream.
There has been a lot of talk after Blackberry’s last earnings call about the possibility of future tablets. That’s exciting stuff, and I know of quite a few BlackBerry users that would love a BlackBerry powered tablet. But personally, I’d like something a little simpler. I’d like something a little more dumb.
I want a dock. I want a dock for my phone, where I could come home and drop my phone in, connect to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and use my phone as the brain of my home workstation. And I want that dock to have the BlackBerry bullets on it.
Please BlackBerry Mobile? Can I have it?