Some berries are blacker than others

After the recent odysseia of fixing my broken mobile communications I’ve now solved the written comms part as well. I’ve joined what some consider the forces of evil and landed on a BlackBerry 8800.

To be honest, I was in the no-BB party only a few weeks ago myself. Mainly due to the sad fact that colleagues using BBÂŽs have a proven tendency to use Skype multichats much less and fall back to extremely short and frequent e-mail communication. And e-mail, per se, is evil. Spam, weak threading, unauthorized contacts, lack of presence & security — to name a few major flaws.

For me a tilting comment to at least try came from NZ, who in an informal “BlackBerry – pro or contra” argument reminded of the early mobile phonecall times, when most people found very much normal to run around for a payphone and think of the first owners of very expensive mobile devices as weirdos. And where are we now? Speaking to a gadget on a street is normal, mobile phone penetrations in different countries exceed the population. But for data comms, a cafe with a wifi hotspot and and a full notebook is viewed more “normal” than a tiny keyboard in a cab.

So, for me this is not just a gadget switch, but a test of personal strenght to avoid going back to the memorable 1000-email-days. Of course, a Skype client for BlackBerry would help here a lot. 🙂

“Aha!” impressions after first few days:

  • The thing just works, and this is the most important part. Data comes and goes as intended, much more invisibly and smoothly in the background than I’ve ever seen with any smartphone/PDA. E-mail, calendar, multiple (personal/corporate) address books, RSS feeds, WAP, HTML. The works.
  • Level of integration between applications is amazingly intuitive.
    • Call records in same list with e-mails and instant messages
    • Sent mail items in message lists look like checked todo items
    • Navigation from your personal address book to finding one of the seventeen-something-thousand colleagues of whole eBay Inc to seeing the map of their office on screen takes about 20 seconds and 2 clicks.
    • GoogleÂŽs (presumably Java-based) GMail client for BB feels as if it was designed for this device as the central idea.
  • Built in GPS and dynamic maps downloaded on the fly. Elbonia is out of map coverage, as usual (Tallinn has about 2 streets?), but the levels of detail for London or San Jose are great.
  • Ultraslim form factor. Even if the screen is much larger than E70’s, the device as a whole feels less clunky. Keyboard is more usable than I feared. And the “pearl” navigation beats the side-wheel of older BB models I’ve played with by far.

First nuisances found:

  • Lack of 3G. However, it is only when browsing larger web pages that you even wish that there was more than GPRS/EDGE built in.
  • There is no operator in Estonia supporting BlackBerries yet. Roaming mobile data can be expensive. And if it wasnÂŽt, it would still be quite stupid as a concept. WhatÂŽs stopping you, EMT?
  • Still have to get (re)used to the multiple device situation. E-mails on one and photos on another. An Estonian and UK phone number. Should drop RSS & web bookmarks on the normal phone.

The geeky thing to still try: bluetooth sync of address books between BB and phone. Supposed result: add/change a phone number in your Outlook and get it automagically in both handsets.

So, we’ll see how it goes. My e-mail alerts are on silent, in any case, to retain control of my life.


  • Welcome to the darkside, my friend. I have my BB set up on the corporate Blackberry server and my email on Exchange server which is a magical thing (as much as I hate Exchange). I add a number in my phone, voila it is on my Outlook – same for managing all my calendar requests. It makes me giddy when everything just syncs automatically – including task list, notes. Ahhhhh….
    Enjoy!