The year 2008 was another time. It was a time to try new things. Katy Perry kissed and liked a girl, the US chose her first African American president, and many exchanged their flip phones for their first smartphones.
In 2008, this probably meant a BlackBerry.
While Apple's iPhone was introduced in the summer of 2007, its dominance was not a given. By the end of 2008, Apple had sold about 10 million iPhones – far from the 45 million to 75 million it sells each quarter. BlackBerry had 14 million users and had sales of $ 6 billion for the year. People were addicted to their email-friendly smartphones, which (affectionately) were referred to as "crackberries" until the mid-2000s.
Following the release of the iPhone, Blackberry's parent, Research in Motion (RIM), was unimpressed by the revolutionary device. A story from that period indicates that RIM founder Mike Lazaridis showed co-CEO Jim Balsillie an iPhone that cared more about how closely AT & T had worked with Apple on the device than the slim rival for his could mean own business]
Well, they were not.
Within a few years, the world's leading smartphone maker lost everything but 1% of the market for Apple and devices running Google's Android operating system. In 2016, the production of smartphones was discontinued, focusing instead on software and automotive services. In 2017, it generated annual revenues of approximately $ 1 billion.
But the world loves a comeback story. And now BlackBerry is back.
The BlackBerry Key2: A New Hope
Similar to Nokia, another telecommunications company of the 2000s, BlackBerry now licenses its name to another company to build its phones. Unlike Nokia, which sent a massive wave of nostalgia over its remastered simple phones, the devices the Chinese company TCL ships under the BlackBerry name feel as pointless as BlackBerry's desperate attempts to remain relevant than the iPhone the power came.
At a New York event earlier this month, the new BlackBerry Key2 was introduced. It is the successor to the first BlackBerry made by TCL in April 2017, the KeyOne. In the last few weeks, I've been testing Key2 and trying to find out if there's anything that could bring BlackBerry to the table in 2018, anything that could possibly put it back in its glory days when you hear the click-click. Clack the user everywhere furiously typing on their tiny keyboards.
It seems, does not exist.
BlackBerry actually unveiled its first touchscreen phone in 2008, the BlackBerry Storm, and spent years trying to shoe what the iPhone largely attached to a box with a small keyboard attached to it. And the Key2, a decade later, is doing the same fight.
The Key2 is effectively a small Android smartphone with a tiny 1.5-inch keyboard attached to the bottom. It offers nothing you can not find on other smartphones – the cameras are bad, the battery is average, the display is nothing special and the physical keyboard slows down slowly. Even the software Blackberrys was known for, including BlackBerry Messenger and the messaging hub, is nothing special. (That said, I could not really test Messenger because I no longer had friends using BBM in 2018.) Unfortunately, TCL did not include a version of BrickBreaker, the BlackBerry game that was almost as addictive as the device itself key2.
For years, many arrested their Blackberrys because they thought typing on a physical keyboard was far better than typing on a glass. Then Apple's App Store opened the iPhone to other companies and the resulting boom in apps led to an absolute revolution in the way we use the Internet. Many chose an iPhone or an Android just because they provided more apps and services.
Another sequel nobody wanted
With the Key2 I have access to every app on the Android Google Play Store. As I used them, I was constantly reminded of how hard it was to wait for apps to load – and to wonder how much a physical keyboard really was worth. And after a decade of not using it, it was pretty hard for me to navigate. The phone also does not have many of the other modern conveniences that its competitors offer, such as water resistance, wireless charging, or face recognition security. It's a big, square phone that does not fit comfortably in your hand or pocket, gently nudging you when you move. Maybe it reminds you of your bad life choices that led you to a BlackBerry in 2018.
The Key2's only really mercy is that it costs $ 650. That's far less than an iPhone X, a Samsung Galaxy S9 or Note 8 and a little less than an iPhone 8. But there are other, more powerful devices for about the same price, including the Google Pixel 2 and OnePlus 6.
In a counterfactual reconstruction of the story, in which BlackBerry still prevailed and Apple had never decided to go into phones (and become the richest company in the US), its flagship 2018 would likely resemble the Key2. It is a mutated device that nobody really needed or asked. But if everything were available, we would reluctantly get away with it. Fortunately, there are many better phones today.