Blackberry experience: the cool and the uncool

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Got myself a Blackberry recently, triggered by two reasons: the seemingly endless wait for the iPhone 3GS India launch and some pretty aggressive pricing (under 16k, approx $320) & advertising from Airtel-Blackberry. Buoyed by the prospect of the Mac version of official Blackberry desktop software being launched this month, I ventured into unfamiliar territory.

The Airtel network coverage sucks at my place of work and so there I was on M G Road, trying to get through to them. Am not kidding, I tried all of 9 times before I could speak to a human being. I would dial 121 and that annoying voice would welcome me, followed by deathly silence. When I finally got through, I had a call drop four times, mid way through the call. Aargh. Enough to tear my hair out. 5th time around, I was asked to call 7070 – the dedicated help line number for Blackberry. Why didn’t the first 4 guys guys tell me that? The enormity of white lies in advertising – seamless network coverage anywhere, the ease with with you can seize the moment, shiny happy people, the ever helpful customer service – flashed before my eyes. The good thing was that I got a call later from both Blackberry & Airtel about the service issues. Since I was busy, I had asked the Blackberry customer service to call me after half an hour. I haven’t heard from them since. It could be because all the services are fine now but a follow up call would have worked wonders.

I had set up personal emails on my iPod Touch on my home Wi-Fi service and it’s a breeze. I am hoping that the iPhone’s Microsoft Exchange support will be as easy to set up. With Blackberry it’s a tad more complicated, with me having to give my email ID details (including password) on the phone to Airtel support. And then comes the installation and handling on the PC. The Roxio Media Capture hung a few times, but after such minor fits & starts, I have it all up and running.

I can imagine why the Blackberry cult is so huge among the corporates. With the Airtel pricing and the push on Blackberry Apps for social networking, the attempt seems to be to expand the appeal to the youth. The choice of apps is not as wide as the App Store on iTunes but overall, it’s a great mobile phone and internet device. Among the apps, I found Viigo and Twixtreme to be cool. Overall, the seamless integration of services and the choice of apps would perhaps give iPhone the edge. The sheer visibility of the Blackberry campaign along with the attractive pricing is a great incentive for someone unfamiliar with the platform to try it out. Something Apple has to learn from.

And oh, I had to call Airtel again, since the read mails on Gmail where still showing as unread on my handset even after syncing. I was told by the support executive, ‘that’s how it is’. So much for technical support.

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