Sometime in the fall of 2001, I was out in San Francisco on business and caught up with my buddy, Mark Casey. I went to business school with Mark and not only was he the smartest kid in our class of about 900, he was also techno-cool. I was feeling pretty damn techno-hip at the time too because just the prior week I had spent about $500 upgrading to the new PalmPilot V.
I have to pause for a moment to mention a lunch I had with Mark at SFO a few years prior, in the fall of 1999. I was working at a biotech company at the time, which had more or less been my career path my entire life. I told him I was about to start a venture capital fund with another B-school classmate to invest in Internet start-ups in India and China. I thought he would get all excited about this new venture that was most assuredly going to vault me headlong into the 1%. But, instead, uber analytical Mark said, “well, OK, have you worked in venture capital before?” Me: “Uh, no.” He reflected for a moment and said, “Have you been to India before? Do you know a lot about doing business and investing in India.” Me: “Uh, I like Indian food.” And, then finally, “Have you done business in China? Have you been to China? I understand it’s a challenging place to do business.” Me: “I like Moo-shi pork.” I probably should have listened to him, but it was 1999 and if you didn’t pursue at least one inane business dream during the Internet bubble, it was like living through the 60s and not growing out your hair. You would have just missed an entire era.
But, back to the 2001 lunch with Mark. I recall whipping out my shiny new PalmPilot V and he admired it appropriately, but then said, “I just got this thing called a Blackberry. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” Huh? What kind of berry is he talking about? The Palm V was right at the top of the technology heap. Why you could even compose an e-mail on it and, when you got back to the office, you could synch it up with your computer and the e-mail would send. Amazing, right?!
“Yeah,” Mark continued, “it’s kind of like a PalmPilot, only it has real time e-mail.”
My life has never been the same since. I bought one as soon as I got home. This one.
In the ensuing 11 years, I don’t think I’ve stopped at a single stoplight, waited in a single airport line, or taken a single #2 (sorry, TMI) without my trusty Blackberry to pass the time. It’s been more and more difficult to be a devoted Blackberry user these days with all those snooty iPhone users. I had to defend the concept of the keyboard with tactile feedback with a certain spiritual zeal.
But, I caved a few weeks ago. I bought an iPhone V (I hope it lasts longer than my Palm V). Despite that fact that it has a battery life of about 20 minutes and my e-mails come out like, “I meet will you Devonshire at the lunch from yesterday” I have to admit, I love it. I’m not going back. Therefore, I felt like I needed to say a few final tender words to the Blackberries that have served me so well these last 11 years.
You guys have been great. From the track wheel, to the track ball, to the infrared tracker, to the lame-ass attempt at a touch screen. From e-mail only to integrated e-mail and phone (remember having to carry two devices) to e-mail, phone, and (some very limited and painful to attain) Internet access. It has been a great run. I will miss you all.