Apple’s iPhone seems to have finally triumphed in the mobile phone war because of the BlackBerry global breakdown.
‘Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough…”, for a data centre amid Betjeman’s benighted landmark is at the centre of this week’s global BlackBerry breakdown and what Planet Techno is apocalyptically referring to as “the outage”.
Surely there is an ‘r’ missing here? As, for those of us who have resisted the cult of all things Apple Mac, three days with our phones reduced to, well, phones, has been the final straw in our mortification.
The whole BlackBerry collapse has reduced me to animal howls of rage. Once, I could pass my CrackBerry dependence off as edgily non-consumerist, as if I was someone who spent her time contemplating Proust rather than amassing apps. When comrades lauded the virtues of their “intuitive” iPhones, I could inform them that the gizmo might be, but I was not. But now I merely resemble the most roadkill of Luddites.
Naturally, Britishly, I blamed myself. Accordingly, I spent a good deal of Monday removing the back, guts and brain of my device, blowing on them, spitting and turning them around three times, plus the myriad other superstitions we BlackBerry users engage in to make the wretched things play ball.
By the time I learnt that the meltdown was international, I was on the brink of getting myself with child to guarantee that I would never again find myself so technologically disfranchised.
I lost work and income. As ever, when I did not respond to emails, my father, colleagues and friends assumed I must be dead. My Twitter addiction went unsated.
As for my love life, its decimation is yet to be rectified, with cocktails, dinner engagements and more than one assignation going churlishly unanswered.
Some BlackBerry enthusiasts confessed that they secretly enjoyed the void. Astrology queen Shelley von Strunckel tweeted: “Here’s a wild & crazy thought.
Perhaps B’berry’s meltdown is an opportunity to do nothing. Not fiddle. Not check emails. Just to be.” Alas, I found myself more of Jemima Khan’s mind, irate at being behind on news and collective gags.
Analysts predict that this disaster could be curtains for BlackBerry. Well, who would have guessed it?
I had got used to the jibes from my “cooler” Apple-obsessed contemporaries. I had got used to BlackBerry’s “web ’n’ walk” being a euphemism for “no web, but feel free to walk about should you wish”.
I even quite liked the fact that – if one drops a BlackBerry – the service remains unaffected (that is, pretty poor). However, in an age in which virtual is the new actual, BlackBerry has proved itself the old non-existent.
Some equipment sneezed in Slough and the nation’s BlackBerrys caught a cold. I was in Television Centre, recording a piece for It Takes Two, and, everywhere I went, I passed people hunched mournfully over their phones, as if they might suddenly come to life by magic. What an indignity! If the virus had come from New York it might have sounded impressive, but Slough!
I viewed it all with haughty detachment. BlackBerry? What fool wants a BlackBerry? I have an iPhone – and not just any old iPhone, either. It is an iPhone 4 and white.
Apparently, a white iPhone is smart and only Luddites have black ones. I’ll take their word for it because I am so Luddite that, until a few months ago, I had neither an iPhone nor a BlackBerry, but an ancient mobile, a few issues after the bricks that we carried round in the early Nineties.
How did I live without an iPhone? Without emails and internet on tap at the slightest fingerstroke? Did I really function for six decades without this slim miracle accompanying me at all times, bleeping and donging in my handbag?
There were teething troubles. The first time I tried to access the National Lottery website, I received a stern rebuke, saying access was denied, but if I was over 18, I could apply to my service provider to have the restriction removed. I didn’t so much apply as mutiny.
Then a call to New Zealand was blocked, and I roared at Vodafone to remove all restrictions. I am a pensioner, dammit, not a teenager on Mum’s phone. They assured me I could now do anything, which I believed until I tried voting for Nancy and Anton and found an overlooked restriction on premium lines.
But, give or take those few glitches, I would canonise the chap who invented the iPhone. At dinner one night, someone asked who wrote the poem that starts “The boy stood on the burning deck” and, before you could say, “whence all but he had fled”, I had the answer – courtesy of my iPhone.
In my pocket I now have an encyclopedia, a telephone, a bulging address book, a calculator, alarm clock, games console and railway timetable – and the whole thing measures no more than a small purse.
When I am at a station, I saunter along to the platform because my iPhone has told me which it is, while all those poor i-less souls wait for it to be notified on the board.
When the train is delayed, I tap a few keys and I know immediately where it is and whether I have time for a cappuccino, while others stand, staring into the distance, afraid to venture far in case it suddenly arrives.
An apple caused an awful lot of trouble when the world began but it has certainly redeemed itself since.