New Year’s Resolutions for BlackBerry

I loved my BlackBerry – I really did. So much so that my then-fiance had to threaten to throw it out of the window if he saw it on our wedding day – tweeting down the aisle anyone?

Safe to say both the BlackBerry and myself survived not only the big day and the honeymoon, but also the enforced separation.

The problem is, 18 months after taking out my 2-year contract, I’ve simply fallen out of love with my BlackBerry Bold 9000… Yes, it’s still always close at hand, but as the New Year ticks gradually closer I can’t help but mentally start ticking down the days until I can upgrade.

There was a time when I was firmly a BlackBerry-til-I-die brand advocate, but I’m slowly slipping towards the Iphone and the Android market – so what could BlackBerry do to keep me fighting their corner?

  1. Get a wiggle-on with Ap Functionality – I accept a lot of the ap’s created for the BlackBerry are not created by BlackBerry themselves – however something needs to be done about the clunkiness of Ap functionality.  Take Facebook Places, it was rolled out within weeks to the US and UK on iphone and Android, but it took months before BlackBerry users were able to access the function.  My upgrade finally downloaded last month – 2 months after it’s UK launch in September – but still I haven’t been able to successfully check-in.  And it appears that I’m far from the only one….
  2. Sort out the dodgy Handset design –  Fair play to BlackBerry, this has already happened – but only in part.  Whilst it isn’t a patch on the iphone 4 aerial debacle, the main way of navigating around a non-touch screen BlackBerry is through a central roller ball or pad… and it’s blooming annoying when the thing stops working.  In my case I can’t scroll down.  So as long as your text/email/status/webpage doesn’t go off-page we’re on to a winner…  Otherwise I’ve got a major problem.
  3. Indulge in a new look – I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who has spent far too long fishing in my bag hoping to be lucky to get a nibble off my BlackBerry.  Whilst I accept the design of the BlackBerry case is very stylish, suitably corporate and very handy for ensuring a prolonged battery life, is sleek black design does make it incredibly difficult to locate in the dark-depths of a handbag or briefcase!  I could  buy a special case for my BlackBerry that’s in a different colour, but when I bought my BlackBerry replacement cases were £70 – more than I paid for the phone!  So at the moment I’m resorting to stickers.

Clearly Resolutions 2 and 3 are very much personal niggles I have about the BlackBerry Bold 9000 product (which I accept is fairly elderly in mobile technology terms), however the first Resolution really needs to addressed if BlackBerry have any hope of keeping mobile-wise users going back to their brand.

Gen Y are all about smart-phones, communication and easy-accessed information on-the-go – and BlackBerry really seems to be lagging behind in this field. Even the newly launched BlackBerry Ap World, designed to make Ap downloading more stream-lined, keeps crashing my BlackBerry (even after system re-stores and the correct operating system upgrades)…  Clearly something really needs to be done.

In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions on what phone I should look to get when my 2011 upgrade should finally come round I’m all ears…

Happy New Year everyone – see you on the other side!



Why I’ll be sending Cards not Updates

I’ve read a lot of blog posts this year about how Facebook is taking over from the traditional card when it comes to wishing your fellow-man a Happy Christmas.  Now whilst it can’t really be argued that the sales of Christmas cards are declining, that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.

Whilst I am fully aware of the environmental effects of Christmas cards (I make sure to recycle my cards each year, and post as many by hand as possible to reduce mileage), to me there is nothing the helps you get into the festive mood quite like being frosted in Christmas card glitter.

Look! Festive Meerkats!

I admit there have been years in the past when I have chosen to donate money to charity rather than forking out my hard-earned pennies on pieces of card, however the disappointment that I’ve channelled into this blog isn’t over an individual’s choice of whether or not to send cards… it is that fact that a lot of people are turning to Facebook.

Now, for those of you who have read my blog before you’ll know I love social media, so you might be wondering why on earth I’m wading in as devil’s advocate…  Social media is all about being social, it’s all about making a connection and developing it whether for friendship, or for business, where as Christmas cards are the very embodiment of trivial social interaction –  “To A ‘Happy Christmas!’ From B” – but at least I know you’ve gone to the effort of selecting the card, locating a pen, searching out your address book, and physically writing that card.

No matter how many seconds it may have taken you to scribe that seemingly bland platitude, the fact is I know that for those few moments you were focused 100% on me.  With e-cards, whether on Facebook or elsewhere, I always have that nagging feeling that I am just one of many people copied into an address field.

My fear is that with more and more people running to their online profiles to send their festive greetings, we’ll eventually forget, or at least lose touch with, traditional methods of communication.  Just last year I received a thank you letter from a relative typed on a computer – whilst there is nothing wrong with this in essence, I was deeply saddened to see that rather than taking a few minutes to whole heartedly thank me for my gift my young relation decided to simply stretch his mail merging muscles…

To me there are some situations where technology should really be used with caution, and no matter how far into the computerised world we move, we should not forget the value of the personal touch.

So this year I’ll be spending many an evening surrounded by scraps of paper, swearing at every smudge and mis-spelt name, frantically calling my mother for mis-placed addresses in an attempt to write my cards.

So remember, if you receive a card from me: I didn’t use Facebook.  I risked paper cuts.


Facebook, Cartoons and Chinese Whispers

A lot of you know that I have a love of all things rainbow-y, what you may not know however is the source of spectrum-aholism.  The blame for that rests at the feet of 1980 Hallmark, and their creation Rainbow Brite… so when a Facebook status suggested I update my profile picture to a “cartoon,” it was hardly as if I needed asking twice.

Last week cartoon characters swept across profile pictures as the Facebook community were asked to change their photo to one of a cartoon from their childhood, in order to… well, that’s where the story comes slightly unstuck.

Whilst I loved seeing Facebook full of Captain Planet, Poddington Peas and Family Ness, the reason behind it all seems somewhat lost in a haze of chinese-whispers…

Stage 1:

Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal is not to see a human face on FB till Monday December 6th. Join the
fight against Child Abuse. Copy & paste to your status to invite your friends to do the same!!

Okay, we’re fighting Child Abuse. Sounds like a pretty sound cause.

It’s an incredibly emotive subject, and so this campaign is an interesting way to get coverage, and to get communities

talking about subjects that are often kept fairly private – and in a nice, non-shocking way.

No, changing your Facebook picture to a smurf isn’t going to rid the world of abused children, but it might make people think more about donating to charities that support victims, and work towards preventing it.

Stage 2:

Changeyour Facebook profile picture to a cartoon character from your
childhood and invite your friends to do the same, for the NSPCC. Until
Monday (December 6th), there should be no human faces on Facebook, but
an invasion of memories. This is a campaign to stop violence

It’s the NSPCC! Of course!  Known for fighting child abuse.  Makes sense.

But the chinese whispers effect is kicking in – “Child Abuse” is too shocking, and here is translated, and mediated by many dots into something slightly more palatable.

Stage 3

Change your facebook profile picture to a
cartoon character from your childhood and invite your friends to do
the same 🙂 until Monday there should be no human faces on facebook,
but an invasion of memories..! This is for a campaign against
violence on children ♥

So, we’ve got a few added smilies and hearts (you can’t forget the smilies and hearts – not in a “Copy And Paste Me” status update) – but most importantly why we’re doing it is clear: Right?

Except for the fact the NSPCC announced on Twitter that they had nothing to do with the campaign…

Whilst it was becoming increasingly more obvious that the campaign was not being strategically lead, by denying any association with it the NSPCC caused a ripple effect across the social sphere…

Which lead rather tragically to Stage 4:

People are being urged not to change there profile pictures too caroon characters as it has nothing to do with the nspcc or child viloence its actually a group of peadophile s using it as it a tool because children are accepting friend reuests quicker and more often as they are seeing a cartoon and not a profile pictur…e, its been on the news RESEARCH IT copy and paste to let everyone no about these sick people

Rather than accept that this campaign had grown organically, and was actually being a positive influence, the whispers machine goes into over-drive.  Somewhere out there on the World-Wide-Web someone either got scared, or decided to cause some damage.  Suddenly, all the cute fuzzy faces of Care Bears staring out of profile pictures became masks for something a lot more sinister.  Personally I see that there is very little logic in what the Stage 4 status suggests… but it did succeed in dampening the flood of cartoons.

To me, what this whole saga proves is that Facebook campaigns like this really do have the power to go viral – spreading you message around the world in a matter of minutes.  No matter who started this campaign it did raise awareness and profile of the NSPCC and similar charities. But what this campaign also proves is that it is also important to ensure that built into your strategy is a way for people to find out more, a way to keep them engaged with the campaign, the message and to get involved more deeply with the focus charity and cause.

This campaign wasn’t just about cartoons, and because it wasn’t led and managed it lost control. If you start a viral campaign, you need to make sure that it is your message that goes viral with it.