Turning inner space into outer space

January 2, 2014

Even iPhone lovers should be rooting for BlackBerry

John Gruber, at Daring Fireball, counters those in the technology press who seem bored with technology:

There’s a nihilistic streak in tech journalism that I just don’t see in other fields. Sports, movies, cars, wristwatches, cameras, food — writers who cover these fields tend to celebrate, to relish, the best their fields have to offer. Technology, on the other hand, seems to attract enthusiasts with no actual enthusiasm.

He makes a compelling argument and I agree with almost every word.

I was struck, though, by the word “nihilistic” because it seems to apply to some of the comments Gruber has made himself. How else to explain the unseemly way that he rubs his hands with glee whenever there is bad news about BlackBerry.

On Dec. 20, under the heading BlackBerry Posts Huge Loss, he writes: “Last one to leave, please turn out the lights.”

On Aug. 13, under the heading How the iPhone and Bad Decisions Killed BlackBerry, he writes: “I hate to toot my own horn, but I called it back in 2008, while BlackBerry’s (née RIM’s) share price was still over $150, and where by ‘hate’ I mean ‘smugly enjoy’.”

It would be easy to conclude that nothing less that non-existence for BlackBerry would make him happy.

I’ve notice similar comments at The Loop by Jim Dalrymple:

On Feb. 8, under the heading Eulogy for BlackBerry, he writes: “Hey, what’s that noise? BlackBerry circling the drain.”

To be fair, his blog sometimes shows some sympathy. On July 25, under the heading More layoffs at BlackBerry, he writes: “Not a big surprise, but I always feel bad for the workers. I hate seeing anyone lose their job, especially when it’s because a company is being mismanaged.”

I don’t mean to pick on these two writers — it’s just that I’m a fan of their blogs and I take notice of what they have to say. Remarks such as these are found on many blogs about the smartphone industry.

Here’s what I think is going on.

Because smartphones are fairly new, it’s still up in the air as to who will “win” the platform wars. Apple fans would love to see iOS dominate, especially having “lost” the Windows vs. Mac war. Android fans have their own reasons for hoping their system of choice will come out ahead. There are even people cheering for Windows and and BlackBerry.

I’m convinced, though, that the competition among smartphone systems is not the zero-sum game many people think it is. It has matured to the point where iOS and Android will for sure continue to thrive, and Windows has a fighting chance. I know the odds are against it, but I’m hoping BlackBerry makes a comeback. And I like seeing efforts such as the Firefox OS getting some traction.

Why? For the same reason I hope Nintendo hangs in there as a gaming platform. Choice is good for consumers and it compels developers to keep innovating.

I don’t like it when I occasionally see a cool feature in an Android phone that is not available for the iPhone. But I know that if it becomes popular enough, Apple or a third-party developer will — in many cases — bring it over to iOS.

So let all the systems and platforms flourish — even BlackBerry.