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By 19 November 2013 | Categories: news

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By Deep Fried Man

Photo: GA Goodman

I realise that this is meant to be a tech column, so I hope you forgive me because rather than writing about technology this time round I have decided to focus on BlackBerry instead.

It’s no secret that BlackBerry is in a spot of bother. Once the world’s dominant phone company, it is currently for sale, and also may have to lay off up to 40% of its workforce. In June, it was reported to have suffered a loss of $84 billion. All of this can be attributed to the terrible and thoughtless practice perpetrated by rival telecommunications companies of producing much, much better phones. Ones with flabbergasting technological innovations such as the ability to display graphics and battery power that lasts for more than four hours.

But, while the gods of fortune have seen BlackBerry transform from the giants to the hobbits of the international smartphone world, they are still a massive hit in South Africa. This places us firmly in the illustrious category of nations that still insist on using BlackBerrys, an impressive list of spectacularly successful countries that includes the Philippines, Indonesia and Haiti.

While we somehow managed to hustle entry into the collective of emerging global economic powers known as BRICS, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and then us tacked on at the end, perhaps it is to SHIP (South Africa, Haiti, Indonesia & the Philippines) that we really belong. SHIP being an apt name indeed because a ship is what people used for transport before better technology became available, just as a BlackBerry is what we used to use for communication before other options were affordable. As with other things, like racial equality, we’re just a little slower to catch on than the rest of the world.

It’s good to know the company cares about us enough to try and convince us that things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Other than BlackBerrys, one of the things South Africans love the most is the open letter. Steve Hofmeyr sends them to Julius Malema. Various people respond by sending their own open letters to Steve Hofmeyr. Kenny Kunene sends them to Jacob Zuma, just because he felt a little bit left out. And now, we will be delighted to learn that our favourite company has also taken a stab at our favourite pastime: BlackBerry has written an open letter to reassure its customers and partners that everything is ok.

It’s a fine letter. Well written and with most of the desperation and despair that underlies it well hidden. Sure, most people around the world will respond, ‘what’s a BlackBerry?’, but here down in the southernmost tip of Africa it’s good to know the company cares about us enough to try and convince us that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Because if, gods forbid, the company did stop producing the incredible devices they’re so famous for, what on earth would we and the other fine nations of SHIP do?

We would be forced to progress.

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