“Good morning peasant” is how my message read. By the time I caught the autocorrect mistake, Prashant was sitting there baffled by this classist opening. I cursed my phone, it had no keyboard and tapping the screen with some haptic feedback for assurance was all one got. It was early days for smartphones, but God knows I already missed my Blackberry.

Since then, many years have passed, and two things have remained unchanged – my desire for wielding a new ‘Berry’ model and the illogical changes of autocorrect. If there is anything that makes me believe that we are far from any AI taking over, it’s thanks to the absolute inefficiency of autocorrect. 

The Blackberry, which is officially dead today after the Canadian company that owns the rights to the phone announced the end of its support to the Blackberry OS, was more than just a phone. In the decade starting the year 2000, it was the first smartphone that became a status symbol. Owning a Blackberry announced to the world that you had arrived, that you were an important person who couldn’t wait to get to a PC or laptop, at home or the office,  to answer an email. You had to answer the email on the phone.

It was among the earliest phones that allowed frictionless up and down scrolling through messages and emails using a  trackball and later a trackpad. Its broad ergonomic design made it easy, for the first time,  to use both hands to type, which made writing on the phone easy. The tactile QWERTY keyboard was an added pleasure. Blackberry was a pioneer when it came to Notifications for new messages. A small dot of a red LED light on top flashed every time a new email arrived. 

Of course,  how can one forget the Blackberry Messenger or BBM, that much-loved application that allowed instant messaging and group chats for the first time? To be part of a BBM group in the early days was a privilege. It was an idea that later evolved to apps like WhatsApp and WeChat. 

Above all, in the early days of mobile phones, Blackberry personified the idea that touch and pressure-governed functions were solidly reliable. There were no fancy games or tricks, just that getting to anywhere on the screen was so much quicker and simply going through daily communication tasks so quickly and efficiently left us with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. There was no other device even in the vicinity if you wanted a workhorse. And even after all that work, you still had enough juice for some music on the go.

I remember being an early adapter – I had used the Nokia communicator phones to type out entire columns – and had taken to a Blackberry like a 60s copy editor to a Remington typewriter. I typed out columns and business proposals, entire emails, formal petitions, and even the occasional love note. The ease of use and navigation made it the ultimate device. 

And then, in 2007, I remember watching the first Apple presentation with the late Steve Jobs extolling the virtues of a keyboard-less iPhone and how that was the future. I had scoffed; there was no way a screen could ever really feel as sturdy and sure as a keyboard. Alas, he knew better. But I still doubt whether life with a no keyboard phone is a step forward. 

Many millennia down, they might discuss this transitioning much doubt and wonder, much like the sudden disappearance of the Bronze Age, how did mankind take such a massive step back. Why was it considered more advanced to transfer to a system that makes far more errors and works a lot less intuitively?

But therein also lies the hubris that possibly took the Berry down. They showed about as much innovation in the last decade as a sledgehammer. Sure, a touchscreen is great and nifty, and they should have worked at incorporating it with the keyboard, not seeing it as a parallel form of input. Instead of aligning and collaborating, the more recent devices seemed to give it the stepchild treatment. The result —the foster kid left the family behind and never looked back.

Today, as the Berry shuts down once and forever, I feel sad but relieved. The last few attempts from the brand had been so half baked and desperately lamentable. I’m just glad to see them go and live with memories of happier times.

This article was typed out on my Samsung Galaxy Fold 3, and I still miss the feeling of a solid keyboard beneath my fingers. Adios Blackberry, you will always remain essential to where we are today.

Images: Instagram/Blackberry