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BlackBerry Gets a Live Endorsement

I've been telecommuting in one form or another since 1995. I had broadband back when broadband meant wrestling with the phone company and its legions of under-trained installers to get a working ISDN line (and wiring, oh yes, the wiring) in my second-floor San Francisco flat.

In fact, telecommuting allowed me to move in 1997 from San Francisco to Burlington, Vt., where I quickly learned to appreciate how good the digital life was in the Bay area. I recall being given a stark choice between paying an arm and a leg for DirecTV satellite digital download service (the upstream was an analog dial-up line) or paying two arms and two legs for a dedicated 56K frame relay link from the telco to my home office. Cable services wouldn't arrive for another two years. DSL? A six-year wait.

And yet, 11 years after my move from San Francisco, I'm finally crossing the last bridge in my personal, digital divide. You see, last week I finally (finally) caved in and got a BlackBerry.

It's not that I wasn't willing to be of the body. I would've happily joined the ranks of the addicted and gotten a crackberry years ago, if I thought the darn thing would work up here. But cellular service in Vermont is as fickle as the weather. I'd say at least 40 percent of the cell phone calls with my wife consist entirely of the two of us shouting "What? What!?" into the phone. Calls drop when the wind shifts and routine conversations turn into fiscally disastrous international roaming sessions if I drive too close to the Canadian border.

In short, it's been a complete crapshoot.

But two things happened that changed my mind. One, service in Northwest Vermont has finally improved enough to make digital services tenable (if still a bit unpredictable), and two, the applications are awesome.

I must be on to something because less than 48 hours after getting a new BlackBerry 8130, Microsoft and RIM agreed to bring Windows Live services (like Live Hotmail and Live Messenger) to BlackBerry users. The move opens a broad platform for Live development and, I expect, will have important implications for Live Mesh development and adoption in the enterprise.

But let's not get distracted from what's important in all this: I have a BlackBerry. And if I (finally) have a BlackBerry, the divide is really closing. The era of ubiquitous and compelling device-borne apps has begun.

Am I getting ahead of myself, or am I so far behind that the world has actually wrapped around the screen and caught up to me from behind? You tell me. E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 05/13/2008

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