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Bye Bye, BlackBerry

Mixed emotions for Senate staffers over end of the BlackBerry era

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter checks his BlackBerry on his way into the Capitol in 2012. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter checks his BlackBerry on his way into the Capitol in 2012. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The news that BlackBerry use in the Senate will be discontinued is either the best news or worst news of the year for staffers.  

Offices received a notice from the Senate sergeant-at-arms at the end of June saying that BlackBerry had informed Verizon and AT&T that production of all BlackBerry OS 10 devices had been discontinued.  

“It’s about [insert expletive here] time,” one staffer said in a survey conducted by HOH.  

“I am forced to use this relic,” another griped about the BlackBerry .  

But another felt the opposite: “So upset.”  

HOH reached out to roughly a dozen Senate staffers who use BlackBerries for work about the announcement. Some have more than one.   

While BlackBerry will continue to support current devices, the usage will be discontinued once the Senate’s in-house stock has been exhausted.  

The SAA’s announcement indicated that as of June 29, the Senate had a little more than 600 devices in stock, and staffers’ phone choices now include Samsung Galaxy S6 Android devices and the iPhone SE.  

Those surveyed were asked what complaints they had about their work BlackBerries.  

While one respondent came back with an emphatic “none,” the lack of apps on the device was frequently cited as an issue.  

Another complaint was the keyboard. One staffer said the keys are unusable and dictating work e-mails is preferable while another said copy and paste functions are “annoying.” Additionally, the browser is “unreliable” and the battery life is “horrific.”  

When asked about what the staffers like about using a BlackBerry for work, one respondent opted for: “Absolutely nothing.”  

Contradicting the other responses, three of the staffers surveyed said the keyboard was easy to use. Another strength was the speed of email, which “sometimes arrives faster than on my desktop.” Staffers also mentioned the security, long battery life and durability as positives.  

When asked about possible changes to the way the Senate issues work phones, one respondent said staffers aren’t told anything about the issuing process. One just wanted to keep the keyboard phone while another had no complaints.  

Some welcomed the better device selection while another said, “Ditching BlackBerrys is a good start.”  

On Tuesday , BlackBerry announced it would discontinue the phones with a physical keyboard and trackpad.  

“After many successful years in the market, we will no longer manufacture BlackBerry Classic,” the Canadian company’s chief operating officer Ralph Pini wrote in a blog post .  

Last month, BlackBerry announced it lost $670 million in the three-month period ending May 31, nearly three times what it lost during its previous fiscal quarter. The loss was attributed largely to write-downs, according to Digital Trends .  

So staffers, you have two options: Treat your BlackBerry gently or accidentally drop it several times. Just kidding, but we are anxious to see what lengths people will go to preserve their cherished phones.

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