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Why people still use BlackBerrys

It’s the smartphone everyone owns — and no one seems to like.

Peek into any executive conference room in America, and you’re bound to see one — or a dozen — of these anachronistic smartphones: BlackBerrys, their keys clicking like rain on a tin roof. Those red lights flashing, training their owners to pick them up on a second’s notice: An e-mail! A BBM! Answer me!

To owners of Android-based phones and the iPhone, particularly in the U.S., the BlackBerry is starting to look more than a little too old-school. These phones don’t really run apps. They don’t store much music. Their screens, in general, are much smaller than those of smartphone competitors, meaning it’s difficult or impossible to browse the Web comfortably or watch online video.

A new BlackBerry phone — the Torch — was unveiled on Tuesday by maker Research In Motion. Even hard-core BlackBerry users don’t seem that enthralled by it. Meanwhile, a survey released by the Nielsen Co. on Monday found the majority of U.S. BlackBerry owners — 58 percent — want to buy another kind of phone, usually an Android or iPhone, when they upgrade.

But here’s the kicker: Despite the fact that the BlackBerry isn’t hip, high-tech or cheaper than its main competitors, the phones are still the most popular (or at least the most common) in the U.S. market, and they’re growing internationally.

So why do so many people still tolerate these phones?

It turns out, according to a handful of interviews with BlackBerry users, there are three basic reasons: People are addicted to the click-clacking keyboard; they love the blinking red light on the top, which alerts users to new messages; and many just happen to have the phone because it’s required for work.

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About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy