By Ayodeji Morakinyo
I was just standing outside a customer’s premises, waiting for a car to come pick me, when my eyesight caught a middle-aged lady rushing towards the same door I had exited, looking over her left shoulder and screaming loudly “Ping me! Ping me! I cannot hear you.”
As she hurriedly walked past me, I tried to decipher what was happening. Obviously, she had alighted from one of the many Suzuki cars parked outside by the walkway and could not wait to hear what her driver was telling her. She was carrying filed documents so she must have been going for a meeting. And one more thing, she was probably late. In fact, very late, because my wristwatch at that exact period was showing 2.17pm. Then it occurred to me that her driver too was using a blackberry and whatever the issue was, he was going to ping her during at her meeting.
In 2009, just as the iphone fad climaxed, the next “thing” to catch people’s attention was the just around the corner. Like the iphone, it promised to be sleek, stylish and expensive, to offer uncountable applications and get many technophiles busy. Except technologists, no one expected it. It came into the scene bold and curve, holding a javelin in one hand and pointing a touch in the other. It came first to the city and then travelled to the slums before finding its way to the nooks and crannies of Nigeria and everywhere the 3G telephone signal went. It is still here in Lagos where the craze first started but for how long it will stay, no one knows. It is the almighty blackberry. Nicknamed BB and developed by the Research in Motion (RIM) company, this adult’s toy or tool (depending on how it is used) is now becoming the envy of little children.
I was an industrial trainee somewhere in Victoria Island when the BB entered Lagos. It did not struggle to introduce itself because the luxurious taste and tech groove of many lagosians quickly got its demand going. Like hot cakes served with iced coke, the BB sold.
Many people around me, both those who had business using it and those whose salary rebuked it, were soon scheming and strategizing on how to purchase one. Today the idea is, if you are not using a BB and planning to buy one, you have been left behind. I even overheard a big girl persuading her boyfriend to make sure he got her another type on her forthcoming birthday. But the other idea is that those whose businesses demand on-the-go Internet connectivity definitely needed portable Internet devices like the BB smartphone. When high school seniors, yet-to-be matriculated undergraduates and unemployed adults start declaring their want of blackberries, you should know it is just because of the craze. Bitter truth: if your job or studies does not demand the use of an expensive smartphone or if you already have a laptop and reliable internet connectivity, owning a BB might just be an unwarranted liability.
The BB has competed effectively with the iphone and won majority of the market share available in Nigeria. Now, here is why that happened. Unlike the iphone, the BB first allows you to ping till your thumbs turn red. That’s because it has an in-built blackberry messenger (BBM) to which other BB users whom you permit only can connect. In these days when people want to get things fast and easy, BB ownership becomes very irresistible. The instant e-mail messaging notification available on blackberries comes in as another plus for the RIM product. Yet, the BB offers a QWERTY keyboard and its GPS functionality makes Google maps application work effectively. These are reasons why many youths say it is the in-thing. In contrast, the entertainment-centeredness, simplicity and ease of use which iphones have, have not convinced smartphone consumers to want them more than BBs. Nevertheless, many get lost while navigating around their BBs when the touch pads of iphones are so soft that old babies can use them.
In the actual sense, many of those who have bought BBs did so either because they wanted to ping someone or they wanted someone to ping them. But, what is this pinging all about? Pinging originates from the words, “Packet Inter-Network Groper” which, according to Wikipedia, is a computer network administration utility used to test the reachability of a host on an Internet Protocol (IP) network and to measure the round-trip time for messages sent from the originating host to a destination computer. Those were some big jargons. In simpler words, it is a technology that allows two or more users of certain compatible devices communicate through a physical or wireless link. So, when next you’re pinging someone, remember that what you are doing is, sending them information packets through the internet connection existing between the telephone service providers within and outside your country.
On an advisory note, pinging is a great thing but care should be taken not to abuse it.
Many BB users are becoming less concerned about their environments because of their seldom detachment from the device.
Spouses have isolated their partners, friends have gotten hit on the streets and people’s cars have been repeatedly dented while in traffic because they were pinging uncontrollably. Maybe soon, FRSC will have to begin a park before you ping campaign before this new technology takes over the course of traffic. Really, blackberries do wonders but users must learn to consider their environments before doing the pinging thing.