I felt odd sitting at the airport chatting with a group of teenagers about why they all carried BlackBerry Phones. The conversation started off with 4 kids, but, soon ballooned into a brain storming session with nearly 30 talking about how they liked BlackBerry. I was not shocked these kids liked the BlackBerry as Robb has talked about how his daughter and friends love BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) on the Simple Mobile Review Podcast. What was interesting was almost every kid had an iPod Touch, and those without an iPod touch, had an iPod for music. I suspect no one here is shocked by this fact, but, it was interesting how this fact perfectly supported the statements of Michael Gartenberg on the Engadget Podcast 195.
Josh Topolsky, on the Engadget Podcast, was obviously bothered when Michael explained how his kids wanted Microsoft Kin + iPod Touch over having an iPhone. As I was sitting with all of these kids I had to wonder how Josh would respond to 30 kids all using BlackBerry and holding iPod Touches. This paradigm is not different from choosing a Microsoft Kin as your phone and iPod Touch as your game device.
I asked if anyone wanted the iPhone and almost all of them said, “No, I have an iPod Touch”. I tried to argue that with the iPhone you would carry only one device, but, quickly schooled on how the BlackBerry is better and faster for messaging. I pushed on talking about one device for doing everything, but in the end it was clear having an extra 10 oz – 20 oz device was not critical when you carry a purse or backpack everywhere.
Adults say that kids use devices differently from way most of us do and this fact was completely reinforced when a single kid, the group Tech King, showed me all his auto text shortcuts that he created on the BlackBerry to save time when typing. I was not floored by the concept of BlackBerry Auto Text as I have written an article about how I used this feature. What was shocking, however, was that he appeared to have hundreds of shortcuts. It looked like acronym soup, but he said is saves him having to use special keys 90% of the time which slows his typing. He showed my how he can type a time without using numbers.
One kid commented getting a BlackBerry got his dad off his back about sending too many text messages. Confused, I asked how he slowed his messaging habits down due to the BlackBerry and he explained that BBM messages are displayed on his mobile bill thus all his dad knows is the number of SMS messages has drastically gone down. Most kids admitted to sending between 400 and upwards of 1000 messages via BBM daily and that was on top of SMS messages.
I did wonder if a group of kids would be a dedicated to BBM, or put another way tied to the BlackBerry because of a single feature. Most talked about using BBM for group conversations over SMS. BBM group talk seemed to be the biggest use for most of the kids. I tried to talk about IM (instant message), but quickly got schooled. The real value of BBM was unlimited, unrecorded communication. No one really cared how they talked as they all had each others mobile numbers and BlackBerry PIN. No matter how you look at it BBM rocks the house.