London Riots: BlackBerry gets drawn into blame

Posted on by Mike Evans

The weekend’s criminal riots in London’s Tottenham district have been blamed by the loony left on the Government’s spending cuts. More sensible commentators look for other reasons. Some papers have blamed the BlackBerry. According to The Telegraph:

The Tottenham riots were orchestrated by teenage gang members who used the latest mobile phone technology to incite and film the looting and violence. Gang members used Blackberry smart-phones designed as a communications tool for high-flying executives to organise the mayhem. The Blackberry phone, one of the first devices to offer mobile email, was once the preserve of business leaders and political aides but has become increasingly popular with members of urban gangs and teenagers.

The BlackBerry, with its popular and secure Blackberry Messenger service (BBM), has become the propaganda weapon of choice for gang members in some of Britain’s worst areas. And the RIM phone is reaching cult status among urban teenagers. Even I have noticed the numbers of young people wielding BlackBerrys, which used to be the preserve of the business community. At this rate it will not be long before traditional users feel embarrassed owning a BlackBerry. That will be the beginning of the end.

A large chunk of the BlackBerry’s continuing business in the UK is down to this growth in sales among urban teenagers. Cheap phones on contract mean that the RIM device is eminently affordable (unlike the iPhone) and the BBM, with its group communications capabilities, is ideal for social organisation. Even, dare I say, for organising a riot.

It is sad to see RIM’s once invincible business communicator taking on such a poor imagine. With customers like these, who needs enemies? There’s much for Horace Dediu to chew on here.

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