Mobile war across the dinner table

Can the divide between the iPhone users and the BlackBerry be crossed? Rupert Wright gives it his best shot.
In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, the land of Lilliput is split into two rival factions: the Little-Endians and the Big-Endians. This crucial difference was based on whether they ate their boiled eggs with the little end facing upwards, or the big end, a distinction that sparked a bloody civil war.

There is a split every bit divisive in modern society: whether you use a BlackBerry or an Apple iPhone. The other day at dinner I saw two couples sitting opposite each other, all with their smartphones sitting on the table in front of them like weapons. Two had iPhones, their friends BlackBerries. As an iPhone user I was pleased to see that the two Apple users were slimmer, more attractive and laughed more than the BlackBerry types.

When asked if I would be willing to test drive the PlayBook, the new tablet from BlackBerry, I agreed immediately. The split in my own family is divisive, but can it be breached? While I use an iPhone, my wife has a BlackBerry. I don't know who she is BBMing, but it's not me. So in the hope she might communicate with me I was prepared to put myself in enemy hands.

"One of the best things about the PlayBook is that it fits neatly into your handbag," said the nice young lady who lent me the device. I don't actually have a handbag. My brother, who lives in Rome, cannot leave home without his "manbag" but I have not been tempted to follow suit. Having regular facials is surely only a matter of time when you go down that route. Or manicures.

Even so, I was happy to get my unmanicured hands on the little tablet. For small it is, exactly the same size as a Penguin Classic. I downloaded the entire works of Dean Swift for free, then took it home to show my girls.

"Look what I've got," I said.

They started stroking it as if I had brought home a puppy, and moments later music started coming out of it. Justin Bieber was in my drawing room. Then they took it away into their bedrooms. Then my wife came home, said hello, went upstairs and took the tablet away from the children and spent the rest of the evening chatting to her friends before slipping it into her handbag.

So there it is: the new BlackBerry PlayBook is cute, downloads Gulliver's Travels, fits in your wife's (or brother's) handbag and keeps your daughters in their bedrooms. What more can you ask for from an electronic device?

Published: August 5, 2011 04:00 AM


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