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Why is D.C. a BlackBerry town?

Everywhere you look in the region -- if you can take your eyes off your smartphone -- people seem to be on BlackBerrys. But everywhere you look in other big cites -- such as New York -- people are on iPhones. Something is amiss, right?

So we're wondering: Do you think this is a BlackBerry town? Why? Our reporting begins with some digital bread crumbs: The government, for instance, is all BlackBerry --- largely for security reasons. But other big employers around the region are also heavy BlackBerry purchasers -- why?

It could be a cultural thing, right? Does the government's dominance in the BlackBerry world spread like a virus to other employers around the region that interact with bureaucrats? What would Malcolm Gladwell say about it all?

We're anxious to hear from readers about what the smartphone policies are where they work. Are employees pushing for more iPhones? Or are we too sophisticated (or boring) for the App World? Tell us about the decisions you've made or that you've observed in your workplace--and let us know your thoughts about what BlackBerry's dominance in this region says about the nature and culture of Washington--on the comment boards below.

By Michael S. Rosenwald  | June 2, 2010; 12:09 PM ET
Categories:  Build-A-Story  
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Comments

Pretty simple:
1) The only lines of communication that didn't fail on 9/11 was the blackberry PIN message system.

2) Nasa now allows Iphones.

Posted by: Natstural | June 2, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

There is not much of an option for people who work in government. I work in congress and everyone is issued a BB.
I do think that because DC is so much more work oriented that other cities that the cool aps, music, etc that you get on an Iphone are less appealing here.

Posted by: vmorris | June 2, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Rather than rely on unreliable anecdotal evidence, why not get some hard data: how do Blackberry vs iPhone (vs other smartphone) sales compare in the DC area versus other major US metropolitan areas? Are Blackberry devices really that much more prevalent in the DC area? What do government agencies purchase versus Fortune 500 companies? That sounds like a lot more rigorous approach than soliciting comments - even if it jeopardizes your underlying hypothesis.

Posted by: jfoust | June 2, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Alot of people can't deal with AT&T's shoddy service!

Posted by: questioningauthority | June 2, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Seems like Metro access is the clear deciding factor for a lot of people. Until recently, iPhones (AT&T) got no reception in the Metro system, and it is still only at certain stations.

Posted by: DC_Grrl | June 2, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I've been told that international email roaming is significantly more expensive on iPhones than on Blackberries. (That is certainly the case with the Palm Treo that I used to use to get corporate email.) This would be a deal breaker where I work (the IMF, where Blackberries also rule).

Posted by: kiffmeister | June 3, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Why did you write this? Blackberrys are more common nationwide. They've been out longer, there's more models, and they're available on all carriers. We're no different from anyone else. I love my iPhone and see tons and tons of people using them. It would appear that more workplaces issue blackberries. I'm sure if you went to New York of Philadelphia or Baltimore or San Franciso, you'll see the same thing. I don't know how you rank the coolness factor of those other cities but I doubt that your coolness factor has much to do with phone sales.

This story is just trying to paint a picture of our city that isn't accurate: that we're somehow "dull" or "unhip" or something. Total cliche from the 1980s. Maybe it was once true but that day is gone. If you look at the younger adults, you'll find a population whose cosmopolitan makeup rivals New York or anywhere else in the United States. Maybe all the boomers have self-image issues relating to their "coolness" but we sure don't. This story has more to do with playing on out-of-date cliches and anecdotes than anything to do with blackberries and iPhones.

And, once again, coming from an iPhone user and fan, how is an iPhone "cooler" than a blackberry? I have an iPhone because I like using it and I like how it does what it does. It has nothing to do with coolness. No one thinks I'm "cooler" because of what kind of machine I carry in my pocket.

Posted by: Cavan9 | June 3, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Blackberries work better with Corporate email systems, are more secure, and are less expensive than the iPhone. Most importantly, the Verizon network is much better in the DC area than the AT&T network (metro access, better call quality)and Verizon doesn't sell the iPhone.
I agree with Cavan9, there is no "coolness factor" here. Folks who need access to email simply choose the device that works best for them.

Posted by: SL6553 | June 3, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

If you ride the metro, I'd say its fairly even between the two. I'm amazed how many iPhones there are. I've been to a few concerts lately too and there I'd say iPhones dominate bb by a significant number. Waiting for Erykah Badu to start last weekend, I counted in my small section I could see 9 iPhones to 2 bb.

Though maybe bb people just don't get their phones out as frequently.

Posted by: adbspam | June 4, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I had no idea that Blackberries were more secure, but if they are, I sure wish they'd give me an I-Phone version of a Blackberry. Those little keys on the old-fashioned ones we were given make it very hard to write more than one sentence. I need to get back to my computer to really answer / correspond after having seen a message on my Blackberry.

Posted by: AdventurerVA | June 4, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I had no idea that Blackberries were more secure, but if they are, I sure wish they'd give me an I-Phone version of a Blackberry. Those little keys on the old-fashioned ones we were given make it very hard to write more than one sentence. I need to get back to my computer to really answer / correspond after having seen a message on my Blackberry.

Posted by: AdventurerVA | June 4, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

At work the government people have blackberry official phones, but all have iPhones for personal use.

Posted by: brocrow2000 | June 5, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I just prefer my Blackberry. That said, I also prefer Verizon and they do not offer the iPhone. I honestly don't think I would get an iPhone if Verizon did offer it. And I do not take out my Blackberry much on the subway or other public places.

Posted by: ctree | June 7, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Blackberry is better for email. Real keyboard.
Blackberry is more secure.
AT&T wireless is weak in this area.

Future is Android.

Posted by: staticvars | June 7, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

My employer pays for Blackberry and its linked to my business email - if my employer swithces to I-phone (and pays for it), I'll switch too. Otherwise, if all else were equal, I'd like to try the I-phone as it offers more apps and flexibility. I just got a new Blackberry Storm - its a neat device, but a very limited # of "Apps" and the provider, Verizon, limits its features - for example and most annoying is that they limit the "search" options to "Bing" (I'd much rather use Google). My kids have "droids and they also have many neat features - but as long as Blackberry is paid for and essential for work - Blackberry it is.

Posted by: VirginiaResident2007 | June 7, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

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