Cup of Joe by Joe McParland, This Just In! - News

Blackberry and the President’s Choice Mobile App

Cup of Joe

For years my friends and colleagues have laughed at me and berated me for my ongoing allegiance to Blackberry.

I have been called a dinosaur, a pioneer, a grandpa, and many other less flattering names.  Many of my ‘trend-o-nite’ friends with their glitzy and flashy iPhones, Galaxies, LG’s etc., mock me because I have chosen to stay faithful to Blackberry, a Canadian Company and the only phone made by a Canadian Company.

Heck, even one of the co-founders of Blackberry is a home boy! Mike Lazaridis, hailed from LaSalle – just outside Windsor, although he dumped most of his shares in Blackberry for a cool $26 million back in December 2013.  So, yes, I support Canadian Companies, Canadian made products and I especially support local entrepreneurs like Lazaridis, who work hard and rise to the top of their field.

In the past two to three decades I have driven nothing but Fords – F150, Escort, Fusion and 3 different Escapes.  Knowing that Ford Canada had its beginnings here in Windsor has been all the motivation I need for me not straying far from Ford.

And when it comes to wines, nothing but Essex County Wines for this guy.  Fortunately, I am not a hoity-toity wine connoisseur and cannot distinguish between a Merlot and a Shiraz.  Nor can I evaluate the quality of local wines vis a vis wines from the more established Niagara and Southern California regions.  I just drink local wines and enjoy them all. But people more knowledgeable in wines than me assure me that our Essex County wines are indeed top shelf.

Locally produced craft beers and Walkerville Brewery products are also in my top tier of beer to be consumed in local watering holes, unless I find myself in one that doesn’t offer them; and that usually signals my last visit to that establishment.

I shop for my groceries in Canada, not the United States. And I go out of my way to support local restaurants who serve locally grown and raised products in their establishments. Rino’s Klitchen & Ale House on Elliott, and SnackBar-B-Q on Chatham, are just two of the many Windsor eateries supporting their community in this regard.

You get the picture I’ve tried to paint.  I try at all costs to be faithfully loyal to what is local and what is Canadian. (I AM JOE AND I AM CANADIAN!). So getting back to the beginning where I described my friends treating me like ‘One of These Things is Not Like the Others‘ (from Sesame Street) because of my Blackberry Passport, let me explain why I am ranting about this. It stems from this email from PC (President’s Choice) that I recently received on my PC (personal computer). It reads,

Dear Joe,

We wanted to inform you of some changes. Starting on January 31, 2016, the PC Plus® mobile app will no longer be supported on non-Android and non-iOS mobile devices. The app will continue to be available on Android 4.1 and up, and iOS 7.0 and later. We apologize for any inconvenience.

If you have an unsupported device, you can still load your weekly offers and access your account information from our mobile website on your mobile browser. If you used the barcode (mobile card) on the app to earn and redeem points at check-out, you will now need to pick-up a PC Plus® card in-store and link it to your existing PC Plus® account, or use your linked PC Financial® card. Thank you for being a member of the PC Plus® program.

For over thirty years I have purchased my groceries from either the Real Canadian Superstore or Zehrs, and prior to their existence, Loblaws. “Loblaws” is the umbrella company for Zehrs and The Superstore, along with a number of other named stores. I have carried a PC (President’s Choice) Plus Card for the past five years and have greatly benefitted with some significant financial savings. I also have the application downloaded to my PC (personal computer) and my Blackberry Passport, and each week load the new offers attracting redeemable points. When shopping, the app on my Passport is invaluable for letting me know the point values of what I am purchasing. Because of last year’s accumulated points, I was able host a Christmas dinner for ten that included turkey and prime rib and all the trimmings, and not pay a cent for the meal.

I recall how excited I was a few years ago when President’s Choice introduced this Blackberry compatible app because Blackberry’s OS 10 (QNX-powered operating system) is a non-android and non-iOS (Apple) operating system. These more popular OS’s dwarf Blackberry’s OS in terms of apps. So, for President Choice to create their app to be used both on Blackberry as well as other smartphone OS’s, this was way too cool for me.  For me, it seemed to legitimize Blackberry’s presence in the mobile world.

Then I received the email above from President’s Choice (PC Plus) announcing that my Blackberry, the only smart phone made by a Canadian Company, will no longer have the PC Plus app supported by this Canadian owned grocery empire. In my eyes, my Canadian smartphone suddenly went from being a first class phone to a second class phone because of their decision.

I understand that Blackberry has seen a steep decline by Canadian users. Back in 2009 it had an almost 2/3rds share of the Canadian smartphone market at 61%, but has fallen in recent years to about 15%. Blackberry has undergone major restructuring and has gambled with new products like the Passport and the brand new PRIV, just now being rolled out. The PRIV, by the way, operates on the Android OS which will mean my PC plus card will work! I just have to bide my time until my contract is up and I can venture forth into the brand new Blackberry world of Android with a new PRIV!

I chatted by telephone with Catherine Thomas, Director of External Communications with Loblaws Limited in the GTA, about my concerns.  She indicated to me that the decision to no longer support the current Blackberry OS was not taken lightly, but was based on two factors: first, it was a question of numbers – only two per cent of the mobile app users were Blackberry users. Secondly, since the Blackberry app introduction in May 2013, a number of app upgrades and improvements have been made, but not nearly as many as Loblaws would like in order to make the app a more robust and a ‘wow-factor’ experience for the consumer. Thomas claims that compared to other OS’s, the current Blackberry OS is slow and harder to work with.

OK, I understand from a corporate point of view why Loblaws et al decided to eliminate Blackberry’s OS. But, when one Canadian company cannot support another Canadian Company like Blackberry – especially as they continue to fight to stay above water – perhaps it’s time for me to consider moving my 30 year allegiance to another Canadian grocery chain.

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