Email addiction bears fruit

Email addiction bears fruit

Research finds avid use of BlackBerry mobile phones isn't the waste of time critics often claim.

Next time you knock a workmate's "CrackBerry" addiction, spare a thought that the email they've just received might be about the promotion you were hoping to get. Research from the University of NSW Australian School of Business and the University of Sydney has found avid use of BlackBerry mobile phones isn't the waste of time critics often claim.

Instead, the devices and the steady stream of emails they pump out can help businesses and the people they employ be more successful, researcher Judith MacCormick said.

"There are people for whom their work is their life and their life is their work, and there's no real boundary between work and life. The BlackBerry enables them to work harder, faster and more frequently," she said.

Dr MacCormick, along with the University of Sydney's Kristine Dery, gleaned the findings from a study of workers in investment banking and law, which were among the first to start arming employees with BlackBerrys.

She said that the devices, when used correctly, allowed employees to get more work done in a day and made them more accessible to co-workers, managers and clients.

But there's also a downside.

Dr MacCormick said that some businesses were finding they had to replace the devices more often than other equipment as wives, husbands and partners became increasingly frustrated with excessive BlackBerry use.

"One organisation said they go through a lot of handsets, suggesting that they are actually damaged, flushed down the toilet or thrown at the wall more frequently than one would expect."

In one case, she said, the angry partner of a mobile email addict made a dinner booking for three - themselves, their spouse and their spouse's BlackBerry.

"There's an invigorating cycle and equally an invidious cycle," said Dr MacCormick.

The broken BlackBerrys might be good news for Research in Motion, the maker of the device, as market researcher IDC forecast growth in RIM's Australian sales will slow from 66.2 per cent to 44.8 per cent this year.

But IDC telecommunications analyst Mark Novosel said the smart phones would remain a feature of boardrooms and bedrooms for a while yet. "BlackBerry sales are still growing and they're still growing much faster than the overall market," he said.

© Fairfax Business Media

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