White House photographer Pete Souza captured this striking nighttime silhouette of President Obama and his "ObamaBerry" this week. Despite the connection this image implies, don't expect to get a reply from questions directed to BHO44@whitehouse.gov answered any time soon. President Obama is less reachable than, say, Steve Jobs, as several people who have written to firstname.lastname@example.org have found. As Engadget reported earlier this year, after President Obama said that presidential BlackBerry ownership is no fun, he probably is not exchanging email with more than a dozen other people on Earth:
If you'll recall, Obama fought hard early on for the privilege of maintaining his prized BlackBerry, and while he eventually won out, we learned today that a grand total of ten individuals are authorized to ping it. Yeah, ten. Needless to say, he described that depressing fact as "no fun," and even the folks that are cleared to make contact with it won't send over anything juicy. Why? They know that messages sent to it "will probably be subject to the presidential records act," so those lucky enough to have the digits are also smart enough to divert their ramblings to Texts From Last Night.
While President Obama tweeted once on the Red Cross acount, it's also a safe bet that he's not having any fun tweeting as @BarackObama either, nor that it will be replacing the Red Phone to Russia. That said, the vision of a more digitally connected president fits the moment in history, with nearly 30 % of Americans toting smartphones at the end of 2010, with 50% penetration estimated for 2011. Despite the potential IT security risks for the president and other government workers that smartphones present, as Chris Soghioan pointed out last year at CNET, that hasn't stopped them from making their way into the hands of tens of thousands of Washingtonians in the District of Columbia. Last week, I watched and smiled as new hires at the local sartup agency poked and prodded at their new BlackBerrys, getting comfortable with the functions of what has become one of the most important communication tools for their trade.
Instead of 2:1 ratio of BlackBerry to iPhone users, it’s more like 106 to 1. As a recent story in the Washington Post that explored whether iPhones will edge out BlackBerrys in Washington reported, there are currently 86 iPhone users at work amongst the aides, staff and officials in the House of Representatives, versus some 9,140 BlackBerry users. There are tens of thousands more spread among the other federal agencies.