Invariably, this is a fantastic time -- and from unloading the megabar when we arrive to picking up the check for the ridiculous beverage-fueled meals to rooting for unexpected wins and commiserating over mutual losses, there is rarely a moment of discourse.
Except one. Without fail. When the Apple guy and the Blackberry guy start arguing.
It happens every year just as surely as the dinner at Ruth's Chris or the late night stumble over to Trump to take advantage of $3 craps. It starts with gentle ribbing, escalates to fanboyism, and results in an uncomfortable exchange as wives and mothers are brought into the fray.
Over a phone.
Well, not just over a phone. "Steve," I'll call him for these purposes, is a devoted product design fan, and has the professional credentials to back up his arguments. "BB" makes his living on the technical side of selling corporate software, which he does very well. You couldn't pick two more disparate worlds.
Steve doesn't understand why every phone isn't an iPhone. BB can't believe anyone would use an operating system that locks you out of 90% of its functionality.
Both are wrong, but me and the other guy let them do their thing.
We left Atlantic City tired and broke on Wednesday morning (January 31), and since both BB and I live south of New Jersey, we carpooled back to his town where I would drop him off.
On the way, the Blackberry 10-enabled Z10 dropped with much fanfare, and since this was of significance to BB, we followed the tweetstream along the Atlantic City Expressway.
First (and one would think the most important) bit of news:
"They're changing the name to Blackberry."
"Alicia Keys is the new creative head."
Creative head of what?
He then proceeded to call out the specs of the Z10, and admittedly, we weren't seeing the phone, we weren't even hearing the fanfare, but for every spec he called out, I put into context with what was cutting edge and what was standard in the current mobile phone universe.
Every single spec fell firmly into the standard.
And then as he read off the summarized 140-characters of groundblazing functionality the Z10 (and later, I guess, the keyboard-laden Q10) would provide, it became more and more obvious.
This was not the phone he was looking for.
In fact, if his corporate overlords mandated it or he wanted to keep his Crackberry, it was a phone he was going to be stuck with.
We'd learn later to strike the latter, as this gestures thing requires a whole new mindset for input. Learning curve, that's what Blackberry users were waiting for.
Blackberry (formerly known as RIM) is currently trying to hang on to the user base it has, not wow back the one it lost. There just isn't anything about the Z10 that one-ups the iPhone 5 or the Galaxy SIII.
And it turns out that Apple and Android might not kill Blackberry so much as Windows, who just took over as the underdog with Phone 8, establishing itself as the clear choice for corporate people who don't want to fall into either of the major camps or, like BB, just can't get away from a Microsoft-centric universe.
But you never know. It's early. Maybe Alicia Keys can pull some kind of miracle out of her hat. After all, she crushed the anthem last night.