Newest CEO Hurdle: BlackBerry Game Addiction
Corporate America has a new addiction moving through the top ranks, reports CNBC's Darren Rovell.
It is a low-tech game known as BrickBreaker, a simple game resembling arcade classics Arkanoid or Breakout, which first debuted on Atari systems 30 years ago, and it's part of the standard software bundle for the BlackBerry handheld device.
The BlackBerry -- colloquially called the "CrackBerry" for its own allegedly addictive qualities -- is the ubiquitious digital device from Canada's Research in Motion, which connects people to their e-mail addresses far faster than most smart phones. And that's where the problem starts, according to systems engineer Sean Michael Whipkey, a frequent contributor to Gamersinfo.net.
Whipkey told "Squawk Box" that just as every PC that ran Microsoft Windows boasted Solitaire -- the salvation of deskbound keypad pounders -- so too do most BlackBerrys have a built-in Brickbreaker game, right on the little gadget's "desktop." He reviews the game as "very basic," even "annoying."
So why does The Wall Street Journal report that so many C-level executives are hooked? Whipkey paraphrases Mt. Everest scaler Sir Edmund Hilary: " 'Cause it's there!" The player-writer said that another Brickbreaker advantage -- or perhaps disadvantage? -- is that its inclusion means "you don't have to be worried that your IT department" will spot you searching for, and downloading, a game from the Internet.
Richard Handler, chief executive of brokerage Jefferies Group, boasts a top score of 15,135, according to the Journal.
Richard Fuld, the top boss at Lehman Brothers , said he temporarily had BrickBreaker removed due to his obsession but missed it so much he had it reinstalled, but just not on the main menu -- removing the temptation "for the most part."
Goldman Sachs head honcho Lloyd Blankfein admits to playing the game though not on a regukat basis, although he did say his highest score was "less than 4,000."
"Some think that only someone who's played the game plenty of times would know to give a score range like that," CNBC's Rovell reports.
Of course, great will power was required to make Blankfein Wall Street's highest-paid executive in 2006.