Blackberry, I Have Loved You, but I Want a Divorce

During the course of a year I bet I meet
hundreds of executives.  Last year, I noticed a dramatic increase in
the number of executives with an iPhone or other smartphone (but mostly
iPhones) instead of a Blackberry.
Although I initially dismissed it as a novelty, smartphones other than
Blackberry have quickly become mainstream. The iPhone has surpassed
Blackberry among business users.
As many ponder dumping their Blackberries, it is common to see
executives carry a company-issued Blackberry and an iPhone—it’s the 21st
century equivalent of driving the company car during the week and the
Porsche on the weekends. More surprisingly, major companies are offering
their executives a choice of company smartphone. Those who switch to an
iPhone swear that their divorce from Blackberry is permanent. What I
once dismissed as cultish avarice for Apple products is now mainstream

I have been a loyal
and enthusiastic Blackberry user for years.  We were inseparable, though
I did have a brief dalliance with an Android a couple of years ago; but
after only two weeks, I found myself missing my Blackberry.  And for
good reason.  No device does email better than a Blackberry.  The red
light that signals the arrival of new emails is seriously addictive.  It
was impossible not to respond to it be it middle of the night, during a
movie . . . well, you get the picture.  Blackberry’s large keyboard and
the tactile feel of the keys make typing emails easy. However,
Blackberry’s simple-stupid model for everyday business has been at the
expense of a work hard, play hard device that is as useful (and
entertaining) outside of the office as it is for business. Face it:
Blackberry is about as sexy and hip as a nerdy accountant.

has RIM gotten itself in this mess? Arrogance? Poor management? Lack of
innovation? Quality issues? Probably a combination of these reasons and
then some. Last Monday, RIM’s newly appointed CEO, Thorstein Heins (who
has been the company’s COO for the last four years), held a short
Q&A session with analysts. Heins stated “no drastic change is
needed” adding that he considers Blackberry’s issues to be more of a
marketing and messaging issue, i.e.: people do not understand how
wonderful our products are (good luck with that one).

Here are five reasons why I believe Blackberry is well down the road to becoming obsolete:

1. Blackberry does not integrate as well with life out of the office as do competing smartphones.
Smartphones have changed from email centric to email and application,
centric and now there’s an app for almost everything if you are an
iPhone or Android user. Not so much for Blackberry. I envy the quantity
and quality of applications  that my iPhone friends have. I feel like
the kid on the couch with a cast on his leg watching his friends frolic
around outside. I own an iPad, which has been a nice tease to what I am

2.  Blackberry does not continue to innovate.  To
win over customers, RIM must completely make over the BlackBerry OS,
and design hardware that can compete with rival phones in processing
power and innovation. Also, it has not developed the relationships with
the developer community that its competitors have.  In short, RIM is not
making phones that people want.  And we all know what happens to those
who don’t innovate.  Remember Wang computers?  The Sony video recorder? 
Nope, and if Blackberry doesn’t innovate you won’t remember it either. 

3. Other smartphones such as iPhones are now supported by many companies. 
Many organizations support (and can do so with a comparable level of
security) iPhones and Android smartphones. Additionally, iPhone and
Android both can synchronize with Outlook and are as easy or easier to
use than a Blackberry.

4. Quality issues and service outages. For many indifferent users, the widespread Blackberry service outages
coupled with the Blackberry 9900 device issues have been their “dammit
it I’ve had it” breaking point. In addition, many executives see RIM’s
recently announced year delay in a new line of phones and operating
system as confirmation that Blackberry is not what it once was. One CEO I
know is on her fourth Blackberry Bold 9900 in 90 days and close to
making the final break. While the quality and service issues are not at
the core of Blackberry users’ mass exodus, it certainly contributes to the lack of faith in RIM and its future.

5. Now is an easy time to switch devices. Now
is an easy time for an executive to switch to an iPhone or Android.
There are many applications now available to migrate data from your
Blackberry. Also, I think it is safe to assume that the beta test and
adoption of the iPhone into corporate America has passed and is a
success. Go ahead, live a little and give it a shot.

Blackberry, though I have loved you and you and I were inseparable, it
is time to go our separate ways.  I know this will hurt but I’m leaving
you for an iPhone. While I understand that the touch keyboard takes some
getting used to, it was the same for me to get used to using
WordPerfect rather than a typewriter. Oh, and by the way, what ever
happened to WordPerfect?


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