All I heard for a while was predictions for the death of the BlackBerry. And then everyone around me said you can’t get third-party apps for the iPhone. When you can, then the BlackBerry will be dead. Then the iPhone SDK was announced and the death watch of the BlackBerry started again.
Personally, I don’t see it for two main reasons. Here’s why:
1. IT Departments. At big companies across the country, IT departments love the BlackBerry. RIM’s secret sauce, as I learned last year at the BlackBerry Wireless Enterprise Symposium, is not so much the device but instead its ultra-cool server software that lets IT professionals control those pesky little devices. BlackBerry Enterprise Server doesn’t just control the interchange with Microsoft Exchange and other email systems. In addition, it gives the IT department complete control over those devices. There are hundreds of pre-canned permissions and the ability to generate more.
In the enterprise, RIM is the leader — Apple is playing catch-up — so RIM doesn’t have to develop ultra-cool, innovative devices. All market leaders have to do is generally keep up with the joneses and they will keep the market. And that’s what RIM continues to do, its latest being the BlackBerry Bold just announced last week. Improved layout, check. Improved browsing, check. Wifi, check. A handful of other things people have been dying for, check. Good enough to keep Apple off our rears in the enterprise, check.
2. Email. The second reason is a usability issue. I have not used an iPhone but I have used an iPod Touch. The browser and interface are top-notch, way above and beyond what anyone else has done. But where the device falls short is when it comes to typing anything. It’s horrible. So the market splits: are you an email and texting and calendar and tasks person? Or are you a browsing and music and YouTube person? If you fall into the former, like me, then BlackBerry does it since I am primarily email and secondarily browsing. If you prefer gaming and entertainment, the latter is for you.
So in my mind, BlackBerry isn’t dead in the consumer market, either. It all comes down to taste. But what is clear — and to me has been for the past year — is that it is a two-horse race. The likes of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, Palm’s operating system and Symbian — at least here in the States as it is dominant in Europe — are also rans.