As an example, just look at the, much vaunted, email feature. You can get email instantly, almost anywhere in the world, how cool is that? However, instant email only works with certain email accounts from certain service providers, not with any email account you can imagine. You can view attachments in many popular formats, which sounds really great.
Unfortunately, you can’t do, or see, any formatting in the email, which is pretty lame. It can securely connect to your corporate email server, but only if you are running one of a couple different brands of server software, and only after you buy an expensive additional piece of server software to handle it.
Time and time again, just about every feature you might get excited about comes with a qualifier that makes it useful, but not horribly exciting. You can run third-party software on it, but not much, and a lot of it is overpriced and not very good, but hey, it doesn’t crash the device very often. Over and over again, the pattern repeats itself. It sounds neat, but it turns out to just be mildly interesting.
That is the problem, and strength, of the BlackBerry. It is the reality of the mobile market. I, as many other people, don’t want the reality, I want the dream. I want the device that magically gives me every feature that ever might pop into my head, and lasts all day on a single charge while doing it. Moreover, I want companies to try and deliver on that dream.
That isn’t the game RIM is in. They don’t care about my dreams, they care about what they can deliver within the current reality of the mobile market. That isn’t a bad way to go about it, but it sure makes things boring. You can’t deny though, boring works, because when you line up all the dream devices, and go through that boring list of questions reality imposes on us, pretty soon most of the dream devices are out of the running, and you find yourself with a tiny handful of flawed devices, of which the BlackBerry is less flawed than any of the others.
It isn’t exactly that “Christmas morning” feeling you hope for when buying a new device, but it is the one that scores the highest on all the criteria. It has good reception, decent battery life, a respectable feature set, better than average reliability, a decent size, and all at a reasonable price. Wow, I almost fell asleep writing that it is so dry! In the fight for the mobile computing space, the BlackBerry wins by a close technical decision, not a knockout.
Here is to hoping that some day the reality will catch up with the dream.