Fortune Magazine Says BlackBerry Is Not a Smartphone


This is a great example of how BlackBerry is generally left out of the conversation. Fortune’s Jon Fortt, who covers “digital giants” for the publication, actually made the claim that the iPhone is a smatphone and the BlackBerry is not. Fortt must have said this tongue-in-cheek because the basic definition of a smartphone applies to iPhone, BlackBerry, Android etc. His colleague on the show, Michael Copeland, senior writer at Fortune, switched to Android from BlackBerry. Michael points to the Swipe app which helps texting on a touchscreen, and insinuates that this was the biggest selling point for RIM that is now lost to the touchscreen Android.

Both Fortt and Copeland seem a little too narrow-minded when it comes to the smartphone industry, as they aren’t taking in to account the relative benefits BlackBerry provides, and the scope of the applications available. It seems the problem is that the advantages RIM provides aren’t consumer focused enough, and aren’t making an impact in their discussion.

It’s not that I think these two are particularly relevant in the tech world, but rather their conversation is indicative of a marketing problem at RIM. The company is continually left out of the conversation when Android and iPhone are in the room, and the platform’s advantages are drowned out in the noise of I Am T-Pain and Google Goggles. RIM is clearly trying to address this issue with its Super Apps campaign, but is it going to be enough?

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  • DavidB

    Clearly these two are idiots. To deny that the BlackBerry is NOT a smartphone is pure lunacy.

  • kstagg

    I agree Kyle, to say that RIM devices are not smartphones is pure lunacy. But let's be honest. the number of consumer-based apps on android and iphone compared to RIM? They way outnumber RIM in their respective APP stores. And the quality of a lot of those apps are just downright stunning with their 3D graphics, and the devices having the accelerometers and faster processors and so forth.

    Don't get me wrong – I dislike iPhones quite a bit. But admittedly, the Android, HP/Palm and especially Windows 7 Phone are starting to grow more appealing to me. The “evolution” of OS 5 to OS 6 just didn't do enough in my opinion to keep up with the rest of the pack.

  • Matt Cameron

    BlackBerry has a PR problem: If you were to list all of the features that BlackBerry sports it will sound an awful lot like a device from a few years ago.

    When you compare it to other devices out there the BlackBerry sounds old and tired by comparison. The truth is that the BlackBerry is more than simply the sum of it's parts. You hear lots of reviewers comparing devices and they skip right over the most important part: Communication.

    Reviewers and gadget geeks give all the devices a big green check-mark when summing up a platform's email and IM abilities but I think it deserves much more than that. If it were out of 10, BlackBerry would be 10 out of 10 and all others would be 8 or below.

    Maybe some flashy animation distracted them from what makes up 90% of the Smart in Smartphones: Quick, easy, reliable, and secure communications. Ever had a rapid email exchange or an IM conversation with a BlackBerry user? Almost as if they're at their PC giving you their undivided attention. Nice, isn't it?

  • Rodrigo Romero

    i dont think they meant to say it is not a smartphone in the category itself, but that they stopped to be smart some time ago. Would you say the fire invention is something smart if you say you just discovered it today? not really, but it surely was a smart invention no doubt on that.

    The thing is that Blackberry is way behind the rest when talking about innovation. There is nothing in a Blackberry hardware or OS core that is innovative today and that you can not have better on another phone. BlackBerry Messenger however is the main important thing you can find as to the apps it includes. BES? sure, it was pretty good, but now you have Google Apps with VERY good integration for free…also, Microsoft and Apple are coming with nice iterations for this. Also push technology…it is great…but old already.

    I mean, WebOS and Pre/Pixi has hotspot application integration…we are fighting to have tethered modem capabilities and they already share 3G internet trough the wifi antenna. Iphone has Haptic technology (the best out there), plus accelerometer (also the best to the moment and they were first)…each new cycle, both android and iphone comes out with several innovations.

    Then after core OS and Hardware comes the APIs for webdevelopers, the online store and the way they push this. Apple really hit this and Android followed…Rim was first in the smartphone industry, but they didnt thought on doing this. A commercial focused phone is not a good investment now that consumer phones can do both and do it great…they were not first, but they are better.

    I have a Bold 9000 with OS5.0, and have had a storm2, a 8320 curve and a 7160. I liked all of them and enjoyed every moment, but now i can see how the others are way beyond my bold. I'm a power user and the only thing i would miss is BBMessenger. RIM has to stop focusing in several models a year and focus in a 2 or 3 models and one OS…all that can take the heat for a year. Innovate or die? you are right…i even have been a true believer in that RIM should be bought by either Apple or Google, now i think HP could be a very good choice too.

  • Alvin Richards Jr.

    Its like the video game industry. Nintendo is kid friendly and makes systems and games for children young adults. Playstation and XBOX 360 are for the adult gamers who already know what they want and what they need and can handle more complex systems with little no hands on tutorials.

    RIM/Blackberry are the Playstation/XBOX of the smartphone industry. They were originally made for SMB, and large businesses to cominuicate. Thats why all of their apps are more gearded toward the professional on the go who cannot sit at his desk and work.

    IPhones are the Nintendo of the smartphone industry. They cater to the younger demographic, which likes to download music/videos and play games. Why else wouldnt RIM/Blackberry come out with apps that have womans breast bouncing and porn. These are all available on the IPHONE.

    And with more younger kids wanting cell phones they will go with the popular choice, sidekicks or IPHONES.

    Basically the Blackberry Brand is for adults and professional and shouldnt deviate from that, but just add more consumer friendly apps then they would be unbeatable. But for the most protection and security choose Blackberry. The only reason there is an IPHONE is because there was a Blackberry already out and Apple wanted to tap into that market.

  • papped

    Yeah, the #2 smartphone manufacturer in the world is not a smartphone…

    I don't know if I would like the tradeoff that would have to be made to get “dumb” people to recognize BB's.

  • Eric at Ebscer

    You say that push technology is old (it is), but it is a feature that Android, and WebOS are still lacking…

  • Rodrigo Romero

    ok, i dont mean to say that rim is not good. They were first, and very good at it. Second, they stated 2 years ago their intention on committing into the consumer market, their statement at the Storm and Appworld Launch. So, if you want to compete, and you have the resources

    I have these facts for you to think for a while: one, they have the least workable API and publishing program for developers even though they claim to be committed to the contrary; second, name one innovation they have given to the mobile industry in the last 5 years.

    iPhone and Android are not the nintendo of the mobile industry, more like the Playstation if you want, and nintendo is more restrictive like RIM, you can have linux, web browsing, home theater and movies on a PS and an XBOX and be sure to think there will be more uses to both xbox and ps in the future, that is what Android and Iphones are…while nintendo will continue to do the same. Difference is, nintendo continues to innovate in their market.

    please, name one innovation, breakthrough or something being done better from RIM in the last 5 years.

  • rickirving

    The remarks by these gentlemen, both purportedly craftsmen with words, were inordinately ill-conceived… whether they were meant to be taken at face value or merely as a means of extolling the technical virtues of other platforms/OS systems as suggested above.

    Blackberry was developed as a communication tool specifically for the business market, the very same market as Forbes. If Fortt and Copeland meant to suggest that Apple's I-phone or Google's Android are more technologically advanced and better suited to the general public market, they ought to have said that, rather than insulting a substantial segment of their own market. This was just plain stupid!

  • papped

    Evolution of an OS, it's UI and 3d graphics isn't simply enough either, shown by Palm. They had 3d graphics, they had a sleek UI with some innovative new things, yet they sold very poorly, even at very cheap prices. iPhone, Android, and RIM are all doing something right, they're just not succeeding at the exact same things.

    A lot of people want each company to follow the same formula and it's boring…

  • DavidB

    I think we can all agree that Palm has failed with webOS (so far) because the devices are crap. Palm lacked the resources to develop killer hardware. Yes the Pre and the Pixi are “nice” as they are and if considered in a vaccuum might even be considered “hot” at the time, but in comparison to what Apple and Nokia and HTC and Moto and RIM and (on and on) bring to market, their hardware is just “ho hum”. HP brings hardware development resources to the table that Palm alone could never dream of bringing. The big question is can HP bring out some hot new hardware in time to rescue webOS? Unless Palm had something in the hardware pipeline, I can't see it being much less than a year at least for some HP smartphone hardware to run webOS. I suspect they will push hard to jump start the Slate with webOS on it, but Slate isn't going to compete against any smartphones.

  • DavidB

    Have you perhaps missed the news that Sony has eliminated the ability to run anything other than their software on PS3 with the latest firmware updates?

  • papped

    Myself and many others I've talked to got rid of their webOs phones due to things like poor battery life, severe lack of OS customization, slow app switching, slow OS responsiveness, lack of app selection, lack of basic functionality that other OSes had (think early iphone syndrom, it does some advanced things well but lacks some basic functionality), etc. In other words, a lot of non-hardware related issues.

    Yes, hardware reliability and likeability was an issue, but not the only one by far…

    HP might not even be trying to use webOs for smartphones at all, it could just be tablet related use. Nobody really knows. Again, I don't think Palm's problem was simply hardware.

  • jmax

    I didn't watch the two guys because clearly they can't be serious and if they are then they have no credibility.

    I do admit that iPhone and some Android phone look very cool, but I had an iPhone for a year and I found it to be a poor phone. Most of the apps I wanted really didn't work they were always crashing and as a phone it was horrible. I had to go to Mexico a few times that year for meetings and it would never connect properly (reliably) to a network. My BB did so it wasn't the mexican network.

    After a while I tired of the iPhone as we do with all gadgets, and went back to BB because it worked. I own 3 macs I'm not an apple hater (although I do hate people who can't admit that apple does produce some lousy products).

    I think the danger for RIM is that if they don't get cool apps and a faster more stable phone people will not switch to them when they find their iPhone and Adroid phones fall short. They just won't view BB as an option. I had a BB so after a year it was an easy decision to ditch it and get a new Bold.

    I also hope they bring out a slider. I like the bigger screen but love the BB keyboards.

    OS 6 looks fine to me. (In fact I think the icons on android phones leave a bit to be desired) let's hope it comes with speed and easier app development.

  • WesWare Online

    BlackBerry is still seen as an email device rather than a smartphone in many eyes. I agree that this is a marketing problem for RIM and emphasis needs to be placed on the mainstream users to highlight other great features of the BlackBerry (apps, usability, multi-media, ect.).

    WesWare Online – Dedicated to BlackBerry Style & Protection
    BlackBerry Cases and Skins

  • Donny

    Oddly enough … the PR problem is with analysts, heavy & large investors, and the wealthy youth (the likes of which can startup another Twitter/Facebook/MySpace or other Web3.0 revolution bubble). Those analysts & investors that HAVE BB's are well aware of the solid phone performance, email supremacy, and exceptional battery life. What they & the wealthy & trendy youth have NO CLUE about is the abundance and prowess of apps that integrate into their BES bound devices.

    Let me explain. When a BB is bound to a BES in the corporate infrastructure its abilities are significantly limited to Intranet, Email, and the corporate infrastructure. Many suits cannot install 3rd party apps and those that figure out how to get NO support until its purged and newer IT Policy's & Groups leave a disdainful mouthful as they cannot get those back. This is not the same as the computer revolution that so many bought PC's because its what they where trained to use and used to and can do so much more at home. This is a mobile device that is limited and they have NO perception and limited resources to find/see that its SO MUCH more capable and more stable: than any other mobile smartphone platform.

    The recent WES2010 & Investor Video press tease of BlackBerry 6 was a VERY smart move and RIM NEEDS to heavily push this on the TV, airwaves, and PRINT (Magazines: Time, Globe & Mail, New Yorker, Esquire, etc)! Also the video's shipped & preloaded in their devices NEED to have more substance in them at WHAT the device can do – not useless videos of kid artists that are up & coming that the target market cannot even relate too. Seriously I feel creepy viewing that effeminate guy singing a love song in the video that shipped on my Bold 9700. Though I give them props that Justin “beaver” hasn't been on a device, yet.

    This video of BB 6 specifically and significantly targets the USE of the device – the power & versatility – to 3 target audiences VERY well with just 1 device. 1 slight change required; the last guy dancing using the social apps … still looks a bit old to be in the high-school locker background (better fit in a college dorm).

  • ChrisPBaken

    I think the problem is that BlackBerry is old, and left, generally, in it’s prehistoric state. The overall quality (especially internet speed) of a black berry is not even comparable to the iphone, andriod, htc, etc. etc. It is slow, unreliable, and just plain old looking. Black berry is a piece of shit and I refer people away from buying RIM whenever the subject of cell phones comes up.