Reality Check: BlackBerrys Are Workhorses And iPhones Are Show Ponies

16 Comments

Media agencies and bloggers on all sides of the tech world have been absolutely vicious when it comes to covering RIM these days. The coverage blames RIM for missing this, failing at that, and for not being Apple for reasons x,y, and z. Is this fair? Is it really that bad? After having attended DevCon and seeing the latest and greatest on the development side of BlackBerry, my impression of RIM remains positive and progressive.

workhorse and pony

The technology roadmap is clear. RIM will be moving to BBX, the QNX and BlackBerry melding that will represent a more robust and flexible OS without sacrificing security. RIM is opening the door for Android apps which should please the consumers and increase the number of apps available. RIM continues to grow its revenues, deployments, and clients. While they stand to lose some market share in the enterprise space based on all the speculation that companies need to provide employees alternatives to BlackBerry, the reality is that IT administrators are in control when using BlackBerry and they know their data is safe. The same cannot be said for Apple who has acknowledged that it actively collects information from all of its users.

When it comes down to it BlackBerrys are workhorses where iPhones are show ponies. I’m not saying the iPhone is an inferior device; It’s a great device. It’s just not suited to be the go-to communication device for the world’s governments and corporations, or consumers that place a greater emphasis on messaging versus games. The history is different for BlackBerry than iPhone. BlackBerry started in the enterprise and moved into the consumer space as demand required it to. BlackBerry has built a globally recognized brand associated with security, durability, and prosperity. The iPhone was launched as an amazing entertainment device modeled on the simplicity of Mac OS and launched with such buzz that developers worldwide flocked to create entertaining apps for the device. Apple has created 5 iterations of 1 device and in the same timeframe RIM has released 30+ device models that cater to the needs of different carriers, countries, and market segments. I’m not saying that BlackBerry is doing everything right – I’m saying they are well positioned and still have lots of bullets in the chamber.

We’re bullish on this BBX move as it shows RIM knows where the platform needs to go: more show pony material with a workhorse base. Arguably, you can go from enterprise to consumer but it’s not nearly as easy going the other way. The games we saw on the PlayBook were stunning and they will eventually make their way to the smartphone. Now it’s a matter of execution and hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later.

  • Jasonjtg21

    I agree fully! I love my blackberry and a iphone can not keep up with emails, texts and battery life. if I want to play games I use my ipad or my xbox360. when I want to work I use my Blackberry

  • http://twitter.com/mProductive mProductive™

    Completely true that the media world beat up on RIM day in day out and often from a point of view that says if it doesn’t have an ‘i’ in the name of the device you’re just using something clunky and inferior. If it’s a beat up article on mobile the person pictured has a BlackBerry in hand NEVER an iPhone….if I’m wrong, happy to receive the correction due with supplied photo of article that counters this….on the other side if it’s an article about mobile advancements guess what device is in the picture, that’s right an ‘i’ device.

    Frankly speaking as an app dev, the dev tools Apple supply mean that anyone can write an ok to excellent app. This said the API’s and SDK are far more limited than BlackBerry, Android and even Windows. So, there’s definite pluses and minuses.

    Regarding market share and pressure for enterprise to support more devices, RIM has a battle noone else faces. Their approach has been top-down for good reason, but this means that end users are not creating the positive pressure for BlackBerry as the choice device…this I believe is the linch pin for RIM. Every other manufacturer wins the heart of the end user first which in turn generates bottom-up pressure on the enterprise. Simply put, ‘I like my phone and want it supported by my Company’ multiplied by 100 employees is a very different scenario to ‘I know this device is the best fit for business objectives and has the right checks and balances to protect our employees and company’ x 3 decision makers who then expect 97 employees to follow suit.

    Can RIM ever be Cool? I don’t think Windows ever could, Android definitely is further along, Apple are the Masters of the cool domain, and if RIM can introduce not only greatness with BBX but all of a sudden engage at the emotional level then RIM will most certainly have a new audience.

    On the Cool Question, simple litmus test….devices and software are invented by people! So, pop quiz for the dedicated BlackBerry followers, what does the general world think of these people?

    Steve Jobs = Cool (a resounding yes, although with his vision missing from Apple now change could be afoot)

    Mike Lazaridis = ?
    Jim Balsillie = ?

    Steve Balmer = Not Cool (market share has never won cool points here)

    Eric Schmidt = ? (definitely innovative with the cool vote of believers of free everything)

    When I think about the emotional connection people make with the ‘device than never leaves their side’ ignoring this question above is Soooooo important for RIM to consider.

    Run the same test for the guy who conceptualised, developed and made BBM a reality, what’s the answer to that? A resounding COOL!!

    Market share for RIM I believe will largely be determined by how serious they are at addressing the Cool question? What I think is amazing in all of this is that the Cool factor doesn’t represent a diminishing of anything RIM stand for or encapsulate in their work…it’s right they earn for connecting with people’s love of emotional ties and the fun they need in their otherwise busy lives.

    I don’t think I could do my work without my BlackBerry full stop, so Cool or Not I have made an objective decision not an emotional one. But for the majority of people I can’t say this is the case. Can RIM be Cool?

     

  • http://twitter.com/Hardened Hardened

    “the reality is that IT administrators are in control when using BlackBerry and they know their data is safe.” Sorry about there are over 10 MDM solutions either hardware/software behind firewall or outside of firewall that STILL offer security (iOS4.3.3 and up offer 3DEP encryption just like BES/BB/RIM does) that matches all of RIM’s CIOs list of must haves. Financial institutions in Canada are looking at these solutions and may deploy iOS/Android alternatives. Productivity is where users can do more without the  sacrifice of restrictions – these same IT Administrator restrictions can be done on other platforms – including wiping MicroSD cards – something BES STILL cannot do; we can encrypt them though. 

    “The same cannot be said for Apple who has acknowledged that it actively collects information from all of its users.” 
    - This is OLD news and with a huge USA Supreme Court investigation both Android/Google and iOS/Apple no longer collect information since mid-summer 2011′s updates. You’re sticking the competition based on old news here and above. 

    “I’m not saying the iPhone is an inferior device; It’s a great device. It’s just not suited to be the go-to communication device for the world’s governments and corporations, or consumers that place a greater emphasis on messaging versus games.” 
    - I’m not sure this is the case any longer: 
    1. iOS/Android can access multiple corporate based (ActiveSync) Exchange Accounts and manage emails and folders in each IMMEDIATELY!! Corp Executive Assistants can manage their boss’ calendar/mailbox away from a laptop or without Exchange/ActiveSync Webmail access, securely and efficiently on their mobile device. This means Domino with ActiveSync and Exchange Server based enterprises of any size can deploy this solution with iOS and Android. Odd how even with BIS/BES the BlackBerry CANNOT do this – you can’t even book a room on another’s behalf if you’ve permission for this on the server. I’d say THESE functions are pretty much regarded by those that place a HIGH stake on messaging.

    2. Applications with core functionality’s for VOIP access by Cisco/Avaya is available and can be deployed in less than 10mins (after say 1hr server profile setup from scratch) for smartphones to dial from the office extension internally or externally across the globe! with BES and RIM you MUST purchase the MDX solution on top of BES and implement this with you’re firewall rules, then your existing VOIP solution. This is NOT something you start in production either – you need to test then goto production. Slow slow slow is becoming the RIM way and its hurting them. 

    3. Restriction of corporate emails to personal email accounts
    - RIM can do this … but BB Balance need to be supported on BES 5 … many enterprises have yet to upgrade. Not to mention RIM was late on this vs the competition along with BB Protect for tracking/cloud backup of end users’ devices – an app that doesn’t work on BES enabled devices (even without the IT Policy enabled on a deployed device – I know since I’ve personally tried this on BES 5.0.3). 

    “BlackBerry has built a globally recognized brand associated with security, durability, and prosperity.”
    - Um. You forget that iOS is based on a VERY secure computer OS platform that is over 10yrs proven … OS X (Darwin). Sure it can be jailbroken which is the upper layers, sure it’s had issues with exploiting pictures via Ubuntu’s previous release to date, or SMS … but this view can be applied using small JLCmdr for backup and restore to another users BB. 

    “Apple has created 5 iterations of 1 device and in the same timeframe RIM has released 30+ device models that cater to the needs of differentcarriers, countries, and market segments.”
    - are you HIGH?! RIM created 30+ different models in less than 5 years from the start of their BlackBerry device? Even if we start at the 7290 you would be incorrect. Discount regional models specific for providers. 

    RIM is growing subscribers yet the growth is coming in emerging markets where the hardware and subscription revenue’s are considerable lower and thus its hurting their margins. These particular emerging markets have specific requirements for languages and cultural communications and they’ll quickly change when their networks offer HSPA/HSPA+ at a cheap rate and also faster data input in they’re native languages per region. Nokia tried this as well and still does – yet they’re holding these markets due to engaging these markets in social, echo conscious, and end user device use activities. 

    RIM is “well positioned and still have lots of bullets in the chamber”, “it’s just a matter of execution”. This is the key … they have so many opportunities (bullets in the chamber) yet their not executing well enough or fast enough, their becoming slow to adapt and its no longer about security concerns (SDK, PB OS 2.0, marketing PlayBook, courting developers). 

  • http://twitter.com/Hardened Hardened

    Really … do you have access to your emails sub-folders?!
    BIS – NOPE. Unless 4.2 offers this, I’m not a BIS user for the past 9mths.
    BES – Conditional. Folder Redirection once enabled ONLY works for folders enabled from that point onward. Previous emails within are not accessible by accessing said folders, but from a server search (which you MUST know the criteria to find the email you’re after). This is by design. 
    - IOS and Android immediately have access, this is by design (ActiveSync on Exchange 2007/2010 or Domino+ActiveSync). 

    RIM/BB doesn’t sound like a powerful messaging tool in this regard. 

    Battery Life … sorry with BB7 devices, or Torch 9800 on BB6 that argument is no longer relevant. 

    Oh … did you know that “Shortcuts” in iOS5 gives you what AutoText has in BB?!??

    When users claim a device is a work-horse, its ONLY relevant to their needs. 
    I need to acces emails, access user ticket request while I walk around 3 floors for support, access servers for administration since RDP is restricted (that’s Symantec A-hole admin; personal gripe at work sorry), and also calls. I can now access VOIP desk calls and route international calls personal or corporate (to other countries or outbound to partners) without cost t the corporation or to myself! This cannot be done efficiently on the BB+BES platform, and without extra cost for VOIP or App cost for RDP/RDS. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B26XRVCVLOLNDLP4M7BZ76JLIM Jay

    Just because you say it, doesn’t mean it’s so. The iphone is as much of a workhorse as any blackberry out there. I just switched to an iphone last week and can’t believe I have denied myself the grace, speed, and elegance ios offers for as long as I have. RIM’s BBX/QNX or whatever you want to call it now is the new Symbian. Goodnight Waterloo.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B26XRVCVLOLNDLP4M7BZ76JLIM Jay

    Just because you say it, doesn’t mean it’s so. The iphone is as much of a workhorse as any blackberry out there. I just switched to an iphone last week and can’t believe I have denied myself the grace, speed, and elegance ios offers for as long as I have. RIM’s BBX/QNX or whatever you want to call it now is the new Symbian. Goodnight Waterloo.

  • CKP NYC

    I AGREE BLACKBERRIES ARE THE WORKHORSE PHONE. I PHONE ARE GREAT FOR PERSONAL USE BUT THE BB PLATFORM WILL CONTINUE TO IMPROVE BECAUSE BUSINESS IS ITS 1ST TRAIT AND A DALMATION CANT CHANGE ITS STRIPES!!

  • CKP NYC

    I AGREE BLACKBERRIES ARE THE WORKHORSE PHONE. I PHONE ARE GREAT FOR PERSONAL USE BUT THE BB PLATFORM WILL CONTINUE TO IMPROVE BECAUSE BUSINESS IS ITS 1ST TRAIT AND A DALMATION CANT CHANGE ITS STRIPES!!

  • CKP NYC

    I AGREE BLACKBERRIES ARE THE WORKHORSE PHONE. I PHONE ARE GREAT FOR PERSONAL USE BUT THE BB PLATFORM WILL CONTINUE TO IMPROVE BECAUSE BUSINESS IS ITS 1ST TRAIT AND A DALMATION CANT CHANGE ITS STRIPES!!

  • CKP NYC

    I AGREE BLACKBERRIES ARE THE WORKHORSE PHONE. I PHONE ARE GREAT FOR PERSONAL USE BUT THE BB PLATFORM WILL CONTINUE TO IMPROVE BECAUSE BUSINESS IS ITS 1ST TRAIT AND A DALMATION CANT CHANGE ITS STRIPES!!

  • Spuck

    I don’t see why defending rim has anything to do with apple. Besides bbm, which is becoming irrelevant with all the other messaging platforms, there’s absolutely nothing superior in terms of communication on bb. Where are the heaps of VoIP apps? Where are the front facing cameras? How about the fact that I can’t use a blackberry with an exchange server without dishing out extra cash every month for a special BES compatible data plan and a BES premium from my exchange provider. Does BIS allow for PIM data synchronization, ie what all consumers use? Unless you are high powered exec or gov employee, the security aspect has no value to your average consumer. Nobody is going to waste their time and resources hacking my device or yours. 

    Bottom line is that rim is falling behind in its feature set, and investors are more worried about a flawed revenue model and misguided management rather than games and ponies. 

    Your loyalty is admirable, but fact is the technology isnt going to stand still because RIM doesn’t want to play by everyone else’s rules. If you actually spent a week using an android or iOS device, you’d see this too.

  • Spuck

    I don’t see why defending rim has anything to do with apple. Besides bbm, which is becoming irrelevant with all the other messaging platforms, there’s absolutely nothing superior in terms of communication on bb. Where are the heaps of VoIP apps? Where are the front facing cameras? How about the fact that I can’t use a blackberry with an exchange server without dishing out extra cash every month for a special BES compatible data plan and a BES premium from my exchange provider. Does BIS allow for PIM data synchronization, ie what all consumers use? Unless you are high powered exec or gov employee, the security aspect has no value to your average consumer. Nobody is going to waste their time and resources hacking my device or yours. 

    Bottom line is that rim is falling behind in its feature set, and investors are more worried about a flawed revenue model and misguided management rather than games and ponies. 

    Your loyalty is admirable, but fact is the technology isnt going to stand still because RIM doesn’t want to play by everyone else’s rules. If you actually spent a week using an android or iOS device, you’d see this too.

  • Spuck

    I don’t see why defending rim has anything to do with apple. Besides bbm, which is becoming irrelevant with all the other messaging platforms, there’s absolutely nothing superior in terms of communication on bb. Where are the heaps of VoIP apps? Where are the front facing cameras? How about the fact that I can’t use a blackberry with an exchange server without dishing out extra cash every month for a special BES compatible data plan and a BES premium from my exchange provider. Does BIS allow for PIM data synchronization, ie what all consumers use? Unless you are high powered exec or gov employee, the security aspect has no value to your average consumer. Nobody is going to waste their time and resources hacking my device or yours. 

    Bottom line is that rim is falling behind in its feature set, and investors are more worried about a flawed revenue model and misguided management rather than games and ponies. 

    Your loyalty is admirable, but fact is the technology isnt going to stand still because RIM doesn’t want to play by everyone else’s rules. If you actually spent a week using an android or iOS device, you’d see this too.

  • http://twitter.com/mProductive mProductive™

    ‘play by everyone else’s rules’ is exactly what Apple have not done and it has been a gutsy decision that I applaud and fortunately has been deeply connected with their sense of tapping into the psychi of the average non tech person. Win.
     
    The bulk of buyers aren’t even interested in the things that you mentioned, but for your concerns absolutely I see and understand your point.

    I have indeed used iPhone and Android devices and my company builds on these platforms too. For me, just as for you, I have elected the device that suits my demands. By no surprise do I find myself surrounded by friends and colleagues using all these devices and there’s not a single one without flaws, issues and bad behaviour, but what is interesting is that the psychology of Cool means these users are less likely to bitch about what they don’t like, where as in the BlackBerry world where devices are often pushed on people they have something to buck against. Additionally, there are definite shortcomings of RIM’s approach and it hurts their brand, community and dev network…Back to the so called holy grail of mobile that includes the ‘i’, as a very simple case in point, it is not possible to achieve the technical outcomes I require for aspects of development of our apps on iOS that mirror same API capabilities shared by BlackBerry, Android, Windows etc. This is Apples decision to lock it down that way and so be it.

    Investment should not be confused with Loyalty :)

    Idealistically, I’d love to see a balanced view from the media, however daily review of news and progress in tech shows my original comments to be true about the subtle undercurrent of dissent toward anything other than ‘i’ stuff.

    This is no surprise, as people are drawn to what’s hot….
    ie. ‘i’stuff is hot = interest = more readers = ….. and so it goes.

    Mate, use what’s best for you, that is the best decision…but we all lose something when we switch off, so never do that.

    Happy Days.

  • Spuck

    Apologies, my comments were meant for the author that I know and have disagreed with many times regarding the topic. I accidentally clicked reply on your post.

  • http://profiles.google.com/bbremote Alan Lucas

    Blackberry hasn’t a chance unless those at the top go.  THEY are the problem and have been for 3 years now.  The Playbook was idiocy and an enormous waste of resources.  The “styling” of the new phones has been imbecilic and all along there’s been a sense of trying to “mainstream’ a product out of its industrial niche.  They spent 20% of the resources burned on the playbook to pickup Otterbox alone, bundling it with phones, and the rest on merely battery life and antenna tech, then you’d have a BB worth owning corporate wide.

    I’ve seen the i4 detonate from taking a small whack onsite too many times to laud them as “business oriented”.  Corporate users treat them like fine China until the novelty wears off then its back to bumps as usual.  I’ve already had to swap out i4s for BB in outlying areas on job sites where reception is spotty for the i4s but just fine for the old BB 8800s and that was at the behest of the users themselves.  Pretty doesn’t get the job done when big dollars ride on doing the best job spot on in an environment full of other companies just waiting for you to slip up.

    BB isn’t dead but the tumours at the top need to be cut away.  There’s still the chance at recovering the industrial niche again because not one of us baby sitting tech for large industry thinks more diddling around with “Angry Birds” and “Facebook” is what’s needed on the jobsite.