Is the BlackBerry History?
By Joe Silverman
With layoffs at Research in Motion and with the future of the platform in doubt, some small businesses are wondering if it’s time to abandon BlackBerrys. My answer is yes: The time for BlackBerry is past.
The BlackBerry is now a dinosaur living on borrowed time. This borrowed time will continue to diminish at the hands of the mighty iPhone. Whether for personal use or small business, there is no need to hang on to an old BlackBerry brick any longer.
BlackBerrys typically come along with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server for small businesses. Yes, email does work well on BlackBerrys, and that’s their saving grace. But the cost to run a BlackBerry server with licenses and administration time is a big expense for companies. Do you know how often a company requires enterprise activation passwords to reset, add or update accounts? Quite often!
That being said, RIM has smartened up in the last few years by offering a free licensed plan with Blackberry Enterprise Server Express. Also, you don’t have to pay extra on your cell phone plan as you would if your users were connecting to a regular BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The Express version is free, but it’s limited to 75 users and doesn’t work with Lotus Notes or Domino or with Novell GroupWise. With 35 policies (compared with 450 for the full version), it offers weaker administrative functions. And it still means sticking with the BlackBerry club of a phone.
Once you get past the “I can’t type on glass” mentality, email on the iPhone actually works a lot better. It’s so much easier and faster to scroll through emails and multiple accounts. Plus, with the bigger iPhone screen, you won’t get “BlackBerry thumb” from constantly scrolling up and down to view more emails. Timestamps are true on iPhones, but BlackBerrys only show when a message was downloaded to your phone. That makes for tricky and annoying email management, especially when dealing with time-sensitive emails. On the other hand, for attachments, the iPhone nicely shows all docs, spreadsheets and pics, but the BlackBerry is the only one that can open .zip files. However, this is rarely a deal-breaker.
The amount of business apps on the iPhone is phenomenal. You can turn your iPhone into a scanner, fax and credit card swiper with ease. The BlackBerry … not so much. The iPhone pretty much doubles as a remote control for your office computer, allowing you to view documents stored online. You can even remote into your computer if you like. With the BlackBerry, you have to concern yourself with questions like, “Do I have enough space for this app?” “Do I want to wait an hour for this app to download?” “Will my fuzzy screen give me a headache?”
Even BlackBerry PlayBook Won’t Save the Day
When advising small businesses, I recommend the iPhone, of course. But if they are the traditional type that doesn’t like to learn new tricks or already have a company chock-full of BlackBerrys and an Enterprise Server, I make an exception. This almost sounds like the old PC versus Mac debate. Nowadays, it’s almost as if Microsoft, Google and everyone else is banding together to battle the surging Apple company. But Apple is on a creative edge all by itself, even though Steve Jobs has left.
The BlackBerry PlayBook was a nice idea by RIM, but even all the BlackBerry users I know prefer iPads over the Playbook. Let’s face it: The Blackberry had its good years, but those times are over. Even if Google were to buy RIM, it would not help foster BlackBerry sales. The iPhone is the new king, and it’s here to stay.
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