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Why Blackberry is a big FAIL!

I used to sing Blackberry’s praises.  I was one of the ‘early consumer adopters’ of the device and it was fantastic for picking up my emails and reasonably good at making calls – great for accessing my personal mail when these services were blocked by employers! It was a few years later until I was deemed important enough to be ‘granted’ one for work purposes and at the time the device turned up working for me.  I generally had no complaints using the device but when compared to the iPhone, it was a hardly a comparable experience so I ditched the Blackberry and migrated my work email / contacts / task manager over to my personal iPhone.

Only recently have I had the ‘pleasure’ of provisioning one for myself.  The results….disasterous.  I compare my experience to that of my iPhone 3GS.  As a self certified Apple Fanboy, you may think I’m not the most objective of individuals to comment however if any of the following rings true to you and stays the same, Apple quite deservedly should trounce the smartphone market.

Why was I doing it – I was reviewing our in house contact management system and have been trialling new two way syncing functionality.  I needed one of each device (Blackberry, Nokia, iPhone) to test various performance and usability criteria.  What I wanted was a ‘test phone’ which I could use for a short period principally for data but possibly making the odd test call.

For the iPhone, I used my current personal & business phone, I added another MS Exchange account (thanks to iOS4), keyed in the login info and server address, decided on mail, contacts, and/or notes, and selected ok.  Done. OK, so I had to wait c. 30 minutes for the c.5000 contacts to download to the device but that was it.

Next, the Blackberry.  First, you have to apply to the hosted email provider for a ‘Blackberry Enterprise Server‘ licence for the princely sum of £15 per month – I still don’t know what this is for – presumably the ‘push’ functionality however its strange how my iPhone ‘pings’ well before my Blackberry ‘vibrates’ with the arrival of new mail.  Next you need a ‘Blackberry data’ account.  Normal data just won’t do….it has to be ‘Blackberry data’…..That oh so special ‘Blackberry data’!!

So I couldn’t just swap my iPhone (data enabled) sim into the Blackberry to do the testing.  I needed another sim.  Right, well I didn’t want a contract as I only wanted to do adhoc testing.  So pay as you go seemed the smart move.

I tried 3, Vodafone, T-Mobile, and O2 – when I said I tried I don’t mean I went into the store….I mean I actually obtained a sim, charged it with credit after confirming that it would work with the relevant customer service staff and tried the activation sequence with the password issued by the email hosting provider that was providing the ‘Blackberry exchange server’ licence.  The result.  It didn’t work.  After various attempts, hours on the phone, and wasted visits to the stores and calls to customer service personnel, I eventually discovered that the networks don’t support ‘BES’ on pay as you go, only ‘BIS’ ie. ‘Blackberry Internet Server’.

My options were a 24 month contract (minimum £10 per month + a £5 Blackberry tariff) on vodafone, a £28, 18 month contract on O2, no option on 3 as the phone was too old! – a 2 year old Blackberry Curve 8310, or £15, 18 month contract on T-Mobile.  What a farce…I wanted a limited, short term, low cost, data only sim and no one could do it.

The comparable sim that would enable the same testing functionality on the iPhone as I was after on the Blackberry, was a 30 day rolling contract with 2 Gb of data from 3 for £5 a month.

The whole process took over a week and when compared to the c.10 minutes the iPhone its no wonder the iPhone is becoming more popular in IT departments around the world.  Unless Blackberry/RIM really ups its game and abolishes the ridiculous server side licence charges and ‘Blackberry data’ protocol they’ll see their market share diminish significantly as iPhone and Andoid devices make the user’s experience that much easier.

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