Quick and Dirty RIM Blackberry vs. Apple iPhone Observations.

The title says it all. This is not in any way, shape, or form meant to be a review. These are just some observations I gathered watching Blackberry usage last week.

On vacation I saw lots of iPhones and BBs (FYI, I don’t recall seeing a single Palm). On three occasions I sat right next to a BB user (once on a plane and twice in the airport), and it was very interesting to watch their interactions with the device. Certain things struck me:

  • The BB screen is quite small (or call the iPhone screen large, take your pick).
  • While not mitigating the BB physical keyboard, any advantages it may possess must be at least partially voided by the space it always takes.
  • BB text is “ugly”. I spend 90% of my time on the iPhone reading. There is no way I could do that with the BB. The screen, font, and display do not seem up to long-term reading (certainly not for enjoyment). At least, they’re not up to it when one sees what’s possible with the iPhone.
  • The BB web browser is as much a joke as most mobile browsers. Digressing a bit, ever notice that so-called “mobile” iPhone sites are actually stylish sites configured for the smaller screen? These sites are 10 times better than a “standard” mobile site. Check out Google’s iPhone page, or Fox News’, or Bank of America’s, or Facebook’s, as just a few examples of beautiful and easy to navigate/read sites that go way beyond generic “mobile” web sites.
  • The little trackball is downright primitive as a navigation tool compared to a touch screen.

I realize they call the BB a CrackBerry for a reason. Many of their users are addicted to them. But a lot of that is almost certainly due to them offering more than what had come before. Compared to the iPhone, however, they’re looking long in the tooth.

Oh, for those that think how a site (or email) looks doesn’t matter, the text is just fine, it doesn’t need to be “pretty”, it’s just a bunch of fluff, and real men (or women) don’t need a “toy”, I’ve been expecting you. Years ago you probably saw no need for color screens, XGA screen sizes, sound cards, and so on. Each of those improvements you considered unnecessary, eye candy, etc. (well, until it came to your chosen device). You were wrong then, and you’re wrong now.

The good news for BB supporters — or iPhone haters — is that RIM seems pretty smart, and I suspect they’re working hard on improving the user experience even as some may claim it’s not necessary.

5 thoughts on “Quick and Dirty RIM Blackberry vs. Apple iPhone Observations.

  1. I recently picked up a Blackberry to fill the gap while I waited for July 11th and the 3G iPhone that will replace my old one just sold. I think there is a large caveat for BB email – specifically IMAP functionality – I’m used to the pretty excellent, smooth IMAP support on my old iPhone. Getting that RIM device to work with my IMAP server has been miserable – I went to a Windows Mobile phone and that is fair. The BB probably excels in the corporate Win Exchange market – I hope at least. For stock IMAP, it blows. This will be a long month…

  2. Great point Tom. I remember when the Amiga computer came out in 1985. PC and Apple people were all, why would you need thousands of colors? With full screen animation (30 FPS + NTSC out)? With stereo sound? Multitasking? Why would you want to do more then one thing at a time? why would you need a computer that talks? I could go on and on. heh heh.

  3. I think that the IPhone is going to be extremely popular in corporate operations. Let’s face it, the Blackberry really isn’t very good for corporate applications. One big lack is the inability to view tiff, pdf, stp, etc. files. The current Blackberry would need a complete redesign. The current IPhone can already do part of this, and with the release of the SDK the other capabilities will be added quickly.

    This is based on my having used both phones.

  4. Since I can be a little crazy at times, I posted today this crazy theory that maybe, just maybe: Psystar is, in fact, really Apple?

    Yes, I know it’s a crazy idea, but there are a few reasons, as I state in my post, that I think that this might be the case.

    I won’t go into the reasons, but as I said, “It’s just a crazy theory,” and one that I wrote about for the fun of it – but still, the idea that Psyster is an Apple dummy corporation still could be true, couldn’t it?


  5. BlackBerrys are good at what they’re really meant to do. Send and receive e-mails and I hear they do that extremely well. And for corporate users, they didn’t have much of a choice. You don’t buy an iPhone for that purpose, you buy it mainly for browsing the web. I think that there are just two different types of users out there. And there are those that prefer real keyboards to virtual keyboards. That’s just a user’s choice.

    You can compare an iPhone to a BlackBerry, but it really seems pointless. They’re both good at certain things and both are lacking in certain things. However, the iPhone running OSX has far more potential than any Symbian device. The iPhone has better hardware than the BlackBerry. The iPhone is a much more advanced platform than the BlackBerry. But a BB user probably doesn’t care about that stuff. They’re content to send and receive e-mails with as little fuss as possible. You get used to it, so why bother to change if there’s no compelling reason.

    I’m all for the iPhone dominating the smartphone kingdom, but I think it will be a few years before the BlackBerry folds up and dies. RIM is probably now developing products that will increase the BB usefulness and versatility to some degree. And BBs will be offered in several model types to satisfy more users. So far, Apple is content to sell just one style iPhone (not counting memory size). I’m sure there are handset buyers that prefer more choices in a handset lineup.

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