Why BlackBerry Needs Real Innovation, and How Boston Can Help
Heads up, stodgy bankers and business road warriors: in case you haven’t noticed the blatant signs over the past 12 months or so, your trusty BlackBerry is no longer cool. Yeah, I know you think that because you recently traded in your old-school model with scroll wheel for the sleek black Tour or Bold 2, you’re on top of the latest trends. Sorry to burst your bubble, but your BlackBerry is the equivalent of a Motorola RAZR in late 2007.
I’m almost ashamed to write about it, being a closet BlackBerry user who’s anxiously awaiting the day I am eligible for an upgrade. That puts me squarely within the ultra un-hip “late majority” consumer segment. The only way I can muster the courage to use my BlackBerry in public is that the choice becomes less clear with each passing day which device should be my next. Today if I buy an iPhone 3GS (still my favorite from a pure hardware standpoint), I’m stuck with AT&T, best known for dropped calls and clogged data pipes. Not to be ignored are the host of new Android-based devices that have started coming online. So, I’m waiting to see how things shake out over the next few months, and whether a clear winner emerges. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
So you’re not convinced you, too, are behind the times and need some proof. Here goes:
It’s an app world—There’s no denying we are in the beginning of a mobile and social revolution. Whether your goal is to stay plugged into pop culture or keep your business skills honed, you had better embrace this brave new world or risk being left behind. Mobile apps have become an integral part of our culture, and almost all companies—from mobile pure plays and social media upstarts to large e-tailers starting to execute a mobile strategy—build for the iPhone first. That has translated to 100,000 apps in the iTunes store and over 2 billion total downloads as of November 2009, compared to just 5,000 applications in BlackBerry App World.
Wired vs. wireless—If your employer doesn’t “sponsor” your BlackBerry (if you work for a small company this may also apply to you), you likely connect to a BIS server to receive e-mail and connect to the Internet. That means keeping your schedule and contacts up to date between your BlackBerry and computer requires syncing the two via BlackBerry Desktop software, which despite having reached v5.x, constantly requires removal and reinstallation. But I digress. The main point is that like the RAZR, USB is so 2007. Apple has wireless syncing and backup options for all iPhone users. And, as industry experts expected, Apple is making inroads in the enterprise market. After all, if the necessary security measures are in place, IT managers will simply strive to meet the needs and wants of their customers (i.e. company employees).
Brand perception—In late December, the BlackBerry e-mail network suffered two outages over a two-week period. RIM’s service disruption was an aberration, but users were outraged and analysts criticized the company for not having adequate server backup measures. Following the outages, BlackBerry’s Buzz score fell to +28 (positive brand perception scores range from +1 to +100), a number I’d classify as mildly positive. Contrast RIM’s normally reliable service with that of the iPhone; especially in urban areas people are plagued with dropped calls and poor bandwidth on a daily basis. You could argue AT&T’s network, and not the iPhone itself, is largely to blame. But at the end of the day, you’d expect people to … Next Page »