33 thoughts on “Who’s Going To Kill Blackberry?”

  1. I bought a new Blackberry 8700g last week to audition it as a replacement for my Treo 600 and I will be returning it today. To me, the Blackberry is only great at one thing: enterprise fully-synced email/calendaring. Granted, it’s a very important thing, but it’s just one thing. Everything else about this device is sub-par to me, even compared to my two year old Treo.

    That is why I just purchased a Treo 700P a couple of days ago and will be switching over to Sprint just so I can use it. A list of things I like better about it:

    — More Mac-like interface sensibilities
    — Music
    — TV
    — Syncs with IMAP mail
    — Syncs with Macs and PCs better
    — Camera
    — Touch screen
    — Better keyboard

    etc etc etc

    Although the Palm OS’s “look” is getting a bit dated, the fact remains it’s still one of the most feature-rich, mature, easy-to-use OSes out there. It also syncs seamlessly with Outlook or whatever other PIM you use. For someone who isn’t using a Blackberry Enterprise Server, it’s the best choice in town. So I guess your question comes down to, “when and how will the Blackberry Enterprise Server become unnecessary?” To me, it already is.

  2. If Microsoft could do a better job handling/releasing memory and preventing crashes, they could have won with this generation of devices… but I think they’re still too quirky. Though, for sheer processing horse power and EVDO, it’s hard to beat either of the 6700s. How come the Sidekick III isn’t on the survey? šŸ˜‰

  3. IMAP Push will eventually kill the Blackberry, and enterprise mobility services in general, by making them less relevant as people expect this as part of their basic “dial tone”. Having used smartphones since 2000, I have never understood the value of the Blackberry service, since IMAP over a secure link gives you 95% of what the Blackberry does, without the extra subscription. The only thing lacking right now is a widely accepted protocol for syncing contact and calendar info (SyncML never caught on). Once you have that, combined with IMAP Push, there is really not much need for a proprietary solution, so the Blackberry is a transitional technology, albeit a very lucrative one for the time being.

    The endless litigation in this space has also certainly not helped any of these vendors, as it has educated people about the importance of open standards and protocols that are not owned by a single corporation.

  4. brian

    who are the folks working on the IMAP Push technology, and who will be including it in their products. I think you are right about SyncML – too tough to use in many situations. what are the options you see for that?

  5. If IMAP Push is actually a separate technology from IMAP, I’ll admit that I’m a bit ignorant about it, but my own standard IMAP configuration is not noticeably different than true “push” right now. My Treo maintains a passive connection with my standard IMAP e-mail account, sends a tiny idle command every minute or so, and when there’s new mail/events/whatever, the Treo gets it immediately. It’s sort of a cross between push and pull I guess, but to the end user, it’s really no different than the true push of the Blackberry.

  6. I’ve used, tried or owned most of those devices.

    My vote goes to a Blackberry 8700c.

    The problem with the devices that do EVERYTHING (ie, Treo’s, PocketPC’s, etc) is that they do EVERYTHING rather poorly. Its great to be able to watch TV, videos, music, etc on your phone, but the actual experience of using the phone/e-mail suffers by consequence.

    The Blackberry does work best with corporate e-mail. And no, I don’t use it with my corporations e-mail system, I use MailStreet and forward all my mail out to them. Mi8 does the same thing.

  7. P-IMAP is an extension to IMAP that delivers asychronous messages to clients to inform them of when new messages have arrived. The goal in P-IMAP is to reduce the need to have a TCP connection nailed up (and thus an active GPRS link) to poll for state. P-IMAP is more about making IMAP work on devices with limited resources than it is providing a push experience, as IMAP IDLE polling largely does that (except at the cost of fast battery drain).

    I agree with Om that the distinction is largely lost on end users, who will perceive polled email delivered within a few minutes as “push” email, as they have no way of comparing arrival times when away from their PCs. Also with the increased popularity of SMS, it is no longer necessary to use email to send urgent messages to people as you can send an SMS to someone to prod them to pay attention to something or alert them to an important document.

  8. (I already posted this on another site, so might as well cut&paste here too):
    I’ve had the privilege of analyzing all these devices and more, and have come up with the following conclusions:

    • 8700 is an awesome machine, miles ahead of anything RIM has ever put out. EDGE is not as fast as EVDO or HSDPA, but Bberry has done a great job optimizing perceived speeds and usable data.

    • My fav device (and the one I’m keeping and using constantly) is the Verizon XV6700. Similar in form and function to the MDA (current GSM carriers’ versions) , but it’s EVDO and >twice the processor speed. Both factors have made major differences in my testing. If you’ve tried and hated the MDA, don’t rule out WM5 absolutely . I really love the solution coupled with MS Exchange and am seeing remarkable performance on the Verizon xv6700.

    • WM5 vs Palm: I sold my last company to Palm, so have an affinity for them. Yet I predicted WM would jump past them, as you are implying, and I think that has already happened w/ WM5 at least on the robustness/performance trade-off. 1 major factor w/ WM5 is the push email. Full support depends on the device but with this, there’s now NO reason to have and pay for Blackberry Ent server. I’m not raving that MS now has a super-solid platform, more that in traditional MS style the new version “sucks less”. But it’s such a useful platform, if you’re really already MS vertically-setup, the calendaring, email, contacts, etc, are just way richer and better looking IMO than Blackberry. Yes this is MS koolaid speak, and if you’re mac-centric that edge goes away. The clincher that I think pushes WM over Bberry is that it also is still a much more open platform than Bberry and you can run cool things such as GPS software, etc. Battery life WM vs Bberry can’t compare but I simply dock it every night and I’m fine.

    • Treo 700w: for now (being that it’s so far only avail on Verizon), this device doesn’t seem compelling, since you can have the xv6700 instead. The Treo has dramatically smaller screen, tiny keys, and yet is slightly BIGGER lengthwise than the xv6700. Plus side on the Treo is it has hard keys for dialing and slightly better phone call sound though that last point goes away if you use a BT headset.

    • Moto Q will NOT hit the professional mark. It is windows smartphone and not full WM5 and will be just dumbed down enough to frustrate a professional user.


  9. i just picked up Berry 8700 (t-Mobile) and think it is the best device i have owned (incl 3 other berries, a horrible palm 600 and several other phones). the debate about who will ‘kill blackberry’ cracks me up. OM, this reminds me of the [fake] Sun Micro vs Microsoft and Word Perfect vs Word battlea of years past. As if !!

    Without offense to the group, here, having support/interface for a Mac is about as useful to most people as a built in Latin languance interpreter… Corporate america (primary users of messaging) don’t care.

  10. Well, none of the current crop of competitive devices will ‘kill’ the BB. In fact, if the BB is actually knocked out of the market, it will be a combination of forces that does this.

    The reality is, there are currently three completely viable platforms (BlackBerry, Palm, Windows Mobile) to build a wide variety of devices on. Each one has their unique pros and cons. And yes, there is Symbian and Linux, but they currently don’t really have either a substantial market presense (Linux) or anything more than some spiffy consumer-oriented media phones (Symbian).

    The only area where BB will have issues, is if it does not take on more media-related features. As much as traditional BB users hate to hear this, the BB platform needs to take on more PDA functionality and expandability to continue to its market expansion.

    Converged devices are here to stay, and once you have one, you will not live without one. The nifty thing is you can see RIM moving in this direction – the foundation is being created in the 8700 series. With a beutiful large clear screen, more memory, and a powerful XScale processor – you can bet that additional functionality will be added either in system updates, or in future versions of the devices.

    Palm and Microsoft have these features today, and are working to round out their email delivery systems to compete on that front.

    No, none of these devices will ‘kill’ the BlackBerry.

  11. I personally think that the answer is that there will be no clear winner.

    Motrorola has the wow factor in terms of the cool product design of their device, but are just another Microsoft licencee. If the market goes the way of the PC market Motorola could see its margins beaten hollow by carrier-own products made by the likes of HTC.

    Palm is a dead beat, I gave my 650 to my folks to use to text messages. Its keyboard is great but it ended up corrupting my contacts database on a regular basis, which is pretty basic and unforgivable, hell it was one of the main selling points for buying the device in the first place over its competitors. In addition, you have to use a third-party application from Mark/Space for the latest generation Macs and even that product is a very flaky performer.

    Some former colleagues had Treos and GoodMail, which was also flaky and unreliable and crashed more regularly than a demolition derby on race day.

    Nokia has the product design and software smarts to make a reliable stylish product that you can live with and will do well in Europe, however is unlikely to make the same impact in the US. I think that they are likely to slap Sony Ericsson around the place. If Nokia would sort out decent Mac synchonisation they may get some early adopter traction, but I think that they are far too myopic, insular and arrogant to do bother.

    Blackberry has the brand recognition through which it has become a by-word and a status symbol. I don’t see that situation changing soon.

    The biggest challenge is likely to be a cultural backlash to having your desk always chained to your belt holster.

  12. I think any device embedding Microsoft Windows Mobile has a real chance now against the ‘berry.

    Something no one has mentioned is the proprietary nature and cost of the RIM push email solution.

    Microsoft Exchange’s latest service pack provides full email push support without any additional per user fees. This is huge! The cost of RIM BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) which is a required add-on for an existing Exchange server is multiple thousands of dollars and then license fees per month that carriers mark-up to $30/month per user. That’s a big financial incentive to find something, ANYTHING, other than RIM.

    As stated, for general mail servers, “mail pull”, IMAP idle, or an enhanced protocol will eventually provide neutrality of choosing any back-end.

    So it’s a one/two punch: Microsoft Exchang “push” as a lower-cost direct Enteprise replacement for RIM and then a slew of other techniques (IMAP idle, push, polling) that will allow use of any mail server backend (albeit possibly with some limitations/kluges, etc.)

  13. Im a huge fan of the latest version of Nokia 9300i – its got a videscreen (all site are done widescreen not blackberry screen) – and I can use Gmail via GPRS – so that Ive checked my mail during or 2min after a meting and even able to search last 14months of mail (Ive got it forwarded to Gmail). For real professional use (safe) – I use and recommend http://www.dmesync.com (Im involved – to let you know my opinion is biost)

  14. Om, As usual quite astute. The BB8700 is the most intuitive device on the market (that HP 6515 on WM03SE was so unbelievably bad for $400 that its almost laughable). BB will actually increase its position in the market as users realize that the current network technology cannot support the media related uses other phones claim to support and BB licenses out its email client and software to OEM like Nokia. BB will improve their own devices even more for the basic functions most people want reliably- phone and push email and perhaps add some additional functions (like camera) in the next hardware. We must remember all these devices are limited. You can’t have processors functioning massively fast, heating up, without a fan (its hard to fit a cooling fan in a phone). Combining that with tthe limitation of the cellular network capacity it will be difficult to take devices media capabilities much further whle making it an enjoyable user experience. People still want reliablility in their devices. ipod, mac , BB. Keep it simple. Thats why BB wins. Every executive, money manager, ibanker, lawyer, politician that essentially makes decisions involving the allocation of capital on large scales uses BB. RIM must be doing something right.

  15. SK2 soon (hopefully) to be SK3 by Danger/Hiptop. Everything I need, very easy interface, and I have had very little call dropping/signal loss on T-Mobile’s network.

  16. I think I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and throw down a TON of cash for multiple devices.

    Blackberry 8700c or Treo 700p for cell phone

    Slim 5-7 megapixel camera (the cam in my phone just sucks).

    EVDO card for my laptop

    This is a bunch of cash… $1k for all the devices at least… then probably $150 a month for the data services.

    Probably worth it but in a few years this stuff will be a LOT cheaper.


  17. wait till the upgrade for a std CrackBerry which supports MDS4.1x !!

    “BlackBerry Mobile Data System v4.1, includes XML Web Services among its methods for integrating mobile applications with back-end servers, and supports the Microsoft .Net and Java 2 Enterprise Edition environments. “

    Once this firmware hits the market, BB78xx’s will rock the market once again.. !!

  18. Can’t balckberry kill blackberry with lack of innovation and bad management. Based on the handling of the patent lawsuit – it should be a choice in your poll

  19. I must agree with the above poster about IMAP Push. I currently use a Treo 650 with ChatterEMail for mail (after reviewing many phones to come to the conclusion that I liked the Treo). Since it used IMAP Idle I get push e-mail to my phone with no additional charges, it’s all part of the mail server. This works with many different e-mail servers including Exchange. While the Blackberry was the gold standard, I personaly believe that Chatter has blown it away from a pure e-mail perspective.

    E-mail is a very personal thing. Everyone uses it differently and everyone has an opinion. I’m not sure that any one of these solutions will end up coming out on top, I think in the long run they will all complement each other.


  20. I’ve always thought the Treo is soooooo much better than any blackberry. I’ve written a few reviews saying as much and why.

    But, as B said in the last post, everyone usees it (email, but I think their phones as well, every phone function) in very different ways. I love the Treo’s camera and 3rd party apps. I have a difficult time without them as I’m currently living/coping with having a Blackberry.

    You asked… clink clink.. (2 cents).

  21. I agree that the blackberry has the whole enterprise sync story nailed. Windows seems to be improving and the Mototrola Q seems like it should give things a lift for that platform. I just fired up my 700p today after several 650s (i’m hard on my gadgets) and it has many improvements. That said, there are stilll many shortcomings. I know Apple and the iPod are still consumer plays and nowhere wrt the enterprise, but with some 50 million users (i being one of them) i sure wouldn’t count out an iPhone. Imagine the same fit and finish of an iPod applied to the phone. Face it, a happy iPod user will want an iPhone and just one device. That’s my $.02.

  22. The winner will be software that crosses all platforms and devices and easily provides the facilities that others put into the device. It is on the way so keep yur eye open for it…

  23. It is a good question to determine if something will come along that threatens RIM’s dominant position in wireless email.

    A few years back, I compiled a retrospective list of BlackBerry killers. Many of these killers are now long gone themselves. Going by memory, some of the supposed killers were:

    *Palm 7
    *Qualcomm PDQ phone
    *Motorola Pagewriter 2000
    *Motorola T900 (famouse for causing fires)
    *Nokia Communicator 9000 (aka brick)
    *3G (still waiting for Godot)
    *Wireless Knowledge (MSFT QCOM joint venture)
    *MSFT Exchange Server 2003
    *Compaq Ipaq
    *Nokia One Mobile Connectivity Service
    *Nokia Business Center
    *Nokia acquisition of Intellisync
    *Seven Networks
    *MSFT Windows Mobile upgrade (magneto)
    *Danger Sidekick
    *Nokia E62
    *Microsoft Stinger OS
    *MSFT Pocket PC 2002

    The idea of RIM facing competition is not new at all to RIM. The company has an advantage, like Apple’s iPod, in that they invented the market for their product and have had many successive generations of iterations in the technology to improve their products and their internal processes.

    RIM and Apple have succeeded but it is not because of an absence of competition, it is because they created a new market. The competitor to worry about is the one that creates not a better BlackBerry, but a device that disrupts and supplants the wireless email market.


  24. I bought a TMobile MDA (Windows phone) recently when my blackberry broke. it hardly ever gets email successfully (even though i have it set up to sync every 15 minutes). i find windows mobile to be incredibly annoying to use in so many ways. the blackberry 7105 is far and away the best phone i’ve ever hard for email purposes.

  25. The newest BB devices do media, music, photos, etc pretty well. My wife has a Storm from Verizon, and I have an 8350i from Sprint/Nextel. With them both being new releases, they have a couple of quirks that RIM and the service providers are working on, but are great devices. Both offer very crisp and clear video playback, various music files are supported, and both have cameras. The 8350i also has WiFi, while the Storm doesn’t. Several of my friends have various PDA/Smartphones (including iPhones, Treos and the new G1 from T-Mobile) and none of them are as user friendly or as reliable as the BB’s we have. The new Palm Pre may have given BB a run for its money…but the Palm developers decided to make it where old Palm software wasn’t compatible with the new Palm OS…which may have effectively killed the device before it ever got going. I don’t think there is a BB killer…nowhere close right now. In the future? Maybe.

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