When I started working this past fall, I was given the option of several smartphones to use for work, ranging from Blackberry and iPhone to Android, Windows Phone, even Palm. At the time, I had just gotten my Incredible 2 so I was hoping to take the opportunity to try a different phone out. After some debate, I decided to go with the Blackberry Bold 9650 from Verizon. My reasoning at the time was I already had a fun, touch screen phone with the Incredible, so I just needed something that could make calls and do email for work. Blackberry is known for its email, security, and keyboard. Plus a lot of people around the office had one of these so it seemed like a good idea.
While I haven’t been disappointed by the Bold, it also hasn’t exactly impressed me. The email client is fine but that’s about as much it has going for it. I used to think that a keyboard would be important for emailing, but I’ve gotten used to typing on a touchscreen (the buttons on the 9650 are a little small too). A lot of people raved about Blackberry Messenger, but I’ve never found a use for it. What really brings the phone down though is the software. Blackberry OS just feels too much like a feature phone OS from the mid 2000s. The web browser is horrible and the app ecosystem is weak. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but even for work, apps can be important. Deloitte has a couple of proprietary apps that are either exclusive to or better on the iPhone.
I know newer iterations of the Bold have a touchscreen and a better keyboard, but unless they drastically improve the OS and app environment, I will probably get an iPhone next time I’m eligible for an upgrade (just to get some variety). I finally believe that RIM is dead now. Even if the new OS is as good as iOS and Android, it will already be too late and it surely won’t be enough to attract new customers. The only viable strategy I see for RIM (other than selling itself) is to focus on being the smartphone for the poor. RIM has had some success in developing countries and lower income consumers. If it can get its price point down and offer some of the functionality users want (messaging, Facebook, Twitter) RIM can become a niche player. The days of RIM being the corporate king though is over.