Should I Buy a Blackberry?

Category: Mobile

How does the Blackberry smartphone operating system by Research In Motion (RIM) stack up against Apple's iPhone and Google's Android? A smartphone's OS is the foundation of an entire ecosystem of vendors, phones, accessories, and apps. Let's compare the three leading smartphone operating systems in the U.S. and see what sorts of users benefit most from each...

Should I Buy a Blackberry?

Blackberry, iPhone or Android?

The Blackberry OS is best known for its native support of corporate email; it's very popular among large enterprises, government agencies, and other organizations that use Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, or Novell GroupWise. These enterprise email systems also include calendar, task, notes, and contacts functions that mesh easily with Blackberry devices. RIM also sells the Blackberry Enterprise Server, a middleware product that provides tighter integration between Blackberry smartphones and enterprise collaboration software systems.

The Blackberry OS supports a number of mobile user interface technologies including trackball; trackwheel; keypad; and touchscreen. Third-party developers are allowed to develop apps for Blackberry, which are mostly business-oriented.

The Apple iPhone OS (IOS) was originally developed for the iPhone, but now is also the OS for the iPad and iPod Touch devices. Apple does not permit IOS to be used on any other hardware. Like the Mac OS X, IOS is based upon Unix, an open source operating system in theory.

The IOS is very much a touchy-feely operating system. It dispenses with virtually all mechanical user interface devices, relying on "intuitive" hand and body motions of the user to open apps, move objects on the screen, even type on virtual on-screen keyboards. You don't just click icons with the IOS; you can also "pinch" the screen between your fingers. A "reverse pinch" involves placing your bunched fingertips on an object and spreading them to open an app, zoom in on a map, etc. Some IOS apps even let you shake the device to undo what you just did.

Until version 4, IOS did not support multitasking, a sore point with reviewers and users. Apple resisted multitasking for fear that running multiple apps at once would drain batteries too quickly. You need IOS 4 and a 3rd-generation or later hardware device to do multitasking.

The Android Factor

Google's Android OS is the first open source mobile device operating system to gain significant market share; in fact, Android-based smartphones such as the Verizon Droid, and HTC's EVO outsold Blackberry and IOS smartphones in the U.S. during Q2 of 2010, capturing 33 per cent of handset sales!

Android is based upon Linux and GNU software (another open source operating system). Google developed Android as part of its push for "open handsets," or consumers' ability to use any phone with any carrier and any app. Android has since been adopted by the Open Handset Alliance of major cellular service carriers and handset manufacturers who share Google's vision (or, at least, grudgingly go along with consumer demand in this case).

As a result, a slew of Android handsets with many different feature sets and price points have flooded the market. A large community of developers is busy writing Android apps; over 70,000 apps are available as of this writing, with a rumored 400,000 more apps awaiting review.

Here's the bottom line, from my perspective. The Blackberry still stands out as a tool for business users. But for personal use, Apple's iPhone and the Android-based phones available today are light years ahead in terms of the user interface and the ability to extend the usefulness of the smartphone with apps. The choice is probably going to be dictated by the carrier you choose. The iPhone is available only through AT&T, so if you want a cool smartphone, and you're locked into AT&T, the iPhone is it. By contrast, if you're locked into Verizon or Sprint, the Droid or HTC EVO is tops.

So should you buy a Blackberry? No. If you need a Blackberry, your employer will provide it for you. If you're a large enterprise employee, you may very well get a Blackberry-based smartphone as part of your standard company equipment. I'm sure some hard-core Blackberry users will disagree, but that's the way I see it.

Do you have something say about buying a Blackberry? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Should I Buy a Blackberry?"

Posted by:

30 Aug 2010

I bought a Motorola Droid about a month ago after spending more than 6 months thinking about it. I did not love it right away and I still have to say that it is so much harder to use AS A PHONE than my trusty Samsung flipphone. Even with Quickdial apps, it still takes at least 3 touches to make a call. I really miss my number send speed dial.

But everything else is really cool and I enjoy texting with my children more now that I have a keyboard. Another reason I like it better now is I found an app that allows me to sync with my Outlook (another article said this was included but maybe it used to be). I will have to pay $40 when the trial period is over but it will be worth it not to have to switch everything over.

The latest update that came up this month, Aug 2010, was very helpful as it improved several features.

The saddest thing for me is that I know by the time I get really comfortable with it, it will be outdated. I like to keep a phone at least 3 years and that makes them really old in phone years! I love technology but I like to add stuff not have to constantly relearn basic functions.

Posted by:

Lee McIntyre
30 Aug 2010

I bought a Blackberry Tour for my personal use earlier this year, simply because "Blackberry" had almost become a generic name in the market place, much like "Xerox."

But web access is abysmal; impractical for almost every site. The phone itself is great, but if you think you want web access, and the ability to see a site in other than 2 point type, choose something else.

Posted by:

31 Aug 2010

Can't a Droid or an Iphone do everything a Blackberry does - and more? They say that BB handles corporate emails... I've had no problems with my Droid Incredible doing them...???

Posted by:

01 Sep 2010

Well, I got a Blackberry Curve 8520 from AT&T because it was almost free. I simply could not afford an Iphone, and resist Apple's exclusivity and elitism.
I like the 'Berry, and find its internet connectivity to be just fine, as it connects via wifi®, and simply rocks. There are a lot of apps that are coming out that are not for businesses, and even some games.
I particularly like the keyboard with real keys; on touch phones I have tried, my big fingers (I am 6'3", and rather heavy) always hit the wrong keys.
I am very happy with the "Berry, and will keep it. If I am going to spend upwards of $200 US, I will get a netbook or an Ipad Touch.

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