Bye-bye, BlackBerry? Not so fast

While the BlackBerry's browser features are lacking, business users still favor its messaging advantages over the iPhone's cool factor

Will Apple iPhone's "greatest show on Earth" sway Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry's business faithful? Hint: Bet on the BlackBerry for business.

Sure, the iPhone's browser bailiwick and coolness factor will appeal to slick, image-conscious execs. Yet the vast majority of the business segment proper won't give up their BlackBerrys -- which have pretty much become a lifeline to their jobs -- anytime soon.

After all, it's only business.

"People who carry the BlackBerry are not in it for the thrill," says InfoWorld chief technology analyst Tom Yager. "The BlackBerry is boring next to the iPhone, but it is the quintessential, always-connected messaging device. Its operation is second nature to professionals, and you can trace that objective back 10 years to its original design."

Put aside, for now, the back-end stuff such as security, support, management, wireless carriers, and even price -- real people choose mobile devices based on personal preferences, not necessarily IT policies. And BlackBerry's signature user-oriented features have become part and parcel to the way people work every day: push messaging, apps running in the background, always-on instant messaging, and, of course, the venerable and practical hardware keyboard for serious and, at times, lengthy correspondence that needs to happen, well, now. In contrast, the iPhone's touch keyboard has been criticized for being unwieldy for such typing correspondence.

So the real question is this: Can the iPhone compete against BlackBerry's messaging strengths?

The BlackBerry's messaging advantage

In the United States, the BlackBerry reigns among business users -- but the race is just starting to heat up. A Forrester Research survey released last week showed that smartphones -- which includes the BlackBerry, iPhone, Nokia's E-series, and Palm's Treo -- are making their way into the hands of employees at a rapid rate. The number of employees using smartphones is expected to double to 82 per cent in 2013.

The BlackBerry stole execs' hearts with its push messaging many moons ago. Even captains of industry went on record saying they'd be lost without their BlackBerry's incessant and familiar buzzing. Last week, Apple touted the same push feature in iPhone 2.0. A major coup? Depends on how you define push messaging.

The first iPhone could check for new e-mail only every 15 minutes or other user-designated interval; but when it ships in July, the iPhone 2.0 software will give both iPhone 3G and current iPhone (as well as iPod Touch) devices push-messaging capabilities via a back-end Microsoft system. The problem, says Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney, is that it won't be perfect.

"I'll use an [existing] Microsoft device as an example," Dulaney says. "Say you get a partial download of a message, and so you scroll down and try to get the rest of the message. It can take 20 seconds, but with RIM, it's instant. RIM has very granular control of e-mail."

RIM achieves this thanks to its own network, which Apple doesn't have. "You can't have push without a proprietary network that gives you a presence in real time and lets inbound messages float around in the ether until it sees you're able to receive it," Yager explains.

In fact, Apple had to create its own version of a piece of BlackBerry's infrastructure -- a proprietary notification service -- to make push messaging work in iPhone 2.0, Yager says.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Kaneshige

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?