Many of us know that the new iPhone 3G has brought, along with some great new features and an amazing 3rd party app repository (the Apple App Store), a great deal of trouble. These troubles are everything from lag, to 3rd party app crashes, to complete hangups. So, the small business owner in all of us is probably wondering “is it too soon to convert my business to the iPhone?”
Well, for starters, there are some things the iPhone can do that the Blackberry can’t. The biggest of these is the 3rd party apps; coding for the Blackberry is done in Java, a complex and difficult language to use, whereas the iPhone has a simple Software Development Kit (SDK) available to anyone for free that nearly anyone can pick up and learn in a couple hours (note that while the SDK is free, a fee of $99 must be paid to be added to the list of App Store developers and to actually submit your app to the app store). This allows for great programs, such as Evernote, Oracle, etc to the ported for the iPhone in a short amount of time. The app store gives the iPhone a huge heads up over the Blackberry, simply because apps to boost productivity and simplify your mobile workflow can be designed for the iPhone in much less time and a lot less money.
Despite the positive qualities of the iPhone and the massive potential locked in the app store, the Blackberry simply does some things better or faster then the iPhone currently can. One of these things is email. All small business owners know that email is one of your primary forms of communication with clients and employees in this day and age, and the Blackberry, for years now, has simply been able to manage your inboxes in more powerful ways then the iPhone can. Regardless of the fact that the iPhone can display full HTML emails, whereas the Blackberry can’t in some cases, the Blackberry’s inbox management tools completely trump those of the iPhone, which is a huge downside.
Another thing the Blackberry has always been good with is stability. Simply because their apps are painstakingly written in a difficult language by professional coders and scaled specifically for the Blackberry, the apps running on that platform are infinitely faster and less crash or hang prone then iPhone apps tend to be. Even key components of the iPhone, such as SMS and Safari, cause the unit to crash or lag for long periods of time before they can be used, which raises the question of how these apps have been passed for official use on the device. Along with the instability of core applications built into the iPhone OS, most 3rd party apps are prone to lag and crashes as well. I speak from experience when I say you’ll be lucky to survive a single day on the iPhone without seeing an app crash.
The reasons for these problems is still unknown, but it is rumored Apple is working on a fix slotted for a September release, that will also bring more new features such as background notifications to the OS.
One last point I would like to discuss is security. The Blackberry has always been a corporate standard and therefore, its security systems are much stronger and built to last. The iPhone, despite its security mechanisms, such as the unlock code and autolock timer, has recently been bashed with numerous security flaws that allow a malicious user to bypass the unlock code system entirely and gain complete access to Safari, your Mail, and your entire Address Book, simply by pressing the Emergency Call button and tapping Home twice. Issues like this are almost unheard of on the Blackberry, and some of these issues are massive letdowns for small business owners looking to utilize some amazing 3rd party apps for their business.
My conclusion, however biased I am about Apple products, is a clear one: the Blackberry is still the best and the most secure means of being productive on the go. The iPhone may look cool and have the app store, but its constant bugs, lag, crashes and security flaws turn me off of using this device to keep in contact with clients and other business contacts or for working on the go. Hopefully Apple’s future Software Updates, which they are good at providing to fix issues like this, will fix some of the iPhone’s big problems, but until the security vulnerabilities and slow device performance is fixed, the Blackberry will still be my number 1 choice for small business mobility.