The last few years have been tough for the original smartphone. While the iPhone and Android platforms have taken several leaps forward, the BlackBerry has remained mostly stagnant. The out-of-date devices, combined with crippling service outages, have left consumers flocking to the more popular and powerful platforms. Yet there remains hope for the BlackBerry. Not only is Research In Motion creating a new offering that will rival the iPhone and Android devices, but their most recent line of BlackBerry smartphones contain significant improvements. Each is the best smartphone RIM has yet created, and each provides a superior option for business settings.
No bells and whistles
The major knock on the BlackBerry, from a consumer standpoint, is its lack of bells and whistles. Take a look at BlackBerry App World compared to the App Store and the Android Market. Once you cut out the ebooks and themes that unnecessarily flood App World, it contains few applications. Further, it contains few of the most popular mobile applications. Developers prefer to create on the Android and iPhone platforms. Since there isn’t an easy way to create the same apps for BlackBerry, few make the effort.
Yet the business user need not concern herself with bells and whistles such as the latest addictive game or the hottest social app. These are not part and parcel to a businessperson’s smartphone usage. The focus is on core applications, and as we’ll see later the BlackBerry does core applications right. For business users, the lack of bells and whistles might even be a feature rather than a bug. It allows them to focus on what matters.
One side-effect of the BlackBerry’s lack of applications: fewer distractions. The BlackBerry does contain a number of games and some distracting applications, for sure. Yet these games are not as in-depth and addicting as the most popular games on the iPhone and Android platforms. Again, this has much to do with the difficulty of developing for BlackBerry. But the business user might see this as a boon.
Apps and games serve to distract the user. They’re something to do while waiting in line or during downtime. Yet, the business user knows that there are more important things to accomplish during those times. Waiting on line provides a perfect opportunity to catch up on email. And downtime? What’s downtime? The business user focuses on core uses, and needs not the distractions that come with major smartphones. They might be a luxury some can afford, but for the focused business user, the BlackBerry provides exactly what’s needed.
Superior core functions
Messaging has always been at the center of the BlackBerry platform, and to this day its email system trumps both iPhone and Android. While the iPhone’s email system works well enough when run through Microsoft Exchange, it still doesn’t work as efficiently as the BlackBerry system, which is true push. Even for webmail accounts such as Gmail, the BlackBerry provides instant delivery. BlackBerry also provides a far superior notification system, and those notifications can come in countless forms. With Android there is no real comparison. While its Gmail platform is superior, its other webmail functions fall flat.
The BlackBerry calendar system is nothing revolutionary, but it holds its own as a solid offering. While Google Calendar on Android and iCalendar on the iPhone do their jobs well enough, the BlackBerry does it just as well if not better. In addition, the BlackBerry platform contains a number of applications that overlay the calendar. That is, they use the calendar, while implementing tasks as well, to create a more integrated and full organizational experience. While the calendar system works well on its own, these applications make it even better.
Contact management is another important aspect of business smartphone usage, and the BlackBerry again reigns supreme. The iPhone might come close, but with the new features of the BlackBerry operating system — including the ability to add new numbers and emails to existing contacts — the BlackBerry system is simply more intuitive and easier to navigate. The BlackBerry platform contains contact cards that can store reams of information about contacts, including social media information. This makes it a superior contact management system.
Overall the BlackBerry has its shortcomings. The new hardware, including touchscreens, on the BlackBerry 7 smartphones help mitigate many issues that plagued the platform in the past. Yet it still isn’t seen as a sexy consumer device. That’s fine, though. The BlackBerry has its purpose, and business users can take the greatest advantage. Its simplicity and focus on core functions make it the perfect business smartphone.
About the Guest Post Author: Joe Pawlikowski is the editor of BBGeeks, a site dedicated to helping BlackBerry users get the most out of their devices. He contends to this day that the BlackBerry is the best smartphone for business purposes.