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Back in April, sister site Crackberry.com posted a hypejacking article detailing their "Top 10 Reasons the iPhone was NO Blackberry". Rather than a purely facetious "And thank Jobs for that!", TiPb kept tongue firmly in cheek but responded with the "Top 10 Reasons the iPhone is Incomparable" and a more considered (meaning they didn't let me write it!) 10 Reasons to Ditch Your Blackberry for the iPhone. (Though in my defense, I did think there was something the iPhone could learn from its Blackberry competitor...)
Now, however, as the iPhone 3G and its 2.0 software are poised to take on the enterprise market, where RIM is still clearly the sales (if no longer the mind) share leader, perhaps it is time. So, as Crackberry.com pushes their "Top 10 Reasons the iPhone is STILL NO BlackBerry", let's just strap our business plans on and see if there really is any way the Blackberry can compare to the iPhone 3G.
Read on to find out!
10. Keyboard Complete
Okay, tic-tactile keyboards are a big for those who grew up on them -- those who can actually use the small, hard, round little things (I never could). And the Blackberry has it -- all Querty, all the time. Right there, whether you're typing or not, whether you need it at the moment or not. Whether you want it or not. Immovable, immutable, covering 50% of the useful surface of your device even if you won't be typing anything for hours. Just there. Taking up space.
By contrast, iPhone virtualizes whatever keys you need when you need them, and for everyone who complains about typing on it, there's someone who claims they can type ever-so-much better than they ever could on a cramped little querty (myself included!)
iPhone 2.0 will even let you finger-draw Chinese if you want to, and switch languages on the fly. What if you need to switch from Spanish to Russian on your Blackberry? Get out a tiny screw-driver, pop off the tic-tacs, and try to pop on a different set?
9. Screen Size Matters
I recently watched a poor, hapless young cable tech try to install a new connection while following the directions and schematics pushed to him on his tiny Blackberry screen. He turned his head. He squinted. He fumbled with the roller ball. And his exasperation was audible. Contrast this with any of the widescreen iPhone apps, or better still, the App Store apps demoed at WWDC, especially the medical and reference apps.
3.5 inches of swipe-able, rotate-able, pinch-able, spread-able, goodness would have made his job -- or any job -- easier by a (next) generation.
It's not just the media that benefits from the space afforded by the lack of a constant, bolted-on keyboard, its many different kinds of productivity apps.
The iPhone's screen, combined with multi-touch, GPS, and 3G speed is a game changer. (It's even forcing RIM to change its game with the Thunder...)
I've said it before and I'll say it again, RIM has the Blackberry and some supporting services. Apple has the iPhone, accessories, Macs, Mac software, iTunes, App Store, Apple Retail Stores, and an unmatched 360 degree, spherical business integration. Not only does this let Apple run break-even or loss-leading content services for music and applications -- which benefit consumers through low prices and high availability, it lets them leverage technology (e.g. OS X for the iPhone) and provide offerings (e.g. MobileMe) that no other company, much less one as single-faceted as RIM can compete with.
Maybe the iPhone doesn't (yet, see below) have first-party video recording abilities. But if you want to, you can shoot professional video, capture it to your MacBook Pro, check it into Final Cut Pro Server on you XServe, render it out with Motion, Color, and Compress on your iMac, serve it up to iTunes, download it on a PC, and sync it over to the iPhone (or Apple TV) your friend just bought at the Apple Store.
With iPhone 3G and 2.0, integrating the SDK with GPS-enabled location services and 3G bandwidth, that ecosystem grows exponentially. And the iPhone has it whether you choose to use it -- or any part of it -- or not. RIM simply doesn't have it, no matter what you may choose.
7. Open Standards, Open Choices
The 90s were all about monopoly. Tying us into closed, proprietary sandboxes where, once captured, we were stuck in one system, paying and paying, without any easy ability to move our data from one place to another, one app to another, one device to another.
RIM is still hanging desperately to this model, be it with their proprietary messaging system where a device like Crackberry.com's pre-release Bold can be rendered useless by a single NOC command, and corporations have to buy into costly additional servers or services ad nauseum infinitum simply to remain functional.
By contrast, Apple has thus far stuck to industry standards like IMAP, HTML, CSS, AJAX, and worked with open companies like Google, Yahoo! and others to ensure that any compliant site, message, or data can move through the iPhone without so much as touching Apple's servers. They've even contributed back to the Open Source community with CalDav and CardDav, not to mention WebKit itself.
Sure, ActiveSync is there in iPhone 2.0 if your business has already fallen into it, but the iPhone clients are agnostic, and if one day your company switches from Microsoft to Google, Yahoo!, a homegrown FOSS solution, or anything else, your experience on the iPhone stays the same.
And maybe there's no device-dependent MMS, but you can email pictures to any device -- handset, laptop, or desktop. That's platform independence, and where technology is moving. Just like they did by going USB only, Apple is leading the charge for the future. Will people complain? Of course. The same people who complained about the lack of serial and parallel cables. What are those? Exactly.
6. No NOC, No Worries
RIM's Network Operations Center (NOC) is what powers the Blackberry's true "push" technology; its greatest strength and, unfortunately, also its greatest weakness. While the NOC can get messages out as instantly as they come in, as mentioned before, RIM can also use it to turn off your device, or to share your messages with other parties (such as China, Singapore, and perhaps India), and if RIM's servers go down (as they have with regularity, both scheduled and unscheduled), your device goes down with it. Business waits for nothing, and as much as RIM empowers it, it sometimes also stops it dead in its tracks.
What good is 3G email and web if some manufacturer's server going down has you browsing at the speed of a lump of coal?
With the iPhone and its ActiveSync and open, standards-based protocols, if Apple's servers go down -- as long as you don't work for Apple -- you won't even notice.
(Sure, Apple may have announced a mini-NOC for push 2.0 App Store app notifications, but if that goes down, only third-party apps may be affected (and even that, only when they're not active), not mission-critical email, web browsing, etc.)
5. Modern Interface
Is anyone still running Windows 3.1 on their desktop? No? Didn't think so. But why are so many still putting up with Windows 3.1 (okay, maybe 98, I'll be generous) style interfaces on their Blackberry? While jesting about it earlier, there really is something profoundly disappointing in Windows Live for Blackberry being considered "candy" in the 2008, post-iPhone 1.0 world.
Of course, good interface isn't about candy, it's about functionality, and the iPhone feeds off a culture of excellence in interface, from Tog to the Delicious Generation. People may not always notice it, but they notice when it's missing, and after using even a 1.0 iPhone for a few months, the aged and near-obsolete interface in the Blackberry is slap-in-the-face missing. With 2.0, we get the SDK and...
4. App Store
From 0 to $100,000,000 in one media announcement. That's what Apple did for native iPhone application development with the SDK and with the promise of the App Store putting all those apps, free and commercial alike, in front of every iPhone owner, everywhere.
Momentum is everything, and it's iPhone Apps that have momentum now, iPhone Apps we see popping up in every developer PR and blog post, iPhone Apps that soon, if they're under 10mb, every iPhone owner on the planet will be able to download directly to their device no matter where they are. Impulse made easy. What you want, when and where you want it, be it niche business applications, specialized educational tools, hardcore games, everyday utilities.
3. iPod Class Media
Sure, you can't (yet, see below) listen to hideously compressed BT audio via A2DP on an iPhone (though any audiophile worth their lossless codec probably thanks Jobs for that...) Apple has a long history of not releasing as-yet-unperfected technologies unto their devices. If the tech is good, they're the first to dump the old and embrace it (floppies for CDs on the iMac, CDs for WiFI on the Air). If the tech isn't so good yet, they just wait until it is. They have standards.
That's the same reason they haven't tried to hack into someone else's media experience the way RIM claims it has with iTunes compatibility. When they wanted media, Apple built it themselves, and so with the iPhone, you get a complete, cohesive, massively integrated experience from music to movies, video to TV, audiobooks to podcasts, with the best back-end, desktop, sync, and mobile browser and WiFi store on the market. It just works. (And as noted, it will soon just work with App Store as well...)
iPhone 2.0 will bring video playlists, and perhaps more. Because Apple has a history of...
2. Continuous Feature Improvements
Four firmware updates to the original 1.0 OS, including the iTunes WiFi Music Store, double-tap the Home button to go right to the phone or iPod pop-up, double space for period insertion, springboard/homepage "wiggly" customization, WebClips, cell/WiFi triangulation, and many other little fixes and enhancements. All in less than a year, all free for the iPhone. Who else delivers that fast and that free?
Now we're on the verge of 2.0 -- also free for current iPhone users -- with more and more features jam-packed into each beta (now at beta 7 and counting).
Is the iPhone still missing some hotly demanded features like cut-and-paste? Sure, but it's only ever a firmware update away.
Sadly, the aging Blackberry OS has hardly seen more than a coat of paint by comparison in its much, much, much longer lifetime. Want to add a MobileSafari class internet browser to your old Blackberry? Even if RIM could build one (rather than relying on Opera to fill the gap), more than likely you'd have to buy the iPhone-like Thunder just to get it.
The new mobile world is all about innovation and staying up-to-date, and sadly, post-iPhone, the poor old Blackberry hasn't shown it can keep up.
1. iPhone is the New Crack
Think always-on plain text Crackberry-style email is enticing? The iPhone's full HTML mail client alone opens up a brave new world of addiction, now "pushed" right to your device via Exchange ActiveSync, Apple MobileMe, or Yahoo! (or the regular old way with any other IMAP or POP provider). Add to that full-on, standards compatible browsing at screaming 3G speeds, GPS powered Google Maps wrapped in the best client-side software on the planet, and ubiquitous internet has never been so fully realized and so zomgforgetthecrackineediphonenownownow!!11
There'll be an after-school special about it before long. Believe it.
(I don't even have a data plan and I turn the dang thing on hundreds of times a day -- come July 11th I doubt I'll get anything done, but at least I'll be super-productive not doing it!)
There they are, the top 10 reasons the folks in Blackberry probably smashed their full keyboard-encrusted Dell displays on Monday following the WWDC Keynote. RIM was served back in March with the SDK and iPhone 2.0. Now they've been aced.
What do you think? Did I miss anything? Can Blackberry respond (with something besides another iClone?) Will they? Or do you think this list is totally for hosers and the Canadian Crackberry is still number #1? Why? Let us know!