I’m feeling pretty disappointed about the continual stories surrounding the BlackBerry platform. I’m such a huge fan that it’s rather painful to look into the abyss and consider, for example, a RIM takeover by Amazon or Microsoft. That said, my mind does then jump with excitement and the possibilities of what could be delivered as a result of a union between RIM and somebody else.
Even today with phenomenal competition from Android, iPhone and Windows Phone, BlackBerry beats everything hands-down when it comes to messaging. I’m not just referring to email. I’m talking about Facebook, Twitter, BBM and of course, SMS. It really is a joy to use a BlackBerry especially when I’m going through periods of hyper-connectivity. The QWERTY keyboard along with the unified inbox makes it all brilliant.
With an iPhone 4, messaging is a painful experience for a geek like me. I simply can’t stand having to arse around swiping left to reveal an iMessage and then waiting for the app to boot up and then display the message. I also don’t like the way I have to keep on waiting around to check that my outgoing message has been sent (if you’re in-and-out of signal range, it’s common for your iMessage/SMS to simply fail to send — but you only discover this if you actually go and check).
Android is a little better because it’s able to retain some degree of persistent experience. You can swap quickly to the SMS app, for example. Integrated Gtalk is lovely. I should also point out that the iPhone 4S is a lot *faster* when it comes to messaging — indeed most of my speed/timing messaging frustrations have disappeared with the new, faster processor on the 4S.
RIM’s QWERTY keyboard is what makes the BlackBerry experience uber fast for me. I’m just not as fast on a virtual keyboard. Neither are you, right? It’s rare — very rare indeed — to find someone who is actually faster on a touchscreen than on a BlackBerry keyboard. Us geeks are all reminded of Steve Jobs on stage at the iPhone launch explaining why the physical keyboard was a problem.
How much does a super-fast messaging experience matter to the average consumer? Not much when they can’t perceive the difference between the experience on a BlackBerry or an iPhone. Except that the iPhone (or Android) “feels” better. I can see why. If you look at the BlackBerry — even with OS7 — it’s still quite a clunky experience compared to the fancy visuals and animations of iPhone/Android.
Then there’s the apps issue. But I won’t get into that today.
BBM rocks. I love that experience. But.. and this is becoming more and more of an issue, I don’t know many people who use it nowadays. In fact the only person I’ve BBM’d in the last *month* is one of the nice chaps who works for RIM. That’s a real problem for me. I’d like to use it more. But I can’t. If anything, I’m not young enough 😉 If I was 15, the chances are all of my peers would be with me on BBM.
However.. I’ve got about 15 currently active iMessage conversations on-the-go right now. Some of them are group chats, the majority are individual conversations. This is not good for RIM.
I’d love to see some kind of interoperability between iMessage and BBM. Or BBM to Gtalk directly. I doubt Apple would ever allow this.
Meanwhile, despite the stories you’re seeing daily now about RIM, do keep a level head on your shoulders when you’re thinking about them: Kantar Worldpanel’s research (released today) indicates that RIM is selling 17% of all Smartphones in the UK based on the 12 weeks to 27th November 2011. To put this in context, iOS accounts for 31% and Android 47%.
It’s going to be rather interesting to see what RIM comes up with next!