I recognise that RIM is having a challenging time at the moment. Quite a few people have been prodding me in recent weeks, asking why I am “still loyal”. One chap I met recently for coffee reckoned that I “love” RIM too much and “can’t see the wood for the trees.”
I can see the dire straits the company is facing. I was right there chronicling the decline of Nokia and I’ve been observing similar elements with RIM.
Similar. Not the same.
I’m wholly capable of independent thought. I most certainly adore RIM in a historical sense. I’ve written many times about the immense freedom that the UK’s first generation of 7230 BlackBerries afforded me years ago. I was able to keep my business going whilst I swanned around the globe. Nobody noticed. Not one of my clients cared. As long as I was able to ‘keep in touch’ — and the BlackBerry was instrumental. So I certainly feel good when it comes to RIM in the historical context.
I don’t have any difficulty acknowledging the company’s present predicaments. If I take the history and emotion way out of the equation — and I still a fan of RIM and their BlackBerries?
It’s an overwhelming yes.
Only today my BlackBerry Bold 9900 was absolutely smoking. I was “live” on site at London Book Fair doing a lot of different things at once and the BlackBerry was helping me stay on top of absolutely everything.
In the middle of the melee I did ask myself, “Should I swap to my iPhone?”
And make no mistake. I would have done if I reckoned it would have been an improvement.
But no. I’m fast on the iPhone keyboard but really, I can’t be doing with linear interaction.
I need synchronous. In times of great stress or in a “live” environment, I need stuff to work guaranteed, and I need to be able to do 5 things at once.
Such as, I hear you ask?
Try this use-case on.
I need to be tweeting. BlackBerry’s Twitter super-app is magnificent. New Direct Messages appear in your main messaging window. You can reply to them just like you do a normal email. Mentions are highlighted there too. Again, it’s super-easy to reply. It doesn’t feel like you’re using a separate app. It’s seamless.
I need to be in-and-out of Facebook. Ditto above. The BlackBerry Facebook integration is excellent. Messages, status updates, everything is in one screen. Boom.
Text messaging. Yeah, I need to be receiving and transmitting text messages. Sadly it’s the only platform that everyone can use, guaranteed. So in a live environment it’s brilliant to have that easily accessible and, again, all in one screen.
Email. Enough said. Obviously. It’s all in one screen. It’s really fast to reply. I just love hitting ‘R’ and typing, then hitting the menu button, then tapping. Boom! Reply sent! Geez it’s fast!
Phone. Up pops a phone call — answer it, yes, yes, no problem, done.
Google Talk. This is probably the best possible implementation of instant messaging (after BBM). I use the Gtalk functionality on the BlackBerry extensively. The best thing I like is the fact that I stay “online” all the time and that you can talk to me even whilst I’m doing something else. When I navigate back to the main message window, I see your text and I can reply. Immediately. No app needs to load up. No need to wait for it to sync or anything like that. It’s a really fast, reliable, valuable communications tool. The fact everything is surfaced into the main inbox makes it highly usable.
When you combine the fact I’m able to type super-fast on the BlackBerry keyboard, the total solution is absolutely unrivalled.
There’s not another device that can better this. I’ve looked. I’ve tried them all.
If you use your phone twice a day — and I mean just that — i.e. once on the train to read the news on the way to work and then once again to check out Facebook on the way home — if that’s ALL you do, then pick any smartphone you want. Fair enough.
If you need more, then that’s where the BlackBerry is legendary. There isn’t anything better at messaging. And when messaging is part of, or underpins your business, using anything other than a BlackBerry can be a real problem.
There are shortcomings. Of course the app selection isn’t necessarily as wide as you might like. Multimedia, too, needs a bit of a reboot. I watch a *LOT* of video on my iPhone, usually purchased from iTunes. It’s doable on a BlackBerry… just, I don’t feel it’s as seamless as it could be. Likewise audio. It’s not bad. I just feel other platforms are better.
In summary, I want to point out that — yes — RIM is going through quite a few painful points at the moment. But please don’t forget that there are millions and millions of people (such as me) getting a really, really valuable experience from their BlackBerries every single day.
RIM certainly has a battle on it’s hands to keep those millions of users satisfied — and to keep them from jumping ship to Android, iPhone or Windows Phone. This is why I’m very much looking forward to going to BlackBerry World at the end of this month. I’m hoping to get a look at the developer preview units they’ll be handing out to developers. I know I don’t quite qualify so I’m setting my expectations to being able to just look. These preview units will apparently be running a version of BlackBerry 10. Bring it on. I am keen to see what the company is cooking up.
So RIM certainly isn’t dead to me. I hope they can navigate the next few months to the launch of BlackBerry 10 successfully. I do get a sense that everyone’s waiting for that. I think the market’s given RIM until then to show what it’s got. Come on RIM!