When is a BlackBerry No Longer a BlackBerry?

BlackBerry 10This week RIM attempted to wow developers at its BlackBerry Jam dev conference, unveiling an alpha of the long-awaited BlackBerry 10. Rather than re-cycle what has already been said, I thought I’d address this upcoming change as a longtime BlackBerry user.

My first BB was the very earliest unit made – it was beeper sized with a crude little keyboard. The fact that you could answer back your “beeps” was pretty amazing, and it all took off from there. Today I carry an iPhone for my personal use (texting and apps) and a BlackBerry for work (email and calls) – which in many ways highlights the crossroads these devices are at.

I keep my BlackBerry because it does two things really, really well. First, the battery lasts forever. I can go away for a weekend and never think to bring a charger. The talk time is phenomenal, and if I set it to turn off at night and back on in the morning, I can get a work week off of one charge. Try that with any other smartphone.

The second is email handling via the physical keyboard. I’ve tried various physical keyboards on other smartphones and they are clunky at best. The BlackBerry’s KB is why we all make that silly thumb gesture to mimic typing on a handheld. The auto text rules I have set up let me type in “ny” and get “New York” and all the first names of my co-workers set instantly to caps. It’s the text customization that helps me get real work done between planes or on the fly with legible, accurate responses.

Which brings us to this week. So if the new BlackBerry loses the physical keyboard and has a gorgeous high res screen (battery hog) when does it cease becoming a BlackBerry and turn into an almost iPhone? And that, my tech friends, is the dilemma. Maybe we should ask Siri what it all means?

Where do you stand on the new BB? Has time marched on, or is there new life in a new look? Post a comment below, or drop me a line.

11 Responses to “When is a BlackBerry No Longer a BlackBerry?”

  1. shalon

    Physical keyboard? I’m texting right now on a storm 2 which has no physical keyboard. This is old news to me. I think blackberry needs to work more on processing speed. If I even pick this phone up to Fast I have to wait for the proccesor to catch up.

    • lanshark

      Part of the speed issue seems to be related to Verizon’s software they place on the devices.
      Case in point 1: My 9700 on TMO outpaces a newer 9650 on VZW.
      Case in point 2: My TMO outpaces the VZW HTC Rezound, even though both are similar devices.

  2. BB_PM

    In addition to your reasons why you can’t let your BB go my reasons why I can’t or don’t want to let go of my BB are: 1) BBM, excellent texting tool is free and is robust. I can use BBM groups to collaborate with my project team anywhere in the world. 2) RIM’s data compression is the best, I have a 1GB data plan on my BB and use my phone and playbook (tether) extensively to surf, email, transfer data and have never gone over 300MB. Plus I don’t need separate data plans for BB and PB. 3) RIM products are manufactured in North America and not China. 4) BB apps are virus and malware free. RIM pays their developers top dollar for quality.

    I love my BB, I don’t need more toys. I need tools to assist me and increase efficiency of communication, good communication is a key component that leads to successful project management.

    P.S.I don’t work at RIM… I just love my BB

  3. Terry

    I agree with the keyboard comments. I don’t like the touch screen as much as the click and feel of the plastic buttons. I have been reluctant to go to the iPhone or Android. I have tried both. My son has my iPhone4 and my wife has the latest Android-HTC-EVO. I have used a company owned iPad3 for over 2 months now, and it is really nice to see the emails on the bigger screen. I don’s like the touch screen as much, but, maybe the iPhone4s is my next phone.

    • Just wait a few more months for the iPhone 5 (or whatever they call it) if you plan on buying an iPhone. At the latest, it should be out in ~4 months, but it really depends on the shift in styles since Tim Cook took over and how far the development team is on working out the bugs.
      The next iPhone will be well worth the wait from the grunts I’ve heard.


    The post I haven’t seen written yet is the one that outlines what BlackBerry (RIM) could have done back in 2007, and what BlackBerry (RIM) must do now. I am not a BB user, and I didn’t have a smartphone until the original iPhone (I could text pretty darn fast on a 9-key keyboard). My last non-iPhone of note was a Sony Ericsson T68i. It had bluetooth and EDGE, and was an awesome phone. I once paired it with a Palm (that also had BT) and got the Palm surfing the Internet (the browser was awful). I give this background so you know I have no emotional tie to a BB, and that I have selected all along what I thought was the best technology for me. What RIM should have done as the iPhone was coming out (other than mocking it, which they did extensively) is a great B-School case study, something you could write 10K words on easily. As an impartial observer, I would say they clearly failed to see where the market was going, and failed to capitalize on their unbelievable lead in market-share (no one, I think, will argue with these points). I have no idea what they need to do now…

  5. Justin Ray Van Dyke

    Blackberry is on the brink. The move for the new phone design with the new Blackberry 10 OS is a desperate move. Tech reviews are pointing a thumbs down for the new “mini-playbook”. Soon to fade away like Palm

  6. You know there are some phenomenal things the Blackberry does that still none of the other phones do. The scheduling and time management features being something none of the other mOS makers seem to recognize is a key asset. Those could easily be added to Android, iOS or WP7, but someone at those companies has to recognize those features as an important asset to add to their mOS’s feature set.

    Battery life is great, sure, but a $25–$75 USB battery charger and you can quadruple the time between charges. (I just gave someone a 5000mAh battery pack that will easily triple how long she can go between plugging into a wall for less than $30.)

    The physical keyboard, while nice or some, isn’t a critical part of what makes a Blackberry a Blackberry. If one really wants to there are numerous very compact bluetooth keyboards under $50 available. Sure they are not integrated, but if one has problems with typing speed or accuracy on the touchscreen, at least there are alternatives.

    BTW, in iOS one can setup shortcut text snippets such as “mmm” expanding to “can’t talk now because I’m driving (auto generated response {what you think I’d type all this out while driving?} ;)”
    under Settings>General>Keyboard>Shortcuts.

    (“mmm” was chosen because it is right by “Send”)

  7. Had a BBerry since 2001–usually the latest and greatest model thanks to my employers. Yes, great keyboard, but 4 months with an iPhone 4S and I am almost as fast typing. There is no going back to BlackBerry for me. My iPhone is way too functional. BlackBerry had a great run, but they ignored the needs of their cutomers for too long for this last ditch effort. R.I.P. BlackBerry.

  8. As a former RIM partner, we found the company arrogant and extremely difficult to work with. Our clients have all switched to Andriods and iPhones. We use Swype and don’t need a physical keyboard. And Sprint has plans which don’t limit data or texting.