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Why BlackBerry is Still the Best at Email

I carry around both an iPhone and a BlackBerry (9700 with slide up keyboard). I have a lot of friends who do the same thing. Why are many people willing to put up with carrying around two SmartPhones when one would appear to be able to do an adequate job? The answer is email.

While people love their iPhone (or Android) SmartPhone because of the better user interface and easy way to find, download and use applications, these devices are not very efficient if all you want to do is read your email.

First, let’s look at the BlackBerry 9700: I slide the display upwards on the device and my Inbox is all there in front of me with the latest email all just sitting there to scan and read. I don’t really do anything else with it except make calls. Calls and email. The BlackBerry 9700 does it better than anyone else. That’s because they have been doing email for about a hundred years. RIM is focused on making email work well on the SmartPhone products. (And, I’m confident that they will eventually get email working in native mode on the PlayBook).

In my iPhone, I turn it on by (typically) hitting the button at the bottom of the device. I then swipe the arrow to the right to unlock it. I then hit the Mail icon at the bottom of the display. And, finally, I wait until the email app goes out and downloads email for my five different email accounts. It works but it takes some effort and patience.

When I talk to others that carry around two SmartPhone devices, they say the same thing: I use my BlackBerry for email. It’s almost as if they are somewhat embarrassed about it.

“What SmartPhone do you use?”

“Well, I love my iPhone and all the apps, but I’m using a BlackBerry to check email. I don’t particularly like to use it, but it does email better than any other device.”

The other most common reply is that many folks use the BlackBerry to access their corporate email and then use their iPhone or Android SmartPhone for all of their personal things, although this does require maintaining two separate phone numbers and devices. Thus, RIM gets some continued sales simply because the enterprise issues and pays for executives to use BlackBerry. But, everyone has a personal life and, as a result, they buy and enjoy an iPhone or Android device for everything outside of the office.

RIM needs to migrate QNX over to the BlackBerry SmartPhone product line as soon as possible to play ‘catch up’ on the more appealing user interfaces that are now on the market.

The question that is still unanswered is whether email will become easier to manage with the iPhone, iPad, Android and Phone 7 (eventually on Nokia) SmartPhone devices or whether RIM continues to generate sales for people who are looking for an extremely fast way to check email while on the go or in meetings.

Based on convenience and efficiency, you should only need one SmartPhone, but based on separation of business and personal lives, two SmartPhones are justified. It’s not a trivial issue.

J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D.

Principal Analyst

Mobile & Wireless

MobileTrax LLC