Friday, July 2, 2010

BlackBerry



My wife found a Blackberry on the back of a taxi yesterday on the way home. She brought it home and asked me what to do. Well, it is not like we didn’t know we can take it to the police station. However, it was late that day and she didn’t find it convenient to go all out of the way to do that. So, I was trying to figuring out if we can return the phone to the owner. To be the more gadget-savvy in my family, I’m by default to take on this task. I got a hand on the blackberry and try to navigate it without any guidance or user manual.

To be honest, Blackberry has been around for few years and it is quite prevalent in offices. My ex-bosses and folks in senior management all have it. I was once asked by my ex-boss if I want to have one. I simply said ‘thanks! But no!’ I love gadgets, and the popularity of Blackberry certainly means there is an allure of this product. I would love to have a chance to play with it, but to own it and be ready to be on call for work purpose all the time? I guess not. I don’t think with a Blackberry on hand has as much prestige as before. Few years back, a person with Blackberry on hand would be envied for being able to check emails on the go without being tying down to their desk or laptop. Also, the holder would be perceived to be a person of importance who can make vital timely decisions to manage his/her ‘troops’. However, when so many people are holding it these days, I think we have an updated perception of those holders as ‘Poor guys/gals who can’t really get off work with their boss on their back 24/7, as they have no more excuse for saying: ‘I’m not informed, I don’t know that…’” Also, as an iPhone owner, I don’t really think it is convenient to go everywhere with 2 smartphones. For women, they can use their handbags to carry them around, but for men, it is just nothing but a hassle to carry bricks around.

Going back to my session with the Blackberry, the owner left a yellow sticky with password attached on the back of it. What a dumb idea! So, anyone who picked that up can basically do whatever he wants with the phone before it got disabled remotely (if it can be done). Well, I didn’t do much on it after locking in. Cuz, I was not too nosy to sniff around to find out much about the owner. The only thing I wanted to do is to find the contact info of the owner. I did poke around the email inbox to see if there is any contact numbers, but without much luck. Cuz, there are simply way too many emails and the owner (I got his name) doesn’t have a habit to put his office number or else in his outgoing emails. As I was multitasking with other things as well, when I pick up the phone again later that evening, I found a message from the owner saying what number to call if someone picked up his phone. However, when I call that number, it was a helpdesk of a company who asked me to leave message for calling them in after hours. When I was about to leave my phone contact, my wife stopped me saying that we shouldn’t leave our contact to stranger. I thought that simply leaving my number and first name shouldn’t be much a risk in this aspect. It’s not like the owner would send that to telemarketers to call me in future. To avoid arguing with her (a wise move for any husband) for this not important matter, I then just left a message saying that please dial the Blackberry number again and I will try to return the phone as we speak.. I left the phone on…but nobody had called the whole night.
Today, I tried to call the number again and was finally able to speak to someone about the missing phone. The owner’s secretary is gonna to contact me to pick it up soon. I guess that would be the end of the story.

Based on my brief experience with the Blackberry, I think it is really a nice gadget. The screen is sharp and the navigation is not difficult to learn. Certainly, iPhone is much consumer friendly. But I can still see the attractiveness of Blackberry. Besides, the corporate support and the back end stuff, the phone itself is not bad. Nevertheless, I believe that even if Apple really want to push iPhone for corporate use (I know there are companies using it, but I don’t believe Apple has made full effort to push this product in the corporate area yet), Blackberry would still be able to put up a tough fight with iPhone.

My rationale is not about technical functionality of the products. Without doubt, regardless how much advancements Blackberry will and can put in product development, Apple can beat them hands down. On the contrary, it is more about the people’s practice and mindset in the corporate setting that would let Blackberry to stay alive. We are kinda in the second phase of product development cycle for smartphones. This market has not yet matured. However, there are already so many companies adopted this product category and many of them have chosen Blackberry when iPhone was perceived as a gimmick trendy product which was NOT what most companies were looking for. Money is the key issue, many companies’ approach to IT development and support is that, if it ain’t broken, don’t change anything. That’s why the most common OS in corporate universe is still Window XP, a product that release almost a decade ago. Every time there is any system upgrade, people are just putting up fence though they are not paying it out of their pockets directly. Improvement? Enhancement? These are not most white collars are looking for; rather they want familiarity, stability, and reliability. When Blackberry can offer them those, they will not wanna move to other platform easily. Companies wouldn’t want to spend extra money to make the move if Blackberry has not deteriorated enough and Apple has not yet convince them enough that they have to shell out money replace Blackberries with iPhones.

For this matter, I understand that it is not the same as Mac vs. PC. In spite of the fact that Mac is much easy and user-intuitive to use than PC, most people have not really got their hands on Mac. Also, Microsoft has kept on improving Windows by imitating Mac’s features. So, the war basically was over. iPhone on the other hand is much popular in general public than Blackberry. In fact, many Blackberry owners if not iPhone users themselves, must have hand on experience with the easy-to-use iPhone. Also, I don’t see Blackberry is on the same developing trend as iPhone, that’s different from Windows vs. Mac OS. On the other hand, there are more productivity apps in iPhone Appstore that can replace what Blackberry has. So, there should be much less resistance on the corporate user side to adopt iPhone. Rather, it would be the money to shell out support on the corporate side, how much control Apple is willing to give out to company IT, and how they are gonna work out the coordination of new iOS/iPhone releases. Also, the security issue would be important as well. Cuz, that’s why Blackberry is selling and how Apple is gonna create a separate camp for the companies only would be challenging. As I doubt many companies would like their employees to use their corporate phones to download games or with Hello Kitty wallpaper. I guess we will stay tune to see how the development will unfold in future, it would be quite interesting. Anyway, that’s just my two cents of afterthought of this Blackberry incident.

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