RIM’s Blackberry Business Users Favourite, Even If They Own An iPhone

The word “Crackberry” was first used back in 2001 to describe these newfangled smartphones which seemed to attach themselves, limpet-like, to the hands and ears of businessmen all over America and Europe. Grown men were inseparable from their new toys which, everybody pointed out, were just a souped-up PDA and would go out of fashion like the pager. But they lingered, evolved, and quickly became an endemic species in the offices and public transport networks of the world.

The reason for Blackberry’s overwhelmingly addictive properties was simple. You could check your e-mails from wherever you were.

It fuelled a sort of competition between workers. If you didn’t respond to an e-mail immediately, it meant you weren’t on the ball. If you hadn’t read all your e-mails before you reached the office, you weren’t attentive enough. And colleagues would always want to be the last person responding to e-mails, proudly sending replies at 2:45 am just to demonstrate how dedicated they were. The Blackberry was breaking down the barriers between work and sleep. It permeated the minds of men like a narcotic.

In 2011 every Tom, Dick and Harry has a Blackberry. The riots in London were organised using BBM, Blackberry’s exclusive messenger service, and the phones have starred in dance songs such as Swedish House Mafia’s “Miami to Ibiza”. Their image as a fuddy-duddy workaholic’s guilty pleasure has disappeared, but then again so has its monopoly on the smartphone market.

These days the Blackberry is not quite as impressive as it was ten years ago. Countless competing manufacturers offer similar services on similar handsets. Apple’s iPhone is the first genuinely sexy mobile phone, with sleek lines and a sensual touchscreen. It also offers a plethora of apps for nearly everything, as well as compatibility with executive toys like iPads, iPods and BMWs. The games you can download for iPhone are comparable to the console games of only a few years ago. Its shiny curves make it easy to lose down the back of the sofa, whereas the Blackberry would actually make sitting down quite uncomfortable. The touch screen makes for a tactile, interesting user experience, and all the controls are immediately rewarding to use.

Android has more apps than Blackberry too (better ones anyway) and their handsets tend to be a bit more interesting as well. A hundred more smartphones are waiting in the wings, biding their time for the Christmas market. So why do people, especially businessmen, still prefer Blackberries?

The answers are below. This isn’t a comprehensive list, it’s just the main comparisons made by people getting back on the Crackberry after a stint on the iPhone pipe.

Keyboard
No matter how hard you try, no matter how tiny your fingers, you can never type fast on an iPhone. If you’re sending serious messages (anything longer than 144 characters) you need a full, physical QWERTY keyboard. The Blackberry’s ridged keys are compatible with even the clumsiest fingers.

Screen
The iPhone screen is huge and clear. But it breaks, smudges and scratches. It’s large and vulnerable and when it does break, it really breaks. Blackberry doesn’t have much to do with touchscreens at the moment, choosing to use them only as supplementary controls to a QWERTY keyboard.

Battery
The iPhone’s battery is woeful. While the Blackberry battery is not the best in the world, and certainly doesn’t live up to the glory days of Sony Ericsson’s fortnight-long standby time, you’ll get more out of your Bold than you’ll get out of your iPhone 4.

E-mail
RIM does e-mails very, very well.

Reception
iPhone reception is pretty poor. Blackberries offer the opportunity to reset all connections, which comes in handy, but with iPhones the signal is just a very dull one. And you can’t travel between Europe and the USA without buying a new one.

Features
A Blackberry presents you with BBM, a completely free messenger service which can send and broadcast messages to a contact list. It doesn’t matter where the receiver is in the world. Blackberries work over several bands, by the way, and aren’t exclusive to a landmass.

Ruggedness
iPhones break all the time. If you visit Twitter on any given afternoon, a quick search will result in dozens, maybe even hundreds of people complaining about their iPhone. You don’t get that with Blackberry so much. Partly because Blackberry’s Twitter app is so cumbersome…

Crashes
If a Blackberry crashes, you slide the back of the case off, take the battery out, and put it back in again. Two minutes later you’re back where you started. An iPhone requires a different level of patience as you wait for it to either sort itself out or be repaired.

Price
Have you seen how much an iPhone costs? It’s a massive investment which just doesn’t present good value. You’re buying the brand, the aesthetic and the identity statement. The Blackberry is a clunky, pragmatic choice.

There are no gimmicks with a Blackberry. You don’t get swishy graphics, or a sleek case to whip out when you make a call. But you get quite good value from every model, it will work for the duration of the contract, and most minor maladies can be fixed with a reboot. It’s better put together than an iPhone, is easier to use, and cheaper to buy.

You want the solid heft of a Blackberry in your hand for work, with its robust e-mail features and its enthusiasm for efficiency. But you want the cool, crisp lines of an iPhone in your hand when you’re socialising, when your enjoyment of the machine matters more than such trivia as reliability, cost or practicality. You want the best of both worlds. The solution? Do what I did.

Buy both.

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