Smartphones optimize

The cost of BlackBerry envy


I recently came across the blog of Alasdair Ford, a UK-based IT consultant. In it, he recounted his experience pertaining to something a lot of us are probably familiar with, but which normally does not get much airing – BlackBerry envy.

According to Alasdair:

I’ve been discussing a problem one of my customers has this afternoon … One of his senior managers, fresh back from a conference with other senior managers from other companies has had his ear bent all week about how great the Blackberry 8800 is and he NEEEEEDS one, in best 3 year old tradition he NEEEEEDS one and nothing else will do.

To cut short the story, based on the existing infrastructure investments, a Windows Mobile device would be a logical choice if push mail is desired. In fact, there are already several existing users of Windows Mobile. Unfortunately, the senior manager only wanted a BlackBerry and nothing else.

Hence, the bill:

Blackberry 8800 Pearl = £319.11

Server Hardware etc : £1,200.00

Blackberry Enterprise Server Version 4.0 for exchange = £2,500.00

Installation: £750.00

Additional Firewall Configuration: £750.00

Grand Total: £5,519.11

Before you press the “flame” button, I must comment that I do personally think that some of the pricing on the bill might be a tad on the high side. However, what I am trying to draw attention to here is the additional cost of getting a BlackBerry versus just getting a Windows Mobile device for this particular customer.

Has the “BlackBerry envy” syndrome ever manifested at your workplace? Looking at the bigger picture, have you ever encountered technology envy in which your CEO or senior management insists on implementing technology that is of dubious value?

Join the discussion.

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

21 comments
techrepublic
techrepublic

Completely disagree with the article. The boys that NEEEEED toys are the same ones that fiddle so much they cost my 1st, 2nd and 3rd line support staff ??'000s per month on extra support - plus the bad press when they no longer work. blackberry, money very spent thank you very much! And they look SEXY!

paulmah
paulmah

Has the ?BlackBerry envy? syndrome manifested at your workplace? Looking at the bigger picture, has technology envy ever occurred in your workplace in which the CEO or senior management insists on implement pieces of technology which cost a disproportionate amount to simply fit into your existing infrastructure?

Grimshiire
Grimshiire

Blackberry devices are overated. I am in the process of getting rid of them for several reasons...The 1st...T-Mobile is the WORST when it comes to tech support. Why pay extra $$ for email when a PDA with windows mobile can get it done without extra cost? You can have it...........

koltpollo
koltpollo

Our CEO came back from a national conference and just had to have a bb, because so many other CEO's had one. We hadn't even considered using them before that. Now about 12 people are using them at our electric co-op. I don't want one personally, i don't get paid enough to have one. :-)

zyphlar
zyphlar

I used to be in the WM camp back when they were smaller and more versatile than BBs. Now the Pearl and Curve beat most of the WM crowd hands-down. I compare the two to Windows and Mac-- sure you can use Windows, and it can be cheaper (no BES, slightly lower monthly plan) but your phone can also crash, have weird hardware issues, and do you really use the additional functionality afforded by the OS? I switched to a Pearl and like knowing that emails will arrive instantly, there are never sync issues, and crashes/glitches are unheard of. Granted, if I relied on 802.11 or some custom app I'd go with Windows Mobile, but like a mac, if all you need is email internet and phone, go with a BlackBerry. (Full disclosure: I switched from an Audiovox SMT5600.)

paulmah
paulmah

You might be glad to know that WM devices have improved a lot since then. Push mail for WM is now truly push. In fact, you might find them arriving on a WM device even before your BB, since the BES actually have to do "pull" from the Exchange before it can "push" it to the BB. (It arrives on my WM a few seconds before my Outlook as well!) But you are right. The BB overall SW/HW usability is unbeatable. I have used 2 models of BB before. Nice. :)

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

This all seems awful expensive. We have 30 BB users and use GroupWise for our email. Since we've got a very small IT staff we opted to use NotifyLink to provide our email and calendars to the BBs. Cost is about $20 per month per user and we didn't have to buy any additional hardware or software or licenses for GroupWise. Sure, we don't have control of the BES server here, but then we also don't have to learn how to control it and we've got good tech support 24/7 that can handle any problems we run into.

MMarble
MMarble

Technology envy at the CEO level? Try low level government bureaucrats. Screw the taxpayers! I want whatever makes me look and feel important! Never mind whether or not I'm more productive. Not compatible with my personal electronics? Buy me anything that makes it compatible! To heck with shrinking budgets and personnel layoffs! Let the purchasing requisitions fly! Taxpayers are my sugar daddy! Mwah ha ha ha!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Before Crackberry: the gov channel showed the house full of angry polititians arguing over whatever was *important* that week. After Crackberry: same room, same people but nearly dead silent with everyond heads down thumb-typeing away. I don't actually watch the channel but the change was noticiable even to someone like me who flips past on the way to over shows.

unhappyuser
unhappyuser

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper the kids in my neighborhood, myself included,would get jealous because someone had a little more ice cream or they had more wooden blocks or they had the newest and coolest bike (worse yet one with extra gears!). The parents always told us kids to not get jealous and to just behave. My have times changed.... NOT! It's no longer wooden blocks or a bike but a Blackberry or the lightest, toughest, most powerful laptop. People really don't change from the time they're four years old, do they? EMD

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Now those kids are grown up and wanting the latest, greatest thing they see someone else with on the subway. Worse still; the kids that are still four are not arguing over blocks, new jumpropes or shinny bikes. For them it's already about what brands are benig worn, what cellphone do they have, what dodads are attached too it. Marketeers have done very well at reducing the age of consumers and how best to take hold of them with early branding. (The new marketing slogan - GAP Kids; Your a horrible parent unless your 12 month old is seen wearing our latest product line.)

nmgauna
nmgauna

Blackberry/Smartphone envy runs rampant through my workplace. Everyone wants the latest and gretest and I'm stuck saying no, no, ok maybe. In regards to Blackberry and WM, I have had 10x more problems with Treo's and Windows smartphones than with BBs. It's not a software issue, Windows Mobile is good, but most of the phones have continuous hardware issues. I don't have any problems with BBs. In regards to BBs and the Enterprise, I know it's expensive but worth the money if you're a large company. In a small to medium scenario I've just used server-side forwarding to push e-mail to BBs and then Desktop Manager for syncing, all for free.

kmcnutt
kmcnutt

We used the same scenario of forwarding to blackberry from exchange for some time, but have recently needed a bit more usability. Specifically wireless calendar updates. For small businesses (up to 15 users) you can go with an Express version of BES (free) which includes 1 free CAL. Any additional CALs can be purchased for $99 per, or $429 for 5. Pretty significant savings for the smaller firm.

paulmah
paulmah

In Singapore, my half day rate is US$100 for installation and firewall configuration. Don't even get me started on the rate in China! :) PS: You are right that your BES Express cost is $0, cause you can't use it. Not with 30 units of BB already on your network! :) :)

zyphlar
zyphlar

Sounds like a certain admin got in knee-jerk mode. Here's my price tag, in dollars: Blackberry 8800 Pearl = $629 (I'll take his word for it) Server Hardware etc : $0, I have servers with spare room Blackberry Express = $0 Installation: $180 (an hour or two on salary) Additional Firewall Configuration: $100 (salary again) Grand Total: $909 ($9977 cheaper!) Of course I run the full BES with 30 users, we have a decent infrastructure, and I don't outsource IT work, but $10,000 for your first BlackBerry is outrageous. Somehow I thought this article would be more informational.

jttc
jttc

The costing was for a secure system for company email i believe. The a standard windows device mentioned like ipaq or suggested to be lot cheaper but is not secured. You also have to download (pull)the emails from the server where as the RIM device receives (push) as soon as the email is available for downloading. You can get to use just the rim device without the extras if you are with mobile/cell/handy operator. This costing needs to expanded to show the differences.

paulmah
paulmah

But I do agree with your evaluation in that the BB encrypts data on-board compared to a Windows Mobile device (WM version 5 at least does not have that - I believe WM 6 offers it). But the other points are not entirely accurate. Though it could be more to Microsoft shooting itself in the foot with its various iterations of Direct Push that confused the picture even for a lot of techies whom I have met. A standard (commonly-available) Windows Mobile 5 implementation of push mail does offer secured transit of message via SSL and authenticated with digital certificates. Pertaining to the 'push mail' portion, how both parties do it is really an academic issue. Though I did write an article some time back on how Microsoft Direct Push work: http://www.techatplay.com/2006/10/18/how-does-direct-push-really-work/ Suffice to say that for the end-user, the experience is the same. Hence I would not factor that in. As it is, the only technical advantage the BlackBerry really have over a Windows Mobile 5.0 device is its on-board encrypted data storage, and even that is being eroded by the gaining momentum of WM 6.0 devices.

techrepublic.com
techrepublic.com

HI Paul in the comments to my original post a couple of people did identify ways you can reduce the cost of acquisition, I think we managed to agree on a ?2500 figure - which is still ridiculous - the costs I first illustrated were from a bona fide quote from the customers MNO so they must have got away with those prices elsewhere. It just shocked me that anyone could be so emotional about the device, if it was me I'd be flashing my GPS toting WiFi capable handset and bragging about how I avoided spending a heap of cash - some people eh?

paulmah
paulmah

Hi there, appreciate your coming in (and signing up for TR at that!) to add your two cents. Actually, in a way, I can "understand" some of the fascination of having a BlackBerry. Having used 2 different BB (company) handheld over almost a year, there is something in the intuitive functionality and robustness of a BB that just begs to be purchased. Though I am using a HP6818 with Direct Push and having loads of fun with it. I admit it still doesn't stop me from taking a 2nd look at some of those new BB hardware! I did write a series of articles on Direct Push on my personal blog, free free to check it out. (www.techatplay.com/articles)