Smartphones

Will there be a BlackBerry renaissance in 2010?

RIM needs a bold move in 2010 to regain mindshare from Apple iPhone and Google Android. We discuss whether a BlackBerry renaissance is possible.

Podcast

RIM needs a bold move in 2010 to regain mindshare from Apple iPhone and Google Android. We discuss whether a BlackBerry renaissance is possible.

The Big Question is a joint production from ZDNet and TechRepublic that I co-host with ZDNet Editor in Chief Larry Dignan.

You can play this 23-minute episode from the Flash-based player at the top of the page or:

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About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

44 comments
jcowanjr
jcowanjr

As a former blackberry owner and current iPhone user, I long for the days of my blackberry. Blackberry push e-mail is superior to the iPhone. I constantly have to go inside the mail app and make sure that I don't have any new e-mail messages. And most of the hundreds of thousands of apps that are available for the iPhone are crap.

seaton
seaton

As a blackberry owner myself (Bold 9000) I actually see that the iphone is and will dominate the smartphone market due to the fact that it is gaining critical mass in the amount of apps it has, you only have to look at most blogs to see it's about iphone apps, not as many BB apps compared to iphone apps. Here in Australia the Blackberry has a dismal amount of apps available through the official App store and no access to purchasing them, only free ones at the moment, and the time it took for Australian to even get the free apps only store was ridiculous. Apple seems to have the right business model, even though there has been grumblings from developers on the time taken for approval. I've also investigated the corporate integration of the iPhone and Blackerry into our exchange environment as in a corporate world this is it all has to do with talking to exchange and locking down access centrally, again I feel the iphone wins hands down over the BB, the costs are too expensive for the BB, due to the need need to purchase expensive software and then a more expensive BES data plan to access exchange, while the iPhone has it all built in on the iPhone3GS and uses the standard data plan, you can even lock down the iphone in the corporate environment much like a BB. I love my BB but I see that the iPhone will be the winner. Stephen..

travis.duffy
travis.duffy

I wont even bring up all the iphones shortfalls that will hold it back from overcoming blackberry in the business world. The iphone will never dominate the market when it is stuck to just 1 carrier selling it. Especially when that carrier is at&t and their terrible coverage area. I live in a state where at&t doesn't even provide service, how is the iphone going to dominate when there's blackberry phones available from every provider?

gmichael52
gmichael52

I believe you answered the question when you stated for listeners to "please review the podcast on our I Tunes page."

tonebone
tonebone

BlackBerry and Apple have two different strategies and it looks as though they are trying to cross strategies. The iPhone is a consumer device trying to move into the corporate world and BlackBerrys are a corporate device trying to move into a consumer world. Apple, by adding Exchange support, sought to win over corporate IT departments. My company will not support iPhones on the corporate network, however they do support the BlackBerry. Why? Security and the Enterprise Server for starters. More and more, these smartphones are becoming "dumb". Even though they are computers in the palm of our hands, the amount of bloat that is added to these phones is starting to remind me of retail PCs. My BlackBerry came preloaded with EVERY IM client, MySpace, and Facebook out of the box. (I deleted the IM clients) If your phone is for business (whether BB, iPhone, or Android) why do you need an app that sounds and looks like a light saber, or an app that looks like a glass of beer, Facebook, or MySpace? BB has constantly improved their interface, from the scroll wheel to the thumb wheel, now to the track pad. Touch screen phones have been in existence for a while, Apple just used different technology that is a little more "touch" friendly. BB has experimented with it with the Storm, revised it and introduced the Storm 2. BBs stance, at least from my outside view of the situation is to make sure that the experience is the same across all models. Now I have yet to play with an Android device; a few of my friends have them. They look very functional and one of the ones my friend has was able to be upgraded from the original software to the new software without any hacks or back doors.

jk2001
jk2001

Last time I checked, it was kind of expensive to develop for the BB. Dev for Android or J2ME costs the price of a fast PC because the tools are free. Dev for iPhone is the price of a lower-end Mac because the tools are free. BB seemed to hew more to the corporate, pay-a-lot-and-often model. The consumer-oriented phones make it easier for people to buy and install apps onto their phone. At this time, I'm trying to encourage people to do this. Yes, there are "risks", but the rewards of allowing people to manage their own phones are potentially huge, because there are so many apps, and many possible ways to increase user productivity. To this end, it's nice to have free dev tools. When there's a critical mass of users comfortable with apps, you can create small, tailored, in-house apps. Also, it's important that the app installation be easy. There are people here who have had BB and Windows Mobile for a few years, and never installed an app. I suspect they didn't even run all the built-in ones. When they get the iPhone, they install free apps from websites, and use them. This is without training.

tonebone
tonebone

BB development is mostly done in Java, previously using RIM's own Java Development Environment. Now you can use Eclipse (open source) and download the Java 2 SDK and BlackBerry JDE for free. So there is no cost to develop for this platform.

skf
skf

The ability to get a $20 or $30 data plan without voice would be great. It sounds like it's coming with the I-pad. They can keep their voice plans, my $8 Tracfone is just fine.

Liv&DieN; LA
Liv&DieN; LA

I love my BB but I have to pay for a 3rd party app called AstraSynch in order to get full Exchange Integration. If they can just get it done, they could tap a huge number of new users.

tbostwick
tbostwick

BB is firmly implanted within corporate culture which has now spilled into the regular consumers hands. With the ability now to go WiFI, CDMA + Global + data in one package plus adding all the inherent security fixtures that accompany a typical BB, it's a no contest. Verizon's price for full-on plans with Nationwide phone and data are less than $75 in Michigan and going lower. BB will remain if not move past Android and possibly even iPhone - this will wind up being a battle over whether folks want corporate/personal content from cloud apps like Google and Apple, or use their ISP emails or secure Exchange servers to server up the data. Knowing the massive risk with using apps created by rogue programmers & the fact that Apple really doesn't have control over "who" or "what" damage these can do should be worrisome to many users. Google should worry, because if you use Gmail or iGoogle, your data and everything along with it is shared, visible and accessible fairly easily - along with the millions of other users on that same server farm. To this day I still use TBird and collect and backup my email at home - for over 7 years. Gmail is only a fallback and my "dummy" email for what will be endless spams. In today's age -we live in 'give it to me' technology, buying hook-line & sinker on every feature we read or watch in the BestBuy ads. It's only when that user goes home and "tries" to make it work like the commercial that they're sadly brought to reality when they have to reformat their smartphone because of a bad app from the AppStore, or they drop it, not realizing it's really a 'hard-drive' and the warranty won't cover that either. Like music, so you grab tunes from itunes and realize that you can't put them on another player, unless it's an iPod (DRM) and the list goes on. Most folks don't put AV or AntiSpyware on their PC's -what makes anyone think they somehow get smarter with a data phone in their hands???? I'll stick with my BB and it's host of great apps, security and feature-set already present and very usable & functional phone - and wait until the next series of phone to evolve and on down the line. Customer for life here....

gormark
gormark

I finally caved in and got a BB 8830 in May last year, and couldn't even wait for the contract to run out to get rid of the piece of junk & move to iPhone. I have used Google models, too, and those, while not quite on par with iPhone, are still vastly superior to the engineering idiocy by RIM. The fonts are hideous. The menus are mile-long, the trackball is jerky & jumpy and probably the worst product I've encountered - and I even drove a Trabant once. Our kid had BB Storm and it froze randomly but frequently, dropped calls on Verizon (the only device we ever saw drop a call on their network in 11 years). Long story short, in my company BB is popular with dumb old bureaucrats who are too technologically challenged and klutzy to use sleek and really smart devices like iPhone but for anyone under 60 and with some tech literacy, like that silly AT&T slogan states, "when you compare, there's no comparison." Either way, we had a blast around the camp fire into which we threw the BBs and watched them go back to the engineering hell they came from.

tbostwick
tbostwick

Compare apples to apples - your use of 8830 compared to a new iphone, is like comparing a Chevy Citation to the new Malibu - it doesn't compute. The 1st iphone sucked - as did the 1st BB's and neither were considered "smart" by today's (2010) standard; hence the use by Apple to use 'nth Generation' in many of their devices. Take a Tour or Bold, and it'll take on iPhone in the corporate/IT world easily and handily. If you like browsing and surfing the internet, then use a laptop -as this feature goes bye-bye very soon (it's just not functional anymore). I have almost every app on my BB Bold anyday. RIM is also in the works for major overhauls to all their phones in terms of camera and video quality (5MP+), and processor speed. I'll give the nod to Apple for intuitive devices and Google for a good try in the Android - but I'll take security and worldwide portability anytime, over accessing my Ask.com, or Starbucks' finder on an iPhone anyday (that's what Poynt and ViiGo are phone in BB-land ;)

Cyberchick
Cyberchick

I work in an IT dept at a college and most of the folks here have iPhones or generic non-smart phones. I have a BB Curve. The questions is: What do you need the phone for? While my co-workers enjoy giddily showing off apps that make farting sounds or show a beer glass draining as you tilt the iPod, and while I myself am impressed with the style of the thing (I own an iPod Touch) I can't say I like much else about the iPhone. I can't stand the touch keyboard. I can type superfast on a BB. The speakerphone on the iPhone sucked compared to the BB and that's how I talk most of the time. If I want some info on the net, believe me, it's not because I want to surf the net on a tiny screen, it's because I want something quick. I'd rather own a netbook if I wanted to surf on the road. I also have apps on my BB that work great and I use them frequently: Poynt, Facebook, Viigo, Documents to Go, Splash Data, Google Mobile. I even have some games. But the most important things I use on my BB are: Email/Messaging AND the phone itself. The only thing I miss at this time is talking to someone on the phone and accessing the internet or an internet based program at the same time. I really believe Androids are for kids and iPhones are pretty gizmos for keeping up with the Jones'. The next time I upgrade my BB, it should be faster with more memory, but honestly, the older I get, the less I want to be staring at a small screen no matter whose it is. I customized my BB with the apps I have on it and actually use. And it works just great as a PHONE.

Power Natto
Power Natto

How about a cap on the phrase "you know" - you know?

Economix
Economix

It's like if we already knew, why the hell would we be listening to this then!? That's a poor presentation item, same with 'um' and 'ah'. But 'you know' kills me cause if I did...I wouldn't, um, you know, need YOU!

Xhopp3r
Xhopp3r

I listened to the podcast for 5 minutes and then I decided to skip ahead because of so many "you know" phrases. I ended up stopping the podcast because "you know" there were too many "you knows" which was very irritating. Like Economix said, if I knew why would I listen to you ? In my opinion, you guys really had nothing to talk about and were just inventing material along the way. A well prepared person doesn't have to use so many "you knows". I felt like, you as a group, had your own propaganda agenda and we were forced to listen to it. I am glad I did not listen to all of it, and I regret listening to it at all.

rando14221
rando14221

They need a BB app that has a Teleprompter, or if they are too cheap at last write notes on their hand.

carolannie
carolannie

So I should spend 23 minutes listening to something I could read in 5? What is it with these frigging podcasts? You folks are NOT that interesting to watch.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Hope to have transcripts added by the end of the month.

generaltso
generaltso

Frankly I'm not going to watch or listen to people on a website discussing tech. It is just too darn slow. Transcripts should be available when the article is released. I'm sure there are out of work stenographers that you could get on the cheap. Or even better, interns to be had for free.

knoxbury
knoxbury

I like the audio for some things so I can listen while I work on something else . . . and it's a nice break from all the text.

cooks
cooks

While i read a lot of the articles posted at TechRepublic, I like to listen to the videos also. Reading is not my strong suite because of poor eyesight and the videos provide an additonal way for me to learn. The videos have improved over time and are quite imformative.

AllTheGoodNamesAreTaken
AllTheGoodNamesAreTaken

I, too, would far rather have the option to read (in a few minutes) what I don't have the patience to watch. When did these video/podcast nuggets become the "preference"? I feel like my time is held hostage to the pace of the video. Please, TR: Fewer videos; more text! (PS: Unless this is about ego, and not information... Then I'd understand...)

ron.nocket
ron.nocket

Just give me the bullet points of the podcast if you MUST still use them. I don't need/want the transcript of a 17-minute broadcast. ANYTHING can be bulletized. Who has 17 minutes to listen to something where a quick glance at a list of bullets would MORE THAN SUFFICE? Maybe it IS an ego thing...Someone likes to hear his voice?

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Truly, less than 5% is video or audio.

Daughain
Daughain

I agree. I rarely have as much time to browse TR as I would like, and usually skip the non-text 5% for that exact reason.

techrepublic
techrepublic

Stop burying your head in the sand and please provide a text option ;) (I just read the comments rather than loading up the video...)

tbostwick
tbostwick

TXT is still HUGE in the IT world and your statement hits home. If I want data sent, and it pertains to the company I work for - I'm not going to use Google, or MacMail to deliver it. We need a great hack or virus to come down again to remind folks about the envelope of danger when we move closer to making all data available in the "cloud" - then to consider what we do when the "sky is falling"!

Economix
Economix

Isn't video and audio a means of implementing the technology we all love so much? Save the podcast for your drive home maybe, that's what works best for me. Read stuff while I'm here then have someone read to me in the car ride home - radio is crap anyways so there's no loss and it best manages my time. Just a thought, IMHO stuff of course.

ShaggySheld
ShaggySheld

Defo the way to go, as for a start we don't allow streaming or media playing at work, so I don't get to the '5%' you're on about.

JBradCrook
JBradCrook

No time for video. I need info quickly. TR is great at providing info, lets just have a text option always.

stevew22
stevew22

At least offer a text copy of the presentation for those who prefer it.. And remove all the "you knows" This forcing podcasts and video only has lessened the value for me greatly.

pivert
pivert

Why? If you want an overpriced, overhyped, bad coverage, vendor locked thing, buy an iPhone. If you want something really strange, buy an Android. If you travel a lot (internationally), buy a BB. Else buy a "normal" phone :-) Posts like this create a strange sort of competition between products that are positioned on different markets. So all these companies rally to produce a lookalike product, cut in testing and end up with what is basic a good product flooded with bugs. I don't see posts why the infrared head-up-display on the new Mercedes isn't available on the Prius yet... Or maybe these kind of discussions are not meant for me :-)

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

Couldn't have said it better myself.

misterjohn
misterjohn

I have a friend with a Blackberry Curve - which I've had the privilege to use on two or three occasions. Not impressed. Tiny keyboard, over-complex navigation - the user-experience is too slow, too prone to user-generated errors. Sorry. Would love to be positive - but, in the end, people prefer frankness to flattery.

paul.gadd
paul.gadd

I read on a posting that RIM may be adding the touch screen to the Bold in addition to the keyboard. After tying the Bold 9000 and Storm1 that would be a useful addition... The biggest problem with the BB range is the browser - it is just so slow compare with the iphone...

enquiries
enquiries

I'll cut to the chase: RIM needs a lot more good apps. "It's the apps, stupid." There's a parallel between RIM and Novell in the 1990s, with Apple iPhone being Windows Server. For those who don't know the story, Novell had the corporate market sown up and had by all educated opinions a superior product, especially in regards to security. Microsoft used marketing, end consumer leverage, and most importantly a very open and easy developer platform to kill Novell. Novell Netware kept getting better and better but with fewer and fewer apps to run on it. Another lesson: consumer usage influences corporate usage, not the other way around. We're going to see iPhone sales to corporations go thru the roof in the next 2 years. For all those IT guys making excuses like how the iPhone lacks security and true IT Dept manageability i have two words for you: Windows NT. From the sad tale of Novell we can also learn that having great financials and a pile of money can be a hinderance and not a help. If gives the board a false sense of security. If the board at RIM don't have a sense of urgency about this problem, the company is dead. I think the Blackberry is the best product out there for business usage, but people just won't care about that in a couple of years. They'll be won over by whatever cool apps are on the iPhone or Android.

riktiktik
riktiktik

I agree with your assessment 100%. I don't think BB will recognize the seriousness. They will lose this battle. However I don't see Apple doing anything different here from their past. Android phones will eventually own the market. Have no idea which company will be innovative enough to capitalize on this.

MrRich
MrRich

No comparison. Blackberry still rules for email. Browsing sucks on my Curve, but is much improved on my wife's Bold. The new trackpads replacing the scrollwheel are a huge improvement, as are the O/S updates. The iPhone is a joke for coporate deployment, Apple doesn't really support it so you need aftermarket tools to make it work well. i.e. how do you get the company address book updates, how do you set policies, etc. Your Exchange email is transferred unencrypted, it turns out. You're using this for lawyers? Are you kidding me? All someone needs to read their email is a UPS uniform and Wireshark. The podcast brings up some good points. The competition with the Google and Apple app stores will free up the lack of apps on the BB platform. Google Voice and Navigation will drive down the cost of those features on carrier networks. I think that is where the iPod and Google Android really shine. The carriers have been slowing innovation on the phones by trying to monetize services. The services will now have to be open to third parties to be competitive. For example we will have to be able to run Google apps on Blackberry. This removes the carriers from the picture and drives down costs.

mmullis
mmullis

That's really what RIM can do to start keeping up with the iPhone and such. It would be a great thing for them to hook up with Microsoft and get some form of IE based Browser. Or at least get Active X capability. I end up having to use Opera Mini for browsing.

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