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In Defense of the Blackberry

Man, writer’s block already? Looking at the title I just typed I’m now realizing this article is going to be pretty tricky unless I’m completely tongue-in-cheek about it. If any of you are in the mood for a challenge, let’s see if we can try to defend Blackberries and their general value to society.

Hmm. Should have just combed Google Reader to reblog something instead.

Well, think about it from your company’s perspective: It may be in their interests, and therefore yours if you believe what’s good for the goose is good for you, to be able to invade your privacy and apply all sorts of Windows-like policies to your phone from not watching Youtube to shutting off your camera, reading even your BIS email (if your IT department knows the tricks, from what I’ve read it’s doable) and text messages, see what websites you go to, prevent you from going to others, get your location on GPS, phone logs, PIN messages, BBM, your installed apps (if they let you use any) and any data they transmit, force you to use wildly complicated passwords in order to turn on your phone each time with a 30 second idle timeout, and to give you a phone that, to you, is so lousy that you only use it for email and stick to your personal phone, and personal phone bill, for all the other things the likes of Apple and Google came up. Data bills are expensive, and because compared to iPhone users Blackberry users barely use a drop of data, that’s money saved which the company can theoretically give to you in the form of a Christmas bonus. And that’s money you can use to pay off your personal phone bill (along with taxes on the bonus)!

Top notch encryption for privacy from outsiders including the feds, unless you’re using the phone in the Middle East and China where RIM bent over to anyone who asked. No balls.

Are you the type who likes to take a little holiday because your email crashes and no one in your company can work, so because the BES sounds like something that’s not dependent on RIM to stay alive (and pass data through), largely why it’s such a corporate darling, you may not get outages too? Turns out that’s not a problem apparently, with BES email indeed relying on Waterloo for some reason, which fails for days at a clip. That’s funny, Waterloo, for you history buffs.

Also, ooo wow, they’ve now got a couple devices with touch screens, when writing emails there’s only one extra button you have to press in order to produce a period, you can even make the mobile web less excruciatingly intolerable by running Opera Mini and check your Gmail with its awesome web interface (which by the way I recommend over adding a personal account as BIS if you’re concerned with privacy on your company phone, also the Gmail Blackberry app is gone).

Though similar things for Apple and Android devices are emerging that are pretty good, you’ve got to admit, nothing quite yet holds a candle, from the perspective of The Man, to the Blackberry Enterprise Server which by the way is in closed beta testing to do what it does with Blackberries to iPhones and Androids as well. That’s how much people hate using Blackberries, that RIM’s actually spending their trump card accommodating companies, even ones paranoid about their emails getting into the wrong hands like banks, on the smartphone competition they’ll never catch up to, even if they manage to deliver those BB10 phones before RIM goes under. I see that as both smart and desperate. Just gotta wait for that LTE chipset because what good is a Blackberry without LTE.

The rapidly growing list of companies that are experimenting with non-Blackberries include some you wouldn’t expect, like Bank of America and Citigroup. These banks as you may know if you watched the Goldman Sachs Senate hearings like to keep their emails to themselves, yet according to Bloomberg 80% of the Fortune 500 companies are testing the iPhone waters including Procter and Gamble, General Electric and JPMorgan Chase. You may recall Chase from the Enron scandal. I’d say it’s among companies one might think would find device security paramount, certainly over employee convenience. Wait a second that article is over a year old. This isn’t just beginning to happen folks.

Speaking of which, that’s another great feature RIM provides. All you had to do was follow my advice to short RIMM back in August of last year, only fifteen months ago, and put, say, fifteen grand into it, right now you’d be able close the position for at a solid $52K, if you couldn’t resist letting it ride deeper into the ground to this point. Given that RIM is in such a bleak state though, even though the Blackberry brand is a dog brand, some are calling it a good buyout target, which would give it at least dead cat bounce so on the record I’m advising now to close any RIMM positions you’ve got, long or short. You know what, screw that, I’m still calling it a sell.

As of now, for every Blackberry user who signs onto Facebook, ten non-Blackberry smartphone users sign on, a ratio that’s getting darker and darker for RIM. That’s probably great for your company as, because no one wants these things anymore and vendors still have inventory to unload, including three year old models like the 9700 which goes for one cent on an upgrade, they’re probably a lot cheaper than buying you a proper smartphone. But in the 9700’s defense, one might use that carriers are selling this phone that’s over three years old as an argument that the Blackberry is a timeless device. If that’s true, though not great for RIM in terms of not being able to sell new devices to the same customers (the ones they haven’t lost yet) over and over like everybody else, that’s more money saved by your company.

Maybe the reason their battery life is so good is because people tend not to use it unless they absolutely have to, keeping that two inch half-VGA screen from eating up the battery, along with the marginal data use. So that frees up employee time to leave their Blackberry in their goofy looking holster instead of being able to run even a Google email app anymore. Oh so RIM’s got this Torch thing now, maybe they’ll catch up finally. Nope; sorry RIM, you’re too late. You dun goofed.

I swear to God I set out to write this defending the Blackberry without being completely sarcastic but I just got sidetracked too heavily by how much it sucks. Though if you’re stuck with Blackberries at your company, I recommend trying to squeeze out a 9900 from IT as, though only relative to older Blackberries, it’s not that bad. And hey, according to AT&T it’s 4G! Just don’t run some sort of speed test app (assuming you can find one on the Blackberry App Store), you’ll spoil the placebo effect.

Doug Simmons