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iPhones and Blackberries

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: iPhones and Blackberries

So… if you happening to be following me on Twitter or Plaxo, you’ll know that I just switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone. The Blackberry was a fixture in my life for many years. My six year old even knew what it meant to be Crackberry Addict and thought it was funny to give me grief over my addiction.

I am sure I am going through some sort of post-Blackberry traumatic stress syndrome. I may very well be dealing with a high-tech version of the shakes. That said, humor me while I share a few observations about this new iPhone and how it compares to the old Blackberry.

The latest Blackberry in my possession (I had 5 different models at one time or another) was Blackberry Curve 8310. The Curve is a very cool device. Great form factor and small with a full Qwerty keyboard. I thought it was a great device until I found out version 4.2 of the OS has a memory leak. After a few days of normal use, the device would start deleting my email messages. This is how the device is designed to behave when it runs out of memory.

It was impossible to use Telenav for more than a few minutes, Google Maps was problematic, and much to my chagrin I was unable to use Guitar Hero III Mobile Edition. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. No Guitar Hero III? What kind of crap is that!

After waiting for months for a patch I got fed up and started looking for other devices. Now that the iPhone has GPS and support for Active Synch it became a viable candidate and now I have a new iPhone. And by the way, my old Curve is listed on eBay. If you happen to be interested, and you might be after this post, you can click here to Buy It Now.

My overall opinion of the iPhone is that it is the coolest piece of consumer electronics I have ever owned. It is beautiful, the interface is slick, I love its seamless integration with iTunes, the audio is fantastic, the web browsing is great, and I can pour a virtual beer and pretend to drink it. I have not found Guitar Hero III yet, but other than that, what more could you ask for in a business device?

Wait a minute… none of that stuff I mentioned makes it particularly good for business. It makes it fun, it makes it cool, and it makes it neat, but it does not make it good for business. Your business might be different from mine, so who am I to judge. I do want to share with you a few things that the iPhone does not do that I think are going to kill it for the business user:

  • No ability to do a full text search through anything. That includes your address book, your email, your calendar, or your todo list. It is very fast scrolling through data and I admit maybe that should be enough. I miss full text searching
  • No ability to cut and paste. Someone told me that is supposed to be included in release 2.1.
  • No ability to invite a user to a meeting from the calendar. Sure, I have my calendar synched with Outlook but am unable to create a new invitation and ask someone to join me in one motion.
  • I miss the integrated mailbox of the Blackberry. I have to go to too many places to find new messages. SMS is in one application, email in another, instant messages in yet another.
  • It generally takes me about 6 clicks to get from one inbox (for work email) to another inbox (for personal email). I find that very frustrating.
  • Blackberry was able to push my personal email, no matter who my provider was. iPhone is selling push email but you have to do Exchange integration or use their MobileMe. Both work fine but I want to be able to push Gmail too!
  • Someone told me you could do background Instant Messaging but I have yet to see it work. I want to be able to be working in email and get an alert that someone is trying to message me. This could be a user training issue, but no one had to train me on the Blackberry.
  • Best I can tell, I am unable to tell the maibox to delete all messages, mark all read, mark all unread, or delete messages prior to a certain date. Not a huge deal, but seems it should be easy to implement.
  • eMail comes in its native format. If it is HTML, the message is HTML. If it is plain text, I get plain text. Rich text, I get rich text. That is cool… but… if the message is HTML sometimes the text is really small. In the Safari browser I can rotate the device and the screen will rotate. In the mail client this is not the case. My only option is to resize the message and then use my fingers to scroll around and read the message. Not so cool.

I also find the iPhone much harder to use one handed. Where this really aggravates me is when I am driving. I have decided that this is a feature that will probably keep me alive so I am going to give Apple a pass. I am using my iPhone much less on the road than I used my Blackberry. The Blackberry was so easy to use one handed, it encouraged bad habits. If you like to use your Blackberry while you drive, and you know who you are BCS, you might really want to reconsider this device.

One last thing… I find the virtual keyboard very difficult to type on. That said, the iPhone is excellent at figuring out what word I actually wanted to type, so this has been okay, but is not helping me get more accurate.

So… in summary:

The iPhone is totally cool. I am happy I have it and am willing to change how I think about mobile devices. If I were still in mainstream corporate America, I would not be able to use it. There is just too much basic business functionality it is missing to make it a viable alternative.

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