Reader MobileAdmin has an interesting response to that question: "Everyone gets caught up in Blackberry the device and that is not what makes it so popular in enterprise. It's the BES back end that makes it all work and provide the management, security, and functionality. Sure the device UI could be better but at heart it's an e-mail/messaging client, and last I checked e-mail clients weren't too sexy. It's all about getting work done. ... At heart, the iPhone is yes an iPod that is e-mail-capable. It's a totally different device serving a different type of user." That argument makes sense to me, but then I would suggest RIM stop adding features like Web browsing and applications that it can't do well, and actually focus on the BlackBerry's strength. If you can't be as good as an iPhone in those other areas, why pretend to be?
But I was struck by a later comment that MobileAdmin makes: "Smartphones are not meant to carry around your entire mailbox. Think reply/process/delete and it will work better for you." In my review, I had complained that when I reconciled my e-mail box, I got 9,000 archived messages dumped into the BlackBerry, all with a curent date and time. (I thought I would just get the last 30 days of messages downloaded for easy offline access, given that I had set preferences to download only e-mail 30 days old or newer.) MobileAdmin's comment suggests that even where the BlackBerry's core stength is (e-mail), its usage is just as a supplementary device when you're not at a real computer. That begs the question: Are mobile devices evolving into companion computers that we can rely on to do much of our work (clearly not all)? I think the iPhone is trying to go that direction, and that may be a direction that many in IT believe is wrong or foolish.
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Reader Dragon77 picks up the same theme that expecting a mobile device in a business context to be like a computer is unwise. He cites my complaints over the BlackBerry's browser: "With the BlackBerry Web browsing, I recommend downloading Opera it works better than the Browser app on the BlackBerry. Granted, it's not included by default, so yes kudos to Apple's Web browser. But in a corporate environment I use the Web two to three times a month for looking up music lyrics or Google a news topic." So for Dragon77, the iPhone's Web savvy is not very relevant in a business setting.
Reader NuffSaid strongly objects to my critiques of BlackBerry applications, which I criticized for being pale, pricier imitations of what was available for the iPhone. He says that if you look at the entire BlackBerry app universe -- not just what's in the BlackBerry App World store -- you'll find competitive, compelling apps as good as what's available for the iPhone.
Like many in IT, he criticizes Apple's requirement that you buy apps through the iTunes Store. I'm not sure why this is worse than the BlackBerry's requirement that you buy apps through a PayPal account. And NuffSaid said I was unfair to complain about RIM's lack of a desktop BlackBerry App World store because many apps were available from their vendors' Web sites. Fair enough, but how do I find them or know they exist?