My first BlackBerry was a Pearl on T-Mobile, when they launched their first “consumer aimed” device. It was absolutely incredible to have such access from a phone. It wasn’t much about mobile web or apps in those days, but IM, SMS, and email access on the go was amazing, and the BlackBerry interface for messaging tools was unmatched. These days, I very happily carry an Android device, and I have a hard time imagining life back on the RIM planet.
These days, BlackBerry often gets overshadowed by iPhone, Android, and even Windows Phone, which is quickly picking up steam. Even with some major updates to its OS in the past few years, BlackBerry is having a tough time staying relevant. However, here are five reasons BlackBerry still matters to consumers and marketers:
1) Enterprise Investment in Infrastructure – For several years, BlackBerry Enterprise Server was the only option for large corporations wishing to integrate secure wireless communications for its workforce, and many of them did. Many companies out there today still have huge investments locked in BlackBerry-specific server equipment baked into their company infrastructure.
2) Battery Life – Last year, my wife upgraded to a smartphone for the first time. I was so excited to hook her up with the latest and greatest device with all the bells and whistles, but when it came down to it, battery life became a deciding factor for her to go with the BlackBerry Bold. Her old Sanyo Katana would last nearly a week on a single charge. It was too much to step to an iPhone or Android device that may even need charging before the end of a full day. The thought that she’d be completely disconnected if she forgot to plug her phone in one night was too risky. Even the most fully featured BlackBerry devices will still last 2-3 days on a single charge with reasonable use.
3) Quick Power On – After a long flight, the first thing I want to do upon touch-down is to check my phone for any emails or phone messages I may have missed. My Nexus One takes almost 5 minutes to completely “re-boot” and sync up after powering back on. All the BlackBerry users are up and running again in no time. I know the power button is a “soft” power off, but it’s as if they never really shut off their phones in the first place.
4) BBM – BlackBerry has sure sold their BBM instant messaging service as a differentiator in marketing materials. I know BlackBerry fanatics that swear by it. I also have heard from some in the financial space that claim BBM creates a more secure and less “saved history” way of them to communicate from their device. I’m not sure if all that’s true, and there were rumors once that BBM might be opened to other platforms at some point, but for the moment, BBM does represent a uniquely BlackBerry advantage.
5) Bandwidth Efficiency – On my first BlackBerry, I would consider myself a power user. I was always on email and Facebook. I had several apps running quite often, and I used the web more than most in those early days of mobile web access. At the end of the month, my data usage rarely exceeded 20MB-30MB, which seems unbelievable by today’s standards. BlackBerries have some secret sauce in their infrastructure that makes them incredibly bandwidth efficient compared to other smartphones, which also makes them significantly more profitable for carriers being pounded with high-data consumers on their networks these days.
Don’t count BlackBerry out of the game just yet. They’ve got a tough battle to fight against formidable competitors, but they still command some distinct advantages. They have been weaker in areas such as device browser and app store, but they’ve taken significant actions recently to address each key area. The browser has dramatically improved with recent OS upgrades, and the latest BlackBerry tablet devices are going to include support for Android apps. The mobile ecosystem battle continues.