This is a very interesting question .... but you have to take the following into consideration:
1. This is region motivated - Americans and Canadians (where Blackberry is a smash with a big market share) will give completely different answers compared to people from other parts of the world... well, maybe some Germans and French will be with them.
2. This is also time-motivated - veteran users of Blackberry will not leave it easily, while in my humble opinion they will begin having trouble getting new users in the next 2-3 years.
Why all this?
First, Blackberry is a phenomenum that was born when nobody had a decent solution for corporate email sync. Corporations wanted a solution that is neither POP3 nor IMAP and wanted to sync not only mail, but calendar, tasks, contacts, etc. Blackberry gave that to corporations, and for some years was the only one offering efficient mobile corporate mail sync.
But then, their business model was adopted mainly in North America, and while it became an instant hit there, it did not proliferate to the rest of the world.
At that point in time, three things began to happen:
1. RIM began to understand that if they want to continue growing they have either to develop new products or to search for additional markets abroad.
2. Microsoft's ActiveSync began to support HTTPS Direct Push with Exchange.
3. Other companies like Nokia, Palm, Sony Ericsson and Dataviz licensed Activesync for either bundling it with devices or commercializing it.
Here the war begins. At the moment that Microsoft and others began to commercialize a solution which had a lower cost-of-ownership than Blackberry's solution, hundreds of different phone models, and basically the same final functionality for the end user ..... it became more difficult for RIM to penetrate Europe, Asia and other areas. That was the moment where we began to see new RIM products, basically phones with different designs but all based on the Blackberry OS.
What weren't they expecting? One word: iPhone.
Let's make it clear .... the iPhone is the worst corporate phone I can think about nowadays. But it has made one thing .... a revolution in the concept of what the UI of a phone should be.
So, after the iPhone, what are we seeing?
1. The GooglePhone OS, Android, will be built to directly compete with the iPhone in UI.
2. Some smartphone makers like HTC and Samsung are already tweaking Windows mobile in their phones to get closer to the new de-facto standard.
3. Gossip says that Windows Mobile 7 (which has been in development for some years, way before the iPhone) will give a big fight to the iPhone OS and to Android.
Who stayed behind?
Palm, Nokia and RIM. While PALM is very focused on hardware and is having a hard time developing the new version of their OS, and mainly relying on Windows Mobile .... Nokia is still in denial that the iPhone can do them any damage. On the other hand, RIM's specialty is corporate mail, not phone OS. I do believe that at some point they will try to match the new UI standard created by the iPhone (they have to), but the question is if it won't be too late by then.
So, after this general description, the question should be why people love (or don't love) their Blackberries. I myself don't love it and won't have one again. It is too expensive, the BES is way more expensive than doing it all with Exhcange, and Windows Mobile based phones already have better functionality today. Additionally, I want to be assured I won't be part of the blackouts that occur at Blackberry network every time one of their servers falls apart. And I believe that as long as their list of customers grows, these blackouts will be more and more frequent. I don't want another point of failure in my email system.
Labels: Blackberry, iPhone, Nokia, RIM, Smart Phone