Why I hate BlackBerries

I have been working hard to avoid Blackberries of all kinds having seen sales people (who if you ask anyone who works with technology, they will tell you that people in sales push for the worst solutions available almost all the time) fiddle with them for years.

  • They never quite worked right.
  • Their voice quality sucked.
  • They’re a closed platform.
  • The integrate with Exchange as some kind of parasitic add-on module (as if running a Windows mail server wasn’t enough of a threat exposure)

Clearly, theirs is like the ultimate recipe for suck.

So I avoided them. I would say things like “You have a business case for me to have mobile email? No problem. I’ll take care of it.” I would then have some kind of mail solution of my own that would work well, integrate with everything else I was doing, and not drive me insane.

Before I complain any more, I will give it up for one thing that Blackberry does do. They push a mobile security policy to their devices that can involve remotely wiping the handheld

They really can’t take credit for all of this as everyone else supports it as well, but it’s a good thing from a governance/management angle. It is obvious that they would need it first because of their sales-centric user base, but necessity is the mother of invention. It’s also the mother of horrible duct-tape-style nasty rigging of solutions.

After dorking around with one of these consumer-level Blackberries and noting how it would ring occasionally and just vibrate at other times. It would perform randomly when I expected things to work all of the time. Additionally, their touch-typing is primitive when compared to other phones. It did not please me.

Enough of this. Can I use my old Nokia e61? It has blackberry software. Shouldn’t it work?

Apparently not. I gave it a good try, but there would be some version incompatibility or hidden password (likely inserted by carriers) that would prevent me from using the software successfully.

This really isn’t surprising why this might be if you look at the Nokia BlackBerry Connect page and look at the completely different dependencies for each of the carriers. If you’ve upgraded your firmware, as I’ve mentioned before is always a good idea, then you can’t use BlackBerry software with it. If it’s supported at all. If you look at BlackBerry’s own site, you get a huge list of carrier sites where you might be able to download a specific supported out of date build.

So let us consider this a moment and ignore some of the exceptional cases. This, usually, is a service that pushes email from a service that a business owns to a handset that a business owns transported over a cellular network.

So why all the dependency and pitfalls for using software? Is it the case that cellular providers believe that handsets should never be touched by end users or even corporate customers and if you do, to fix a vulnerability for instance, they just shouldn’t work anymore.

Having to choose between functionality and security is not fair.

I suppose it makes some sense that they don’t want to support their software on other smartphones as they would prefer you purchased their handset platform as well, but what about supporting people who purchased their enterprise products? Is the message “Too bad, buy more of our stuff”?

Backward, trouble to manage, and poorly performing. I guess I’ll continue to be surprised that people continue to use them. It really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Android and iPhone are going to dominate the market in the next couple of years.

It is a question of usability.

Does this industry really intend that users need to continue to decide between functionality and secure operation? Why isn’t this seen as completely ridiculous? There isn’t any value in requiring a middleman between enterprise software and the platform where the client software runs.

One response to “Why I hate BlackBerries

  1. I was recently forced, to my dismay, to buy a blackberry. To my surprise I have a hard time disliking it, at least compared to my other choices.

    GSM in the US sucks. Poor coverage, bad technology. About the only advantage GSM has is the ability to swap phones without involving the carrier and the ability to use non-US handsets without jumping through hoops. When I carried both an AT&T and a Sprint phone there was almost nowhere my AT&T phone had coverage but my Sprint phone didn’t, but the reverse was not true.

    However, CDMA has crappy handsets. I was looking at getting another Palm OS device (great usability, crappy email, nonexistant push email,) a windows mobile device (crappy usability, crappy stability, but a great feature set, except that turning on push email makes the phone crash more) or a blackberry.

    The blackberry gets all the right things right. Email that works, that doesn’t crash the phone. Seamless and quick integration with the company directory. The features that are there work. And the BES, which AFAIK no other handset has an equivalent to.

    The ability to locate the BES behind your firewall is the key point. This gives your users the ability to access resources on your internal network from their handset. No VPN client. No special configuration. Just type in URLs or open an ssh connection.

    If you’re using a phone as a business tool and you’re often out of the office, or you need 24/7 access to your network, this feature alone makes the BB hard to argue against.

    In most respects the BB is an exceedingly average phone. However, I can’t really think of any area where I find it deficient, and aside from the BES nothing really stands out as a great distinguishing feature either. It just does what it’s supposed to, in what should be an average way. The only reason it’s not done in an average way is because most of the other phones on the market suck and crash a lot. I have yet to see my BB crash.

    I’ve been wondering what the state of all this is in Symbian land. Can I get push email while I’m sshing into a server and using my web browser all at the same time? I can with the BB, I can do it for a while with windows mobile (until the crash happens, at least) and I can’t with palm os.

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