Has the Demise of RIM’s Blackberry Already Begun?

UPDATE: 12/23/2010 – Cannot update the applications on my Blackberry Tour even after using the latest available version 6.0.1.18. The updates just hangs and never completes. It did this with the previous version of the Desktop Manager but hung at a different place.  My wife has the same phone and syncs with a different laptop. Both of us cannot update or inline or using the Desktop Manager. RIM – With all of your resources… you should be able to make this work. The more frustrated I get the the Blackberry the more attractive the new Android phones look!


UPDATE
: Leaked copies of Blackberry Desktop Version 6.0 was leaked to various sources near the end of July and made publically available around August 10. The new version does support syncing with Outlook 2010 32-bit version. Finally!

The software is easier to use that previous versions and appears to be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, going without sync capability to Outlook got me out shopping the wonderful new Android phones. Pretty soon, my Tour will be retired for the next generation of phones.

In the new, highly competitive world of Smart Phones, staying on your game and ahead of the competition is everything. Not doing this can result in disaster. Look at Palm for example, the company that led the way to PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and Smart Phones but could not keep up with rapidly changing landscape around it. Even after coming out the Palm Pre, which is actually a nice Smart Phone, it was too late to make a dent in the marketplace.

What? I Can’t Sync with Outlook Anymore?

Now RIM, the maker of the popular Blackberry’s, is showing signs of fatigue. How? Blackberry is mostly popular with business users primarily due to its “push email” feature (more on that later). These same business users are also heavy users of Microsoft Outlook. But any Outlook users who have upgraded to the latest version, 2010, are not very happy. In fact they are angry. Why? Because the synchronization software that allows them to sync their contact, calendars and more between Outlook and the Blackberry does not work with Outlook 2010. Now, the important data you rely on daily is no longer available in your Blackberry. Suddenly your expensive and powerful Blackberry phone is no more powerful than a free phone. The iPhone can sync with Outlook 2010 as well as the Android devices (Android is the newer and popular OS for Smart Phones developed by Google). So why is my Blackberry now unable to do this necessary function?

RIM is not a stupid company and they had access to beta versions of Outlook for quite a long time before it was released to the public. So why were they unable to provide synchronization capability to Outlook by the time it was released? Well you can safely assume it was not because they wanted to aggravate and alienate their customers. So why?

Anyone in Charge?

One possible reason is fatigue and a lack of internal leadership. Someone is not performing and it is beginning to show. To allow a new release of Microsoft Outlook to hit the shelves and not provide customers a way to synchronize their phones to their Outlook data is sort of like going to sleep at the wheel while driving down a crowded interstate highway at top speed…the outcome cannot be a good one and shows significant irresponsibility.

Now RIM will get a their software upgraded for Outlook 2010 compatibility. But the fact they missed the date means things are getting worse for them, not better. Some customers, like myself, will simply take this as a queue to begin looking again at the new Android phones. I simply cannot trust my Blackberry to help me run my business anymore. I need to be able to upgrade to the newest “released” versions of mainstream software and know my Blackberry will continue to function. That is no longer the case. And with the new Android phones reaching maturity and the fact that the iPhone might someday be on Verizon offers lots of viable choices.

But I Need my “Push Email”

One reason for the popularity of owning a Blackberry has been the concept of “push email”. This is where your email arrives to your Blackberry in real-time rather than the device having to poll the email server every few minutes. However, this capability is actually limited to corporate users where a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) is employed and is still not much an advantage and in fact can be worse.
Why? First of all, for non-corporate users, the Blackberry servers simply poll your personal email server every few minutes looking for new mail that has arrived. It then forwards that email to your Blackberry device. But any phone with an internet enabled mail client can do the same thing. That how most mail clients work…they periodically poll the server and download any new messages. Just be sure your email client is polling your email server as often as possible and your email will arrive about the same time as if using a Blackberry.

In addition, the Blackberry servers are know to go down and often for hours at a time. They represent another layer of technology that when fails, your email stops. Having your own email client poll your email server directly eliminates a whole layer of technology and thus reduces your chance of problems getting your email. The point is simply that “push-email” is not all that great and can even hurt you when the system is down.

Blackberry Alternatives

Many Verizon users have been waiting for the iPhone to come to their network and will leave RIM for Apple when that occurs. Like myself, they used to be AT&T customers and after switching to Verizon, would rather use a paper cup and string than switch back to AT&T. But to the detriment of Apple, they have been slow to make this happen and now Verizon customers are realizing that the Android phones are not only mature but quickly surpassing the iPhone in features and speed. The application market for the Android phones is quickly gaining ground on the iPhone and nearly all of the more popular iPhone applications are already available for the Android phones.

Why is this important? The iPhone is an awesome phone but now has antenna issues and when your battery goes bad…oh well no need to rehash that one. And now that Blackberry is beginning to struggle to keep up with its own software development to support their “existing” phones, (can you say Palm), the Android phones will continue to grow in popularity and market share. I know this is true because I was a very happy Blackberry user who now needs to find a platform that can keep up with me and not suddenly become useless.

This is my opinion. What’s yours?

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