Most of the folks featured in my Switching from BlackBerry to Android article are gadget geeks who’ve been using smartphones for years. As such, the majority of them first picked up a BlackBerry because there really weren’t many other options at the time. Today, that’s just not the case, and many former or would-be BlackBerry users, particularly consumers who desire a strong Web browsing and multimedia experience, no longer consider BlackBerry an option, since Android, iOS, webOS, etc., all have stronger focuses on browsing and multimedia.
RIM has attempted to bridge the “multimedia gap” in its product line with devices like the BlackBerry Storm and Torch, but the BlackBerry OS was built first and foremost with enterprise security in mind, and the company is still largely trying to fit business-sized blocks (BlackBerrys) into consumer-sized holes (consumers’ hands). On some level, consumer smartphone users sense this and are turned off by it.
One thing that’s obvious after my exchanges with this handful of smartphone geeks: almost all of them have no regrets about leaving BlackBerry. Sure, they miss things like RIM’s solid QWERTY keyboards, its industry-lauded e-mail client, impressive battery life—particularly with the BlackBerry Bold 9700—BBM mobile IM app and the security safeguards working behind the scenes. But none of these factors have been enough to satisfy all of their needs.
On the flip side, most of the sources don’t really think RIM has anything to worry about in the mobile space, at least for the time being. BlackBerrys are still everywhere, and RIM’s foothold in the enterprise is a strong one. The sources in this piece realize that. And they don’t think RIM will be overthrown in the corporate space soon…but the larger consumer market is another story.
The sources know RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is worthy of praise, and it’s largely why RIM has become the go-to enterprise-mobility standard. But BlackBerry users not on BES–mostly consumers–see a very different BlackBerry experience than their corporate counterparts. Where BES is great for syncing up with Microsoft Outlook and IBM Lotus Notes, etc., the BlackBerry platform and BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), RIM’s consumer offering, don’t get along as well with popular web services like Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.
Android on the other hand, a Google product, integrates with the company’s various Web services like a charm, so Android is a no-brainer for anyone who strongly relies on Google’s offerings and for whom security is not a priority.
The majority of these sources went with Android over other competing mobile platforms like Apple’s iOS and Palm’s webOS because they either don’t want to support Apple’s “closed” iPhone ecosystem or they weren’t pleased with Palm’s limited device portfolio.
When asked what RIM could do to bring them back to BlackBerry, many of the sources said, in so many words, and without hesitancy: “Nothing. I’m happy with Android.” But it’s clear to me that each and every one would likely return to BlackBerry if only RIM could “wow” them with a unique and fresh OS or some brand new, high-end hardware with a blazingly-fast processor and/or high-res display.
BlackBerry users are jumping ship because they’re bored with what RIM’s provided over the past couple of years and they’ve lost faith in the company. New, innovative competitors like Google and Apple are stepping in to pick up the stragglers. It’s really that simple.
It’s not too late for RIM to right its ship, but the company would be wise to listen to feedback from the sources in this story and others like them who are no longer satisfied with BlackBerry. After all, RIM’s enterprise dominance is not guaranteed with rivals like Google, Apple, Palm and Microsoft all setting sights on the corporate market and bolstering their respective offerings.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.