Why I like Blackberry

Posted on February 9, 2008

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I know the iPhone is the cool kid on the block, and I came kinda late to the whole Blackberry thing, but I think it’s interesting to note why I love my Blackberry Pearl so much.

It’s about the complete user experience. And importantly, I’m actually not talking about the experience of the phone.

Let me explain.

We use Microsoft Exchange for our mail at Shift. I’ve used Windows Mobile devices in the past. I could never get push email, because we needed some software on Exchange, and that required upgrading Exchange to the latest release, and so on, and so forth.

So when I first got my Blackberry Pearl, I assumed I wouldn’t be able to get mail from my Shift account.

Going through the setup wizard for the phone, it asked me for my email address, and my account password. I figured: “hey, may as well tell it my correct details — even though it’s not going to work”.

Within three minutes, my email and calendar appointments were appearing on my phone.

You see, the Blackberry isn’t a phone — it’s actually the client device for RIM’s email aggregation services. Services that can talk to Exchange, Hotmail or Gmail as easily as they talk to a POP3 account. And it’s smart enough to recognise my Exchange-based appointments, and sync them directly into my phone’s calendar.

That’s pretty tricky. In the case of my work email, it’s clearly logging into Outlook Web Access (OWA) and constantly scraping my inbox through AJAX-style calls to Microsoft’s undocumented OWA API.

None of this requires the phone’s user to have knowledge of their email system, nor have their IT department install stuff on the email server.

With a Blackberry, email just works.

The phone is a great form factor, and makes sending text-based messages (IM, email or SMS) a pleasure. But it’s the total user experience — particularly the critical out of box experience — that defines why Blackberry’s are still such a compelling proposition.

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