I was recently given a Blackberry for work. I got the Blackberry Curve to insure that I would be able to use the whrrl mobile application and other similar applications. I was excited to download Skyfire and the Firefox mobile browser . . . and was quickly disappointed. Those applications are not available for the Blackberry.
I’ve been blogging about the iPhone recently and have see many imitators such as the Samsung Instinct and the LG Vu. iPhone users are already having a better user experience and the limited screen real estate/lesser interface will make it hard for the Blackberry to compete in the non-business consumer market.
There are currently efforts focused on creating applications for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Android is Google’s open source effort to enable developers to create applications. The iFund is a KPCB backed effort to encourage the creation of applications for the iPhone and Blackberry announced several months ago that they had also started a (“me to”) fund to get the ball rolling.
The iPhone has definitely changed the landscape and the real question is; will Blackberry be able to remain relevant. We can see that Android has plans of imitating what the iPhone does best and owners of the Crackberry are sure to take notice. Blackberry’s differentiator has been its ability to tie into Microsoft Exchange making it the business person’s tool. But recently Apple has been showing an ad that highlights the iPhone being used for work and Apple’s software developer kit currently offers Microsoft Exchange support.
In my opinion (and many others) the iPhone is better because of its screen size and its intuitive interface. Usability is key to successful design and as mobile devices utilize the Internet more and more, it will continue to be a driving force behind design and in turn purchasing decisions. These differentiators are more personal/less business driven and therefore more sticky. In my opinion the only thing the iPhone lacks is a good tactile interface and this not stopping the masses from jumping on the iPhone bandwagon. Currently the iPhone has over 10 million users and this number will continue to grow.
Blackberry’s weaknesses are the iPhone strengths. (It does have a QWERTY keyboard!) A redesign is needed and I believe there is a opportunity for them to go with a design like the Samsung F700. I do know that Apple is pitching the iPhone as being the phone for your life and that Blackberry has been the phone for your work. Today, for many of us who “live work”, the likelihood that the iPhone will be seen as the answer increases daily.