Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Blackberry, passed their sell by date?

While the number of smart phones seemingly increases by the hour, the argument for Blackberry's diminishes, by the hour.Well let me explain in as few words as possible, if I may?

Activesync. Less administrative overhead. Simplicity.

Why you ask? A decent Blackberry environment requires a BES server (rather than the BIS service supplied by Telco's), while you can have this installed on an existing SBS or other server, this requires a few hours of installation and configuration of the BES software on said server(s).

Now, you have to pay extra for either BIS or BES package 'bolt-ons', and they usually have a silly fee attached, although they in most cases let you use as much data as you want, with in their TOS of course.

Now when you compare the latest iPhone or Android, you can get them on pretty much the same sort of contract as a top end Blackberry, sometimes cheaper depending on the Android. These phones have tonnes more apps, functionality and of course Activesync and can be administered remotely via MobileMe or Google Apps - or one of many third party applications.

With Blackberry's, you've got to get a BES license and wait for that to come through, which in our last attempt took around 3 months from a pitiful provider who kept avoiding us and provided us with the wrong license type twice. OK, so admittedly it's not normally so painful and it's usually a few days you have to wait.

So once you've finally got the license, you've got to login to the server where BES is installed, load up BES, and add the user in BES. Then you've got to setup the phone.

Not so bad, right? Wrong. Compared to how simple Activesync is, it makes BES look monolithic and dated.
I am a huge fan of Activesync and the simplicity of phone setup. I can provide the details to an end user, tell them to go into Settings, Mail and add an Exchange Account with the settings I had provided them. Simples. In most cases our clients are already in the Mobile users group in Active Directory for OWA/RWW/VPN's, so no need to login and add them into that group.

The  only reason I would suggest someone go for a Blackberry is battery life, but that's because they're lacking functionality and in most cases as of writing this - touch screen's, which have become the defacto. But there are steps you can take to minimize battery usage, like power controls. Turn off wifi/3G when not using it, change display brightness to a lower setting, have a Task Manager running to kill unwanted apps etc. I'm sure the newer range of touch screen Blackberry's will also suffer battery life issues.

Only time will tell how the mobile phone landscape will pan out, but it looks like Android is going to win this battle hands down... at least for the moment.

oh yes, and that's not mentioning the lack of IMAP folders, other than the Inbox. Which is well documented if you use everyone's favourite search engine.