Blackberry vs. the iPhone

Michael Mace recently authored a particularly poignant piece on what he feels is really wrong with Blackberry. I found the article interesting because it did a fairly solid job analyzing both technical and business issues faced by RIM.

(Full disclosure: RIM makes contributions to the Dojo Foundation, and this article is strictly my opinion, as unbiased as I can be at this point)

Blackberry 6 in my opinion offers an amazing set of opportunities for mobile web app developers. Wolfram from Uxebu has an in-depth analysis of the Blackberry 6 benefits that roughly match my opinions on the topic, so I’ll not waste time repeating those points.

I’ve had an iPhone since the day it was released, but I’ve not upgraded since the 3G. I’m a jailbreaker and a carrier unlocker: though I keep a contract with AT&T, I cannot justify the international extortionist rates of mobile carriers. I have a Pay & Go SIM card for the UK that gets more use than my AT&T SIM, and a stack of other SIMs from travels (about a dozen SIMs from Thailand, Cambodia, Germany, etc.). I can effectively spend $10-30/month in another country on a pay as you go plan with as much data as needed. But I’m getting way off topic.

The way I see it, RIM has reinvented their web platform in an amazingly powerful way that offers what I had always hoped Apple or Palm WebOS would become. Apple fails me miserably on their attempts at control, a betrayal in my opinion given their wonderful Mac OSX which has been extremely flexible and configurable in a mostly open manner. WebOS has failed so far because the UI and devices just aren’t very nice to use. RIM at the moment has a platform that’s frankly not all that stylish, devices that are currently too slow, but wow, the phone calls actually work and as a developer, I get even more capabilities than I see possible with operating systems like Google’s Android.

I expect my next two phones to be an iPhone 4 and whatever is next from Blackberry. I want the best of both of these worlds, and until I get what I want, I’m going to be a frustrated tinkerer that spends far too much time on this for not enough gain, complaining and grumbling until I can get a device that works in a manner as delightful as iOS, but with the control and freedom I want without a series of silly hacks like installing iPad baseband software on an iPhone to keep it unlocked.

On the business side of things, the internet is currently leading to an interesting phenomenon which is this: a long tail, but a really narrow and tall initial peak. I believe we’re seeing winners take all at a faster rate than ever, but the lower costs of being in many markets leading to many more players than ever (example, open source JavaScript toolkits). But with mobile devices, it’s a very challenging set of problems, from hardware and software to marketing to fickle users to selling souls to the mobile carriers, with very few highly profitable opportunities for mobile device makers, so I expect a very short list of players that can compete viably over the long term.

One Response to “Blackberry vs. the iPhone”

  1. on 13 Dec 2010 at 1:48Dylan

    I’m also curious to see if Apple’s removal of the Jailbreak detection API is an admission of defeat, or just removing a bad API in preparation for something more difficult to work around.

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