By William E. Ketchum III (@WEKetchum)
The BlackBerry platform has seen better days. Despite having 500 carriers in 170 countries and products in almost 30 languages, it seems all you hear is tales of its downfall. A recent ComScore study of the mobile industry showed that Google's Android platform has bumped BlackBerry from the top spot. Not only that, according to the study RIM's smartphones have lost marketshare, putting them right in striking distance of Apple's iPhone.
Then there's its publc profile. Every other day, loyal BlackBerry users get another purple broadcast message in their beloved BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) client that reads something like this: “Hey everybody, I'm leaving #TeamBlackberry. If you don't have it already, here's my phone number.” And when comparing BlackBerrys' long boot times and subpar apps with the next-level functionality of Android devices and iPhones, it's tough to blame them. But for loyalists who are on the fence, there are still several reasons to consider sticking with your trusty BlackBerry before jumping ship.
1. BlackBerry Messenger
It's the one feature every smartphone user wished they had. Former-BlackBerry users lament the loss of the ability to instantly chat with friends. I know there are rumors about the BBM app/service becoming available to Android and iPhone users, but it won't be the same. If and when the service becomes available, non-BlackBerry users will most likely have to pay for a stripped down version. And previous attempts at cross-platform messaging services like CNECTD, WhatsApp and KIK were dead in the water as soon as they hit the app store. Aside from the love/hate relationship with the ability to see when a message has been read, BBM is a go-to app for Blackberry users that is fun, convenient, and useful for professional and casual use. Simply put, there's nothing like it.
2. Who needs apps?
Sure, Android devices and the iPhones have the best applications and games for users to have loads of fun outside of the office. But those are only distractions from what's important: e-mail, and phone calls. Why play Angry Birds, when you can play Brickbreaker? Why videochat with someone on your phone, when you can e-mail or BBM them and get it over with?
This shouldn't even be an issue at this point, but people worldwide are still losing jobs, relationships, and dignity when their private photos are exposed by hacked or stolen cell phones. Meanwhile, Research In Motion is regarded as the industry's gold standard for its encryption capabilities, ensuring that users' data stays uncompromisable. Blackberry devices are so secure that some countries' governments have banned them for lack of access to data. It's also the only smartphone to pass the security standards of the Defense Advances Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Plus, with RIM's free new Blackberry Protect app, users can wipe content off of their entire devices if they're lost or stolen. So if you're caught slipping, you're covered. Even President Barack Obama keeps an encrypted Blackberry on the hip.
4. President Barack Obama is #TeamBlackBerry
Which brings me to my next reason. Since before he was sworn in as the 44th President, Obama has stayed with a BlackBerry. Breeze through a couple galleries from his campaign and you'll catch Barack scrolling through e-mails and notes on his BB. While he recently revealed that he owns an Apple iPad, Barack also admitted to being tethered to his BlackBerry, saying: "Usually I carry a BlackBerry around."
5. It's the best platform for e-mail
The BlackBerry's extra applications aren't the best, but its e-mail capabilities are second-to-none. RIM has made messaging an art, and it starts at at the hardware. The BB keyboards are raised, generously spaced, and responsive, making them easier to type on than all other smartphone keyboards, hard or soft(sorry, BlackBerry Storm). And RIM's private servers ensure true push e-mail, helping BlackBerrys receive e-mails faster than any other device.
6. BlackBerry reboots give you time to focus on other things
Every BlackBerry head knows that to have a fully functional device, reboots—whether by battery pull, or by keyboard shortcut—are a way of life. Users of other platforms see this as a hold-up, but this actually gives BlackBerry users an opportunity to use that waiting time elsewhere: hearing about your girl's day at work, catching up on some reading, or actually watching the TV show you were tweeting about.
7. The PlayBook will support Android apps
Even the most loyal BlackBerry user will admit that Android has some of the best apps on the market. Well, at least better than the ones available for BlackBerry. But a few weeks ago, RIM announced that its upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will use its QNX operating system to support Android apps, effectively expanding the unspectacular selection of apps into a much wider selection. Rumor has it that BlackBerry phones will do the same in their line of 2012 phones.
8. You don't have to join the Apple cult
Apple customers are cult-like. When I asked a random guy in Texas for directions during SxSW, he said, “Don't worry; I have an iPhone!” with the confidence that someone announces jumper cables to someone with a stalled car. I can't be the only one who finds these lemmings annoying. CrackBerry…err, BlackBerry users are a lot more understated with their allegiance...right? Right?!
9. The new devices look pretty good.
Besides the PlayBook, RIM has some BlackBerry heat coming to market. There's the new Bold, codenamed Montana, that has everything Bold users have come to love, with a touchscreen where the old display once was. Not to mention a revamped Torch 2 and an all-new BlackBerry Touch. The future's looking bright, eh?