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Microsoft’s Blackberry killer?

Mark Evans writes about Microsoft’s new Blackberry Killer

Before I go further, I will disclaim this by saying that I worked for Microsoft from 1992 to 2000, and for part of the time I ran the planning team that did the market research for Microsoft’s Windows CE group, including the smartphone team.  I’ve also used multiple generations of the Windows CE smartphone, with all it’s quirks, and I am the proud owner of a Blackberry 7290.

I think Mark’s missing the point.  When I switched from my Smartphone to a Blackberry it was because the coverage sucked with the smartphone (it had no 850 Mhz radio), and it was a major battery hog.  But I loved the media features, and the web browser, and I miss those features the most in my new Blackberry.

Mark’s right on one thing.  Blackberry email is a killer feature.  In fact, if it wasn’t for the email I would toss the thing.  The usability of the Blackberry is a nightmare (I defy anyone to find and dial a phone number in your address book, while driving).  The media capabilities are non-existant (my unified messaging system delivers voice mail to my email inbox… but I can’t listen to wav files on my blackberry).  The integration with Windows apps is good, but not as good as ActiveSync.

If I was in RIM’s shoes, I would be asking myself this… “What would Apple do?”.  I would try to imagine what the iBerry would be like, and then build it.  That would be a thousand times better than a Microsoft Smartphone because the starting point for a Smartphone is “let’s build a great Windows phone”.

What would the iPod of Smartphones be like?

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Jim Courtney April 5, 2005, 7:03 pm

    For the past eight years I have attended RIM's annual meeting … every year the message to shareholders is "It's the email, stupid!". Explains why I would find the combination of the Blackberry and a Dell Axim X50V as the ideal portable combo. [But I'd go for the 7100r! ;-)]

  • Stewart Marshall April 5, 2005, 10:53 pm

    " The usability of the Blackberry is a nightmare (I defy anyone to find and dial a phone number in your address book, while driving)."

    I agree usability is important but here is Blighty it's now an offence to use your mobile while driving. At least the one hand off the wheel variety with a handset clamped to your ear.

    Clearly, bluetooth headsets and voice dialling have made a difference, although I've never met anyone who uses the latter. I tend to take the policy in the car of receiving calls but not making them, also has the advantage of giving me some 'quiet' time during which I can think and more importantly concentrate on driving the car!

    Of course my wife's number is on speed-dial for the obvious exceptions…

  • Alec April 6, 2005, 1:45 am

    The 7100r is nice looking, that's for sure, Jim.

    Stewart, I have all the driving toys. The bluetooth headset, and voice dial. Soon I'll also have a bluetooth speakerphone. It's all very geeky stuff, and not well integrated. It's kind of like using UNIX command line filters and pipes… you can make what you want to happen if you think about it long enough.

    For example:

    1) When activated, the bluetooth headset should automatically activate the voice dialer. It doesn't. So I have a speed dial button to dial #11 which gets me through to the voice dialer. Then I can dial by voice.

    2) The voice dialer takes a CSV file of phone numbers and names (up to 1000 names, with 4 numbers each). I have 1700 names in my BBerry database. It was a couple of hours of manual work and a real chore to decide which were the top 1000 numbers.

    3) The voice dialer database doesn't update when I update the BBerry database. It's now a couple of months out of date, and I am going to have to revisit point 2) above again.

    These are all usability issues, again. Someone just needs to sit down, either at RIM, or the carrier, and figure out how this stuff should work together.

  • Stewart Marshall April 6, 2005, 1:43 pm

    I guessed you might have the toys for the car. I've always been a little disappointed with how limited bluetooth can be. I remember getting all exciting about getting a new menu pop up on my handset the first time I managed to connect a bluetooth headset. However, all I could do was change the name of the device. Surely, it must be easy to add an option to activate voice dialling automatically.

    The closest I go to it being clever was using the Salling Clicker to control iTunes on my Mac. I notice this has been updated a lot recently, maybe it offers you a solution? http://homepage.mac.com/jonassalling/Shareware/Cl

    As for 1700 phone numbers and struggling to pick 1000, I can't really comment. I may have a large number of numbers (not 1700 though!) but the number I put on my phone is more in the 10s rather than 1000s!

  • Alec April 6, 2005, 5:18 pm

    Thanks for the pointer! I checked out the Salling Clicker, but it doesn't look it supports the Blackberry. Boo hoo! Looks very cool, otherwise.

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