Replacing iPhone with two Blackberries: the experiment

During my recent trip to Arizona and Mexico, my iPhone suddenly bricked. I was sporting iPhone OS 3.0 beta, and could not restore the OS on the trip. Therefore, the only way to get back on track was to buy a new phone. I decided to use the opportunity to buy Blackberry Storm on Verizon, which was lauded as the closest competitor to iPhone, and which I deduced I needed anyway for our company for application development purposes.

In addition, my friend Eric from Mobileslate lended me a Blackberry Pearl that I could use with my existing AT&T account. Here are my thoughts so far.

First, the user interface on Blackberry Storm felt pretty awkward after intensive use of iPhone, but after a while, I started to get used to it. It still gives me way too much mistypes. There’s no easy way (to my knowledge) to have multiple keyboards, a feature that I got used to with my iPhone - I use both Scandinavian and US keyboards. The word guessing technology from Blackberry in English works just fine, it nails my thoughts most of the time. The email writing on Storm is not much fun, but it does the job. I really like the integrated inbox feature for all types of messages, although nonexistent spam filters on Blackberry servers render the inbox nearly unusable with boatload of spam.

Blackberry Pearl has done its job as expected, although it feels nearly like feature phone when compared to the visual interfaces of Storm and iPhone. I like the loudness of the speaker on both Blackberries. What I don’t like in either device is the badly located side buttons that so easily get accidentally pressed, invoking camera or voice dialing when you don’t want it. The orientation change on Storm is nice, but most of the time too slow to respond.

The biggest positive surprise has been the Blackberry App World. It is just a fantastic app store, if possible even better than iPhone in user experience. The offering obviously is limited compared to iTunes, but I definitely see App World being a major step to enabling vibrant app usage in Blackberry devices. I wish I had the same functionality on the Facebook app that I had in the iPhone. There’s no LinkedIn app for Blackberry to my knowledge.

So far, Blackberry does not stand chances to replace iPhone, but for now, I will get by with two of them instead of iPhone. However, when the next gen iPhone launches, you can find me on the line outside the closest Apple Store.

Article by Mikko Alasaarela. He is a creative entrepreneur living in Silicon Valley.
published in Discoverse