I saw a post entitled “Why BlackBerry Storm Is An iPhone (and G-1) Killer” and thought it needed a rebuttal. The post makes some very salient points on how it’s a good device, on good carriers, app store coming, etc. All good points. Now let me explain why I think those points are utterly irrelevant.
The iPhone (which I don’t own, for the record) is not compared to the BlackBerry on the same terms. It’s not a portable email device, and it doesn’t want to be one. To compare the two devices its more important to think about the decision-making that goes in to buying either device.
Business buy BlackBerries. They will continue to do so. Few businesses buy iPhones, this too will likely remain the same. Accordingly we don’t need to take enterprise purchasing into account, as this market makes purchasing decisions based on price, security, integration, etc. What we’re really talking about here is consumers.
Consumers who buy luxury goods are not buying things based on cold-hard fact comparison. If you drink Grey Goose vodka or use Kiehl’s skincare products or purchase Infiniti cars, odds are pretty good you do a lot less “comparison shopping” than you do when buying mainstream products (btw, for more on this I recommend reading “Trading Up“). The iPhone clearly falls into this category, people buy it for reasons that have little to do with technical specifications or even feature set (heck, they sold almost 8 million units before they launched the app store).
The iPhone has further achieved success because, frankly, it’s an amazing product (despite its inability to do video recording like my good ol Samsung UCH-740). It’s one of the best phones, best MP3 players, and overall best gadgets you can buy. It doesn’t matter if the BlackBerry does “somewhat better” in almost any category, whether it’s web-surfing, email, or downloadable games. Being “better” is far from good enough to beat the iPhone.
A recent survey showed that 22% of teens wanted an iPhone. I don’t think these same teens are even remotely close to buying a BlackBerry (you know, like Dad uses at work). There’s no sex appeal to the BlackBerry brand, and building a great device isn’t enough to turn it into a sexy one. Just ask the HTC G1/Android phone that question (that thing is enough to make Nokia phones look sleek!).
The BlackBerry Storm seems like it’s going to be one heck of a BlackBerry. Best one ever, no doubt. Probably the best portable email device ever made. And they will probably grab a good chunk of the existing BlackBerry market. But kill the Iphone? That gun’s not loaded yet, and it would take RIM years to create the combination of product/brand positioning to come even close.
Maybe you both have it wrong. You seem to think that the iphone is the be all end all of consumer phone devices and he thinks that it’s all about the specs. I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t own either. I chose not to buy an iphone because I didn’t want to switch from Verizon. I know many people who did. But here’s where I think the writer of the other article’s “TITLE” may be right. We may not buy these items because of all the specs and comparisons, we buy them because of the “Wow” factor. Honestly, how many people do you know that own either an iphone or Blackberry really use it to it’s full potential. Businesses will predominantly choose Blackberrys so that portion is a known factor. But I think you’re both talking about the general public. Iphones are toys for people to play with but now that Blackberry has a similar product, it will give people another option. The old adage that “he who dies with the most toys wins” somewhat applies here. Which one has the most toys? The iphone or the Blackberry? Iphone 3g still lacks a decent camera. Something that could have easily been thrown in. Other than that they’re comparable in so many ways. We know capabilities of a Blackberry and iphone, it’s what we don’t know about the Storm that could make it an “iphone killer”. It could be that the iphone is old now and cell phone owners want to “show off” something new. In the end they’re both toys and we’re searching for the one with most “Hey, look at me” factor. Personally I like the look of the Storm more than the iphone. Throw everything else that I think it will be able to do in with that and I’ll probably buy one. Just my opinion.
Tony – you may have noticed that I prefaced my article by saying I didn’t have an iPhone either. but I still believe it’s an amazingly well built product. And I guess my point is i dont think BBerry will capture a “wow” factor, hence my entire post…
Melissa has a Blackberry. She didn’t get it at work, uses it with Yahoo email. And she wants to replace her Curve with a Bold. Not an iPhone. Just another point of reference…
Jeremy and Tony,
Good points. If you check the URL you will see that my submitted title was “BlackBerry Storm Should Be Called BlackBerry Stealth”. In this case, Verizon does need a product to counter the iPhone and Storm is probably as close as it gets. Final pricing will certainly also come into play. The title did get some attention and I have been overwhelmed by the comments response; the more appropriate of which I have responded to in order to get some facts straight.
Unfortunately the media in general always wants to compare BlackBerry Bold and Storm to iPhone; I saw it at RIM’s annual meeting in July. Frustrating, but it gets attention. Somehow market differentiation is not in their toolkit.
Personally I see Storm largely being adopted by business and prosumers who can take advantage of all the features (and lots are not on the iPhone). On the other hand, iPhone is to some extent a handheld Mac with a phone application. And it will definitely appeal to those who are looking for a converged personal multimedia device. Certainly being able to use MediaSync to get sync with my iTunes music does introduce iPhone features into BlackBerry (and I could mention others).
One point I tried to make is that the business savvy developers will develop for both iPhone and BlackBerry. It roughly doubles their potential market size. I have had good feedback on the BlackBerry Developer Conference and know a couple of iPhone developers who are going to develop for BlackBerry as a result of last week’s event. 3,000 applications to BlackBerry Partner Fund is no small number to ignore either. We’ll have to see about Android.
And, Jeremy, you know that, as one of the first to bring a SlingBox into Canada, I look forward to SlingPlayer for BlackBerry .
In closing I will always admire the iPhone for one reason; their introduction into Rogers pushed Rogers to get us some decent rates for data plans on all 3G phones (BlackBerry Bold and Nokia N95 8GB included ). They are 4% per MB of what data plans cost prior to the iPhone introduction.
I wanted the iPhone myself for the capabilities and hated the fact that to get the capabilities I had to sacrifice quality of service (by switching from Verizon). I am ecstatic to have in the Verizon arena a phone that not only provides the capabilities of the iPhone but in many ways even surpassed them. I still really like many functions on the iPhone that are not there on the Storm such as the ability to “flip” through the music on the phone like a Rolodex and the fact that the iPhone has native graphics acceleration built in. Not game killers by far because the most important “gadgets and capabilities” that they share, the BB Storm is superior.
@Dave I’ll quote… me. “will probably grab a good chunk of the existing BlackBerry market” 🙂
@Jim I thought your post was great, I probably wouldn’t have written anything with the different title… any nice to see ya on the Om network!
(Since we’re all stating what we’ve got up front, I have an iPhone 3G and a BlackBerry Bold and I just recently got hands-on time with a pre-production Storm.)
RIM was once exclusively targeting enterprise IT managers, and Apple has added Exchange ActiveSync, so it’s no wonder you’d think they’re battling over corporate-provided accounts. But the truth is, RIM and Apple are both targeting consumers, which is a much larger market than enterprise. This isn’t just wishful thinking on RIM’s part; according to its own data, a majority of new RIM customers are consumers, i.e., they don’t hook up the device to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Things like encryption and IT policy management may give RIM a clear advantage over Apple in large corporations, but just aren’t relevant to the hockey mom RIM and Verizon Wireless hope will buy a Storm. As such, it is perfectly fair to compare Apples and BlackBerries based on the consumer friendliness of their products.
The article misses the point entirely – the iPhone is becoming a teen hype/hipster bait product as your reference in the article points out. Among a slightly older demographic, say early 30s, (myself included) the Blackberry presents a professional, purposeful, and dare I say “classy” image compared to the iPhone which is quickly becoming a cliche of flashy toys for insecure wannabees.
This isn’t to say the iPhone isn’t good at what it does – it is. As a media player, MP3, and web browser it is unsurpassed as a mobile device. as a phone, just mediocre. As a mobile email device, doesn’t come close to a Blackberry.
To put it succinctly, the iPhone excels at displaying media, whereas the Blackberry excels at content creation.
Amongst my friends, a couple have iPhones, and a few have Blackberries. The utility of the Blackberry shines in it’s superb email capabilities, great call quality and reception, and monster of a battery,
http://www.blackberrystormreview.net – In case you want to learn more about it.
Wow, reading these old posts are a hoot. It was amazing how people back then were justifying BB over the iPhone because it was classier and more professional. And that enterprise sales would always be in RIM’s favor.