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.