How the iPhone Should Have Made the Blackberry Storm Launch Easier

21 Comments

There have been a lot of reviews lately regarding the new Blackberry Storm. I summarized a few myself, but things haven’t improved much. While there are some bright spots, the overall tone of the reviews is that the Storm is a disappointment.

Still, as a Blackberry on the Verizon network I suspect it’ll do fine regardless. Instead of dwelling on the reviews, I want to disagree with comments I’ve read that say RIM should be cut some slack because it’s a 1.0 product, which makes it the same as the iPhone’s initial release. 

No, not at all. RIM had it easy.

From the moment it was announced, while Apple faithful may have believed, most outlets spent time mocking the iPhone. Greasy screen! Fingerprints! Car crashes because you can’t drive and text at the same time! Won’t be able to dial in bright sunlight! And on and on. Most of them were kind of silly, and a few were downright asinine. 

People’s memories can be short, so let’s go back in time and look at what Apple had to overcome with the iPhone. 

  • They had to drag people kicking and screaming into the modern age of using a GUI and pointing device (like on a computer) on a phone. 
  • They had to convince people that lacking all those buttons would actually be a better way, because each app would have it’s own interface; you wouldn’t see crap you couldn’t use when you couldn’t use it. 
  • They had to hammer the point home that in the modern age a phone app doesn’t have to be the equivalent of a text-based app from computers in the early 80s. Instead, they could be much more “desktop-like.”
  • They had to show that you could in fact do excellent web browsing on a phone via not only a quality browser, but through the use of gestures and software enhancements. (Hard to believe that only 1.5 years ago people thought WAP browsing was acceptable!)
  • And they had to prove that Apple could in fact build and sell a phone. (In doing so, they showed the reason current phones were crap was because carriers and phone makers had zero incentive or imagination to make them better.) 

Even with all that to overcome, upon release the iPhone’s first wave of reviews was much better than what we’re seeing for the Storm now. Yet look at what RIM did not have to overcome for the Storm: 

  • All of the above. 

That’s right. RIM had none of those obstacles, nor legions of doubters. People now know you can use a phone with a full touch screen, and get better apps, and browse the web, and be easier to use, etc. And no one questioned RIM’s ability to make and sell a phone.

Therefore, the Storm launch is not anywhere near the same as the iPhone launch. Apple paved the way, so RIM should have had an easier time of it. There was no risk, and they even had a great device available upon which to model theirs. Looks like they may not have done a good job.

21 Comments

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James Petrich

Well, I will take one more word. I can sync my Storm with iTunes, so your premise about iTunes robbing VZW of revenue doesn’t really jive. As a matter of fact the Storm can be synced with several music services. So maybe it’s Apple that is keeping a tight hold of the revenue stream at the expense of user friendliness. Maybe that’s why you have to buy a new device if your battery is at end of life and the device is not… Revenue… The agreement that Verizon has with Rhapsody allows me to have unlimited downloads for $15 per month. Maybe with the money I save on music I can afford the $3 visual voice mail. There are tons of apps for RIM devices that can be downloaded that don’t generate any revenue for the carriers. And with the launch of the Storm I’m sure there will be a lot more. And your right, you don’t have to send the iPhone in to get the battery replaced. You just have to find one of the 15 Apple stores in the Great State of Texas. No problem if you live in Houston, Austin, or San Antonio. What about the rest of the population? The rest of the population has to send the device in and pay $80 plus, and if you need a loaner you pay even more. That’s ok if your talking about an iPod. Not so great if the device is a business tool that you rely on to make a living. That’s where Apple falls short and RIM shines… Business customers… The reason Verizon turned down Apple was that Verizon did not want to defer to Apple when a Verizon customer had an issue. Verizon customers expect Verizon to stand behind the products and services they sell. Not throw up their hands and tell them to call Apple. How customer friendly is that? And I’m sure Verizn wanted no part of the huge subsidies ATT is eating. Take a look at them. And finally, as for Wifi if Verizon had as small a 3G network as ATT I would be crying about no WiFi as well. I agree with you E. Verizon does have the better network and a device is only as good as the network it’s on.

E

What Tom says. I too almost laughed out loud when I read the comments about the reasons Verizon turned down Apple. Verizon turned down Apple SPECIFICALLY because Apple wanted to put the features they wanted to in the phone, and Verizon wanted to keep tight reign over their revenue stream, even at the expense of user friendliness. We can see where that is getting them with no WiFi (that was NOT RIMs choice).
Verizon may have the better network, but they lose me with their continuing crippling of phones. This has always been the case with Verizon, and has not changed even with the introduction of the iPhone and the G1.

Tom Reestman

James,

Whoa! What I countered was your statement that you had to “send the phone in” to get the battery replaced. Clearly, you don’t.

The visual voice-mail feature from Verizon is $3 a month. Of course, I guess you could argue that you SAVE $3 a month if you don’t want it…

As for pictures, music, ringtones, etc., the iTunes ecosystem would all but eliminate Verizon getting anyone to bite on their Vcast service, and they know it.

Knock yourself out with the last word, if you want. I think RIM is a fine company, but that Verizon is being dragged into the modern age of carriers wailing every step the way.

James Petrich

Tom- Are you kidding me? Your not going to say that the fact that you have to schedule an appointment (at a store if one is close to you) to get your device replaced when you need a new battery is not valid(they don’t replace the battery they exhange the device, call the store, I did). I guess next your going to say that complaining about the fact that if your iPhone is 1 year and 1 day old and no longer under warranty that you have to buy a new device at $200 + is forward thinking and just what the enterprise customer is looking for when all they need is a battery. As I said before Apple raised the bar with this “consumer” device. But they shouldn’t break their arm patting themselves on the back. There are a lot of things other manufactures have been doing well for years RIM being one of them. Apple could take some notes from what other manufacturers are doing well and make the iPhone even better. After all they have had plenty of time to get it right. I’ll stick with a device manufacturer that understands the “enterprise” customer. When I need a new battery for my device I’ll call my wireless administrator and he will give me one, even if my device is two years old. No appointment, no paying $200+ for a new device. $3 dollars a month for voice mail? What are you talking about? Hard to load pictures? Hard to load music? Stick with Apple that’s what you know.

Tom Reestman

Lots of interesting comments here. Just to reply to a few…

E,

“I have seen MUCH criticism over the exclusion of WiFi”

True, and I should have been clearer. What I meant is that RIM and Verizon aren’t really called on it. I see a sentence or two saying that it’s bad, and then they move on.

I feel so strongly about WiFi on these high-end devices that it’s the subject of another article coming soon.

KenC,

“Honestly, is James getting paid by BB”

James is a big boy and doesn’t need anybody defending him, but I’ve been reading jkOnTheRun for about 8 months and, to me, the thought of them being on the BB payroll is silly.

Rutger,

“Tell me. If Apple didn’t have an iPhone, would you write the article the same way?”

Um, the entire premise of the article is that Apple’s iPhone PAVED THE WAY for the Storm. Obviously, if there was no iPhone, there would be no article. Of course, as I’ve already argued, there would be no Storm, either.

James,

Opinions vary, and yours are as good as mine, but I couldn’t disagree more with your comments.

“But enterprise customer’s want a device that gives them the security of a Blackberry.”

All RIM can possibly use to defend their complicated method for getting Exchange email is the “security” buzzword. The idea that putting everything below between the user and his email somehow makes it MORE secure is absurd:

– Dedicated hardware and a proprietary OS
– Legions of administrators and support people
– An entire Network Operations Center!
– The attendant processes, components, and employees of said data center.

Any rational person would see the above as further potential points of failure in the chain, and the latter item especially is an INCREASED opportunity for security breaching.

Bottom line is a few years you needed RIM’s complicated setup just to get the job done. They walked in and took business that could have been Microsoft’s and I admire them for it. But, MS has responded and ActiveSync gets better all the time. The idea that all the above makes it more secure is laughable in my opinion.

“One huge flaw is that you have to send the phone in if you have a battery issue.”

That’s news to me. Go to an Apple store, they put in a new one. These battery arguments are as valid as those for the iPod.

“Those kinds of issues along with many other issues in which Apple gets between the customer and the carrier (ATT)is the reason Verizon turned Apple down when they came calling with the iPhone.”

This almost made me spew coffee on my iPhone.

Verizon turned down the iPhone because it had WiFi (notice the Storm does not), and also made it too easy for a user to load their own pictures, music, ringtones, etc. Verizon did not and still does not like that sort of thing, and are moving as slowly as possible in changing that backward attitude. You will stay on their network, thank you very much, and pay them $3 a month for voice mail, etc.

James Petrich

E- Unlimited Global email on the BlackBerry with Verizon is $64.99. And works in over 175 global destinations. We all know WiFi is not free everywhere you go. Enterprise customer’s are concerned about security. That’s one of the major reasons the iPhone is not being adopted in the enterprise space the way it is in the consumer space. It’s a consumer product, and a great one. But enterprise customer’s want a device that gives them the security of a Blackberry. If they can get that security with a device that gives them a robust touch screen platform then they will. Give me a break. Apple has raised the bar no doubt. But there are basic flaws in the device. One huge flaw is that you have to send the phone in if you have a battery issue. And you have to pay for a loaner while it’s being fixed. That’s not going to fly in the entrprise space. Those kinds of issues along with many other issues in which Apple gets between the customer and the carrier (ATT)is the reason Verizon turned Apple down when they came calling with the iPhone.

Trevor Caswell

“Tell me. If Apple didn’t have an iPhone, would you write the article the same way? Would you write an article about Blackberry Storm at all”

No, he wouldn’t, because it wouldn’t exist.

And James Kendrick’s assertion that the Storm isn’t going head to head with the iPhone is one of the most fatuous and/or disingenuous I’ve read in a long time.

Rutger Blom

It is hardly surprising that somebody writing for The Apple Blog is not too enthusiastic about Blackberry’s products. Tell me. If Apple didn’t have an iPhone, would you write the article the same way? Would you write an article about Blackberry Storm at all?

KenC

I’m glad Tom got in the final word, cause I couldn’t believe that James threw out that strawman, where he said, “to call it a failure is premature”!!!

Honestly, is James getting paid by BB, because he sure seems to have drunk the koolaid, if Tom’s well-reasoned argument why the Storm is a direct response to Apple’s iPhone doesn’t sway him. Tom’s exactly right, the Bold is a fine BB, the Storm’s only reason for being is to satisfy some marketing wonk at BB and Verizon.

Newt

I wish we had the Verizon network for the iPhone.

That would be the best of all worlds. AT&T is awful.

E

Tom, I agree with you – however, I have seen MUCH criticism over the exclusion of WiFi. It is actually the most criticized aspect.
I do agree with you that the Storm was brought out by BB AND VZ specifically to stem the exodus to the iPhone.
So James K, I disagree with you on that point. James P, I disagree on international travel, unless it is all business. Roaming charges are insane for data, and having no WiFi, while you can still use the phone internationally, most people will turn off that functionality for fear of insane charges and not be able to resort to WiFi when available. If your work is willing to pay those exorbitant fees, then your work is not thinking about the current economic crisis.

James Kendrick

Tom, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I firmly believe that all RIM and Verizon wanted with the Storm was to provide a Blackberry with a large screen for multimedia and web browsing and that’s what they’ve done. It already looks like a huge seller for Verizon and RIM so to call it a failure is premature I believe. Sure every competitor would like to “dethrone” the competition but the market is big enough for all of them.

Tom Reestman

James,

I disagree that the Storm is not “taking on the iPhone”. People are leaving Verizon for AT&T and the iPhone. It’s not a huge movement, but it’s a movement nonetheless and it’s not going the other way.

From a Verizon standpoint I believe all they cared about was having something that appeared “good enough” as an iPhone stand-in, yet was still crippled (no WiFi) to keep everyone on their network. (The lack of WiFi is a HUGE flaw in the Storm in my opinion, and one for which it’s not criticized enough.)

From a RIM standpoint, if they’re not taking on the iPhone there was no reason to make the Storm in the first place. The Bold is the latest, greatest, traditional BB, the BB OS was not designed for touch, and if they’re not interested in iPhone then they wouldn’t have bothered with a touchscreen at all. After all, co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said you “can’t type on a piece of glass.”

I can’t imagine the Storm existing if not for the iPhone, and that it isn’t meant to stave off more defections to Apple, which outsold RIM last quarter.

James Petrich

John, I just wanted to correct you on the comment about not being able to use the BlackBerry Storm internationaly. The Storm is a quad band phone, and works in more international destinations than any ATT device.

James Kendrick

Fair question John. Fact is this is my job and I review this stuff from the standpoint of actually using it for a while. I have full voice and data plans with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile that kill me each month. :)

John Smith

James, I can’t help but wonder, though, why would you _want_ to have two devices? Wouldn’t one be better? Whenever I see someone walking around with a tool belt (2 cell phones, 2 pagers), I can’t help but wonder if they are:

1) An IT guy who has to carry all that crud
2) A drug dealer

Why else not just have a single converged device, provided it can do everything well?

Now the iPhone is not yet on par with the BB in true enterprise functionality (from a user’s perspective, it’s much closer than from IT’s perspective, in its current incarnation), but should it cross the remaining hurdles, why again would you actually want more than one device… unless for some reason you really really really must have Verizon (and in that case… there’s the caveat that you can’t travel internationally).

James Kendrick

My review was fairly positive and my outlook after nearly a week with a Storm is still upbeat. What you are missing the point on is that RIM and the Storm are not taking on the iPhone. There is no “either/ or” mandate from anyone and there is plenty of room for multiple devices.

This is a touch-screen Blackberry, the first. And overall a good effort for a first one. It will likely get better and it still will not be an attempt to unseat the iPhone. They are for different audiences totally.

BTW, I love my iPhone too.

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