While I find the Blackberry largely uninteresting in design and features, its capabilities as an email device of choice is largely indisputable and unrivaled. Its encrypted push email also keep it at the top of the game for corporate users. Well, I guess this is expected for a company that has been in the messaging business for almost 25 years.
Email accounts that use the push method for message retrieval enable you to have email messages delivered directly to you as soon as the message is received by your email provider instead of checking periodically or manually for new messages.
The BlackBerry listens for new information and notifies the user when it arrives. The BlackBerry does not poll the server to look for updates. It simply waits for the update to arrive and notifies the user when it does. With e-mail, a copy of each message also goes to the user’s inbox on the computer, but the e-mail client can mark the message as read once the user reads it on the BlackBerry.
The ease of use and the relative affordability of maintaining (not acquiring) make the option of carrying a Blackberry alongside my Android mobile of choice a necessity. Many others share the same opinion too. And this is probably the reason why RIM’s recent free-fall as the mobile device of choice has not hit the dirt yet.
Thanks to the data efficiency of the Blackberry OS, the device has also become very popular among the mobile networks too. With as little as N1400 per month for the single email BIS variant, you have almost unrestricted use of your email and allied services for a month.
Alternatives To BlackBerry Email?
On the other hand, if you have a fanatical dislike for the Blackberry, like I did before economic reasons made me have a change of heart, and would rather stick to your device of choice, alternatives abound.
Microsoft Exchange email is probably the best known and most widely used email platform in the world and has push email capabilities. In fact, the Blackberry platform rides on it. On iOS and Android devices, push email is supported for the following email account types; Microsoft Exchange, Gmail and Yahoo! Other email accounts such as POP, IMAP or AOL accounts do not support push message retrieval but can instead be setup to fetch mail at specified intervals or manually when the Mail application is opened.
Google email, Gmail, is compatible with Microsoft Exchange using Google sync. Once you have an existing data plan on your Smartphone, you can easily configure this on your mobile. And for those with personal domain names, you can easily change the MX records of your domain name and jump on board Google Apps email and enjoy, probably, better featured email services than you will get on your blackberry.
However, one major limitation is that a lot of mobiles only allow one Microsoft exchange account to be configured. Lately, however, devices based on Android and iOS allow almost limitless exchange accounts, a plus over Blackberry’s 10 email account limit. They even go further by allowing you to add Yahoo accounts freely without a need for the $20 Yahoo premium upgrade.
Another downside is that the amount you would be paying for data allocation to power this email service on a non-Blackberry device is substantially more.
Some people swear that the push email offering from Blackberry is significantly better than that on any other platform. I tend to agree. On closer look, this difference may be attributed to the different methods in which push email operate on different platforms;
Push Email On Blackberry
When you have a new email, RIM sends a notification to your device over the phone network, in much the same way as an SMS text. This tells your phone that a new email is available and that it should connect to the server and download it.
Either your phone is set to connect to the server at a predetermined interval (every 15mins, 30 mins, 1hr etc), or it’s set to maintain a constant connection to the server in order to receive emails in real time.
Both methods are fundamentally different and the advantage of the Blackberry method is that it saves a considerable amount of power. In contrast, the iOS method is somewhat of a battery drain. If Apple truly wants to compete with RIM in the email stakes, it should perhaps consider offering true push notifications like RIM, in conjunction with the phone networks.
How long Blackberry would continue to stay relevant with this advantage is any body’s guess but I doubt if it will be for long. In the meantime, all hail the current king of mobile email!