Networks all over the world keep investing millions of dollars in providing BlackBerry services. Many corporate organisations and individuals are also clearly hooked on the BlackBerry. Here in Nigeria, BlackBerry usage is becoming more and more widespread. The Mobility Nigeria phone store records a significant request for BlackBerry devices as well.
When the BlackBerry 9630 Tour arrived here at Mobility Nigeria for our first BlackBerry review, a respondent asked the question: What is special about BlackBerry?
In this feature article, I present to you one major reason (alongside a few others) why both networks and subscribers are hooked on to the BlackBerry service. And it isn’t anything spectacular like a fancy user interface or other common features. It is actually something that happens behind the scenes.
One of the powerful features of BlackBerry is data compression. Data routed through BlackBerry servers have a compression ratio as much as 1:100. This translates to the following:
- bandwidth preservation for the mobile operator – bandwidth is expensive, and anything that lets operators conserve bandwidth while taking on more subscribers is attractive
- network stability – with less data being consumed by subscribers, the integrity and stability of the mobile networks are better secured, increasing the chances of better service delivery
- savings in cost for the user – by default, BlackBerry subscribers get a bigger value for their subscription, almost regardless of how small their data allocation is. A 1GB BlackBerry service cap goes a longer way than a 5GB generic data plan.
- device stability – it isn’t difficult to see that a smartphone that uses about 10kb to download a mail of 1mb translates to device stability. A BlackBerry is less likely to hang, freeze or slow down in handling email or web browsing than any other smartphone
Mike Lazaridis, Co-CEO of RIM, puts the compression feature of the BlackBerry service this way:
“What that means for the carrier, though, is after they have committed all those billions of dollars on new network technology and new network spectrum, they can have three BlackBerrys using the same network capacity as one of the other smartphones.”
Devices on other smartphone platforms such as Symbian, Android and iOS may provide richer web browsing and video streaming, but these other smartphones use up much more bandwidth and system resources (both on-device and on-network) than BlackBerries use.
Other BlackBerry Pros
QWERTY – RIM has mastered the QWERTY keyboard and can even be acclaimed to have turned it into an art. They have consistently churned out some of the best hardware QWERTY keyboards for years, and people looking to enjoy tactile text entry have come to develop a loyalty to BB devices.
The success of BlackBerry’s QWERTY keyboard has spawned a whole new drive by other manufacturers to push QWERTY devices into the market. Whether it is Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, or LG, others are copying RIM’s keyboards in a bid to rake in some cash from the QWERTY revolution. And that’s not a bad thing.
Apple may be driving the touchscreen revolution. RIM drives the QWERTY revolution.
Email on BlackBerry is one of its strongest features. It is simple and it works. Enter in your email credentials and the BlackBerry does the rest. In a few minutes, you are good to go.
The PUSH function is secure and delivers your mail to you as they arrive. The mail service uses the BB compression technology as well.
Modern touchscreen devices may be about fancy interfaces and finger gestures. Not so non-touchscreen devices.
While the BlackBerry user interface has been criticised for not being all-shiny, its simplicity is a plus. For non-touch usage, the BlackBerry user interface works well – especially with the trademark trackball or trackpad. The combination is addictive in use, as I found out when I used a BB device recently. There are also few lags. It just gets the job done without the bling.
**BlackBerry has been straying into touchscreen for some time, and for this class of devices they will need a totally different user interface. Nokia has made the same mistake of attempting to modify what is essentially a non-touch interface for their touch devices, and it hasn’t worked very well either. Touch and non-touch are different, guys!
Security is one of the cornerstones of the BlackBerry solution. The protective measures built into BlackBerry products ensure customers can securely access sensitive information on their BlackBerry smartphones. Encryption is industry-certified Triple DES or AES-256 encryption.
Very few devices that match the BlackBerry’s features match its battery life. The OS and services appear to be top-notch in terms of power optimisation. A BlackBerry device stays always connected and yet delivers outstanding battery life when compared to other modern smartphones.
Many iPhone, N900, Nexus One, and HD2 users keep having to watch what they do or do not do on their devices in order to get the battery to last them through a day. Not so the BlackBerry. Truth is, regardless of how fancy our devices are, if they do not deliver good battery life, they limit our usage.
Traditionally, BlackBerry devices are rugged. Try dropping some of the new touchscreen slabs on an asphalt floor to see if they survive the drop. With a BlackBerry, you worry less about such accidents.
BlackBerry uptake has witnessed strong growth year after year for some time now, and in some cases people have not understood why. Now, you know why mobile networks invest heavily in the BlackBerry solution and push its usage on their networks.
It may not be obvious to the casual observer too, but signing up for a 1GB BIS plan for N5,000 may actually be much better value than getting a 3GB plan for N10,000.
Is the BlackBerry for everyone? No; it is not. It has its cons and quirks (though this article is not about those). Not everyone wants or needs a hardware QWERTY keyboard. The BlackBerry is not for everyone. No device is for everyone, but for those who seem to think that there is little value in getting a BlackBerry device and service, this article should help you see that there is more to the BlackBerry than meets the eye. Now, you know why RIM’s BlackBerry remains a force to be reckoned with in the smartphone world – and a still-growing force at that.