What is special about BlackBerry?

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.

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What is special about BlackBerry? 1

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.

Data Compression

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:

  1. bandwidth preservation for the mobile operator – bandwidth is expensive, and anything that lets operators conserve bandwidth while taking on more subscribers is attractive
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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 Messaging
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.

Simplicity
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
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.

Battery Life
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.

Ruggedness
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.

Conclusion

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.

Global Smartphone Market Share Trend

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.

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30 thoughts on “What is special about BlackBerry?”

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  2. @vanchi you’ll be advised not to use your BIS/BES as a modem unless you have a standard dataplan outside of both.

    @Yomi the BlackBerry’s software/OS stack is great. They also have Enterprise integration 2nd to none.

    BlackBerrys just work & that’s a hard thing to accomplish for ecosystems as complex as today’s mobile world.

  3. Pls, Yomi, does a blackberry device accept third party application like opera mobile and opera mini browsers? And can they be used to browse the web while on a blackberry internet service data plan?

  4. Yomi, this is a beautiful written article. And I have to admit that you have educated me!! Thanks.

    The Blackberry is a very good phone. Tailored for enterprise and the business world. If you need E-mail in a hurry, then “sent from my Blackberry” gives extra tweaks. MAkes you belong.

    And, though Yomi didn’t mention it, the Blackberry 6.0 O.S. would be out soon. And from the videos RIM is flashing on the net on it, it may just be awesome.

    Blackberry has also made some touchscreen devices in the past. The original Blackberry Storm and the Storm 2. Though it didn’t catch on. With the new OS 6, maybe Blackberry would be ripe for the full market amd not just the enterprise world. But BB adoption is still catching on.

  5. As regards tethering using the BB, we have the following contradictory advice :-

    Yomi Adegboye said: Vanchi, If you are subscribed to a BlackBerry service, yes. If however you are using a generic data plan, you do not get compression.

    divine logix/DOM said: @vanchi you’ll be advised not to use your BIS/BES as a modem unless you have a standard dataplan outside of both.

    My instincts tend to go with Yomi on this

    I would however appreciate if divine logix/DOM would exoatiate on why he said this..

    if extreme data compression is intrinsic to the BIS, why that advice?

  6. Let me add my own 2 cents, i use my blackberry with t-mobile here in the states, not too familiar with bb service in Nigeria, but to the person that asked a question tethering, i use an app called pdanet for tether and I just use from the pool of data allowance that tmobile offers, so my guess is that if zain or whoever in Nigeria offers 1g included in your bb plan, then you should be able to tether with that, unless there are some hidden rules that says otherwise, please advise for those familiar with the blackberry service in NIGERIA.

  7. @EyeBeeKay @quam: Yomi is right. If you have a BlackBerry on BIS/BES you can tether. You can tether even if you don’t have an active BIS/BES plan. Whether or not your tethering will come off your BIS/BES subscription depends on the Network Policies of your Carrier. Always check with them.

    In the UK my network, 3UK allow this [your tethering comes off your BIS/BES plan]. In Nigeria, MTN [my BlackBerry service provider] does not [& they don’t explicitly indicate this, their bad]. In Canada, Rogers charges an extra fee to allow this [it’s not so much].

    I’m quite sure this’ll be the same [not allowing tethering as part of BIS/BES] with Glo/Etisalat & Zain. Always check or you’ll experience “Bill Shock!”

    Tethering can be provisioned manually if you’re familiar with modem setup procedures/modem connect codes/command strings.

    You could also use 3rd party applications, or you could use the BlackBerry’s Desktop Manager application for PCs [there’s one also for the Mac but I’ve never used that. Double check if the tethering function is present].

    I hope I’ve answered clearly? If no, give me a comment-shout again.

    Quick word: Kudos to Mobility Nigeria. I like what you guys are doing.

  8. @Afewgoodmen remember Windows Phone 7 is also coming. My colleague was at the last Windows Phone 7 developer conference in London & he’s of the opinion that’s it’s a game changer so you might want to see that before committing to BlackBerry OS 6.

    I’ll be upgrading my phone [9000/5.0.0.681] in December & I’m pretty open so far, platform-wise.

  9. @quam

    I checked it out, but i saw the clause below.
    Note: Once trial expires, you can continue using PdaNet for free but it will show a nagging screen once a while.

    That should not be a prob anyway. I will sure try it on a friend’s BB soon.

    I guess this is on of the reasons why Android claims superiority because Andriod is the only platform that allows both USB tethering and Mobile Wifi hotspot (Froyo).

    Nice Job.

    1. bosun99uk,

      Android is certainly not the only platform that supports both USB tethering and Wifi mobile hotspot. I know for a fact that Symbian, Windows mobile and Maemo all support USB tethering and wifi mobile hotspot. I have used all three platforms for those services and they work fine.

      Even BB supports tethering via the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. It can just be a little tricky.

      Android has no superiority over many mobile OS on that point.

  10. @Yomi

    Yes you are right they all support it, it can be done but how easy for the non geek.

    Am quite familiar with USB /& Bluetooth tethering for these platforms but I still have not seen a platform that supports it the way Froyo does, just go to the phone setting from your mobile and you can enable USB tethering / Mobile Wifi hotspot (the main thing).

    You dont need to use any application, hack,modify or void your warranty to have it.

    To be candid,other platforms are really wonderful in USB tethering , but for Mobile Wifi hotspot straight from the box, Something close is EVO 4G. Other platforms certainly have it but not as easy as Froyo does and not both USB tethering and Mobile Wifi hotspot straight from the box.

  11. bosun99uk, I agree with you. The way tethering and mobile hotspot (wifi) is implememnted with Android (Froyo) can not be matched by other mobile OSes. You do not need to be a Geek or buy a third person application to create a hotspot using Android Froyo.

  12. Guys,

    The ease of use is not a question of whether or not the application is built-in. It is in how user-friendly the app is designed to function.

    Anyone who can use a built-in application can use a 3rd party application. The only extra step is probably that others have to find and install the apps first, while on Android the features are built-in.

    I have found using USB tethering and Wifi hotspot on the mobile platforms that I listed above easy and straightforward.

    PS: If you want us to compare further (as this is an article about BlackBerry, not USB tethering and Wifi hotspot), do open a thread in the forum and let’s compare the steps required to get these functions working on these various platforms.

  13. I also have a htc hd2 and it is windows based and the tethering on it, is the easiest that I have ever seen even easier in my opinion than the android phones

    @bosun99uk, you can either pay after the trial ends or just deal with the occasional pop up that appears on your screen, i just deal with it.

  14. I’ve got a HTC Desire on MTN Nigeria. I am on post paid and this means i only connect to the Internet from my office WLAN. MTN offers only the 15k/kbyte for data service on their post paid platform. I wonder if subscribing to their BB / BIS (at N5000/month) would allow me to get a 1G data allowance on my Desire so i can make the most of the wonderful fone.

  15. @Tai
    That is a nice Desire you have, but I doubt if you can get BIS to work on it. I once tried it with a nokia phone and my 5k was just deducted but i was lucky to get a refund later after several complains. MTN said our BIS only works with BB phones please. Do you know what i did i bought a small phone and dumped the MTN line into it , and got an Etisalat sim for my phone. If you want to do the 5K a month you should check out Glo 5k for 1.5GB on 3.5G which looks like the best around(this is my plan for my upgrade for this fall)

  16. @Bosun99uk
    Glo’s 5k for 1.5GB, as well as their other High Speed Internet packages, does not only work on 3.5G, it works on EDGE as well as even GPRS. The only difference should be in the speed of the various platforms. They work both on phone as well as ur computers. They are indeed the best packages around.

  17. @ bosun99uk
    Thanks for the tip. I guess i’d have to jettison the idea and use my desire at 20% capacity. I dont like the idea of carrying multiple fones and most of my friends are used my fone number already. I suppose i’d have to wait for number portability then ..

  18. Hello,

    I’m new here and quite enjoyed this write-up. I only just got bitten by the BB bug and intend to get one soon. Specifically the Curve kepler (9300) whenever it hits the stores here in Nigeria. I’d like to know; are your phones covered by warranty? and when do you think you’ll have the 9300 for sale?

    Thanks

  19. Ma’am Dee,

    Welcome! Yes; our brand new phones are covered by manufacturer’s warranty, meaning any faults are referred to the manufacturer’s service centre or representative.

    Used phones are sold as-is.

    On availability of the BB 9300 and any other phone, please bookmark and keep checking our phone store.

    Cheers.

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