Think Different

OK…, the New York Times managed to push my buttons. I’ve religiously avoided the fanboy debates about this mobile phone vs. that mobile phone, but an article published in the October 16th NYT did manage to annoy me.

The article reports on a woman at an “upscale” country club who asked the concierge for a phone charger, and was told that they didn’t have one for the Blackberry. Really? This “upscale” country club doesn’t have USB chargers? You know…, the chargers used on Blackberry, Samsung, Motorola, and most Android phones?

Another interview tells the tale of a Blackberry “user” who apparently can’t figure out how to use the built in mapping software OR Google maps. A third user complained that the battery died while using the web browser. (Word to the wise. The symbol in the upper left corner will tell you whether your battery has a charge!)

Allow me to introduce myself…, a 60 year old geek who wrote his first software in the early 80’s. My first mobile phone was carried on the back of a burro, and the airtime was more than a dollar a minute. I’ve owned PC’s, Macs, and Linux machines…, and I currently make my living as an Internet consultant.

My Blackberry has been dropped, kicked, submerged, frozen, and otherwise brutalized. I’ve used it to fix a broken website from a hockey arena in Copenhagen, and picked up sports scores in the basement at my brother’s place where other mobile phones can’t find a signal. Nothing fazes it.

I can respond quickly to multiple emails using a real keyboard rather than a self “collecting” touchscreen. (Yeah I don’t like autocorrect.) I like getting off a plane in a new country and having my phone say “Welcome, here’s what happened in the last 6 hours”. I like all my email showing up in a single accessable area. I like using my phone to run presentation software. I like it that my phone can successfully communicate with websites using cookie passwords without requiring a reboot and reconfiguration. I like that a Blackberry will connect with a hidden Wifi network. I like that my Playbook connects through my phone account.

I suppose it would be fun to have a recipe app on my phone, but it’s not something that I’ve missed. They’ve built an Internet that is full of apps and information, and if I need a recipe I’ll connect to the Net. If your recipe app is really cool, perhaps you’ll let me borow your iPhone to see it. You can borrow my Blackberry to get your email in Belarus.

I will agree that RIM has messed up something really important…, marketing. It astonishes me that Apple is introducing an Ipad Mini that mimics part of the functionality of my 2 year old Playbook, and that gets called “cool”. Now if Apple would only add HDMI, a higher res camera, 1080p video front/rear, a speaker, Flash capable browser, and seamless integration with their mobile phone, that would be a product. Oh wait…, it is a product, a Blackberry Playbook.

Blackberry simply has to do a better job of explaining their product as a workhorse and tool.

For many years, almost all commercial photographers used the venerable Hasselblad 500CM as the “go to” camera for commercial work. It wasn’t the fastest or coolest camera on the block. It simply did its job flawlessly, and repeatably, and that’s the reason professionals used them. Years ago, Apple ran a series of “Think Different” commercials as they tried to claw back from the brink. It’s time for RIM to “Think Different” and get aggressive about explaining the advantages of their products.

Are you listening Thorsten?