iphone-blackberry-070724Yes, I did it. I’m a recent Blackberry-to-iPhone convert. The transition has been both exhilarating and disappointing. Make no mistake. I loved using my BlackBerry and though my 30-day iPhone 3GS trial is over I do find comfort in knowing that using a BB device was a smart personal and business decision… two years ago.

So what happened? Why move from a decent wireless provider and mobile device that’s been historically reliable and transition to “The Darkside?”  While not proper, I’ll answer in the interrogatory:        “Have you actually used both a BlackBerry and an iPhone?”   

Justification for the iPhone 3GS:

  1. Cost  The day I switched to an iPhone I started saving money. While AT&T and VerizonWireless devices and calling plans are pretty similar on paper, the additional fees necessary to make the VerizonWireless Blackberry compatible for my business use weren’t tolerable. For instance, Blackberry Exchange Server (BES) support thru a 3rd-party provider was an additional $38 per month, and VerizonWireless charged $60 per month fee for accessing the RIM service. With my iPhone, Exchange Server support is $3.00 per month, and I now pay a $30 per month AT&T data access fee.
  2. Rollover minutes  From month to month, I never used all of the allotted minutes in my VerizonWireless calling plan and any unused minutes were credited back to my carrier… not too me.
  3. Poor In-store customer service  after enduring 8 years of VerizonWireless in-store attitudes of arrogance and long lines, I broke beneath the torture I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had a business account and yet, no one treated me as if I’m running a business! I’m spending almost $200 a month (or approximately $20,000 over the last 8 years.) Moreover, my individual lifetime value as a VerizonWireless customer exceeded $120,000 and should I add on other employees or family members who use the same services. I’m a $1M customer!!! (No wonderthere are so many mobile phone vendor booths setup at the mall.)
  4. Applications  For months I’ve sat in airports, trains, seminars, and in social gatherings watching people move their fingers across the face of their iPhone devices and I became curious: What the heck can an iPhone do that I can’t do with my BB device?  So I asked a business colleague to give me a personal demo and he chuckled and asked “are you sure you can handle it?”  (I hate sarcasm) but after the 15-minutes zipping thru his iPhone apps and basic device functionality, I was blown away. The phone worked as expected, but it was the easy-to-read screen, logical layout, and several cool apps for just about anything you can imagine that made a big impression. In the end, I came away from the encounter feeling uncomfortable. Why? I had just experienced a demo that upset my sense of intellectual confidence and knowledge. Certainly, I couldn’t have been wrong about paying so much for so long for my Blackberry when other less-expensive and functionally better options were available?  (Answer: Yes, dumb-a@# you’d blown it.) Today, I’m soooo pleased with my transition I can barely stand it. But remember, where there’s green grass… there’s dirt underneath.

Warnings & Trade-offs in the Transition

  1. You will miss your trackball and the feel of the BB keys and buttons. Entering characters into the iPhone will initially be much slower and take some getting used to. Just as importantly, I became so comfortable with my BB keypad that I could text or write emails without looking at the screen. Those days are over with the iPhone 3GS virtual keyboard.
  2. 3G Network – The VerizonWireless commercial pertaining to the size of their 3G Network is true. However, with my previous service I wasnt able to receive or make calls from my basement home-office. So far, my AT&T iPhone 3G reception at in my basement office is awesome and my calls are clear everywhere Ive been. However, I’m quite certain that there may be some local Washington DC-Baltimore metro locations where the service won’t be great and I must admit I have some anxiety about finding out where there when I need to make or receive an important call.)
  3. iPhone Durability  –These devices aren’t built ruggedly and one cannot buy an insurance plan for the iPhone device that covers damage to the large screen. So, the 1st thing you’ll want to do is to purchase a screen protector AND a protective case/sleeve to insulate your device from the inevitable drop. This issue alone was almost a show-stopper for me.
  4. Battery Life  My Blackberry sipped power for all-day usage and if I was remote to power, I’d simply drop in a pre-charged spare battery. The iPhone battery can’t be swapped out, and my iPhone 3GS guzzles battery power. In fact, I took it into the Apple Store to have it examined and the tech rep said “this is normal use sir.” It seems the biggest battery resource hog is the large LCD touch screen. The iPhone specs state 10 hours of battery usage, but my experience has been it lasts about 7 depending upon talk-time. So it may be wise to keep your charger close-by, or as a precaution when driving, get in the habit of keeping it plugged in to the car charger (accessory) to ensure it’ll be available when you need it.

In the end, whatever your choice, both the BlackBerry and iPhone 3GS will probably address most business needs and with the introduction of other devices (like the Droid) you’re certain to have your basic wireless mobile device and service requirements addressed. Inevitably we all struggle to find the facts that support our emotional buying decisions… it’s just that I admit it. 🙂

Your comments and questions are welcome!

-Christopher Bell, III