Travel Insider readers were
invited to send in comments, via a special survey, about their
own experiences using Blackberry devices, as well as their
experiences with other devices.
Although most readers wrote in
with comments about their Blackberry, a surprisingly large
number of readers also had Treo units - the Treo 600, 650 and/or
the newest Treo 700 - slightly more than one Treo unit for every
Various other devices
were also reported upon, but none of these other units had any
significant share of readers.
General User Satisfaction
Treo users were
significantly more satisfied, overall, than were Blackberry
users. 88% of Treo users considered themselves very
satisfied, compared to 59% of Blackberry users. No Treo
users scored themselves as somewhat or very dissatisfied,
whereas 7% of Blackberry users considered themselves somewhat or
most users were generally satisfied with their units, they gave
lower scores to a question about how well their unit met their
This would imply that users
had higher expectations prior to purchasing their
units, and while they are satisfied with what the units can do,
they had hoped for them to be even better than they are.
Treo users reported slightly
better scores for having their expectations met.
Both Blackberry and Treo
users were similarly pleased with the extra productivity their
devices gave them. Although Treo users were slightly the
more enthusiastic, scoring higher in the 'Much more productive'
category, the total of 'much more' or 'somewhat more' scores
were almost identical for both types of unit, with close on 92%
of users in both cases perceiving their units as having boosted
Only a very few Blackberry
users reported a decrease in productivity, and no Treo users had
a similar experience.
Ease of Learning
This question clearly
revealed the Achilles Heel of the Blackberry units - the
difficulty in mastering them.
On the other hand, the much
better score achieved by the Treo units shows that it should be
possible for Blackberry to design a more intuitive interface, and/or to provide
better training tools.
Only 33% of Blackberry users
found their units very easy to learn, compared to 54% of Treo
users. At the other end of the scale, 22% of Blackberry
users reported problems in getting up to speed with their units,
compared to 12% of Treo users.
Analysis of Survey Scores
Considering these four
results plus the other results and comments in the survey (some
of which are quoted here), it
seems clear that Blackberry's past market leader position is now under
Users of new devices such as
the Cingular 8125 (and the same unit sold by other companies
under other names), the Nokia E61, the Motorola Q and other
similar units, would commonly report that these new devices
were superior to their past experiences with a Blackberry
device. And the apparent number two player, Treo, while
having a smaller market share seems to provide a better product
as measured by user satisfaction.
It may well be that Research
in Motion (RIM), the company that makes the Blackberry units,
has been paralyzed for the last year or two while fighting its
patent lawsuit. But now this issue has been resolved, it
will need to act quickly to update both the hardware it
designs/manufactures and the software that runs on that
hardware. If it does not, it can expect to suffer
continued losses in market share.
The original unique features
of the Blackberry units - the 'push' email and the dedicated
unit - are no longer unique. Other companies such as
Goodlink now offer similar push email service and there are
plenty of other units with a similar design and functionality to
the Blackberry unit.
The growing weakness on the
part of Blackberry has to be massively exacerbated by
Microsoft's increasing interest in mobile phone/PDA units, and
their development of a mobile phone operating system (a
variation on their standard Windows OS). While by all
accounts, to date, Microsoft has yet to develop a category
killer, if one looks at Microsoft's past record of dominating
the markets it chooses to enter, there's every reason to suspect
that in a few more versions time, the MS platform based products
may eclipse Blackberry entirely.
In that context, it is also
interesting to note that the Palm Treo seems to be migrating
from its earlier Palm OS to the new Windows OS; while the first
results of marrying Palm hardware to the Microsoft OS have been
mixed, this too can be expected to improve.
Blackberry phones remain the
market leader in the field of offering a handheld device to
access and manage your email, along with assorted other PDA and
phone type functions.
Although difficult to learn,
the results of investing some time in getting familiar with the
unit seems to justify the time spent learning.
But if you're considering
buying your first Blackberry type unit, it might pay to consider
new competing products that can offer the same or possibly even
better functionality, with a more user friendly interface.
Part 2 of a three part
series on Blackberry and other personal email units - please
Blackberry 8700 review
2. Reader survey results on
personal email units
3. Reader feedback
and comments/suggestions about Blackberry, Treo, and other
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4 August 2006, last update
21 Jul 2020
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