BlackBerry vs Palm – UI Choices

The BlackBerry interface is unapologetically a :scare: power user :/scare: interface. Much of the functionality is only available through keyboard shortcuts or the click wheel (not immediately apparent via buttons, etc.). In contrast, the Palm OS presents almost all of its functionality in on-screen buttons – eschewing menus for the most part.

Once you take make the investment to learn it, you’ll enjoy the BlackBerry’s more efficient screen usage. Google Maps for the BlackBerry 8700 is a great example of this. The entire screen is used to display maps – no buttons, menus, etc. (though overlays are presented in “directions” mode).

I believe that BlackBerry has gotten away with this interface design style choice in part because the majority of their customers are corporate users. They don’t have to sell each user, they sell the company and the company provides the device to the user.

In contrast, the Treo has been a consumer device which has moved into the enterprise. The initial ease of use of the Palm OS helped sell individual consumers on the device.

Now that BlackBerry is creating more consumer direct devices and the Treo is being billed more as a business tool, I’m curious if their respective user interface styles will also begin to converge a little more.