The Consumer BlackBerry

I started the draft of this post back in May, and had this much written as a placeholder:

Exchange integration is always going to be easier for Windows Mobile. RIM should be working hard on making the BlackBerry work well with non-Microsoft server integration solutions.

My conclusion was also that RIM should strongly consider putting some of their focus on the consumer space, to regain customers they lose to the all Microsoft solution.

RIM has done this with the BlackBerry Pearl (8100), a well reviewed device that looks more like a phone than it does a BlackBerry. The leaked BlackBerry 88001 looks like a nice 8700 series successor, with the 8100 styling.

The next step for RIM in the consumer space is improving the integrations and user experience. Corporate folks love their BlackBerries because they Just Work™. The consumer BlackBerry needs to give the same experience.

For example, setting up a Gmail account on a BIS account is dead easy. Over the air sync with Google Calendar is another logical step – one that is being tackled here.

The PocketMac 4.0 release is a nice improvement for Mac users – basically it now has the basics that PocketMac should have had to begin with. I wonder if Mac users can expect more parity with the Windows tools in the future.

Working well with Zimbra is also something I think RIM should focus on as well. Right now, there is a $300/seat/year license cost to hook a BlackBerry up to a Zimbra server (through a third party). This makes the cost of a Zimbra account higher than the cost of an Exchange account. It’s hard to compete against an entrenched product by losing the pricing battle.

Back to my original point. Combine the challenge of working with a dozen or so carriers with a new foray into the consumer space and the struggle between features, time and stability… I bet there are some interesting conversations going on at RIM these days.

  1. I’ll reserve judgement on the keyboard until I can test it out, I know moving from the Treo keyboard to the BlackBerry 8700 keyboard was a big improvement. The 8800 keybaord looks more cramped like the Treo keyboard. [back]