Thoughts on Blackberry, Android and Windows Mobile

Three smart phonesMy work issued device is Blackberry and it has been since the original LCD RIM devices.  My personal phone is currently Palm Pro with Windows Mobile.  For the past few weeks and months, I’ve been using the Android O/S on a Google Nexus One.  Which is better? This reminds me of MS Word vs WordPerfect, and Apple vs PC arguments.  The answer is clearly: It depends.

Blackberry is clearly message-based operating system for corporate users.  They have it down pat to where other are not just there, especially when used in corporate environment and Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES).  As another reviewer accurately pointed out, Blackberry is business device and business users are tied to real keyboard.  With the exception of the Storm, Blackberry has kept the keyboard and avoided the touch screen.  Nothing suits me better than real keyboard when I’m thumbing out message.  The simple feature of predicting where to file message is also very helpful and prevents lot of scrolling when you’re as uptight about message filing as am.  Finally, the Blackberry has the best battery management of any device, and the magnet in the holster to lock the device on holstering is wonderful to prevent “butt dialing”.  And you know what mean because you’ve done it too.  The devices are rock solid and have held up to many bumps and crashes with breaking; nice characteristic when considering them for disaster field use.  The downside is that surfing the internet with the Blackberry is still cumbersome.  The application library – while growing – seems to fall short compared to Google and Apple.

Running Windows Mobile on Palm Pro is handy when looking for consistency between the desktop computer and the device.  This is favorable trait when transitioning someone into the world of smart phone.  There is still the windows program menu to find the applications.  The Palm Pro should be great hybrid of real keyboard and touch screen.  Users can type messages on the keyboard but still use finger and say “that”.  My wife really liked her Sprint Mogul (an HTC device) on the Windows, and was annoyed when moved her to Blackberry Tour.  What has been bugging me is the downsides to both the O/S and the device.  The keyboard lock is unlocked by the center button so I’m always finding it in an unlocked state when pull it out of the holster.  The button on the top where the key board lock should be actually turned the phone’s radio off.  I’ve gone for hours wonder why nobody has emailed or called before noticing it.  To top it all off, there is no way to turn the device off – like full power off – short of removing the battery.

The Google Android O/S on the Nexus One has been refreshing after using the other operating systems for so long.  I can see why the iPhone is so popular given the roughly similar form factor and function.  The arranging of widgets and icons right on the home screen is easy.  It is also nice that the home screen is really five panes wide so there is plenty of room to sort and organize.  Despite being new, there seems to be growing number of applications.  Many are just ported over from the iPhone version but that’s ok as it bulks out the application library.

Android’s nifty feature is the speech to text on many text boxes.  If you don’t feel like typing, just say it.  The feature does need an internet connection to work.  Typing becomes challenge for me on touch screen.  My fingers are little larger and I’m used to the tactile feel of the keys.  Not the vibration when touch the key, but instead the sensation of actually touching the key.  Not knowing where my fingers hit the touch screen, I’m constantly touching the key below the one shoot for.  I apparently don’t type with the tips of my fingers but the pads of my fingers.  Go figure. 

Google Android has clearly learned from all the O/S’s on the market, and Windows Mobile will have hard time catching up without significant departure from their current model.  Sprint has new Android device by HTC with full size touch screen and slide out keyboard.  That may be the way to go for personal phone. 

So what would buy? The Blackberry’s message handling features and tight integration with the BES make it clear choice for business users.  Windows Mobile may be tighter with the Exchange server in some offices, but think the shortcomings of message handling leave enough to be desired that I’ll stick with Blackberry.  Business users want mobile messaging device to organize their jaunts away from the desktop computer.  Touch screen devices still reside on the consumer side of the market.  People who want Swiss army knife will like the ability to have the entire side of the phone be screen and not give up real estate to keyboard.  Consumers want an internet access device that operates in lieu of going to their desktop.  They’re texting, tweeting, facebook status updating and using the internet access.  Email is just one.  Being two-phone person, I’ll continue with foot on both sides of the market Now what phone service to use? Well, that’s another thought entirely.