Ed Hardy of Brighthand published an editorial documenting the surprisingly rapid growth in Research in Motion BlackBerry shipments in recent quarters. I've been working with a RIM BlackBerry 7230 for the past few weeks, and I can see why people are buying them. One reason why is that the 7200 series handsets are much less expensive than the smartphones that are most similar to it, particularly the palmOne Treo 600. You can buy a 7230 with a new service contract, load up on lots of accessories, and still save money versus the Treo.
One surprising fact that Ed Hardy pointed out is that BlackBerries outsold palmOne Treos by more than a three to one margin in the second quarter of 2004. RIM sold only 4 percent fewer handhelds than Hewlett-Packard during that period. Most people who follow the traditional PDA business will probably be surprised to read this.
The BlackBerry 7230 is a great mobile email device, particularly if you are a business user and your company has made a commitment to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. In speaking with Research in Motion employees yesterday, I learned that they are making strides toward supporting Small Businesses and individual users, with services like the BlackBerry Web Client. I will make an effort to discuss solutions for these emerging BlackBerry markets in future articles.
A lot of photos I see of models using BlackBerries as mobile phones make the handsets look absolutely huge. These photos are designed to show as much of the face of the device to the camera as possible. So, the models hold the handsets against their ears at very unnatural angles. When I use the BlackBerry 7230, it doesn't look huge when I hold it to my ear. The handset is a little bigger than the palm of my hand, and that size pays off because the large color display is very useful for composing emails and viewing websites.
A big reason that people considering the purchase of a smartphone ought to look at a BlackBerry is that the handsets are extremely stable. I've never seen the 7230 that I am using now crash, and I think that the BlackBerry model I carried in the Mobitex days was more reliable than any of my other electronic devices of that period.
Stability of the device is often an afterthought when people buy their first smartphones. But, I've learned many lessons in this regard. I went through four or five palmOne Treo 180s in the last couple of years. The reason each of them eventually gave up the ghost was either because of electronic instability or physical fragility. That's why so many second and third-generation smartphones are not flip phones.
RIM has very sturdy designs that are surprisingly ergonomic. The electronics and software inside seem much more stable than many competitors' products.
These are a few of the reasons that RIM is growing more quickly than its competition. I expect this trend to continue for a while, particularly if RIM succeeds in reaching out to small businesses and individual customers.