You may have heard that there was a serious BlackBerry outage this week, millions of people were unable to get email or browse the web [corrected] on their CrackBerrys for several hours, causing some consternation amongst the addicts:
For Blackberry users, Monday left us feeling like a toddler with no Spongebob. Thought of “Why! Why?” and “What in the world is going on!” flowed through our heads. We cried to each other, and to those who could have cared less, and waited it out (as we had no other choice) and hoped for the best.
The worst part was twofold - as the above article claims, RIM wasn't immediately forthcoming about the problem. When they did let us in on what happened, it was the same thing that happened last April, a software upgrade gone wrong, a problem they promise would never happen again.
Of course, I did a little personal crowing about the entire situation. Turns out that I'm not the only one who had that thought, as Palm has launched what can only be called a multimedia, Simpsons-character-Nelson-style “HA HA!” directed at RIM. Though it rings a little tinny to CrackBerry fans, I find it hilarious.
First up - a new front page graphic at Palm.com and a New York Times full page ad to go with it. “Palm Smartphones include voice, email, text, Web, calendar and contacts ...And most importantly, uptime.” Take a close look at this picture of their NYT ad: “Has anyone heard from out West Coast team? Anyone? Anyone?” ...It must have taken a firm resolve not to add “Bueller?” at the end of that.
Now the hilarious graphic at top, from Palm's new “No Middleware” information page on the benefits on an Exchange Server.
Now, there are a few benefits to having a Network Operations Center handle everything - namely it takes some work off of the shoulders of IT folks and end users. It's a philosophy I don't ascribe to, however. Were my Exchange server to go down (it happens), I could call up the person in charge of it and ream him out directly, not wait for a faceless giant to clue me in. It ties in very directly with my thoughts on the BlackBerry during the Smartphone Round Robin (First Look and Final Thoughts), where I hijacked Umberto Eco's comparison of Macs and PCs for the purpose of comparing Windows Mobile to BlackBerrys:
In this case, the Catholic smartphone is the BlackBerry, the Protestant Smartphone is Windows Mobile. Basically, the BlackBerry takes all the work of setting email up and moves onto the priests of BlackBerry - the BIS servers.
The benefit of having a 3rd party company handle your email pushing is, as I said, getting work off your shoulders. Here's the thing, though, that work is getting much much easier for both IT pros and for end users. Microsoft is very close to perfecting their auto setup for Pocket Outlook and on the IT side, when then release Microsoft System Center, Mobile Device Manager 2008, they will have all the important management features of the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) and match its ease of use for people standardized on Microsoft tech. RIM will keep innovating, though, so there may always be an “this is easier on us” advantage to their NOC, but the ease-of-use margin is getting thinner, thin enough that a little something like a nationwide service outage might be enough to push some folks over.
At that point, there are only reasons I could see using BES:
- Lock in - you're already on BES and changing over to a full Exchange solution is a hassle
- You're not on Microsoft tech for your server and email solutions.
Microsoft really needs to address the 2nd reason someday -- offer a push email and management solution that's not dependent on Exchange servers. They never will, though, so we'll be depending on companies like Seven, Good, and, yes, RIM to fill that hole. As for the first reason, well, jump on in, kids, the water's fine. ;)
...Back to Palm - check out the chutzpah, right? Company's had all sorts of bad press lately, but despite all that they're unapologetic about the Treo and its capabilities. Sure, they've been all about the Centro as a low-end consumer device lately, but their Enterprise/power user Windows Mobile Treos are still pretty darn good, too, and they don't want us to forget it. Sure, they're not top-of-the-line (yet: the Treo 800w and the Drucker can't come fast enough), but they're solid devices. I still think that the Treo 750 has the best one-handed usability of any device out there by dint of its great keyboard and the ability to use a touchscreen when needed.
I'm not going to convince BlackBerry users of that, of course (check out the comments on our sister site, CrackBerry.com - where they posted about Palm's teasing), but that's alright. Next time (and there will be a next time) your Crackberrys are all cashed out I'll be standing over on the street corner with a WinMo device in my pocket. When you come over, shaking and needing a fix, I'll tell you the truth: Windows Mobile is a much more powerful hit.
So Bravo, Palm, for having the brains to add Windows Mobile to your Treo offerings way back when and for not being shy about its qualities now. Some haters are going to tell you that you should be one to talk after all the problems you've had in the past year or so. Don't listen to them, just put your energy into righting that ship and delivering unto us the Treo 800w and the Drucker postehaste.