Tuesday 24 October 2017

Adrian Weckler: Why it's time to swap your BlackBerry for a better alternative

The outdated IT favourite has lost its appeal

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - the best business smartphone on the market at present.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - the best business smartphone on the market at present.
Nokia's Lumias are regarded as the up-and-comers
iPhone 5
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

IT'S time to ditch your work-issued BlackBerry. It's not just that the company is in its death throes again, with new stock slumps. It's not just that shops are starting to slash prices to dump unsold stock again (retailers like The Carphone Warehouse don't bother stocking most BlackBerrys anymore).

It's that there are now simply better alternatives out there for non tech-orientated executives. (See alternative smartphones panel, below.)

When it comes to BlackBerry, some hard truths abound. BlackBerry is a byword for obsolete technology.

Even BlackBerry's remaining core customers – teenagers who can't afford an iPhone, and middle-aged wrinklies who hate change – admit this.

As a brand concept, owning a BlackBerry sits up there with using a 'pager' or a fax machine. You're sometimes forced to do it. But it doesn't leave you feeling good.

Anyone who plonks their BlackBerry on the table at a business meeting is either blissfully ignorant of business sartoriality or is proud to be a luddite.

But it isn't just a fashion thing. Ordinary activities such as accessing business-critical information online is still a poor experience with most BlackBerry devices. Try accessing your Salesforce customer stats on your BlackBerry. Or downloading the latest business app. Or checking an online financial news service. (In fact, many services no longer bother producing versions for BlackBerrys.)

So anyone who tells you that iPhones and Androids are just 'fashion statements' rather than effective business tools is simply a fool.

And yet, BlackBerrys do have some redeeming features. For all their untrendiness, the handsets are still designed with security as a premium feature. This is one reason why IT department managers still like them (as long as they don't have to use them themselves).

Indeed, the Government's newly appointed chief information officer, Bill McCluggage, has told the Irish Independent in this section that he has left the door open for BlackBerry deployment in government ministries and departments.

Also, for groups using BlackBerry, the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service (a sort of online texting system, similar to Whatsapp or iMessage) is an excellent, cost-effective tool.

Finally, the new touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 model is a fairly nicely designed device that switches between 'work' and 'personal' modes handily.

But that's about all you can say, really.

For most business people, the BlackBerry is dead. Replacing it comes down to a mixture of iPhones (older people and beginners), Androids (more tech-savvy, demanding executives) and Windows Phone (corporate IT department issued phones).


Three Business-Friendly Alternative Smartphones To The BlackBerry

1. Samsung Galaxy Note 2

This is the best business smartphone on the market at present, for three reasons. First, it has (by far) the best battery life on the market: no power crises by 4pm with this handset. Second, its large (5.5-inch) screen makes it a brilliant email device. Third, its stylus pen is genuinely handy for scribbling notes on. It’s popular, too, with well over 10 million devices sold.

Price: from free on contract with all operators


2. iPhone 5

The phone that most BlackBerry users are switching to. The iPhone has built up a head of steam with corporate IT departments, for three main reasons. First, it’s acknowledged as a beginner smartphone, which suits senior fifty and sixty something executives. Second, it’s manageable, company-wide, from a security perspective. Third, it has more business apps available than rival phones.

Price: from free on contract with all operators


3. Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia’s Lumias are regarded as the up-and-comers in the corporate smartphone space. They use Windows Phone as opposed to Android or (Apple’s) iOS interface. That means that they are designed to synchronise better than rivals with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Exchange, still a mainstay of Irish corporations. Despite fewer apps than rival phones, the Lumia 920 is well designed and performs well.

Price: from free on contract with all operators

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