RIM is no stranger to bad press. When the whole blogosphere is counting down the days until they die, you know something is wrong. I’ve been using BlackBerry for a few years now. As much as I love the phone, there are lots of things about it that I can’t stand. A brief history. my first real smart phone was an Android and I decided to try out BlackBerry. I’ve used it for the past few years and although things have gone relatively smooth, there are still issue about this phone that bugs me. The browser sucks, the phone is slow to boot, I need to reboot after every app I install or remove, the app world sucks, and watching that spinning clock makes me want to throw the phone at my wall. Enough rambling, let’s get this down on a nice list.
1. The Browser sucks!
2. Long Reboots
I dread seeing app updates available for my phone. You would think this is very convenient that you get a message in your inbox reminding you of app updates but what this really means is enduring another long reboot. My computer takes less than a minute to boot up, why does my phone take 11 minutes to boot up? Yes, I’ve timed it. Even then, I still have to wait for the phone to become usable as the system hangs and verify security. Sometimes, I would wait for a bunch of updates to build up and install them all at once. Then I would reboot the device once instead of doing it each and every time I update an app. The long reboots are required for app updates, installations, and removals. The process reminds me of those long anti-virus/malware scans I used to endure when I was using Windows. I didn’t miss it when I went to Linux and I wouldn’t miss it if this hassle went away. On Android, when you install apps, you can use it right away without rebooting. Same for removing them. BB10 is supposed to unify the smart phone with the QNX PlayBook OS and you don’t have to reboot after installing apps so until then, this is something that sucks about BlackBerry.
3. App World and App Selection
Let’s face it. The App World sucks. Android and iOS have a larger library of apps compare to BlackBerry App World. They always seem to be talking about a milestone which is currently over 70k apps but I don’t see them. Most of the apps on the App World are garbage. I came from Android and they are not immune to trash either but where are the good apps? Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me how many apps are in xyz store. What I am looking for is quality apps. I’m looking for Skype, Netflix, HuluPlus. You know, the big names. Too often I hear about a cool new app and they offer a mobile app. “Download for iPhone or Android.” Where’s BlackBerry? Is this necessarily a fault of RIM? Yes and no. While it’s not technically RIM’s fault that people don’t develop apps for the platform, us end users don’t really care. We just want the apps. When we open the App World and can’t find Skype, we don’t think, “Man, Skype should make an app for BlackBerry or the PlayBook.” No. We think, “Why isn’t there any apps on BlackBerry App World? What is RIM doing about it?” I hate the App World. If I hear about a cool new app, I can count that it won’t be available on BlackBerry.
4. Stale Phones
Pretty much all BlackBerry smart phones aside from the Storm/Torch/Style are the same. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. RIM found a formula that works for them and the keyboard is iconic to the BlackBerry image. The problem with that is people are getting bored. They want something different. I believe what RIM is suffering from is happening to Apple. After years of the same thing, same style, and same phone, people will look for something new. It happened(is happening) to RIM and it’s happening to Apple. Just look at what people are saying about the iPhone, 3G, 3GS, 4, and 4S. I will say Apple is executing things a bit better than RIM. All their phones are good when they come out. RIM tends to spread themselves thin with lots of variations especially cheaper entry-level phones like the Curve. Don’t get me wrong. I have the Curve and it’s a decent phone but I always have Bold envy when I see it. iPhone users enjoy having a great product because they know their phones were top of the line at one time. They are never treated as second class. Cheaper phones are good for market penetration in developing countries but I live in the US. I don’t care about marketing strategies in India and Africa. Most iPhone users have a sense of pride when owning their phones. Once upon a time, BlackBerry users had this feeling too. Not anymore.
5. 1 Convenience Key?
It appears when they are moving in the right direction, you catch them taking one step backwards. One of those nice little “perks” about owning a BlackBerry was the convenience keys. On older BlackBerry phones, you had two, one on each side. One is usually automatically set up for the camera and the other is set up for voice commands(that sucks). You could set these convenience keys to quickly open up your favorite apps or in my case, turn on the flashlight for those time when I needed some light. Quick, convenient and cool. Tell me why in their infinite wisdom that they decided to remove 1 convenience key? Why? What was the point? Did people have too many keys to press? I can tell you from my experience that 1 in not enough. It’s little things like these that piss off your users.
6. Poor Media
From my understanding, BlackBerry smart phones, in general, are not very good phones for media consumption. Now, I say “from my understanding” because when it comes to music, my Curve rocks. Maybe because my Curve has these sweet media keys at the top of the phone. I can play/pause, and seek tracks easily without having to open the music interface. These keys even work for Pandora radio. Every other BlackBerry do not have these media keys and navigating the media player can be a hassle. Not to mention if you want to view videos, you’ll have to settle with the usually small screens. This makes consuming any rich video media a pain like watching YouTube.
7. Small Screens
While Android and iPhone users get to enjoy their large touchscreens, BlackBerry users are still stuck using screens about half their size. There are some exceptions like the Torch line and the now dead Storm but for the most part, a small screen over a full QWERTY keyboard is what we get. Today, multimedia, web browsing, and gaming are big parts of what most use their smart phones for. Doing that on a screen half as large is twice as inconvenient. It’s a general trend that most people prefer using a phone with a full size screen rather than a full size keyboard. The convenience of a larger screen outweighs the lack of a physical keyboard for the average consumer. This is especially true with the growing popularity of HD media. Smart phone trends say, “small screens are out, large screens are in.”