Why do people buy Blackberries? As interpreted by CNN

Bateluer

Lifer
Jun 23, 2001
27,730
8
0
http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/mobile/08/04/blackberry.fans/index.html?hpt=C2

Some how I don't think the notification light is a valid reason for buying a Blackberry. Every phone that gets text messages has some kind of notification light. Definitely a Pavlovian response to them though, blinking light = check phone.

(CNN) -- It's the smartphone everyone owns -- and no one seems to like.

Peek into any executive conference room in America, and you're bound to see one -- or a dozen -- of these anachronistic smartphones: BlackBerrys, their keys clicking like rain on a tin roof. Those red lights flashing, training their owners to pick them up on a second's notice: An e-mail! A BBM! Answer me!

To owners of Android-based phones and the iPhone, particularly in the U.S., the BlackBerry is starting to look more than a little too old-school. These phones don't really run apps. They don't store much music. Their screens, in general, are much smaller than those of smartphone competitors, meaning it's difficult or impossible to browse the Web comfortably or watch online video.

A new BlackBerry phone -- the Torch -- was unveiled on Tuesday by maker Research In Motion. Even hard-core BlackBerry users don't seem that enthralled by it. Meanwhile, a survey released by the Nielsen Co. on Monday found the majority of U.S. BlackBerry owners -- 58 percent -- want to buy another kind of phone, usually an Android or iPhone, when they upgrade.

But here's the kicker: Despite the fact that the BlackBerry isn't hip, high-tech or cheaper than its main competitors, the phones are still the most popular (or at least the most common) in the U.S. market, and they're growing internationally.

So why do so many people still tolerate these phones?

It turns out, according to a handful of interviews with BlackBerry users, there are three basic reasons: People are addicted to the click-clacking keyboard; they love the blinking red light on the top, which alerts users to new messages; and many just happen to have the phone because it's required for work.

The click-clacking keyboard

Ask a BlackBerry user what they like about their phone, and they're bound to mention the keyboard. Ask them why that keyboard is so great, and they'll go into sensual detail about the click of the keys, how the buttons are raised just so and how the "shift" key -- oh, the shift key! -- is just as easy to use as those on a full-size computer keyboard.
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"The keyboard is definitely a hook for RIM, and it's interesting to see that the marketplace, in general, has conceded it to RIM," said Kevin Michaluk, founder of the BlackBerry fan website Crackberry.com. "Everyone sees the iPhone, and they think apps. And I think everyone sees a phone with a keyboard, and they think BlackBerry, whether it is or isn't."

This comes at a time when most smartphones -- including the iPhone -- are moving toward touch-screen-only interfaces, where users tap on glass to type instead of pecking away at tactile keys.

The details of how the BlackBerry keyboard feels are what make it addictive, said Nan Palmero, a writer for another fan site, BlackBerryCool.com.

"They really go to great lengths to raise plastic in certain ways on the keys," he said of the tactile keyboard's design. "They kind of describe it as guitar frets: Your hand naturally knows where to go and where to be."

Palmero said he can type up to 40 words per minute on his phone. Michaluk said he can hit 65. Neither has to look at the keyboard.

Kevin Kovanich, a 23-year-old BlackBerry user in Chicago, Illinois, who responded to a CNN Tech question about the phones on Twitter, said he loves that he can still "rock the keyboard" even though his thumbs are "larger than average."

"It is really nice how far the buttons stick up -- and you can really feel that click," he said. "It doesn't feel like you're making any mistakes ... no matter how big your fingers are."

That red light

On top of every BlackBerry, there's a little sliver of a red light, and it blinks at you when a new message or call comes in.

People get seriously addicted to that light, Michaluk said.

"You put a blinking red light on a device, and when that light blinks, you jump," he said. "It's Pavlovian training, right? For me, really, it's my connection to my people. And second, it's my connection to the world in terms of news and everything."

He added: "It's one of those things that always calls you back to your BlackBerry."

Of course, other phones have ways of alerting people to new messages, too, but none has the same feel as that BlackBerry light, users said.

Because it's businessy

The BlackBerry is the get-things-done phone.

It's not designed to run flashy applications, for playing games or for uploading pictures to Facebook and Twitter. It started out a business-minded device, and RIM has continued to market it as a business-friendly device, although recent ads have pitched it as a leisure phone for young multitaskers as well.

Part of the allure is that the BlackBerry is known for being secure. It encrypts messages, which makes business owners more comfortable giving the phones to their employees, who may share sensitive documents and e-mails over the phones.

This issue came into focus this week as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia threatened to stop BlackBerry service for this very reason: because they wanted to get inside private messages on the phones and couldn't.

Other smartphone operating systems,including iOS 4 from Apple, are trying to cater more to privacy-minded business clients, but overall they've been more focused on the consumer experience.

That image can work in BlackBerry's favor, writes Callie Schweitzer on a blog called Neon Tommy. She says the phone has a "mullet effect" in that it's "business in the front, party in the back."

"See someone typing away furiously on a Blackberry? They're probably sending a top-secret e-mail," she writes. "See someone intently focused on an iPhone? They're probably playing with the Bubblewrap or Lightsaber Unleashed apps. Regardless of what a Blackberry user is really doing, the phone itself just seems so much more straight-laced and serious than the iPhone."

Businesspeople also say BlackBerrys are just good for productivity.

Partly it's the keyboard. Partly is a range of shortcuts. But this no-frills phone has hooked many people in the bushiness world.

That includes Michaluk, who said he was given his first BlackBerry phone -- he called it "old blue" -- from an employer several years ago.

He's been hooked since.

"That thing was just a tank; it was ugly; it had that low-res, almost monochrome display. And that thing -- I just loved [it]," he said.
 

ObscureCaucasian

Diamond Member
Jul 23, 2006
3,934
0
0
They gave 3 reasons people have BBs:
1) Keyboard (eh can get that anywhere)
2) LED (WTF?)
3) They have to have them (Damn good reason to have one)
 

sjwaste

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
8,760
12
81
There aren't many corporate IT departments that don't prefer the BB, or as a fallback, WM. Having one because work gave it to you or because it's the only thing they'll allow to connect to the corp exchange server is a pretty strong factor.
 

RedRooster

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2000
6,596
0
76
Lots of large companies have invested a ton in BES. No reason to throw that away at this point, I have a feeling BB will be around for a loooong time in the corporate world. That's gotta be 3/4 of their client base right now, I don't know anyone who has one that isn't a "work" phone.
 

Demo24

Diamond Member
Aug 5, 2004
8,357
9
81
I see some around on campus but they are getting rarer. I suspect it was mostly bought for the keyboard and in general these days they aren't huge phones.
 

Phobic9

Golden Member
Apr 6, 2001
1,824
0
71
"Why do people read CNN?" is a question I'd ask. ;)

RIM/BlackBerry seem to be fading in the average consumer area, but they'll always have a place in the enterprise corporate world. I don't think there's anyone that'll dispute that really.
 

Phokus

Lifer
Nov 20, 1999
22,995
776
126
The red light thing is kinda cool i never knew about that, but wtf is up with the keyboard, it looks like a pain in the ass to use. I think the sideways slideout keyboards on other phones are much better for typing.
 

Spicedaddy

Platinum Member
Apr 18, 2002
2,305
75
91
They gave 3 reasons people have BBs:
1) Keyboard (eh can get that anywhere)
2) LED (WTF?)
3) They have to have them (Damn good reason to have one)

Have you ever owned a BB? Personally, I just went from an old Curve to an iPhone 4.

1) Definitely the best keyboards of all smartphones. The one on the Curve was excellent, and the one on the Bold is even better. I love my new iPhone, but there's no way I'll ever type as fast without making errors as I could on my BB.

2) Not all phones have one, and it's very useful when you leave your phone on a table/desk and don't hear it (or in silent mode).
 

SLCentral

Diamond Member
Feb 13, 2003
3,542
0
71
The LED is a DAMN good feature. I don't think its overappreciated at all. Throw on BerryBuzz, and you can get custom LED color alerts...so when a text comes in, blue light, e-mail red, call green, etc.

The lack of a notification light on the iPhone is the #2 reason (after lacking a decent notification system) that I haven't touched an iPhone since the 3G.
 

ObscureCaucasian

Diamond Member
Jul 23, 2006
3,934
0
0
Have you ever owned a BB? Personally, I just went from an old Curve to an iPhone 4.

1) Definitely the best keyboards of all smartphones. The one on the Curve was excellent, and the one on the Bold is even better. I love my new iPhone, but there's no way I'll ever type as fast without making errors as I could on my BB.

2) Not all phones have one, and it's very useful when you leave your phone on a table/desk and don't hear it (or in silent mode).

I was really just poking fun at how one of the reasons is "You Must Have This". The other two reasons just seemed to pale in comparison considering you can get Android phones with both LED notification and HW keyboards, but you can't get an Android phone that fulfills the "Must Be A Blackberry" requirement.
 

Syran

Golden Member
Dec 4, 2000
1,493
0
76
I really like the administration provided by the BES, and the encryption it allows. I tend to actually get emails on my BB prior to receiving them in Outlook on my desktop. I'd really like to see RIM produce a BB app for Android/iPhone to use their push technology and BES servers w/ other phones.
 

hanoverphist

Diamond Member
Dec 7, 2006
9,928
23
76
Lots of large companies have invested a ton in BES. No reason to throw that away at this point, I have a feeling BB will be around for a loooong time in the corporate world. That's gotta be 3/4 of their client base right now, I don't know anyone who has one that isn't a "work" phone.

the very large corporation my ex wife works for (and does the support and set up of new phones) has a huge vested interest in BES. they also had a handful of their tech staff test the android devices to see how they shaped up. they have now invested in separate servers to push emails to the android devices as well. slow changeover is a reality for a lot of companies, and the more android devices there are the more likelihood there is for android to push out BES in the corp world.

i also loled at the last part, there are 3 people in my office that carry blackberrys for personal phones. i thought they were silly but they love them. none are storms tho.
 

RedRooster

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2000
6,596
0
76
the very large corporation my ex wife works for (and does the support and set up of new phones) has a huge vested interest in BES. they also had a handful of their tech staff test the android devices to see how they shaped up. they have now invested in separate servers to push emails to the android devices as well. slow changeover is a reality for a lot of companies, and the more android devices there are the more likelihood there is for android to push out BES in the corp world.

i also loled at the last part, there are 3 people in my office that carry blackberrys for personal phones. i thought they were silly but they love them. none are storms tho.

Well that would certainly be nice to phase them out, I'm sick of supporting BBs. Where I work in the public service, it's ridiculous how slow they are to adapt to new tech. Times that across the whole country, thousands and thousands of clients, thats a big chunk of Canadian RIM users that aren't gonna change. I'm gonna be supporting this junk for another decade I have a feeling. :D

I lied, I have two friends with non work BBs, due to them wanting to be on our crown corp cell provider and that's the only smart phones they offer. So they're pretty much forced to if they don't want a motorola flip phone.
 

zerocool84

Lifer
Nov 11, 2004
36,041
472
126
Geez seriously a lot of you act like owning a Blackberry is like killing a baby. People prefer different phones. It's ok if you like Blackberry's.
 

destrekor

Lifer
Nov 18, 2005
28,799
359
126
Have you ever owned a BB? Personally, I just went from an old Curve to an iPhone 4.

1) Definitely the best keyboards of all smartphones. The one on the Curve was excellent, and the one on the Bold is even better. I love my new iPhone, but there's no way I'll ever type as fast without making errors as I could on my BB.

2) Not all phones have one, and it's very useful when you leave your phone on a table/desk and don't hear it (or in silent mode).

The LED is a DAMN good feature. I don't think its overappreciated at all. Throw on BerryBuzz, and you can get custom LED color alerts...so when a text comes in, blue light, e-mail red, call green, etc.

The lack of a notification light on the iPhone is the #2 reason (after lacking a decent notification system) that I haven't touched an iPhone since the 3G.

Most Android phones have a notification LED.
For many of the HTC phones, the trackball lights up. You can change the LED colors on some of those phones too (with apps that include that feature - generally marketplace apps)
Motorola Android phones also have an LED in the top-corner. My Droid has an amazing notification light, perfect circular light in the top-right corner. And through the Handcent SMS app, I have multiple colors. The default apps even make it an option for those that don't want it. Vibrate patterns are an option as well, audio alerts, all combinations are possible. And in Handcent, you can set individuals or groups to have unique colors.
 
Feb 19, 2001
20,158
20
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I was really just poking fun at how one of the reasons is "You Must Have This". The other two reasons just seemed to pale in comparison considering you can get Android phones with both LED notification and HW keyboards, but you can't get an Android phone that fulfills the "Must Be A Blackberry" requirement.

What android phone has a good HW keyboard? The Droid? It's utterly terrible. I don't even remember that I have a HW keyboard.

But granted the iPhone really changed the software keyboard. Android still doesn't compare. The Droid X's new multitouch keyboard is at least decent but its spell correction and suggestions need to come on par. If only HTC released a multitouch keyboard because their UI is already nearly perfect for their keyboard -____-
 

dougp

Diamond Member
May 3, 2002
7,950
4
0
What android phone has a good HW keyboard? The Droid? It's utterly terrible. I don't even remember that I have a HW keyboard.

But granted the iPhone really changed the software keyboard. Android still doesn't compare. The Droid X's new multitouch keyboard is at least decent but its spell correction and suggestions need to come on par. If only HTC released a multitouch keyboard because their UI is already nearly perfect for their keyboard -____-

Have you used Swype? I can type a hell of a lot faster than I could on my iPhone.
 

ObscureCaucasian

Diamond Member
Jul 23, 2006
3,934
0
0
What android phone has a good HW keyboard? The Droid? It's utterly terrible. I don't even remember that I have a HW keyboard.

But granted the iPhone really changed the software keyboard. Android still doesn't compare. The Droid X's new multitouch keyboard is at least decent but its spell correction and suggestions need to come on par. If only HTC released a multitouch keyboard because their UI is already nearly perfect for their keyboard -____-

With the froyo update for my Evo, the HTC keyboard has multitouch.

Also I'm going to just out and say I don't see the big deal with the iOS keyboard, everyone seems to rate it as the best but I've always been faster on most Android keyboards (especially HTC, Swiftkey, and Swype).
 

SLCentral

Diamond Member
Feb 13, 2003
3,542
0
71
Most Android phones have a notification LED.
For many of the HTC phones, the trackball lights up. You can change the LED colors on some of those phones too (with apps that include that feature - generally marketplace apps)
Motorola Android phones also have an LED in the top-corner. My Droid has an amazing notification light, perfect circular light in the top-right corner. And through the Handcent SMS app, I have multiple colors. The default apps even make it an option for those that don't want it. Vibrate patterns are an option as well, audio alerts, all combinations are possible. And in Handcent, you can set individuals or groups to have unique colors.

I realize that. I've owned the HTC Hero, Nexus One, and Xperia X10, all which had the notification light feature. I'm just saying that the feature itself should not be dismissed - it is a dealbreaker for me if a phone doesn't have it.
 

Deeko

Lifer
Jun 16, 2000
30,215
11
81
Geez seriously a lot of you act like owning a Blackberry is like killing a baby. People prefer different phones. It's ok if you like Blackberry's.

Its not "geek cool" to own a Blackberry. Here on Anandtech, people don't fully understand that the majority of people don't care about what's "geek cool".
 

Deeko

Lifer
Jun 16, 2000
30,215
11
81
Most Android phones have a notification LED.
For many of the HTC phones, the trackball lights up. You can change the LED colors on some of those phones too (with apps that include that feature - generally marketplace apps)
Motorola Android phones also have an LED in the top-corner. My Droid has an amazing notification light, perfect circular light in the top-right corner. And through the Handcent SMS app, I have multiple colors. The default apps even make it an option for those that don't want it. Vibrate patterns are an option as well, audio alerts, all combinations are possible. And in Handcent, you can set individuals or groups to have unique colors.

Actually I felt the Droid's notification light was kinda weak - slightly recessed and not very bright. It rarely caught my attention if it were sitting on my desk - I had to be looking directly at the phone trying to see if it were blinking or not.

edit: I was incorrect, the Droid isn't the one that's recessed, that's the HD2 I'm thinking of. It is, however, not very bright.
 
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Nizology

Senior member
Oct 13, 2004
765
1
0
The LED is a DAMN good feature. I don't think its overappreciated at all. Throw on BerryBuzz, and you can get custom LED color alerts...so when a text comes in, blue light, e-mail red, call green, etc.

The lack of a notification light on the iPhone is the #2 reason (after lacking a decent notification system) that I haven't touched an iPhone since the 3G.

BerryBuzz is amazing. Knowing what type of message you're receiving without even looking at your screen is awesome.

Additionally, the typing experience on the Tour/Bold is the best available in the market today. And for how important a qwerty keyboard on our phones is nowadays, I'd say BB FTW in this respect.