Mobile // Mobile Devices
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Larry Seltzer
Larry Seltzer
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BlackBerry Service Improving, But Perhaps Too Late

RIM will probably soon restore service fully, but the restoration of their reputation and business prospects is unlikely. Things were already looking down generally when, on the same week that a new iPhone launched, their worldwide network collapsed.

It's a damn shame if you ask me. BlackBerry has a lot going for it. I used to have one and switched to an Android phone. I still miss the physical keyboard. As an e-mail and calendar system I still think it's without parallel.

But most people expect more from these devices now and the awful web browser on my BlackBerry became intolerable. I know they've improved their software, but I've moved on. I do know that there are plenty of other users who don't want their mobile to be a full-blown computer and for whom a BlackBerry is a simpler alternative. But even to them reliability is important.

The other difference with BlackBerry is the secure network. All data is encrypted from the device through to RIM's servers and from there to the ISP or company BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server). This is the service that has gotten RIM in hot water with governments who would like to spy on their locals (to be fair, sometimes for legitimate law-enforcement purposes). Companies can provide their own VPNs, but it's hard to deny that BlackBerry users are better off for this architecture.

And it's that architecture that betrayed the users in this instance. The central management and security system that RIM provides became a single point of failure for the whole edifice. A secure system that doesn't function isn't any better for being secure.

Wherever I go and ask companies about it I hear the same thing: Few users want BlackBerrys anymore. Everyone wants iPhones and Android devices. This week's events make a bad situation worse. Fritz is right: It's hard to see how RIM gets out of this.

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