It’s been a really swell party, with me and my 3 generations of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones. But it’s time to go back to the grown-ups world of BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)(TSE:BB). After 4 years with an iPhone, there’s one key reality that has dawned on me daily for just about the last year: If you want a toy, buy an iPhone. But if you want a tool, you need BlackBerry.
I first ventured into iPhone land after my BlackBerry tumbled out of my pocked and into a sewer as I was tumbling into a cab after a raucous night in downtown Toronto. At the time, I was particularly open to the idea because I was in a new relationship with my Macbook Pro, which, after 20 years as a Microsoft drone was like waking up out of a coma. Apple, at the time, was making all the right moves under Steve Jobs, and BlackBerry was just embarking on a downward spiral which has only recently reversed course.
Apple vs. BlackBerry
Apple does some things very well. The interconnectivity and syncronicity of accounts across imap and PoP iterations across multiple devices still has to be the one aspect of Apple devices and software that I appreciate the most. Things like intuitively finding the right network, detecting bluetooth and now texting to other iCloud users on devices other than the iPhone are all positives.
But things like contacts and calendars seem to be a perennial thorn in Apple’s side. For example, not being able to just dump contacts to a csv or txt file is a source of continuous wonderment for me. Why try to force me into your shoebox if I don’t want to be in your shoebox?
Now don’t get me wrong. BlackBerry will have its fair share of device-specific deviations to frustrate and annoy, I’m sure. But I’m thinking they will be minuscule in comparison to what I’ve been enduring with Apple for the last 4 years.
The main catalyst in the return to BlackBerry is the keyboard. Four years of trying to master the touchless keypad has taught me an irrefutable truth: touchless keypads suck. At least for someone like me, whose hands are generally larger than the average.(but not my feet…what’s up with that??).
At any rate, I’ve literally started dreaming of the glorious quick-paced downtown lemming race, where on crowded sidewalks and with satchel dangling from one hand I could easily publish one-handed text messages to colleagues, multi-tasking effectively across transportation and communication with every step.
If you’ve ever tried to do that with an iPhone, it will be a miracle if the result is intelligible. More likely it will say something like ‘sorry running llama…be there in finicky’. Useless.
Plus, if I have to do one more iOS update, I’m going to throw my phone against the wall.
There are other aspects of the iPhone which experience has taught me render it less suitable for business and more suitable to juvenile pursuits. Facebook is a juvenile pursuit, Twitter is an important tool that drives traffic to my web site.
One might consider one’s music collection more of a ‘juvenile pursuit’, but I can assure you, as a writer, the ability to block out the surrounding cacophony in crowded places makes reliable access to thinking music an absolute pre-requisite in many cases. And that’s one area where iPhone, and in fact, all Apple devices have fallen down for years, and seem to be able to find fresh depths of stupidity when it comes to the architecture of that notorious destroyer of musical libraries – iTunes. iTunes, and its accomplices Match and Genius, have collectively wiped out nearly all of my 90’s and early 00’s obscure playlists of old Pete Tong and Sasha and the other now-impossible-to-buy recordings.
While I appreciate the information technology industry’s persistent delusion that somehow forcing users into proprietary management software for everything different file type is somehow smart business, BlackBerry’s ability to just store mp3’s as mp3’s in simple file architectures is one of those long-missed simplicities about BlackBerry that I’m excited to re-experience. My iPhone is such a complete waste of time when it comes to music that I never use it to store songs anymore, and will only stream audio from online radio stations when convenient.
I’m Not the Only One Abandoning Apple
Let’s face it. Since the demise of Steve Jobs, Apple is looking increasingly like a ship adrift. Yes, sales continue to be strong, and the iPad is indeed the greatest thing since sliced bread, but apart from that, the strategy as it pertains to business use can only be categorized as random.
It’s as if Apple wants to attract an adult business crowd, but insists that if you dine with Apple you must sit at the kid’s table. Sounds like fun for one meal, maybe. But every meal? No thanks.
Even the U.S. Military has reversed direction on what initially appeared to be their intention to support Apple devices.
According to an article at Nextgov.com:
“A Pentagon system intended to secure a mix of brand name smartphones for warfighters will primarily support BlackBerrys when the tool starts launching later this month, according to Defense Department officials.
About 80,000 BlackBerrys and 1,800 Defense-owned Apple and Android-based phones and tablets will begin being hooked up to the new management system on Jan. 31, officials announced on Friday.”
Is BlackBerry Stock Finally a ‘Buy’?
This all leads to the question, is BalckBerry now a ‘buy’? It certainly is according to some people. In an interview with Damian Wojcichowsky, senior technology analyst with Jacob Securities in Toronto, the case was made that new BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s turnaround strategy was indeed just that.
According to Wojcichowsky, “I mentioned that the bears focus in on the hardware business and whether or not they’re going to resume selling devices. I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. I think you want to look at where QNX is selling through – we heard the Ford announcement that they’re ripping out Microsoft and using QNX in their automobiles. That announcement on its own put Blackberry through QNX into something like 70% of the automobiles that are being sold out there. Those are good numbers. Those are things that I don’t think are being reflected in the stock price at this point.”
BlackBerry stock is up 56% since touching a low of $7.82 back in April 2014. While the company is not out of the woods yet, it certainly looks like the strategy to focus on business users is having the desired effect. It’s certainly working on me.