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BlackBerry: Killed by Treo

There's a recurring story that we all know by now in the 'smartphone world' and which was recently confirmed by a BlackBerry (BB) sales rep at a major wireless carrier.  Namely, that over 95% of BB owners carry two devices - their BB and a mobile phone.  Assuming that they also needed a PDA, BB users might have to carry up to three devices around with them.

One of the sales rep's arguments was that "executives like to leave their BlackBerry's behind over the weekend or in the evening and only carry a phone" - this even though most BB owners will acknowledge that they don't use the phone on their BB simply because it is lousy.  Having said this, if reps can sell that story that's fine with me but the practical reality is that, among others: a) when this executive has to travel he still needs to lug two (or three) devices with the accompanying cables/chargers and b) he must 'master' the functions of two (or three) devices.

Leaving aside the hassle (complexity, learning curve, bulk, weight) of managing multiple devices (just thinking about it gives me a headache), I find myself wondering why an IT department (or an individual user) would rather incur the costs (time and $) of supporting multiple devices instead of just one as would be the case with the Treo.  I have seen people comparing the overall maintenance costs of a BB versus a Treo but I have never seen them compare the real 'associated' costs which must include the total number of devices used so as to be a valid like-for-like comparison. 

It's evident that the Treo 'sales & marketing message' has not yet been fully refined but at least I know what to say when someone asks me why I chose a Treo instead of a BlackBerry.  I do feel kinda bad to have to tell them that they don't own the best smartphone in the world but they'll know the day that they become Treonauts.  Naturally when our Treo finally incorporates the BlackBerry Connect solution (just don't ask me when) then we'll all be one happy family

You'll also enjoy reading "Why I love the Treo series of handheld devices" at ComputerWorld where once again the author places our Treo at the very top of the heap and concludes the article by stating that:

"Overall, I found the Treo 650 to be an excellent all-in-one phone and data-connectivity device. For the individual and small business, this is the only reasonable solution to the [BlackBerry's] two-device issue. For the enterprise user, PalmOne has the same connectivity options that the BlackBerry provides and is significantly more comfortable in the hand. The Treo 650 is a strong competitor, and enterprise IT departments should take a closer look."

Treonauts love the ease of all-in-one...

Posted by Andrew on January 24, 2005 at 04:48 PM

Treo Killers?

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by Calvin | Jan 24, 2005 4:57:53 PM

If the treo could have the same email reliablity as blackberry then I would not have to carry two devices. Maybe one of these days that will get fixed...

by Axel | Jan 24, 2005 6:58:12 PM

Simply not true (at least not for the GSM models). I've used the BB7730 for more than four months now (as a software developer developing stuff for that device) and have recently switched to HTC windows phones (again - just for development purposes).

The Blackberry phone function is easy to handle and has a really nice sound,BBs are virtually indestructible (very robust built quality) and the scrollwheel ist perfect to scroll in your phonebook.

The Windows-phones are a lot worse.

BUT: nothing (haven't seen a 650 Treo yet) comes close to a Nokia 6310i.

by Levi Wallach | Jan 25, 2005 10:02:02 AM

IT detpartments don't have to "support" two devices even if employees leave their Blackberries at home on the weekend. They still just have to support the BB. The cell phone is not something they have to "support." Secondly larger corporations in the U.S. have been using BB's for many many years. The technology is proven and they don't think that RIM is going away. Plus they have "investments" in the software and hardware. To just abandon all that because the Treo now has BB functionality is a bit of a stretch. Also, the BB can be used as a PDA. It may not have the wealth of 3rd party apps that the Treo has, but it has the basics, and it does have some more business-oriented stuff that might appeal to corporate users. Also, the phone in the BB is not bad at all, from the breif period I used one. I'm not trying to knock the Treo at all. I love my 600 and intend to get a 650, but I'm not letting that love blind me into thinking that it's going to kill the long-lived BB. Sure for companies who haven't made an investment it is a definite option, but the proven and widespread use of BB's are going to win most internal battles as far as what platform to use, at least for the moment I fear...

by Andrew | Jan 25, 2005 10:59:52 AM


I am sorry but I disagree with your take and believe that it perpetuates the myth about the BB within corporate environments.

An executive who has been provided with both a BB and a mobile phone by his/her organisation (not one which he/she has purchased for personal use) will require some level of 'support' for both devices (contact synchronisation and security management on the phone for example).

Organisations that in the future decide to use the Treo for BlackBerry software connectivity will not have to abandon the software infrastructure investment that they have made - they will just be able to simply migrate the hardware component to the Treo while continuing to utilize the BB service.

While the BB 'can' technically be used as a phone and has 'some' PDA functionality, the reality is that all but a very small minority actually use it for this purpose.

I am not sure by what you mean when you say that the BB "has some more business-oriented stuff that might appeal to corporate users" as I am not aware of any application that is BB-specific that is not available in one form or another on the Treo.

I hope that you'll agree that in most of my posts my love for the Treo is not 'blind' and I take great effort to maintain a very objective view of the Treo. In this particular case it may be worthwhile to distinguish between BlackBerry (the device) and RIM (the company) as I am suggesting that the Treo may very well soon become a better BlackBerry device than the ones made available by RIM. There is no doubt that RIM's software is quite established and will continue to thrive for some time to come.

RIM is now following a software licensing strategy with a number of mobile phone manufacturers and thus over time will place less emphasis on the development of its own devices. palmOne and the Treo fit perfectly within this context.

The Treo will rise within corporate environments precisely because it is able to leverage existing investments in BB/RIM without trying to sell an 'entirely' new solution.

Finally, on the software side, examples of increased penetration by other corporate wireless email providers such as Good Technologies should be an indication that RIM does not reign supreme and that other players can (and will) penetrate this market.

The fact is that the Treo is already the smartphone device supporting the single largest number of third-party email solutions and with the forthcoming addition of BlackBerry connect it will become the undisputed one.

Cheers, A.

by Fred | Jan 25, 2005 12:50:53 PM


I think you need to dig a little deeper into the whole RIM vs Treo subject. Your comment that RIM is focused on software licensing is not supported by the fact that way over 50% of RIM's revenue is from device sales, and a much smaller proportion from software. Regarding Good Technology's inroads against RIM, Om Malik today noted that RIM is about 15 times the size of Good Technolgy $2B in revenue vs $130M). RIM is not going away anytime soon, but they may have become a good takeover/acquisition target. Also note that their 7100 series device has seen good penetration and soon will be carried by Cingular in the US - it's not a bad phone, but doesn't have all the features of the Treo.

by Andrew | Jan 25, 2005 1:08:39 PM


Thanks for contributing to this debate.

I would like to clarify that I did not state that "RIM is focused on software licensing" but that RIM is changing strategic direction and increasingly focusing on this (software) instead of hardware. Having only started this change recently it is evident that current RIM revenues will still be heavily weighed on hardware. This will however undoubtedly change in the future.

Also, much in the same way that Dell was nowhere on the map when the Compaqs of this world were leading the pack it is obvious that Good's current sales should not be an indication of where the company may be in a few years time - it has already gotten a lot of traction in a very short time.

Finally, yes absolutely, the 7100 is an 'interesting' device (better phone/worse email keyboard) and one that has been heavily marketed by carriers in the US and Europe (it's about time that someone decided to do the same with the Treo though) but given the choice of BB email connectivity on a 7100 or a Treo I think that the choice of our Treo should be an obvious one.

Cheers, A.

by L | Jan 26, 2005 3:15:37 AM

Blackberrys are more focused devices. If you want the ultimate email device, Blackberry.
The Treo is to open, it can do anything. Which is great if you know what your doing. It's not packaged for any one type of user. Business customers want a focused device.
I sell both for a living and easily sell 3 times as many Blackberrys as I sell Treos. I and they each have thier strengths and weaknesses.
RIMs sales staff actually come to the store I work in and showed the staff how to use it. The Palm rep came to the store and could barely turn on the treo. If people don't see how great the Treo is, it's Palm's fault.
Palm also didn't help when they sold the treo unlocked before some carriers had a chance to sell them, I know some reps that have sworn off the Treo. Too bad, I believe in the Treo.
Palm has to get off thier A#$ to win over some sales departments.

by Me | Feb 1, 2005 12:07:41 PM

Actually, GoodLink provides ALL aspects of MS Exchange on the Treo wirelessly with no cradling required. This includes handling rich attachments (Word, Excel etc). As for Good vs RIM sales, since Good is a privately held company, that is pure speculation at best, FUD at worst. The bottom line is that the alternative for Blackberry on the Treo is here now. Blackberry Connect will be never compete with a total solution.

by Tony Cooper | Feb 27, 2005 4:30:47 PM

GoodLink is a tremendous tool on the Treo. Addressing all of the notes above, recently landing on a flight from Chicago to London; I saw three 7100's come out as we landed and start receiving Email. When I pulled out my two week old 650, most wanted to see what I had. There will always be diversity, but I think the 650 is a huge step forward. I personally looked at all options and think the 650 is definitely the way to go.

by Charlie | Jan 6, 2006 2:17:30 PM

Has anyone answered the question regarding the JX10 connecting to multiple devices like the Discovery 640 where it automatically disconnects one and connects to another?

The comments to this entry are closed.

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