iPhone or Blackberry – Which is right for business?

With the introduction of the iPhone 4, some would say that Apple have secured their hold on the business mobile communications market.  Yet, before the iPhone burst onto the scene Blackberry, as perfected by Research in Motion, dominated the business world.  The Blackberry is and has always been a business tool, it integrates seamlessly into your current infrastructure and enables administrators to manage many devices easily.  On the other hand, the iPhone can not be centrally managed, it requires activation with iTunes on an individual basis and gives administrators a headache.  The question is, have we been blinded by the bling of the iPhone or can it really compete with the Blackberry on a business level?

The Blackberry
Blackberry is certainly way ahead when it comes to the number of available devices in use globally. Many organizations have thousands, if not tens of thousands of Blackberry devices interlinked and almost “wired” into the very way they do business.

The company has certainly set the standard for reliability, uptime and functionality. Companies have found that they can scale the corporate use of the Blackberry and a certain number of applications have been specifically designed for the platform, enabling the device to be far more than just a phone or e-mail communications device. Thus far is appears that Research in Motion has a bulletproof network operations center and relay facilities, ensuring that when there is downtime, you hear about it right away on the national media.

The Blackberry is built on an ethos of solid core communications. Yes, the new smartphones have multitasking, touch screens, high res displays or “AppWorld” – however, these features are not included at the expense of business communications. They have stayed true to the reasons why the Blackberry quickly became the de facto business tool.

The iPhone
Contrary to Blackberry, which has a well-deserved reputation as being a “business” phone, iPhone has emerged into the popular culture and is a must-have accessory. You could argue that it is not designed for competent and regular e-mail use, possesses only a virtual keyboard, which has retained a share of criticism for its design, but overall, it’s a much more diverse product. This is where the key to its business future lies. We all know what an “app” is by now and there are tens of thousands of options available for iPhone users, growing by the day.

Forward thinking organisations have jumped in feet first and designed their own enterprise style applications specific to their business. This is one of the iPhone product’s greatest strengths, as the number of applications and thus the potential for productive interaction between layers of different business executives are unlimited. However, the iPhone network performance may not be as robust as its Blackberry opponent.

Blackberry devices and services are available from more than 200 carriers around the world and specifically tailored for the enterprise operation. Research in Motion works directly with technical people at enterprise level and designs services and products accordingly. iPhone, on the other hand, largely relies on an ecosystem of application vendors.

Which is Right for Business

The fact that iPhone is able to reach much further into popular culture and is becoming that “must have” accessory for our personal lives, means that it will likely see much more widespread adoption at the corporate level, if nothing else due to the fact that people do not want to carry two phones – one for business and one for work.  Issues related to support, security, capability and operating system strength must all be addressed though.

Apple is clearly investing more in enterprise support for iPhone and future generations will undoubtedly balance criticisms, however, it has a fair way to go before it can match the Blackberry as a true business communications tool.

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