BlackBerry Bold 9900 and why RIM is still #1


If you believe all of the media hype, RIM (Research in Motion, the company that makes BlackBerry) is about ready to shut its doors, its products are useless, and they have lost all of their market share. Nothing could be further from the truth.   BlackBerry somehow became the Microsoft of the smart phone world.  Everyone started to hate BlackBerry because they were at the top of the heap.  I’m not saying RIM hasn’t made mistakes, but like all global companies who grew very fast, sometimes the growing pains aren’t so easy to take.  But BlackBerry is getting itself back on track and is poised to retake the industry in the number one spot.

First, some house-cleaning.  Worldwide there are still more BlackBerry subscribers than any other smart phone.  Sure, maybe in the US, BlackBerry fell out of favor for a while, but worldwide, a BlackBerry is still number one.  And the BlackBerry does things that no other smart phone can do.  Three of the five top downloaded smart phone applications across all platforms are BlackBerry Apps.  They are BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter for BlackBerry, and FaceBook for BlackBerry.  I believe the number one downloaded app was “Angry Birds” – go figure.  Overall, worldwide the top cell phones are not BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android.  The top sellers are non-smart-phones, meaning regular old mobile phones, by Samsung, LG, and Motorola.  Consider that most people in the world can’t afford to purchase, let alone keep up with the monthly service charges on, a smart phone.

Now to the BlackBerry Bold 9900.  This is AT&T/T-Mobile’s version.  Each carrier  (like Verizon, T-Mobile, and other global companies like Vodafone-UK, Rogers-Canada) have or will have their own model with its own unique features.  Even the AT&T and T-Mobile 9900 versions are not the same.

As the mobile communications coordinator for my company, I have had the opportunity to work on many BlackBerry models including the 8800, 8820, 8310, 8320, 9000, 9700, 9800, 9810, and now the 9900.  I have also been exposed to iPhones of all types, and Android phones.

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the finest piece of smart phone hardware I have ever laid my hands on.  I LOVE it.  The full keyboard in a phenomenal achievement and never have I been able to glide and fly over that keyboard to type out an email or text like I can on the Bold 9900.  The phone is solid, the battery life is good, the screen images are crisp and clear; there isn’t anything I don’t like about the Bold 9900.

Here is why I like BlackBerry in general:

  1.  You don’t need to connect the phone to your computer to download and/or install applications. With the iPhone, you do, and that need to do so, is a pain in the ass.
  2. RIM/BlackBerry provides a full desktop software interface that can manage a whole host of things. This includes wirelessly syncing your media to your device whenever you are in range of your computer. The software can also help me rebuild a broken BlackBerry that won’t boot up.  It’s quite amazing what you can do with the tools RIM provides.  And the more technical you are, the more you can do on your own and not have to call someone and wait on hold.  Try to manage your Android with their desktop software – oops, there isn’t such a thing.
  3. Attachments – BlackBerrys handle them with ease.  It doesn’t matter if it’s an Excel, Word, PowerPoint or PDF, you can save it and view it later.  You can also edit it.  Try to do that with an iPhone.  If you don’t forever save the email that contained the attachment, you’ll never see it again.
  4. BlackBerry Messenger – think of it as the way Instant Messaging or Text Messaging should be.  Between BlackBerry users, there is no limit on the number of characters you can type into a BBM message, and you don’t need a special text messaging plan to use it.  It’s free if you are a BlackBerry subscriber.
  5. The BlackBerry Network – You probably heard something in the news back in October 2011 about how BlackBerry services crashed in Europe and eventually affected North America for a time.  It was bad.  But the truth is, there is an entire network of BlackBerry servers and services around the globe, all inter-connected, allowing for BlackBerry users to do the things they do, like BBM to people all over the world at no additional cost.  Everyone with a smart phone needs a data plan, but you don’t need a separate Text Messaging plan if you are messaging other people with BlackBerry’s.  When RIM experienced the big outage, they responded to it by offering several application from its App World for free to its customers.  And they weren’t silly apps like themes or games (although they offered some of those for free as well) but rather some of them were Super Apps, like Vlingo.
  6. BESX – The original product is called BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BES.  BES is used by companies to link and manage all of their BlackBerry devices, push out custom applications to its users, and connect the users to data on servers within that company’s network.  BESX is a somewhat scaled down version FOR FREE.  Smaller companies or companies that don’t need EVERY SINGLE bell and whistle that BES offers, will do just fine with BESX.  Our company moved from BES to BESX and had absolutely no problem with functionality, in fact, just the opposite, we actually gained some functionality that was not yet included in the standard BES product.
  7. Self-Service – While I don’t expect every smart phone user to have access to an IT guy like me, for the people at my company, I am that guy.  And I can fix any problem myself, load any operating system on any device, control which apps are installed, and through IT Policies on the BES or BESX servers, I can control what my users can and can not do with their BlackBerry.  For example, let’s say I didn’t want them to be able to download apps from App World and be able to charge them to our company cell phone bill (this is an option available within BlackBerry App World – try THAT with an iPhone or Android).  I can prevent them from doing that.  OR, I can allow them to do it if the company want to do it as a perk.  Overall, I rarely have to call AT&T for any repair, functionality, or maintenance issues.  I can do it all myself.  The only time I really have to involve our mobile carrier is if a phone gets dropped and broken, and we have to file an insurance claim, or if a phone is so far beyond repair that I can’t fix it.  I haven’t had this last one happen yet.
  8. NFC – stands for Near Field Communications.  The best way to understand it is to think of a Mobil Speed Pass where you wave a key fob near the pump, and your purchase is automatically charged to the account you set up (credit card, debit card, Mobil gas card, etc).  This is just one function.  You will also be able to tap (or bump) your BlackBerry against another to share media like music, photos, and music.

When people try to put BlackBerry in a box, and say that the company is “dead in the water” they seem to forget that RIM is truly a global company.  There are places in Asia where 70% of the population use BlackBerry for personal use – not for business.  BlackBerry is the most respected smart phone world-wide.  I was recently in Boston for the weekend staying at a very large, upscale hotel.  I was surprised that most of the young people I saw walking around with smart phones had BlackBerry’s, not iPhones, not Androids, like the media would have you think.  iPhones and Androids may have great sales right now, but customer loyalty for those platforms isn’t there.  Many people are returning to BlackBerry once they got their taste of being “trendy” and keeping up with the Jones’s and it didn’t work out quite how they had hoped.  And luckily, RIM is ready for them.  In 2012 RIM will be releasing even more new models and the new QNX Operating System (which was supposed to be called BBX but RIM got sued over the use of that name – it will probably be called simply BlackBerry X or something like that).   The new OS will bring the BlackBerry smart phone (and tablet) closer to a fully functioning computer in your hand.

So folks, don’t count out BlackBerry just yet.  Many predicted that when Microsoft Vista came out, it was the end of Microsoft.  There was a mass exodus to Mac….until Windows 7 showed up.  RIM is in the midst of readjusting, refocusing, scaling down, and paring out the dead wood in the company.  They got fat and happy, and then realized it was time to get to the gym.  Now they are well on their way to being sexy, and desirable, all over again.

AT&T and T-Mobile Merger – what were they thinking?


The Wall Street Journal Online recently posted a story about Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s top lobbyist, and his disappointment (well, he actually had a hissy fit) regarding the FCC’s report on the AT&T/T-Mobile Merger deal. (link to article at the bottom of this post).

What is AT&T thinking.  Right now, in the U.S., where both AT&T and T-Mobile are based, these are the only two major GSM network players of any note and size.  There are some other small regional GSM networks, but when it comes to the overall customer base, AT&T and T-Mobile own the GSM market.  Why would AT&T be surprised that the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) report said “no way”.  If the FCC agreed to it, that would be the same as if they said “if you want cable TV at your house, you only have one choice of providers”.  Oh WAIT!!  That’s exactly what we do have.  And that’s exactly why the consumer gets screwed, with no choice in supplier, resulting in price gouging.  That’s why the FCC’s report said it wasn’t a good idea for AT&T and T-Mobile to merge.  Because it would create the same type of monopoly that screwed the public with cable TV.

For those that don’t understand the GSM network issues, I’ll try to keep it basic just so you have the general idea.  AT&T and T-Mobile phones use a SIM card to identify the user, the device, etc., on the mobile phone network.  You can switch to another phone by putting your SIM card in another phone and that’s where your phone will now ring.  You can also go to other countries and buy a SIM card from a local phone company.  That local SIM card would come with so many talk minutes, and a data plan for using the Internet or email (if you have a smart phone like a BlackBerry).  Buying a local SIM card means you can pay significantly reduced rates over what you US based mobile provider would charge you while traveling.  This is a simplified version of the whole picture.

The two big players on the other side of the technology fence are Verizon and Sprint.  They use CDMA technology.  These phones do not require SIM cards in order to function.  But they are not as versatile as a GSM phone.  While CDMA network phone are beginning to have some usability in other countries, it’s still an evolving technology and not something that I, personally, would rely on.

The CDMA mobile phone network and the GSM mobile phone network, are two completely different technologies and never the two shall meet.

With the advent of 4G, the lines between the technology that each mobile carrier uses is becoming blurred.  Each mobile phone network can use 4G LTE and other 4G technologies.  However, AT&T and T-Mobile will still use a SIM card, while Verizon and Sprint will not.

If you, as a consumer, like the options available to you by going with the GSM network phones, you currently have a two main choices, as I said.  AT&T or T-Mobile.  Again, there are other smaller carriers out there using SIM cards but they are not big players in the market.  If AT&T and T-Mobile were allowed to merge, there would be virtually NO COMPETITION and the consumer would have NO OPTIONS if they want a GSM network phone.  It would be AT&T or nothing.

The competition between AT&T and T-Mobile is healthy.  AT&T allows users to multitask even when not in range of a Wi-fi connection.  With AT&T you can talk on your phone (using the speaker phone), while you surf the Internet, check email, look at your calendar, and use other apps on your phone.  With T-Mobile, you can’t, for the most part.  You have some possibilities of multitasking when you are in range of Wi-fi but it certainly is nowhere near the smooth operation of how AT&T does it.  Second, T-Mobile allows the use of Wi-fi to make phone calls; AT&T does not.  Yup, that’s what the current generation of smart phones is supposed to be all about.  Voice over IP (VoIP) calls over Wi-fi.  AT&T’s technology allows it, but AT&T as a company doesn’t.  T-Mobile does.

So, depending on what you want and what you are willing to pay for, you have options.  That’s good for the consumer and can drive prices down; including the prices of devices, and prices of service.  If AT&T and T-Mobile merged, the public would be left flapping in the breeze with only one option for this technology.  Keep in mind that conventional telephone service is controlled as a public utility.  Mobile phone service is NOT.  They can charge what they want, any time they want.  So with only one major company providing a service, the consumer loses.  This is why the FCC does not want to allow AT&T to buy the majority interest (52%) of T-Mobile, thereby creating one big monopoly; regardless of what Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s top lobbyist, says:

AT&T Slams FCC, Says Report on Deal Is Unfair Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204012004577072270368230262.html#ixzz1fOGwhm8P

Your comments are welcomed.

Tether your Blackberry for free


I am truly shocked that a company out there called “Tether”, formerly “Tetherberry” is SELLING an app that allows you to use your Blackberry (or Android) as a modem to connect your PC or laptop to the Internet when you have no other options.

Actually, I’m not that surprised that “Tether” is selling it.  But I am surprised that people are buying it.

Right now, I am only speaking about Blackberry because I own one and run an office where I support a whole group of people who each have one.  I have had to learn how to rebuild a Blackberry from the group up.  I don’t know that much about Androids but I’m sure it can’t be that difficult to do on those either.

Now to my point – I learned a long time ago, from documentation ON THE BLACKBERRY WEB SITE, how to tether your Blackberry as a modem FOR FREE without signing up with your carrier for an extra data plan.  The carriers have tried to make it more difficult for people to do it by removing the ability to do it from the Blackberry Desktop Manager software.  But as you will see in the documentation referenced, there’s always a way around this.

Here is the document from Blackberry: http://www.blackberry.com/btsc/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=KB05196

And here is some additional documentation the will help you for your specific carrier: http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Connect-to-Internet-with-Your-BlackBerry-without-Paying-For-Data-Plan

Essentially there are two ways to connect for free.  The first, you follow the setup instructions, then you run Blackberry Desktop Manager and just leave it running in the background (as stated in the instructions).  Then you connect using your modem (which is your Blackberry attached to your computer via the USB cable that came with it.

If you want to actually use Desktop Manager to make the free connection, it’s a little more complicated.  You have to edit an XML file on your computer as stated here: http://www.interworks.com/blogs/wlyles/2010/01/29/how-tether-your-blackberry-using-desktop-manager-even-att/ .

Then you can launch your internet connection right from Desktop Manager.

The bottom line is:  DON”T PAY ANYONE $50, or even $1.99 for an application when you can set it up yourself for free.  I did it for all of my users and they all use it when needed.  It works fine.  Our president went to Switzerland last year and he used it there as well.

It really bugs me when companies like “Tether” or “Tetherberry” fool the public into thinking they have to buy something when it can be done for free.  They are relying on the fact that you don’t know how to do the research to figure it out yourself.  Just because you are not a Blackberry expert doesn’t mean you should get screwed.