I don’t think too many people reading this blog would argue the fact that the BlackBerry OS is more stable than Windows Mobile. Many a BlackBerry user are converted Windows Mobile device users for this very reason. In business you cannot afford to use a device that you cannot depend on to work all the time as compared to most of the time. As you move away from the business world into the consumer world, however, how much does stability really matter?
A lot of BlackBerry users that have never owned a Windows Mobile device may think that Motorola Qs and Treos have to be rebooted every ten minutes, run hot even when turned off, drop calls all the time, randomly delete email, and cause cancer. The reality for me, however, is that so long as I don’t run every piece of freeware that I have installed simultaneously, reset the device once a day or so, keep a charger in my backpack, and only walk down the left side of the street on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is not a horrible experience.
Windows Mobile firmly holds the number two spot in the behind Research in Motion. Do Microsoft’s customers just not care about reliability, or, are Windows Mobile devices good enough in most cases. I freely admit, that my Windows Mobile device randomly reboots from time to time and it is as annoying as heck when it does. If I am honest, however, the cool factor the device carries when it is working outweighs the headache it causes when it isn’t.
I don’t use my Windows Mobile device for work. If I i did, the headache may get in the way of productivity and my take might be different. It is strictly my personal phone that just happens to be able to make free Skype calls, Watch my Tivo via my SlingBox through, find free Wireless hotspots, and browse the internet much more effectively than I can on my BlackBerry. From a consumers standpoint, especially a first time smartphone buyer who has never owned a BlackBerry to compare against, I just don’t know that stability, by BlackBerry standards, matters all that much.
One of my buddies just switched from a TREO 650 to a Blackberry 8700 because of stability issues. His tre was crashing on him daily. He hasnt had a single crash since.
First off, Robb, let me congratulate you for consistently posting some of the most thought-provoking and insightful questions around. You’ve done it again with this one.
Second, I do believe that stability matters, even moreso to the more average, casual consumer. My wife is not the technophile that I am, but yet gets far more annoyed when technology products don’t work. Everyone I know that isn’t a gadget hound is pretty much the same way: they get far more frustrated by failures in tech devices than those of us who are geeks. Those of us who love tech gadgets seem to more easily understand and rationalize the occassional glitch and tolerate it.
I think the avg consumer does just expect a tech product to work seamlessly, without any issues, just like their non-gadget products.
Just like they expect their cars to work, their home appliances to work, their TV’s to work, their wrenches to work, etc…they expect their tech products to work without regular problems. They aren’t going to have much tolerance for soft resets, etc, no matter how much you try to explain to them the inherent complexity of the device.
So I do think that stability matters a whole lot with the general consumer.
I think that stability matters but I think that a lot of BlackBerry users get hung up on misconceptions about the stability of Windows Mobile. I recently switched from the BlackBerry 7250 to the Motorola Q and I have no regrets. I don’t have to reset it everyday. It doesn’t reboot on me all the time, and quite honestly, is the best PDA phone that I have ever had. I started of with a Palm Treo for a few years, went to a BlackBerry for about 18 months, and then on to the Q. The Q is the best.
I’ll definitely admit the Q is a much more superior Windows Mobile experience, but its the smartphone edition. Many customers do get the Windows Mobile PPC version, and that regardless of hardware platform has consistently had issues with either needing to reboot, or applications having to be relaunched.
With the advent of Exchange/Activesync and the latest MSFP WM and Blackberry OS may be locked in a deathgrip for some time to come.
I happen to suspect that a lot of the reason many Blackberry users hold the opinion that WM is a horrid, wretched glitchfest is that for many their only experience is from reading horror stories from people who could not manage to properly run their own WM device. Or had a crippled WM device like a Palm 700w or such. I say crippled because in the case of a Palm 700w 64 MB or ROM and 32MB of RAM is just enough to run the built-in apps and not much else.
Reliably running a WM device is not unlike running a reliable PC. Don’t install every cute and pretty add-in that catches your eye. Just like a PC, WM has a registry. Clutter it up and the results are pretty much the same. Today screen add-ons and bloated task switching apps are a big causal factor is having a crappy WM experience. Apps that periodically activate the wireless modem to pull data from the internet will have a greater impact on the battery life of a WM device than a BB, so go overboard on those things and you’ll be recharging a lot.
The flip side of BB’s reliability is the fewer third party apps that are out for it versus WM. The PPC OS it’s based on has been around for years and Microsoft pretty much opens the whole system up to developers. RIM still has parts of their OS firewalled off, IIRC.
I have been a messaging administrator in charge of wireless devices, BlackBerries and Pocket PCs for about 5 years. What Windows Mobile, is not as bad as most BlackBerry users make it out to be, in fact, when used for more than just email and making phone calls can be superior to BlackBerry.
We have strict policies in place as to what users can install on their devices and, as Robb said, so long as we control the freeware apps, support issues on Pocket PCs is less than 1% higher than for BlackBerries, at least in my organization.
What is interesting is that we have put a ban on the BlackBerry Pearl because of all the issues that we got from our test group. Initially we thought that problems were just around the new features, however, we quickly learned that the Pearl has stability issues as well.
I use the 7250 with Alltel. I had windows way back when Casio 100 ppc first came out. So when then windows mobile ppc 6700 came out I was willing to give up my BlackBerry. Thank God Alltel has a two week grace period. I took it back and kept my 7250 even though the ppc6700 was way cooler. Once in a while I will find myself thinking the Moto Q would be nice to own, then I remember all the headaches I had over the years with windows mobile. So I will always use BlackBerry even if Winblows Hee-Hee gets there act together. BTW I’m a personal user no work on my BlackBerry at all. Looking forward to the media BlackBerry’s when they come to CDMA.