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BlackBerry vs. Apple: What’s better for business?

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When it comes to smartphones, Blackberry has long been the darling of Bermuda. But now, there’s a new belle of the ball and it’s the little same beauty who has won the world over: the iPhone.

Bermuda is living proof that even the most BlackBerry faithful are beginning to abandon Research In Motion (RIM). BlackBerry sales and usage are deteriorating around the world and the trend is trickling in to Bermuda.

We started to notice the trend when looking at analytics of

The Royal Gazette website. We’re able to break down what sorts of computers, cell phones and tablets are accessing our site and the numbers are fascinating.

The vast majority of mobile visitors to royalgazette.com are Apple users 49.09 percent on iPads and 18.60 percent on iPhones. BlackBerry visitors make up just 16.05 percent.

And when you compare the numbers from March of 2011 to March of this year, the rates of change are staggering. The number of visits from iPads is up 371.32 percent. From iPhones, visits are up 86.53 percent and from BlackBerry devices up a measly 1.79 percent.

While the greatest amount of change came in the number of Apple (iPad and iPhone) users (457.85 percent collectively), the second largest gain was made by Android devices which increased by nearly as much 457.79 percent.

Local mobile service providers tell us they’re noticing the trend as well.

“In 2010, BlackBerry made up approximately 90 percent of all smartphone sales,” said CellOne Marketing Manager, Schereene Outerbridge. That figure is now about 75 percent with Apple and Android splitting the remainder pretty evenly.”

And it seems the uptick isn’t just in sales of devices.

“We have even more people on our network who use Apple and Android products,” Ms Outerbridge added. “But usually they are bringing them in from overseas and just get service with us.”

While Digicel Bermuda doesn’t sell iPhones or iPads, the devices are compatible and they, too, say they are noticing more Apple and Android devices on their network.

“Interest in Apple and Android devices has grown over the past six months but still at low levels compared to BlackBerry,” said Shane Mora, Digicel’s marketing director. “The slow growth over the past six months is a definite trend.”

Bermuda residents seem to be noticing the trend, too. Mesha Williams, who works at HSBC, told us she’s made the switch and is seeing more Apple and Android devices around as well.

“There is a trend right now. I have a lot of friends switching. I would say that it’s because many of them are away at school right now and Androids and iPhones are what’s ‘in’.“

Ms Williams said she considered herself a “serious Blackberry fan” but recently switched to the iPhone. While she doesn’t use it for work, she does like more of its features.

“The iPhone overall is just a great phone. The only thing that was keeping me with BlackBerry was the BlackBerry Messenger, but the iPhone has so many more perks to it,” Ms Williams said. “I love the quality of the camera. Since buying the iPhone I have become addicted to photography and with Apps like Instagram.”

Simon Moore, who works for Aon Benfield, has both an iPhone and a BlackBerry one for personal use, the other for work. He told us while there are a couple of things he doesn’t like about the iPhone, he would switch over completely if he could.

“It’s a bit bulky and the battery life is one to two days. My BlackBerry would last twice that. Apart from that, it’s absolutely brilliant,” Mr Moore said. “I have a Blackberry for work in Bermuda. It’s great as a work phone, and for e-mail, just not as swanky as an iPhone. If I had the choice, I think I would go iPhone for work, too.”

While some continue to think BlackBerry is best for business, a growing number of workers think otherwise. A recent study found the iPhone now surpasses the BlackBerry in capturing the hearts and minds of business users.

Every quarter, a company called iPass (which is in no way affiliated with Apple or the iPhone) does a Mobile Workforce Study, surveying 2,500-3,000 workers around the world. According to their most recent study, Apple has officially unseated RIM when it comes to smartphones at work.

BlackBerry has 32.3 percent of the market down 2.3 percent from a year ago while iPhone holds 45 percent of the market (up 13.9 percent) and Google’s Android devices have 21.3 percent of the market (up ten percent).

“While increasing iPhone usage in the workplace was inevitable, this is the tipping point when the iPhone has overcome the BlackBerry on its traditional enterprise turf,” said iPass President and CEO Evan Kaplan in a statement. “Business smartphones are in the hands of nearly every knowledge worker.”

What the study found was the actual market share of BlackBerry declined only slightly, but the preference moving forward declined significantly. The iPhone has clearly taken a leadership role. Asked which smartphones they plan to purchase in 2012, 18 percent pointed to the iPhone, 11.2 percent to an Android device, 3.6 percent to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Phone device, and only 2.3 percent to a BlackBerry.

The authors of the study said it’s not so much that BlackBerry has fallen as it is other smartphones are gaining traction while BlackBerry is standing still.

“The real driver here is that BlackBerry is still considered an e-mail device and these [iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile] are all application devices,” Mr Kaplan said. “There are just so many more applications being consumed than e-mail right now and BlackBerry is perceived to be stuck in an e-mail-centric world.”

Apple has managed to make its devices more business-friendly by offering compatibility to Microsoft Office document and e-mail servers.

While the BlackBerry may not be dead, but might be dying as companies start to migrate their workforce to other devices. New research from Enterprise Management Associates says that 30 percent of BlackBerry users in US companies with more than 10,000 users will move to a different mobile platform in the next year. Today, 52 percent of users in such organisations actively use a BlackBerry for work. A 30 percent reduction would bring that total to 36 percent.

Some companies in Bermuda are starting to follow suit, moving their employees to Apple devices. Jason Bibb, the chief financial officer and chief operating officer of CatCo Investment Management Ltd., said their entire office has moved to using iPhones and no one has suggested they prefer the BlackBerry.

“It was rather difficult to set up initially, but once we got it connected to our environment, it now automatically syncs with our ‘cloud’ and desktops,” Mr Bibb said. “As far as functionality with PDFs, presentations and the like, it works very well, even better than the BlackBerry.”

When asked what he personally likes best about the iPhone, Mr Bibb said pretty much everything. “I have been a BlackBerry user for more than years and the iPhone is light years ahead of it. Our office environment is all Mac so adding the iPhone was the next logical step.”

He said he almost doesn’t need to travel with a laptop anymore now that he has an iPhone. “I can do pretty much everything on it from a business perspective. Everything that is on my desktop all files, e-mails, presentations and even our CRM system is all on my phone, but instantaneously, whereas you waited so long with BlackBerry for things to download.”

When asked about the cons, Mr Bibb mentioned something we heard from a lot of people who have made the switch the issue of data compression.

“The only issue I have is with roaming charges overseas. Because I use it for work and travel a lot, I spent most of December in Europe and my bill was $10,000,” Mr Bibb said.

It’s a complaint that has been echoed by another Bermuda resident who had a BlackBerry, switched to an iPhone and then went back to BlackBerry again.

“I love the iPhone for the apps but the functionality of it in Bermuda wasn’t good. And the cost of using an iPhone abroad on Digicel or similar is extortionate compared to BlackBerry,” said Gemma Wood. “If I lived back in the UK, I would have an iPhone over a BlackBerry, but here it isn’t worth the additional data costs.”

When it comes to roaming data, the best device is still the BlackBerry. RIM’s network compresses your data to enable you to use less data and still get the same information whether it is e-mails, BBMs, texts, Facebook updates or internet use. Other devices like Apple and Android do not compress the data so you end up spending a lot more when you roam. But there are ways around those charges as Mr Bibb has discovered.

“You can purchase a ‘pay as you go’ SIM or get a another contract with another carrier in the US, Europe or wherever you travel. I have done this and it works very well. You simply forward all of your calls from your Bermuda cell number to the US or European number and it works exactly the same.”

When asked if he missed anything about the BlackBerry, Mr Bibb was hard-pressed to come up with an answer. “I thought I might when I first moved over, but having used it now for four or five months, I don’t think there is. Not sure I would even go back.”

Blackberry vs. iPhone: Long considered best for business users, can BB beat iPhone, the most loved personal phone any time soon?

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Published March 21, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 21, 2012 at 9:56 am)

BlackBerry vs. Apple: What’s better for business?

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