TagBlackberry

Berries rotting on the vine

I look up from my screens to see a sales rep standing over me. I can tell he’s frustrated. Before I can open my mouth, he slings his Android phone down on my desk. How do I know it’s an Android? It’s always an Android.

“I can’t type on this thing! I can’t see pictures in my email! I can’t get the company email setup! Can you show me how to use this thing?

He has gone out and bought an Android phone. He moved to it from the Blackberry Whatever he had before. He’s used a Blackberry for years. He misses his tiny tactile keyboard. He misses the familiar corral of icons. He misses that every single Blackberry looks like its predecessor. ((With minor changes.))

Why did he buy something he doesn’t want to use or even likes? He wants to do more with his phone. Maybe he wants to use Twitter and Facebook. Maybe he wants to stream music. Maybe he wants to graze through a vast application landscape. Maybe he simply wants a decent web browser.

Not a week passes when I don’t meet another Blackberry switcher. He’s left the comfortable, familiar tap-tap of the keyboard behind. He’s leapt headfirst into the alien world of Android phones because he wants more. ((And isn’t on AT&T or Verizon or doesn’t want an iPhone.))

He wants a web browser that can reasonably assemble a modern web page. ((He doesn’t care about flash.)) He wants to read the links he gets sent throughout the day. He wants to pull up the NY Times. He wants to check his stocks or send a quick Tweet. He wants to look at the new pictures of his niece that just popped up on Facebook. He wants all of this outside s tiny picture window. He wants the luxurious 3″ or 4″ display.

He wants more and more is not what RIM((Research in Motion)) is delivering. They got left behind. Apple’s iOS devices are eating their lunch Microsoft and Google ((and their army of partners)) stole the leftovers and their wallets. Just today, announced 2,000 layoffs.

People all across our company are dumping their Blackberries and moving to iPhones or Androids. ((I rarely see the iPhone people. Email setup is simple and consistent across providers.)) Judging from the news, this is not unique to our company.

It’s always the Android folks that stand over my desk or grab me in the hallways. It doesn’t matter which Android phone they’ve purchased on which carrier. Their tale of woe is always the same.

I miss the stock “Google Experience” my original Motorola Droid provided me. It’s a maze of skins and user interfaces out there now and trying to walk someone through a simple task like setting up email is an exercise in futility.

Every Android is unique to each provider and manufacturer has to put their mark on Android so even if you can successfully navigate one phone, a similar phone can have a completely different UI. ((It’s very frustrating from a support perspective to provide documentation or help over the phone.))

Every week I see more and more people turning from the Blackberries to Androids because they’re cheaper than iPhones and they offer a similar experience.

RIM is losing their base of business men with a choice. They will still cling to the government employees and those with more draconian IT departments but the writing is on the wall.

No one is buying Playbooks. ((We got one to test out but it’s almost useless without a Blackberry paired to it.)) No one is buying Blackberries. They all look the same.((Storm and Torch being the exceptions.)) There has been no innovation in the Blackberry patch in some time.

Instead of producing new phones and creative ideas, they’re pushing out the same phones over and over with slight differences. They are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic as the ship goes down.

Software shouldn’t require instruction

Over at Practical Opacity, J. Eddie Smith writes,

If iOS proves anything it’s that software doesn’t necessarily require instruction.

I could not agree more with him about the ease of iOS devices. I work in a large media company and everyday more of our journalists and writers are moving from Blackberries to iPhones and Android devices. This is in addition to the piles of iPads being purchased and used by everyone from the top down.

There is one major difference between those who buy iPhones/iPads and those who opt for Android devices. After adding company email to the device, I never see the iOS users again.

For the Android users, I am consistently stopped in the hallway or emailed about some minor problem or question. It does not matter if the user is young or old, male or female, savvy or not. The questions always begin with, “How do I…?”

The iOS users do not need helping learning how to use the device. Even adding an exchange-hosted email address to the device is a simple PDF I wrote that is emailed to them.

The Android users inevitably need help adding their company email to the phone. They always have questions about how to do something or how to use the device.

This is frustrating because each Android device is just different enough to be utterly confusing to use. Whether it be the MotoBlur or the HTC Sense or some other abomination, it is a confusing mess.

When I had an Android phone, I used the original Motorola Droid. I chose this phone primarily because it was a “Google Experience” phone which meant it was a standard Android OS without any third-party OS tacked atop it.

If every Android phone looked the same or at least similar, they would be far easier to support and explain to their respective owners.

I would address Android tablets but I’ve yet to come across one. The IT department even ordered a Blackberry Playbook for evaluation. The company recently purchased about a dozen Google TVs for conferences rooms and other offices. However, I’ve yet to see a single Android tablet come through the front door.

This is pretty damning for Android. As a company that lives and breathes on the web and has iOS apps for its flagship publications, Android doesn’t even warrant a single mention or presence.