Wednesday, March 26, 2008

As Blackberry Innovates, Palm Stagnates

Over the past four years, RIM, maker of the infamous Blackberry, has transcended its reputation as a stuffy corporate smart phone company and reinvented itself as a multimedia smart phone powerhouse.

In fact, the addition of cameras and multimedia functionality have made Blackberries, particularly the Pearl and Curve models, consumer favorites. Aside from these obvious additions, the phones have undergone major cosmetic improvements over the past few years. The three current Blackberry models, the Pearl, Curve and 8800 series, are all sleek, sexy and available in a variety of colors. RIM did away with the side-wheel navigation system in favor of the multi-directional trackball, which makes web browsing and document-viewing effortless and, dare I say, a pleasure.

In addition to the physical upgrades, the Blackberry has maintained its push email system, which "pushes" emails to your phone as they arrive, rather than having your phone constantly check the server for new messages, which supposedly drains the battery faster.

The operating system has seen significant improvements over the years, including the aforementioned media player, an updated web browser, Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities. RIM also recently released announced the Blackberry Remote Stereo Gateway, which allows you to stream music from your phone to your stereo via Bluetooth. It is rumored that the next operating system upgrade, due in June, will feature HTML email support and document editing. This upgrade will be free.

Then there's Palm.

Palm started out strong. Once a leader in the smart phone industry, the Palm Treo actually included a camera and media player before the Blackberry. You'd think then, that Palm would be ahead of the game when it comes to innovation, right?


The most recent Palm Treos run the same tired operating system as the Treos from a few years back. The phones have undergone only minor physical upgrades. Palm finally did away with the Treo's hideous antenna and released the phone in a variety of colors, but the thing is still a brick - and its way expensive. You'd think that over the years, the price would drop a little. After all, Palm isn't really offering anything new and innovative. Why pay a lot for a dated operating system?

To make matters worse, Palm recently admitted that they will not be releasing any new Treos until at least late summer [Gizmodo] and the operating system may not see a significant upgrade until early 2009 [Rimarkable]. Bummer. Oh and if you want to edit documents on your Palm, be prepared to fork over some extra cash for the software as its not included in the operating system.

Joe says: Palm needs to shape up or ship out. In the mean time, when in doubt, go with a Blackberry.


My EQ (energy quotient) said...

Great insight, Joe. I made the switch two months ago and will never turn back. One thing that might help is if you could offer an example of each for users and how they handle items. For
instance "integration" or "access to the web" -- and how users
experience these with each device. It helps the reader get beyond the
"cosmetics" and the "cool" factor, which you covered very well.
There's real functional differences, and of course Blackberry's
network and push technology is just Superior to connecting people.

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