NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Forty-plus million earthlings can't be wrong: BlackBerrys are still dangerous small-business weapons.
Geeks, right now, love to strike the cold, tech-nihilist pose when mulling Canadian smartphone giant
Research in Motion
. Sure, RIM made the first truly perfect mobile device matched to an on-the-go mail server and let loose the dogs of a new mobile work force. But that was then. Now? Mobile heroes such as the
are too grand and glorious for RIM. The fact is, the company's latest and best -- the BlackBerry Torch 9800 -- really is slow, cramped and just too much about the keyboard to compete app for app with these mobile, movable silicon feasts.
So has RIM reached the end of its run? Not a chance. I've spent the summer (yes, this is the life I have chosen) testing three top-of-the-line RIMs:
Bold 9700 and the Tour 9650, along with their attendant software and apps. And you know what? Given the right techno-touch, RIMs have their place. Yes, the browser is clumsy by modern standards, multitasking clogs the phone and you'll miss the big bright screens of, say, a
Galaxy S. But get the setup right and there's still plenty of good money to be made with BBerrys.
Here's what you need to do:
Use the tools you already paid for.
For all the worry about what software to add to your phone, most folks ignore RIM's core applications beyond e-mail. They are right there in the Application folder (duh) on your phone. Open it and you should see Word To Go, Sheet To Go and Slideshow to Go, which are some of the most powerful mobile applications not only for BlackBerrys, but for all phones. Recently RIM sweetened that application pie by adding some excellent banking software, task-management tools and voice dialing. RIM does a terrific job of taking what's core to your business and getting it on a gadget that fits in your pocket. Before you go all gaga for the iPhone, take the time to learn what already is on your Bberry. Won't you be surprised.
Beware of phone company pre-installed apps
If there's one set of knuckles that deserves the bad rap for low-functioning mobile tools, it's the software that came on our test units -- stuff like AT&T Maps + Nav, YPMobile and various poorly thought-out social media software. Considering that
are flatly better, whose idea was that? Just keep it simple: If you seek a software boost, go the the
BlackBerry App World
, search for what you need upgradewise and spare yourself the phone-company-induced agony.
Don't confuse simple interfaces with simple performance.
Let's be honest: The so-called BlackBerry App World is barely a small town. There are, max, a couple hundred apps that might be of small-biz interest, or basically nothing compared with the Apple App Store or Android Market. And these BBerry apps, once installed, have zero smartphone flash or zip. But that does not mean they suck. Far from it. The simplicity of user interface makes this code fast, robust and oh-so-practical. Take Montreal-based
Telicost, which keeps a running tab of your roaming mobile minutes. I also liked Boston-based
online credit card-swiping tool, which offers super-simple remote credit card processing. And tell me that the mobile riffs of major cloud work tools such as
do not rock on the BBerry? Before you confuse lame-looking with lame-acting, give these tools a spin. You should find they outperform their Android and Apple mobile OS rivals time and again.
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As originally published this story contained an error. Jonathan Blum is an independent technology writer and analyst living in Westchester, N.Y. He has written for The Associated Press and Popular Science and appeared on Fox News and The WB.