1. Razorback72727's Avatar
    Thought I would share with everyone some highlights of our company's recent device evaluation. Our company has been a Blackberry shop for years, complete with BES. We have about 100 Blackberries in the field.

    Our contract with Verizon was up for renewal, and as part of the deal, new phones were being offered for little out of pocket expense. The majority of our folks had Curves and Tours - so you know what that meant - a bunch of phones with bad trackballs. So new devices all around.

    Now, we had been getting lots of requests for touchscreen devices - iPhones, Android devices, you name it. We had previous experience with the Storm 1, and overall the experience wasn't great, but we knew the industry had changed a bunch in two years.

    First we looked at carriers. For several reasons we decided to stay with Verizon, primarily due to their good rural coverage in our area. Based on that, we evaluated the following devices:

    Droid X
    Droid 2
    Samsung Fascinate
    BB Bold 9650

    In our business, access to emailed PDFs on the road would be a major win. (Our experience reading PDFs on a Blackberry has not been great.) The Android phones seemed like a good alternative to Blackberry.

    Our journey with the Androids started by evaluating the mail clients built in to the OSs. The Droid X/2 had basically an identical client. The Fascinate had a similar client. Coming from Blackberry, the native clients had some shortcomings:

    * No separate server based filtering of emails. Basically your device's email will mirror your desktop email.

    * GAL lookup was clumsy compared to the Blackberry "lookup" function.

    * HTML rendering was only average. On the Droids, scrolling horizontally on an HTML email was nearly impossible. (Not saying HTML rendering is great on a BB...)

    * Pinch and zoom on email was very nicely implemented on the Fascinate. Non-existant on the Droids (and BB of course.)

    * The Fascinate can not open a PDF attachment using the native client! (go figure.) Major marks against the Fascinate for this.

    * No easy way to select a range of emails, other than clicking a checkbox next to each message. Blackberry lets you choose a message, then "hold and scroll".

    * Universal inbox, (e-mail, texting, IM/BBM), was either not offered, or it was clumsy compared to BB.

    * Filing messages to folders was insanely difficult. The BB spoils you on remembering (usually) the correct folder based on previous content.

    * "Push" email with Exchange on Android is an approximation compared to BB. Many instances of having to kick the Androids in the **** by forcing a sync to get mail to start flowing, etc.

    * We could see lots of UI changes between the stock clients on the Droids and the Fascinate. The concern from a support standpoint was that newer devices might have a new look that would be different to support. BB seems to be consistent within the same revision of the OS within the mail client (and most facets of the device actually.)

    Based on this, we decided a third party e-mail client would be necessary if we were going to support Android. We decided on TouchDown. Other products seemed similar, but TouchDown seemed to get the best reviews.

    Touchdown does a good job of making Android a decent email platform. We had some of the same issues with the UI. For example, no easy way to quickly select multiple messages, filing e-mail to folders was difficult, etc. But it is usable. That is, until we got it in the field. IT had been testing it for weeks with mainly good results. However, as soon as we handed the devices to our test groups, here came the "force closes" and the "my email isn't syncing" support calls. We could usually get the device working again without too much trouble. Our investigation seemed to narrow the problems down to apps the users installed from the Market making the device unstable or data disruptions that Touchdown couldn't recover from.

    Touchdown and Contacts: This is probably the biggest problem with any third party Exchange client for Android. For whatever reason, Touchdown creates a separate Contacts database separate from the Android OS. Then, it syncs the contacts from Touchdown to the OS. This sync is _one way_. This is a disaster waiting to happen for the unaware user. If I go into the Android dialer app and choose to add a contact from a recently dialed number, this contact goes ONLY into the native Android contacts, and never syncs back to Touchdown (or Exchange.) Most users don't understand or care to understand that they have to go into the "Touchdown Application" to modify their contacts. This will result in many lost contacts with end users.

    Moving on, the Android devices do a great job of viewing PDFs and other attachments due to their speed and screen size. This is a big win for the Android compared to the BB. For us in our business, this is a big deal.

    Keyboards: Lots of mixed results here. With the on screen Android keyboards, many users who have personal iPhones or similar devices were fine with the touchscreen. Most of us in IT used the Swype keyboard and loved it.... at first. However, try swyping an email that is several paragraphs.... your hand will start hurting badly. Also, swyping when your hands are warm becomes impossible because your finger is tacky and bounces across the screen rather than sliding ("swyping.")

    Physical keyboards: No comparison. The only device we compared was the Droid 2 to the BB. Motorola should be embarrassed.

    Deployment: What a mess. We are spoiled with our Blackberries. Set an activation password on the BES, hand the device to the user and basically give them three instructions: (1) Turn off your old phone. (2) *228, opt 1, (3) Enterprise activation using <password>. Everything including corporate apps show up after 15-30 minutes.

    Not so with Android. Lots of manual configuration, especially for users who aren't comfortable setting up their email client, etc. Oh and guess what, now we all have to have a Google account too!

    Domain password changes: This is a fact of life in a corporate environment. Our Active Directory requires password changes every 30 days. With BES, there is nothing a BB user has to do on his/her device. The BES does not care about the end user's password change, and the device continues to work. In fact, even if a user locks out his/her AD account, they can still email on the BB through BES.

    Password changes are a mess with Android. You have to go into the email client and update your password each time. Not such a big deal, but a hassle if you let your password expire while on the road. It requires a helpdesk call to get things going again.

    Web Browsing: Android wins big, nothing new or unexpected here. That said, during our testing, we did have AT&T trying to win the business. They offered up a Torch. I will say that OS 6 narrows the gap enough that this should be mostly a non-issue for business users in the coming months (especially on the Torch and Storm II/III devices with the larger screen.) Still not as good, but OK.

    Security: Another BB win. Touchdown and the stock Android e-mail clients to accept the "wipe" command from an ActiveSync aware Exchange server. However, that command just wipes the Exchange-related data, not the entire device. Touchdown is closer - it gives an option to wipe the SD card. However, we never found a way to lock down and disable a phone completely from remote. BES makes this easy.

    So in the end, what did we do? Blackberries for everyone except a few execs who insisted on something new and different. Yes, they continue to have trouble with Touchdown locking up and not understanding why the contacts they added on their phone aren't showing up in their Outlook. But hey, they can view a PDF!

    I get it that most of this doesn't matter to a consumer. My wife uses an iPhone. It's faster, smoother, etc. But as a communication device that can be managed, it still stinks. Android is the same way.

    A BB is a better communication device, hands down. I can churn out email, BBM, text, quicker and easier than an Android. I personally spent about 6 months on Android, just to give it plenty of opportunity.

    RIM is still years ahead of the competition from a business standpoint. RIM is still years behind from a consumer standpoint. That said, OS6 helps. Put a faster processor in and add some smoother graphics, and the tables will turn, even on the consumer level.

    Sorry for the rambling message, just thought it might be some perspective from a business standpoint.
    Last edited by Razorback72727; 10-21-10 at 09:46 PM.
    10-21-10 06:30 PM
  2. albee 1's Avatar
    Really enjoyed your thorough first person look at the options from a defined requirement point of view. Not rambling at all. The perspective changes dramatically after specific needs are attempted to be fulfilled. If that was rambling we can use more around here! Thanks again for the enlightenment.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    10-21-10 07:14 PM
  3. TheScionicMan's Avatar
    I enjoyed it. We recently had the COO request a proposal for what it would cost to change from BBs to iPhones (~100 users). They gagged on the $50,000 initial costs, we never got into the other reasons why we shouldn't...
    10-21-10 07:52 PM
  4. 0100010's Avatar
    Just about every one of my co-workers who has switched from BB to Droid wants to come back, but they are stuck on their Droids - hating their phones- until their next New Every Two rolls around (the business will not pay for a new device for them at full retail and they can't even out of pocket the cost). We've got over 200K BBs deployed currently on BES.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    10-21-10 08:16 PM
  5. jbeachy's Avatar
    That was a great, dispassionate evaluation. Thanks for posting. I'm a completely happy BES user but always wondered if the grass is greener...

    Posted from my BlackBerry using BerryBlab
    10-21-10 09:09 PM
  6. pattste's Avatar
    Very interesting tale. Thanks for posting it. Despite what the fan boys of other platforms say, when you need something secure, functional and manageable, the BlackBerry platforms kills everything else.
    10-21-10 09:16 PM
  7. Steph010's Avatar
    Great review! As someone who sends 40+ e-mails a day for work and/or school, I need a dependable phone that doesn't make me want to slam it against the wall. My entire life is on my Blackberry and I cannot being organized the same way without it.

    I understand why the BB is not heralded as a consumer phone, but I honestly don't care for media that will suck up my battery power and require me to carry around an extra battery. If someone wants a phone on par with a toy, then great, there are other options.
    10-21-10 09:23 PM
  8. Razorback72727's Avatar
    Thanks guys. The only people that don't understand why I switched back to my BB are my kids. "What, no angry birds?"

    One follow up: I had someone tonight explain how to fix the contact sync problem I mentioned on Android. It involves (1) keeping Touchdown, and (2) enabling the built in email client as well, but only set it up to sync contacts.

    Wow that's clumsy but it does work. Of course, now when my AD password expires, I get to navigate to TWO places to update my password.

    I don't need that much grief just to view my PDFs (and play angry birds.)

    10-21-10 09:53 PM
  9. hondateg91's Avatar
    (and play angry birds.)
    That was a very good write up and comparison. Nice job. That is the reason I bought my ipod touch 4g.
    10-22-10 12:07 AM
  10. Branta's Avatar
    Oh and guess what, now we all have to have a Google account too!
    Hey, that means all your company traffic can go into the Google datamine and be retrieved years later. Trust them... they won't abuse it
    10-22-10 04:23 AM
  11. Username5300's Avatar
    Hey, that means all your company traffic can go into the Google datamine and be retrieved years later. Trust them... they won't abuse it
    Yeah I stand firmly behand you on this one.......Great write up, I am glad to hear someone actually researched this before just pulling the trigger.
    10-22-10 04:49 AM
  12. qbnkelt's Avatar
    Oh yes - I spent some time over the weekend my my sister in law's Android and I nearly had a nervous breakdown watching her deal with her Inbox.
    BES delivers, simply and efficiently. Those executives who wanted non-Berry devices may want to come back once they finish jumping through the hoops I saw this weekend....give them time.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    10-22-10 07:00 AM
  13. BoldtotheMax's Avatar
    Awesome review all the way around, probably the best I have read on here.

    Andriods are more consumer and Berries still business, but Berries are catching up with OS6 and hopefully soon with QNX and the playbook. I am just hopeful that they will implement it in their phones as well.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    10-23-10 08:58 AM