Blackberry vs. iPhone
August 5th, 2011

The clever NY Times recently posted an amusing video starring two of their editors, each using a different PDA. Remember, these guys are not professional actors or anything, and the little film has a nerdy lame quality, sure, but it gets the job done.  The job is a short compare-and-contrast study on the relative merits of the Blackberry vs the iPhone. The guy wearing a suit covets his Blackberry. The other casually dressed dude swears by his iPhone. One guy uses a lot of words; the other plays a lot of games and music. Who’s right?
That’s what I want to know. The timing of this video hits me where I live. You’ll find that most Canadian academics use the RIM product. The country is, after all, Canadian based, and our universities stock, sell, and service the product, always have. Besides, the obvious advantage of the BB is the actual keyboard. Once you get used to texting on those teeny tiny keys the rest of your word processing takes care of itself. How many years have we all been relying on various incarnations of the RIM product? I can’t even remember anymore. A Blackberry is my third hand. I proudly carry a Torch, sure. For now, anyway.

Nothing stays still in tech land. Memorial University just announced that it will be servicing iPhones this fall, and so we will now have a choice. What’s a dean to do? This wouldn’t even be an issue if I hadn’t also been playing with my iPad for a little over a year now. I’ve definitely moved to a bitextual orientation, composing relatively long emails when I have to with RIM, browsing and tweeting and distracting myself with Apple. The perfect instrument would combine both sets of product attributes, but, alas, real life never quite happens that way. Everyone who knows anything about it knows that using social media on a Blackberry is a little like going to the doctor. You eventually get what you wanted but there’s an awfully long time spent waiting for something to happen. Everyone also knows that composing anything more than a short sentence on an iPhone/iPad leads to unintended errors and a maddening frustration with an overly sensitive touch screen. Touching is great, except when it isn’t.

The other day a friend of mine told me that people who use Blackberries are working; people who use iPhones are killing time. But it’s not all about whether you write more words than you look at pictures. The BB is not social media friendly, let’s face it. The apps are clumsy and hard to get to, actually discouraging their use.

I know that RIM is in rough shape, and there is a strong chance they might just lose their status as the chief hand-held device competitor to Apple over time, because they just haven’t kept pace with all the neat stuff people seem to want these days. I feel I should be loyal to their Canadian-owned brand, and the entrepreneurial university-based origins of the company. But…but…there’s a reason they are starting to suffer. Even without Flash capacity, it’s pretty hard to beat the sexy ease of the iPad. Trust me.

I know you might not believe this but since starting this blog my Torch has started to act up. Some of the key functions have frozen, and it seems I have to reload the entire Twitter app to get it started again. This has happened before. What do you think RIM is trying to tell me?


Dr. Faye Murrin is Dean pro tempore of the School of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Biology. She completed her B.Sc. (Hons.) at Memorial University, her M.Sc. at Acadia University, and her Ph.D. at Queen's University. Her research interests have always been focused on fungi, in particular the cell biology of insect pathogenic fungi and, more recently, the ecology of mycorrhizal mushrooms in the boreal forest. Dr. Murrin has served in a number of positions on the Council of the Mycological Society of America and was awarded the title of MSA Fellow for her contributions. She was awarded the Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Membership Award as founding co-director of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Summer Program. Dr. Murrin participates in public lectures and workshops, and is a Director on the board of Newfoundland Foray, Inc.

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