Blackberry's a Ferrari, iPhone's a DeLorean

Everyone's interest is up about the new Apple 3G iPhone coming next week. I'm sure Steve Jobs will do his pitchman shtick as well as he ever has. I expect to see Steve roll out some cool iPhone app a 3rd party developed with the iPhone SDK along with touting new features and styling of the 3G iPhone. But no amount of shtick can cover over the fact that the iPhone popularity still pales in comparison to the Blackberry for business users.

A ChangeWave Research report shows the percentage of companies planning to buy Blackberry devices rising from from 61% to 82% over the last five months. (During the build up to the iPhone 3G announcement, btw.) Plans to buy Apple iPhones have only risen from 10% to 13% over the last three months. The real loser in all this is Palm, dropping from 22% to 8% over that same five month period. The media loves to talk up the Apple iPhone but that isn't translating to an overwhelming business user market share gain by Apple.

The iPhone still lacks key business user features that Blackberry perfected years ago. iPhone users now have Microsoft Exchange integration but many report its not as seamless and easy as on the Blackberry. Users still complain about the iPhone's funky keyboard, whereas Blackberrys have very easy to use keyboards many can blaze through with thumbs and fingers. The iPhone also doesn't do well searching and managing hundreds of contacts, something most business users rely on greatly. Blackberry also has very intuitive "think ahead" features and menus that anticipate the most common actions while placing calls, managing contacts or calendar appointments. Blackberry's greatest deficiencies are its web browser and lack of HTML email support.

The iPhone has a fantastic Safari web browser, better than anything I've seen on a mobile phone or PDA. Hands down, the iPhone is a better web experience so long as you don't have to slog through AT&T's slow EDGE network. Thus, all the anticipation around the 3G iPhone.The iPhone's screen is also superb, the touch & gestures interface rocks (expect the keyboard), and brings a lot of flash (except Adobe Flash) and sizzle to the PDA experience.

That's why I say Blackberry is the Ferrari and the iPhone's a DeLorean. I was around when the DeLorean first came out. It was a very, very cool sports car with its wing style doors and brush polished silver exterior. A friend of my dad's had one and we got to drive it around. Very cool experience. But in the end, the DeLorean didn't stick around, except in Michael J. Fox movies. It had a lot of flash, but the Ferrari was about engineering perfection, something Ferrari worked at year after year. Nobody expected the DeLorean to go away, but it just turned out that way.

Now, I'm not saying the iPhone will go the way of the DeLorean or the doh-doh bird. What I'm saying is Apple brings a lot of new capabilities and some hot sizzle to the PDA phone market. But, it's not the perfected device the Blackberry is. I've blogged before about Apple's ability to innovate and create markets, but it's utter failure at dominating markets (iPod being the one exception). I expect the same of the iPhone. The iPhone is a consumer device. Blackberrys are for business users. There will be crossover but Apple has some serious ground to make up if they want to chip away at Blackberrys dominance. That is not something Apple has shown they can do successfully.

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