Over the past few days there has been a continuing dilemma with BlackBerry outages for users in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The disruption of messaging services and emails began in Europe and Middle East on Monday, and spread into India and Latin America on Tuesday. Some reports of outages in Canada appeared Wednesday, and a few reports have been coming in about disruptions in the United States. Research in Motion, the Canadian company who produces BlackBerry believed the outages were caused by a failure with the network of back-up servers. This couldn’t come at a worse time for RIM due to their recent struggle to keep up with competition such as Apple and Android.

Now I know some of you are thinking, who still uses BlackBerry? I actually went back to a BlackBerry Bold (yes, it has a touch screen but also an actual physical QWERTY keyboard!) this week after having an iPhone for about 5 months and still not able to get used to the touch screen for sending quick texts. With the physical QWERTY keyboard, it is much easier to send quick texts without errors or your phones’ auto correct, such as changing “Autopay” to “Autopsy”.

Don’t get me wrong, Android does offer phones with an actual keyboard, but most are the slide-out keyboard style, instead of the familiar candy-bar-style-keyboard-on-bottom made famous by BlackBerry.. In my experience, it is obvious that the BlackBerry 7 OS still has ways to come to compete with Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS and even the up and coming Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5. But there have been improvements. From my past BlackBerry Curve a year ago, I have noticed (without getting too technical) a definite improvement in graphics, faster browser, and the overall appearance with the slimmer design. Although, the BlackBerry OS may still lack the ability to compete with Apps that Android and the iPhone have available.

So does RIM need a “Magic Unicorn Rescue” (as labeled on the WSJ blog)? According to comScore, RIM lost a full 5% of marketshare this past quarter when compared to the three month period prior.

From this author’s point of view, I would say the current lineup of Androids and iPhones would be a better fit for someone who uses their device frequently for Apps and multimedia, while the BlackBerry may fit better for someone on the go with heavy messaging requirements. Apple’s new Siri voice activation and control seeks to add a new alternative to conventional keyboards, but it is currently unproven technology, and still needs to move past the stigma of people talking to their electronics in public. This week, the CTIA Enterprise & Applications 2011 has been taking place and saw strong offerings from most of the major phone manufacturers, including some new physical keyboard options from Android (though it looks to be more of the same slider-style).

So BlackBerry may still be king and queen of the messaging phones for the time being, the competition is clearly gaining ground (and market share).
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Danielle Rosato

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