Pat Egen’s Weblog

Ramblings, chats, thoughts, ideas

My New Phone Saga – Episode One.

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Wow, two blog articles within a week of each other. One of my 2010 resolutions was to write at least one article per week. All good intentions were there but the phones have been ringing. We still see an issue with the economy though. The calls take longer as people ask deeper questions. People are not going to spend their hard earned (and less amounts of) money unless they are very sure they get what they want. Oh, and for the cheapest price. Every day I feel like I’m at a straw market down in the islands, haggling over goods. In our case it’s software and consulting – but the same rules apply. But that’s another blog. Today’s blog is all about my new phone.

A week ago, I went to AT&T where I’ve been a loyal customer for over 14 years. My trusted Treo 680 (which actually was less trusted than my much-missed Treo 650) is dying a slow, painful death. My fears were that it would die when I was on one of my many trips. For the past year, I could read emails but not reply. Point 1. The phone battery would collapse without warning, even though it was brand new. Point 2. And the list goes on. I had been waiting for AT&T to get the Palm Pre. Watching the reviews I decided this was the way for me to go even though it, while being a Palm device, was outside of the Palm platform. That meant all my favorite Palm apps went away. But, for the sake of new technology, I was willing to make the transition if only to research it for my clients.

Because of my clients, and knowing my phone was dying, I kept up a contant vigil watching the phone market trends. My clients either ask me what phone should they get, or in some sad cases, will the phone they did get (because it looked cool) connect to their business applications. In the case of the ones who went ahead and bought the cool phone, they can’t get all their apps connected. Since we are Sage consultants, the main question we get is will the phone work with ACT. That was also a key driver for me in my phone decision. ACT drives my business – it’s my contacts, my tasks, my notes, my calendar. And all that needs to be on my phone – or at least most of it. And, I need to get and send emails. Pretty simple. Right? Wrong.

Let’s talk about the phone demographics of my clients. Many of them are using Crackberries. Yes, that’s what I call them and I’m sticking to it. I get the biggest charge out of watching guys on planes hide their devices under their arms as the flight attendants walk by. Once the “airline phone guards” have passed, they whip out the things and continue reading their emails. Ok, I just don’t get it. To me, an airplane ride is welcome relief from phones and email. It’s right up there with a quiet, personal visit to a restroom. I don’t want to get emails. I dont want to get phone calls. You get the point. The thing that’s important to this blog though is the fact the market share for Blackberry devices is slowing down. Yes, really. Here’s a link to an interesting article talking about the shift towards smart phone devices from cell phones (http://brainstormtech.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2010/02/23/apple-android-rim-gain-market-share/).

While the article shows RIM (Blackberry) increased in 2009, it did so a lower rate than years before. There is a reason for this. Business people want more than just a cell phone, but even though they like iPhones, they can’t use the iPhones because of key missing components. Or, and this is true for many companies I talk to, the iPhone are not allowed as a business phone. You can’t programmatically write to the iPhone calendar. Apple doesn’t allow it. While email is important to business owners, in some cases, it’s the calendar that is the important element. Specifically, it’s their alarms. Only a few of my clients use iPhones for business. I have several clients who have two phones – one a smart phone and one an iPhone with the iPhone being their personal, play phone. I don’t care about the iPhone numbers in my research because they are really for the consumer. In February last year, I was at Apple and met some of the iPhone engineers (btw, oldest age was 24). They pretty much stated that the iPhone was developed for the consumer not the business person. However, don’t get me wrong. If Apple gets a clue and realizes that business people want sexy as well as efficient, and if Apple makes the iPhone more “corporate friendly” look out. iPhones will own the world. But for now, that’s not the case.

In 2009 some of the cell phone users wanting smart devices switched to Blackberry, but as opposed to earlier years, not as many. There are now more options and that area of the market is the one that is growing. What I found intriguing in the numbers was the increase in Androids. Google is a smart company. I figured phones created under their umbrella operating system ought to be pretty smart as well. The Android operating system made its first appearance in late 2007 and phones started showing up in 2008. When you look at the market numbers, the increase in 2009 is significant when you realize how new they are. Google announced on February 16th this year that 60,000 Android phones are shipping a day. Their market share grew at a higher rate even though they still don’t own all the market. The message is this – it’s predicted that unless RIM makes some major internal changes, the Blackberry as we know it today will go away within the next few years. Knowing this, and knowing how much I really do dislike the Blackberry, I chose to look at the Androids.

AT&T announced the Motorola Backflip Android phone and said it would be available in March 2010. So, I went to the local store and bought one. It wasn’t really a hard decision. With a rebate plus another $100 discount, the phone cost me $9.00. Oh, and they noticed I was on an older phone plan, and reduced my monthly charges. Ok, right away this was looking like a very good decision. Until….I got home and started using the phone.

It’s different. Oh my gosh, it’s different. At one point, I looked at my contract and figured I had 30 days to when (not if, but when) I could return it. And I know technology and don’t mind change. But it’s change for the better that I don’t mind. Until one day ago, I couldn’t get my contacts and calendar switched to the device. I couldn’t get email because the Xpressmail that AT&T advertised as working on the phone, didn’t. Not supported. AT&T lied. Oh, and the pages on the internet that said it did support it are now gone. Duh. I went out and started reading review of the Backflip and realized in a hurry that AT&T had crippled the device. I did something I normally don’t do – I went bleeding edge. The bad reviews hadn’t shown up yet. Well, they are there now. So, what you may ask, is going to be the end of this story? I’m keeping the phone. And the reason is the topic of my next blog. Stay tuned. Things are looking up, Virginia.

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Written by pregen

March 14, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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