Blackberry continues to do well in business because it is a terrible phone

BlackBerry vs iPhoneRIM/Blackberry’s days are numbered, IMHO. As a mobile platform, it is lagging painfully behind its rivals and increasingly only die-hard fans, luddites and bankers remain loyal – and the latter generally have little choice.

There are a few reasons it succeeds in the enterprise; its excellent push-email platform and its high level of security. However, one reason why it does well is because it’s a terrible, terrible phone.

Say what?

Well, as anyone that’s ever looked into it will know, managing a business contract with a mobile operator comes with its moments of extreme tedium. One of these is dealing with the monthly billing – where people with disproportionately high monthly bills need to account for their calling patterns, going through a gargantuan itemised list of calls, expensing some and paying for others. Few of the mobile operators are doing such fantastic deals on inclusive minutes at an enterprise level that businesses can afford to ignore high levels of usage by even a small proportion of the user base.

This is one of the reasons why some businesses will hesitate on the iPhone. People will be more likely to use it as a primary device, giving up their personal mobile, and this will drive billing and administration costs up. There’s already a higher initial cost and this would be compounded. Blackberries are so hopelessly clumsy for anything but email they tend to be used as a back-up phone if at all, so this problem is far less significant.

And businesses can’t just subsidise individual mobile tariffs. For my employer to contribute to a mobile tariff I pay personally would constitute a “benefit in kind”, they would have to give it to me gross of tax – so probably a 30-40% premium on the mobile tariff. Which doesn’t make any sense at all.

So – mobile operators, if you want to make the premium on iPhones by selling them to business (as Apple seems to want you to), then launch some more affordable ‘all you can eat’ or flexi tariffs that will cope with rogue users. And RIM? I have no advice for you. I’ve no idea who will acquire you when your fortunes flounder for the last time, but can’t help but think that’s where things are headed…