My New Blackberry Bold

Yes, you read the title of this blog post correctly...I am now using a Blackberry Bold. Have I lost my mind? No. I had to make a tough decision and in the end getting my job done in the most efficient way possible won out over my desire to stick with a single device. So what happened?

My employer recently implemented some Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) guidelines. Up until this point I was able to access my work email on both my personal iPhone and personal iPad with no strings attached. The new guidelines that my employer put into place mostly involved the minimal amount of security that will now be required (and in fact pushed and enforced onto my devices via an iOS profile). I had no issues with these security guidelines, in fact I had already activated these security options (and even more than this minimum set) on my devices. No, the issue I wad with the new BYOD guidelines was that if I continued to access my work email servers with my personal devices then only people who had permission to access my work email would be allowed to use my device. So I could no longer let my kids play a game on my iPad or let my wife use my phone. This was a deal-breaker for me...

I take my job very seriously, and my job requires me to have constant email and calendar access. But at the same time my job is also quite demanding and I take full advantage of the power and efficiency of my iOS devices at work. So I was extremely reluctant to make the decision to give up using my iPhone and iPad as work devices. I essentially had 4 options:

  • Blackberry Only: Go with only my employer provided Blackberry device as both my work phone and my personal cell phone (this was allowed by my employer)
  • iPhone Only: Remove work email from my iPhone and only access work mail and calendar via the Microsoft Outlook website my employer setup
  • Blackberry and iPhone: Carry both devices, one for work and one for personal
  • Accept BYOD: Bite the bullet and accept the BYOD rules, meaning only I could use my iPhone

Below is a mind map I created using iThoughts HD on my iPad that lists out the various options and the pros and cons of each. The left most column is a list of the features I use most often on my iPhone that would miss if I were to go only with the Blackberry.

My Decision

I decided to go with the option of carrying both a Blackberry and an iPhone. This was a tough decision for me because ever since June 29 2007 when I first got my hands on an iPhone I had been set free from the burden of carrying multiple devices. The iPhone replaced my iPod, my old crappy flip phone cell phone and my PDA. I tend to take on a lot of projects and activities both in my personal life and in my career and this requires me to be extremely efficient if I want to get any sleep. Carry a single device and being as efficient as humanly possible with that device is of upmost importance. So this was a huge decision for me!!!

I use the Blackberry only for the following functions:

  • Reading/responding to email while not in front of my work laptop
  • Getting calendar meeting invites while not at my desk

Notice that I do not use the Blackberry for phone calls. I do this for several reasons. I just recently switched to a family share data plan with AT&T, so I have unlimited talk time. Also, as I noted above, I only use the Blackberry for very specific things so I don't carry it at all times. That being said, my job requires me to be on call 24-hours a day (no really, if an issue comes up with either the rocket or the spacecraft I am getting a phone call)...so I have to have a phone with me at all times. If I must carry a device all the time then it is going to be an iPhone. I even went so far as to silence all alerts for phone calls and voice mails on my Blackberry and recorded a very pointed greeting for callers stating that this voicemail box was a giant black hole!

Going this route allowed me to continue using the iPhone as a productivity enhancer both at work and at home while also allowing me to continue to use the iPhone as MY device (i.e. allow my family to use it as well). If you haven't figured this out about me by now, I am all about putting technology to work FOR ME instead of constantly fighting with technology to get it to work. It is very easy to fall into the trap of adopting the latest and greatest technology but not really gaining any real efficiency increase by doing so (in fact more often than not you lose efficiency). So I end up writing a lot of my blog posts about the various ways I MAKE TECHNOLOGY WORK FOR ME. My methods may not work for you, but at least my examples can help you think about how to do the same for yourself.

Initial Blackberry Thoughts

  • The Blackberry Bold actually looks and feels nice in the hand The tactile keyboard sucks! It takes me forever to type out even a very short and basic email. On the bright side it has forced me to keep my email responses extremely terse.
  • The menu driven user interface requires too many steps to do a simple task
  • The battery life is crazy short. I only need to charge my iPhone every 2-3 days (and I still use my iPhone much more than my Blackberry), while I have to charge my Blackberry about twice as often and only use it a fraction of the time.
  • Lots of notifications. It take a lot of work to customize the notifications so they don't distract me and even after that I still get more that I want.

The biggest thing I have noticed with the Blackberry so far is typing on the keyboard. I am used to being able to really type out a lot of text quickly on my iPhone and I just can't do that with the physical keyboard on the Blackberry. I'm sure I'll get better at typing on the Blackberry keyboard as I go, after all it took some time to get used to the iPhone. But even then, I have come to depend on the autocorrect on the iPhone and the Blackberry just doesn't have the same functionality. Bottom line...I am not enjoying the Blackberry experience but I'm able to get my job done and I'm hoping with time the experience gets better.

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