Windows vs iPhone vs BlackBerry vs Palm vs …

Which mobile platform is the best? It’s a war that rages on and on. Vocal supporters of every desktop and mobile platform mount vigorous assaults in defense of their favored system. And yet, I think that’s not the right approach.

Read on after the jump for my take on the debate about “Which Device is the Best?”

This is the first of a series of posts designed to answer a long list of questions folks asked in my last blog post. I started to write it as one post but the thing got so dang long it was getting silly. If I don’t answer your question or address your favored topic today, don’t worry…I’ll get to it over the next couple of days!

Windows VS iPhone VS BlackBerry VS Palm

There is a reason we support a lot of platforms – they all have their advantages. Sure, from the manufacturer’s points of view the platforms are going head to head, but for the consumer we should be asking a different question altogether. I want to start by making a few comments on the big platforms we support.

Windows Mobile: I LOVE LOVE LOVE the power of Windows Mobile. It gives me so much freedom that other platforms don’t. Every time I go to a Microsoft event I literally beg them to market the platform better. It is such an excellent solution for so many people, and most of them don’t even know about it!

iPhone: I LOVE my iPhone. I’ve never found a device that was so simple to use. It is limiting in many ways, but it does what it does simply, elegantly, and in a way that is entirely intuitive. Plus, what iPhone has done for mobile software is beyond anything any other platform has done. Look at the latest ad copy for the iPhone – it is ALL about 3rd party software. Bravo!

BlackBerry: I don’t use BlackBerry regularly but the clear focus of this device is beautiful. My friends who use these devices love the hard and fast stability of this platform. And like the iPhone, it knows what it is supposed to do and does it well.

Palm: And Palm? Look, Palm isn’t my favorite platform – I’ll admit – but the bloody OS is still around with no upgrades for YEARS. You can’t argue with that sort of success. It’s a platform that is everything a lot of folks could possibly want. Smooth. Simple. Stable. Straightforward. This is a design that has stood the test of time. I really do hope Palm pulls it out of the fire over the next couple of years because they’ve got a good thing that deserves saving.

It’s the same with desktop platforms. Each has its advantages.

In the end, I don’t think it makes any sense to argue over “the best” operating system. The real question is what is “the best operating system FOR YOU.” We each have our needs and the beauty of the current mobile market is that there is something out there for everyone.

The Software Developer Point of View

As a product manager, it isn’t important to me which platform is “the best”. Each has a role to play in the market and people for whom it is the best option. What really matters to me as Product Manager, is whether or not the platform will sell enough software to provide us with a strong, steady profit over the long term without eating development time we need for a more profitable platform.

Yep, it’s an ugly way of looking at things but if we’re going to support ANY platforms we have to make choices that keep us in business. It doesn’t matter how much we love a particular platform or how passionate a group of people are about their platform. It isn’t a judgement about the quality of the platform – it’s simply a question of making good business decisions so that ten years from now we’re still out there keeping your important information secure.

Coming Tomorrow…

  • eWallet for Mac Update (YES! We ARE making it.)
  • Release Dates

6 thoughts on “Windows vs iPhone vs BlackBerry vs Palm vs …

  1. Kevin White

    Best is in the eye of the beholder. For example, I really like my iPhone. Having owned everything Marc mentioned except for Blackberry (although I almost bought one), the iPhone is the best combination of what I want and what I use with the least hassle. Sure it doesn’t do a whole list of things, but so what? I don’t do those things, and don’t really want to, so it doesn’t really bother me. ( I can’t tow a boat with my car, but I don’t want to tow a boat with my car. I don’t even have a boat. End of obligatory car analogy.) End of iPhone fanboy gushing!

    We have a Blackberry 8703e for testing here in the office, and I just can’t stand it. I just cannot deal with using that little scroll wheel on the side to do everything. Plus, figuring out how to hard-reset it required google searching and a utility downloaded from a web forum.

    On the other hand, one of my friends has the T-Mobile version of that very same BB and loves it to death, has customized it as much as possible, and routinely sends me multi-*page* emails typed in proper grammar and capitalization *with image attachments* done on it.

  2. DavidB

    Talking of release dates…. a new version of ewallte for the iPhone has just popped into my AppStore updates list. It has SEARCH !!! yeah, oh happy day.
    Which could be made even beeter with news of the ListPro for iPhone 😉

  3. PatrickD

    Agree with the 1st post – best in the eyes of the beholder. The iPhone is the only one I haven’t had much hands on use. The Blackberry devices and iPhones prevail over others, as they only have one hardware/OS platform – what works on one, will work on another. This is something you can’t apply to Windows Mobile (or Palm) phones – there are hundreds of differnet devices that have the Windows Mobile OS, and because of the different hardware layers, there can be many issues. When I speak of all these smartphones in comparison, I look at a full fledged smartphone PDA – ones with full screen and/or full qwerty keyboard – not the smaller flip phones, or Pearl like devices.

    I used Blackberry for about the past 4 years – hated them at first, but grew to the ‘Crackberry’ state of couldn’t live without it. Prior to the new Bold/Storm releases (prior to OS 4.5), they were not so flashy or for the entertainment and casual public user – but that has changed. For business there is no easier device to manage and to train the end user – out of the box. The stability is second to none. Built in message filtering/alerts exists by default, and no 3rd party application can compare on the WinMo. How bout the Profile settings? I can have different profiles base on the fact if my device is in or out of my holster? And it turns off the screen and keys when I holster the device without having to do anything. The cons have always been the inablilty to customize or personalize the device much, but with the new devices and OS level, the options to change themes and screen layouts to fit your needs have really made the Blackberry impressive.

    Because of a job change back in June 2008, I was forced to use Windows Mobile. So I selected the top available device for my carrier, the AT&T Tilt (aka HTC Kaiser – now the prior version of the new HTC Touch Pro). I was furious and frustrated with it’s performance. The capabilities and features of the Tilt where impressive, but having a device that locks up constantly and has little space onboard for applications due to all the bloatware really disappointed me. However, once I learned of the possibilities of all the cooked ROMS (thanks XDA!) I have painfully grown to enjoy my HTC more and more each day. Microsoft really lags with presenting a mobile OS that has a higher average of satisfied users out of the box.

    Yes, PALM has stood the test of time, which is impressive, but so would have Windows 3.1 if you spend the time and money of keeping it alive – but not enjoyable to work with. How many application venues or forums exist for avid developers of Palm applications? The fact that many PALM branded devices have switched to carrying Windows Mobile says something as well.

    With a new model of the HP iPaq in the wings, I think that is the next competition for the Blackberry and iPhone if it truly evolves – unless the HTC Touch HD would ever be released in the US (but not expected).

    Bottom line…if your looking for a stable device that handles a business communication need a Blackberry (such as Bold or Curve) is on top. If you want a little bit of both then the iPhone. If you want the freedom and entertainment to customize your device and be a part-time ROM flasher, then the WinMo’s are great. If you prefer the stone age and still own a typewriter over a PC, than the PALM is the device for you – and I respect those that embrace the PALM – because what matters, is what works for you and meets your needs is what truly counts. There will never be a day where all Blackberry, iPhone, WinMo & Palm guru’s will be able to socialize together without confrontation and conceding to one another. That’s what makes it all phone and drives our technology to new levels each day!!

    Now…many are also adding the additional -vs- to the list with the G1 Google phone – but I just as soon not even go there. 🙂

  4. Trevor

    You summed it up quite nicely by phrasing the question as which is the best operating system for you.

    I currently carry a first generation iphone and a blackberry 8830 (just got a blackberry storm today, but haven’t activated it yet). I have previously owned many different Pocket PC’s (never had one that was a phone) and a few Palms (back when the were all monochrome). Probably won’t get a G phone

    Depending on what I am doing, my order of preference changes
    Email: BB > iP > PPC
    Web Browsing: iP > PPC > BB
    Navigation in OS iP > PPC > BB
    Supporting users at work BB > iP > PPC
    Music Player iP > PPC > BB
    Music creation apps iP > PPC
    Sys Admin Tools (SSH, Remote Desktop) PPC > iP > BB
    Games iP > PPC > BB
    Keyboarding: BB > PPC > iP
    Hobbies development PPC > iP > BB
    Available RAM PPC > BB > iP

    I have purchased more apps for the iPhone than any other platform combined.

    I was hoping that the Blackberry Storm would bridge the iPhone and the conventional Blackberry, but after toying with the UI for 10 minutes I don’t think it will.

  5. Palm Beach Lawyer

    I had the Palm Centro – what a piece of junk. I now have the Palm 800w. It has the WM platform. It is an ok phone – I have tried to customize and it just seems to slow things down – so why bother. I am considered the BB Bold. Have you guys used it yet? Thoughts?

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