Virtual Keyboards, Anyone?

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Virtual Keyboards, Anyone?

For some odd reason, RIM has decided to stick with physical keyboards in all its handsets. Apple and Google, however, have gone with virtual keyboards. What are the results? These competitors have a next-generation feel that makes the BlackBerry look like an antique. Too bad RIM took too long to figure that out.

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A Better Browsing Experience

One of the worst things about using a BlackBerry is trying to access the Internet. The company's mobile browser, which is improved on devices like the Torch, is downright awful on its more popular Bold and Curve handsets. On iOS and Android, the browsing experience is top-notch.

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Email Isn't Enough

For years, BlackBerry users have said that RIM offers the best email platform in the mobile business. And although that might be true for some folks, it's not as important of a feature to justify picking a BlackBerry over something else. Email alone is no longer a decisive feature for selling a smartphone these days.

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Market Ubiquity

Android's biggest contribution to the demise of the BlackBerry might just be the fact that there are so many devices available now from so many different handset makers that are running the operating system. More choice typically increases chances of consumers buying a product. Google knew that with Android. And its market share is soaring because of it.

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Apps Are Extremely Important

When Apple launched the App Store and allowed consumers to download programs to their mobile devices, the company changed everything in the marketplace. RIM was forced to catch up. Too bad developers didn't support RIM the way they did Apple. That lack of support has led to the BlackBerry App World being considered a second-rate offering in the mobile space.

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Handset Design

It's hard to get excited by RIM's BlackBerry designs. The products come with physical keyboards in most cases, sport black finishes and deliver nothing special. Products like Apple's iPhone 4S or Samsung Galaxy S III, however, are very different.

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Carrier Support

Although consumers can find BlackBerry devices on any carrier's network, the fact is, providers are becoming increasingly more likely to play nice with Android and the iPhone than the BlackBerry. For them, it all comes down to sales, and in that department, RIM just isn't doing well enough to justify top billing in their handset offerings to mobile customers.

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Appealing to the Enterprise

Enterprises are RIM's last bastion of market support. For a long time, the corporate world balked at giving up BlackBerry phones in favor of iPhone or Android-based devices. But over the past couple of years, all that has changed. Now, iOS and Android are enterprise favorites mainly because employees want to use them at the office. RIM is losing because of it.

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Remembering Value

When it's all said and done, success in today's mobile marketplace depends on companies delivering value to customers. And although RIM believes that its smartphones are doing just that, it's just plain wrong. Apple's iPhone has set the standard by which all products are judged these days. And unless the BlackBerry can match that device on features and price, it better find a new way to attract customers. It hasn't done so.

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Consumers First

For years, RIM's mobile strategy worked because it targeted enterprise users with devices and services. But as of late, consumers have driven success in the marketplace. In fact, consumers have driven the BYOD craze that's bringing iPhones and Android handsets to the office. RIM failed to anticipate that and that is why if finds itself it its current grim state.

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