Phone Choices and the Doggone Password Problem


I need some help.

I have been using a Blackberry 7130e for the past 2 years.  It’s been a good phone, but it’s getting a little long in the tooth.  It does media only slightly better than 2 cans and some string.  I need a new phone.  Fortunately, I am out of contract with Verizon, my current provider, so I am free to pick any phone and any provider I want.  Sort of.

There are issues to be dealt with…

Like most big companies, my firm uses Microsoft Exchange Servers and BlackBerry Enterprise Servers.  Like many big companies, my firm does not use IMAP, I assume because the decision makers do not believe it is secure enough.  Which means that, as much as I dig my wife’s iPhone, if I ponied up and bought one, I could not access my work email, contacts, etc. with it.  This is a problem.  Ideally, I want to carry one device to get all my mail and to serve as my phone.  Carrying a phone and a separate Blackberry for work is inefficient and is not my preference.

Plus, as much as I like the iPhone, it is not without other drawbacks.  It’s not 3G compatible, the camera does not have a flash, there is no voice dialing and some of its features require a Wi-Fi connection.  And, as I have said before, I don’t want to be tied to iTunes to synch my data or to manage my music.

As I mentioned the other day, in an effort to keep me as a customer, Verizon sent me a Blackberry Pearl 8130 for $50.  I thought, incorrectly, that no contract extension was required.  I learned today that a 2 year extension is required, but that I can return the new phone and be free of the contract extension.  The fact is, however, that I really like the 8130.  It’s fast, it has a camera with a flash, it does voice dialing, works with Google maps (with GPS), and it is set up to receive my work and my personal email seamlessly.  In fact, I would strongly consider extending my Verizon contract, keeping the 8130 and waiting for the Blackberry 9000 to hopefully rock my world, but for one little complication…

After I activated my old phone, but before I got the 8130, my firm decided that everyone’s Blackberry should have a forced password on it.  This means that after 30 minutes of inactivity, my phone locks, and I have to enter a password on that little Suretype keyboard before I can access my email, contacts, camera and other applications.  This is not a huge problem for most people at my firm, because they do not use their firm-issued Blackberries as their phones.  On the other hand, I use my Kent-purchased Blackberry as my phone, for my personal email, etc.  Plus, I do a lot of calls while driving, and having to enter that password every 30 minutes is, practically and psychologically, unappealing.  In sum, the password thing is close to a deal stopper for me as far as the phone and personal stuff goes.

So I see my choices as:

1. Getting an iPhone for my personal stuff and carrying a firm-issued, password enforced and likely rarely used Blackberry for my work stuff.  This seems really inefficient and unnecessary to me.  I don’t want to lug two devices around.  On the other hand, I would be able to quench my iPhone-lust.  But if I can’t get my work contacts, calendar and email on it, it’s not really serving its intended purpose.

2. Keeping the 8130 and living with the forced password.  I can’t adequately describe how intrusive I find the password thing.  I wish I could learn to live with it, but I don’t think I can.  On the other hand, if I could somehow come to terms with it, I could be happy with the 8130, and potentially thrilled with a subsequent 9000.

3. Returning the 8130, reactivating my old 7130e and waiting to see how the 9000 shakes out.  Unfortunately, because of account deletions and creations with the new phone, even if I go back to my old phone, I will have the forced password problem.  The only way this makes sense is if the iPhone will be able to pull email from Blackberry Enterprise servers within the foreseeable future.  And nothing I have read gives me any reason to believe that’s going to happen.

I end up caught between two less than satisfactory choices.  One, if I want an iPhone, I have to lug two devices around.  Two, if I want to have one device for everything, I have to live with a forced password.  Honestly, I find neither choice acceptable.

What should I do?

Why the iPhone Won’t Go Corporate

Update late 2012:  Wow, how wrong was I…

I was momentarily very happy today when I came across a story in my feeds saying the iPhone was going corporate. And then I read the post and immediately realized it was not going to happen.

All the rates and plans and promotions and parades and proclamations in the world are not going to bring the iPhone to corporate America until it has the ability to pull email from Microsoft Exchange Servers and BlackBerry Enterprise Servers. Why? Because almost all of the big companies in America use one or both.

One of my partners stood in line to buy an iPhone the day it was released. I remember when he showed it to us at lunch the next day. All of us were jealous. All of us wanted one. As the initial coolness factor faded in favor of the I need to get my work email factor, however, he found it burdensome to carry an iPhone and a Blackberry. He ended up getting rid of the iPhone and going back to the boring, feature challenged, but work-email compatible Blackberry.

Someone will say, “but you can get your work email over the web with an iPhone.” That person has never worked in a corporate environment where immediate and effective access to your email and other data is critical to your effectiveness. In sum, that just doesn’t work.

I would buy my way out of my Verizon contract and buy an iPhone today if it could pull my office email. So would a lot of other people I know. But it won’t, so we don’t.

Meanwhile, I got a letter from Verizon’s customer retention department this week, offering me a Blackberry Pearl 8130 for $50. No contract extension required. I just called them, and they are sending it to me via Federal Express. It’s no iPhone, but it’s a start.

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