Why the iPhone Will Beat the Blackberry

I was chatting the other day with Brad Burnham, with whom I’m on the board of Wesabe. He saw my iPhone, and asked if I’d ever had a Blackberry. No, I haven’t. Brad said that he’d tried an iPhone, but soon switched back. “Everyone who’s never had a Blackberry loves the iPhone,” he said, “but if they’ve used the Blackberry, they’re just like me. They try it, and then go back.”

A strong endorsement for the Blackberry. Right?

Wrong. What it brought up in me was a powerful sense of deja vu, and the response of die-hard Lotus 1-2-3 users to the new graphical spreadsheet, Excel. Man, if you were used to the powerful “slash” menus of 1-2-3, that let you fire off any command as a short string of remembered keystrokes, the clunky point and click interface of Excel was a real step backwards. Personally, I’d still use 1-2-3 by preference. But that doesn’t mean that most users would.

Ditto for every other class of application. I still use vi for much of my writing, and still prefer it to any point-and-click writing application ever created. But the world doesn’t agree with me.

Get over it: power users are a minority, and while they point the way to the future, they tend to be disappointed when the rest of the market catches up with an inferior product that has a lower barrier to new users.

So, my prediction: the Blackberry will become more like the iPhone, or the iPhone and its imitators will eventually eat its lunch, relegating it to a niche player. The iPhone is now the communications device to beat.

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