I'll admit it...I was a CrackBerry addict. I used my old Curve until the little letters were all rubbed off and the trackball was a big gummy mess. I could thumb-type with the best of them. And then I got my Droid Incredible. Buh-Bye BlackBerry. There was, quite frankly, no comparison. It appears that significant numbers of the smartphone users in the US felt the same way, according to new Nielsen research released yesterday.
Before the flames from devoted iPhone users start, though, let me throw out this nugget from the Silicon Valley Mercury News:
"Android and iPhone are eating into both Microsoft and RIM," [Roger Entner, head of telecom research for Nielsen] said in an interview Monday. "There isn't really a lot of (consumer) movement going on between Android and Apple. They are both just eating away at the competition."
While Android phones sold faster than iPhones in the second quarter of 2010, iPhones sales are severely handicapped by single-vendor sales; Android phones are available on all major carriers in the US, making direct comparisons difficult and leaving a whole lot of marketing ahead of Android. However, what isn't difficult to see is that once users experience either Android or iOS, it becomes mighty difficult to go back to the BlackBerry.
Of course, many businesses have built expensive communications infrastructure around BlackBerry Enterprise Server, making other phones a tough sell to these companies. Ultimately, though, user demand and compelling features will drive business devision-making. In smaller businesses, where BES is far less likely to be deployed, there aren't many reasons to stick with RIM's products when Android and iOS devices do so much more, so much better.
The real takeaway from the Nielsen research is that Google was right. Mobile is the future of the Web, Android will be at the center of mobile (along with iOS), and Google is going to make another fortune. I'll let others debate whether RIM can compete in this new smartphone landscape. What I do know is that there is probably no better example of the consumerization of IT than the explosion of Android (and iOS...can't forget iOS) phones in the enterprise and the willingness of diehard BlackBerry users to dump their phones in favor of slick devices with Cupertino and Mountainview seals of approval.