This was not a casual decision. I’ve used Blackberry products since 1998. The original Blackberry 850 was named one of the top 50 technologies of the past 50 years.
I receive a wireless communication approximately every 30 seconds from 7am-7pm every day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I receive over 1500 emails per 24 hour period. These communications are filled with media – documents to read, presentations to review, websites to access, and streaming video. Yes, I still use the email triage approach I outlined in 2007 but it’s a losing battle. The volume of communication exceeds my ability to process and respond to the information. I could cancel all my meetings, phone calls, and presentations but still fill the entire day with email communication.
I’m not suggesting this is healthy or sane, but it is the reality of communications today.
The iPhone 4S gives me a touch screen user interface to scroll, zoom, and manage my incoming messages. I can view every document, website, and video over 3G networks. Siri and voice recognition features enable me to manage my email by voice. I find myself dictating responses to about a quarter of my email with amazing accuracy.
I’m still in the learning stage, so my ability to type on a touch screen is still not quite as nimble as on the Blackberry keyboard. It’s also harder to type while walking between meetings. However, the learning curve is fast, and the toolset provided by the 4S includes much better web browsing and Exchange integration than Blackberry. My Macbook Air running Mac OS X Lion with Apple Mail/iCal/Address book is essentially the same software as on the iPhone 4S, so I can switch seamlessly from my mobile device to my laptop with perfect data synchronization.
RIM has been an innovator. The Blackberry is secure. The Blackberry has been easy to manage at the enterprise level. However, Blackberry is architected to route messages via RIM’s centralized infrastructure. If that fails, every Blackberry in the world fails. Blackberry’s user experience has not kept pace with the competition. Blackberry’s application development tools and app store have not kept pace with iPhone or Android. Devices such as the Playbook have been introduced before they were ready.
The pace of technology change is accelerating so fast, that even those of us in the industry can hardly keep up. The consumer device world is a shark tank. Competition is fierce and devices come and go as fast as hemline heights and tie widths change.
My switch to an iPhone 4S was predicated on a need to communicate with more flexibility, power, and speed than a Blackberry could support.
I’m not the only one. Per our email administrator:
“I’m seeing a slow death of Blackberry. We have about 400 people still on the Blackberry Enterprise Server. I imagine as contracts expire more will jump to iPhones and Androids. We lose 5-10 Blackberry accounts per month. iPhones currently outnumber Blackberry 3 to 1.”
Thus, you’ll likely be receiving iPhone 4S emails from me, generated via voice recognition. Apologies for the typos, I’m still learning.
John D. Halamka, MD, MS, is Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Chief Information Officer at Harvard Medical School, Chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network (NEHEN), Co-Chair of the HIT Standards Committee, a full Professor at Harvard Medical School, and a practicing Emergency Physician. He’s also the author of the popular Life as a Healthcare CIO blog.