Blackberries are great, but they are mighty expensive.

What’s special about the Blackberry is that:

  • It pushes new messages to you when they arrive
  • It is a Groupware client for Exchange, Domino or Groupwise, so it updates your diary and contacts as well as e-mail.

Everything else is secondary. But that’s what makes them so expensive. To do Push you need a Blackberry Enterprise Server, connected to the mobile phone company. It’s not cheap, and it’s not easy to administer. To do Groupware you need to be running one of those Groupware services in your business. So in all you need Windows server, Groupware server, Blackberry server and client licenses for every user of each. Then you need to pay the additional phone bills.

What are the alternatives? Blackberry is a hybrid of different things, so it depends what is most important to you. The main alternatives are:

  1. A standalone Blackberry from one of the mobile phone companies. That gives you Push. But you don’t have a Groupware service so you won’t get updates to your diary. It’s a lot to pay just for Push. You could use a pager, a text or a phone call instead.
  2. A PDA. That gives you a familiar client like Outlook, and good ergonomics. If you have a Groupware service, you can connect to it via the web and update your e-mail, contacts, diary, and use the company address book. But there’s no Push.
  3. A regular business phone. Most will do e-mail. Some do it very well. With Nokia Data Suite you can synchronize the phone to your desktop calendar and address book before you go. Then you just connect to update your e-mail. You can find out how to set up your phone at

High speed wireless networks are gradually making Push obsolete anyway. If you can make a wireless broadband connection, or if you have a 3G phone, you are already connected and you don’t need Push.

So if you already have Groupware and you really need the Push and you are not using 3G, get Blackberry. Otherwise use the phone.

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