Thursday, April 2, 2009

Treo vs Blackberry

More specifically, my Verizon Palm Treo 755p vs the Blackberry 8330 Curve I'll probably have by the end of the day.

I'm not the guy that constantly upgrades to the newest, coolest gadget. That would be my cousin over at Enrevanche, who consistently rides the front edge of the bow wave of technology; me, I'm the guy way back in the wake, who finally upgrades only when the time required to learn a new device interface is at last exceeded by the time spent going "WTF!" over the latest crash of the old one. That time has come.

When my Palm stereo headset began to grow weaker and weaker, until finally I could no longer hear either the books I listen to or the person on the other end of the phone, I replaced it with an LG Stereo Bluetooth headset. That worked for a bit--like a day or two, maybe. Then the Treo's Bluetooth began to randomly reject the headset. Different brand of headset, same problem. Third headset, same problem. Conclusion: the issue is the Treo Bluetooth, not the headsets.

I could invoke the warranty and replace the Treo. (Verizon is good about that, and they've done it once already when the wired headset receptacle locked up and believed there was something plugged into it even when there wasn't.) I could order another wired headset from Palm (the Verizon store doesn't carry them, and non-Palm wired headsets--at least in my Treo--only send the sound down one channel), but enough is enough. You'll find that a year ago, when I first replaced my Palm TX and my separate cell phone with a single integrated device, the Treo, I was initially thrilled with the device, but appalled with the "updated" Palm Desktop software. That blog/rant is here. Bottom line: Even a year ago, Palm was not stagnant; Palm was already moving backwards.

Still, as I said, I change my technology only when the benefit significantly outweighs the pain. So, I spent a couple hours over the last few days reading what's out there on the question of a Treo vs a Blackberry. The best thing I've found was written by Matthew R. Streger, in two parts. Part I , on the hardware, appears on (a site recommended to me by the Verizon salesperson as a potential crackberry addict); Part II , on the software, appears on TreoCentral. Here is Matthew's conclusion, with my emphasis:

I think in the end, the strengths and weaknesses of the Treo compared with the Blackberry are based on where they began. The Palm platform began as the best personal information management system in personal computing history. It was originally designed to handle calendar, contacts, tasks and memos. Everything else with the Palm was gravy – the connectivity and tons of other software and accessories all grew from the original primary function of personal information management. In comparison, the Blackberry was originally a mobile e-mail device. In fact, for some time, just like the Palm, it didn’t have a telephone.

Today, the Palm is still better at the core information functions – the native applications offer more options for customizing how to view your information. Unfortunately, this is at the expense of handling telephone calls and e-mail messages very badly. The Blackberry isn’t nearly as good at personal information management or customization, but it does an adequate job, it’s much more stable, and in the end I have some degree of confidence that the Blackberry will continue to evolve and fix many of my issues. I do not have any confidence in Palm any longer, and that’s the ultimate reason for my switch.
Bingo! Condensed even further: while Blackberry has the better hardware by far, and Palm, by a diminishing margin, has the better software for personal information management (when it works), Blackberry has a future; Palm's future is oblivion, only because the people who run Palm have been comatose for years now.

I'm a guy who still believes in loyalty. But loyalty has to flow both ways. Palm has abandoned us. (Sort of reminds me of how I felt about the Air Force when we decided to reduce our personnel strength beyond what was workable, so that we could use the "savings" to buy hardware--but that's another story.) So, Palm, pucker up baby, because you are about to kiss me goodbye. And from what I've read over the last couple of days, I am part of a larger exodus that will spell the end of Palm within a few years at most. If you have Palm stock, sell it now. When the rebound comes, Palm won't be a part of it.

PS: If you need a chuckle, this transcript of an online chat I had with Palm support right after "upgrading" my Desktop software may amuse you. Later. I need to make a trip to the Verizon store.