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Why, Blackberry, Why

By:Christine Fettinger

Blackberry and I have had a long and contentious relationship.

While it took some getting used to, I will admit that they have a nice, fast UI, and an impressive array of features. My problems have always come from troubleshooting problems and dealing with their support. This is of particular annoyance because they always seem to break in some way or another.

The most recent incident involved installing their new Blackberry Professional Server software and connecting a couple of users’ phones. Blackberry Professional is pretty cool in that it gives Enterprise type features without needing to acquire a separate server to run it. Great for small businesses.

The download and installation go pretty smooth, as does connecting the phones. Next day one of the phones stops sending email though. After some troubleshooting, I discover that Blackberry has a conflict with the user because he’s a domain admin. Not too hard to remove him from the domain admin group, but annoying nonetheless. Then, that weekend, both phones stop syncing email. I try troubleshooting it myself to no avail. So I call Blackberry Support and use the 1 free support incident we were allowed. After dealing with 3 different people, I’m told it’s caused by a known conflict between the Blackberry Connector service and Microsoft’s DNS Server service. Then the tech provides an obscure registry hack to fix it.

In the end, I’m happy to have it all fixed. But I’m not happy with all the time and hassle it takes. These are known bugs and yet there are no clear warnings or error messages in their software. It’s the same with their documentation. When something breaks, you can either browse through a maze of Blackberry support forums trying the couple dozen different fixes that other users claim to work, or you can call Blackberry Support (which usually costs money) and even then you aren’t sure to get a reliable fix on the first try.

This was only the most recent example. Every company I’ve worked with that used Blackberrys has had them break, usually in ways that prove difficult to fix. Before this last case, we supported a company for a short time that relied entirely on Blackberrys for phones. Every day there seemed to be a new issue, from a different user. I find it difficult to recommend these devices knowing how much it could cost my client in the long run.