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iPhone will continue to beckon BlackBerry owners

Are you a BlackBerry user who covets the Apple's smartphone? Join the crowd.

A recent survey stated what should be obvious: In 2010, three years after the iPhone was announced, many BlackBerry owners continue to covet the iPhone.

Based on my personal experience, the Storm 2 (top) trails the iPhone 3GS pretty dramatically in rendering Web pages.
Based on my personal experience, the Storm 2 (top) trails the iPhone 3GS pretty dramatically in rendering Web pages. Brooke Crothers

For me, a longtime BlackBerry user, that survey result was poignant: it came just as I was grappling with BlackBerry Storm 2 problems. While the survey does show that most BlackBerry owners plan to keep their phones, the salient point is that the loyalty rate is much lower for BlackBerry owners compared to their iPhone counterparts.

Here's a statement from Crowd Science, the organization behind the survey. "These results show that the restlessness of BlackBerry users with their current brand hasn't just been driven by the allure of iPhone. Rather, BlackBerry as a brand just isn't garnering the loyalty seen with other mobile operating systems."

But it's not just the iPhone's OS and apps. It's the browser, stupid. In short, I no longer believe that Research in Motion is serious about bringing out competitive browser technology in a timely manner. This is not a priority for RIM, despite its promises about better browsers and the WebKit demo at Mobile World Congress in February. (See BlackBerry Storm 2 and iPhone 3GS side-by-side browser speed comparison here.)

And, as I said before, third-party browsers just don't cut it. The Opera Mini and the Bolt browsers are fast, but they have too many shortcomings, so they don't serve as satisfactory replacements for the Storm's built-in browser. (As just a couple of examples, it's too cumbersome to zoom the Bolt browser on the Storm and Opera Mini--though blazingly fast--has trouble rendering some Web sites that I use.) All of this is compounded by the fact that the Storm's screen is too small.

That said, RIM undoubtedly has a successful franchise supplying corporate phones. But if the iPhone, Motorola Droid, and Google Nexus One begin making serious inroads among business users in the future, RIM will be reduced to competing for market-share scraps with Palm.