Anyone who knows me will be familiar with my rants about RIM and their beloved Blackberry smartphones. I’ve had the dubious pleasure of using several corporate issued Blackberrys over the past few years and for access to enterprise email it is fine. However, increasingly I have become more and more frustrated with the Blackberry when trying to use it for anything other than email – for example social media sites, internet, or even the built in camera.

To be fair to RIM, the Blackberry is probably an acceptable smartphone if you are using it outside of a corporate environment (although to be honest I am not sure why you would). And equally, corporates have a multitude of good reasons why these devices are locked down so apps can’t be installed (eg for more efficient support), or that traffic is routed through the firewall (for data security and tracking). After all, if they are paying for the device and data then its fair that they should also decide what its used for. And I’d say that 2 years ago that was fine. But increasingly in today’s world that is not fine and putting a Blackberry device into a corporate environment pushed me to the brink of RIM suicide.

Why is that? Well I need access to my corporate email in order to do my job (and I’m pretty much connected to it 24/7). The best way for me to contact my work colleagues is via corporate email/phone call and all their details are readily available via Blackberry so its perfect for that. However, I have a lot of people outside of the organisation who I also keep in contact with via Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and others. I’m not talking about checking what Britney Spears had for lunch – I’m referring to contacts within the industry I work in, knowledgeable experts on particular subjects that are relevant to me and my role, or even keeping abreast of competitors. So my world is wider than the confines of the corporate firewall and this was causing me a lot of frustration.

And I am not alone. This week I attended a seminar which was packed with representatives from the financial services industry and you could easily be forgiven for mistaking it as a RIM sales convention from the number of Blackberrys littering the tables. I had a chat to some of the other delegates about this topic – many had complicated work arounds they used to circumvent the restrictions of their Blackberry or IT policies so that they could work from outside of the office or access data from portable devices such as iPads, Macbooks etc. It was clear that in today’s wave of consumerism in IT that where there are loopholes, they will be exploited.

A recent article about the Rise And Fall Of RIM included this telling quote “The fact that people are spending their own money to buy the iPhone, when their company is giving them a ‘free BlackBerry’ sends quite a message to RIM.” Hmmmmmm.

So, after weeks of swearing at the Blackberry, followed by several hard restarts each day, I purchased an iPhone so I can run 2 devices. Initially I thought that I would just have the iPhone as a supplement for the Blackberry (which would remain my primary device as it is the only access I have to corporate email). But after a weekend of being able to tweet and post without firewall timeouts, using Facetime, plus installing apps which let me read my RSS feed on the go means that it seriously challenges the Blackberry for being my device of choice. If I am standing in line for coffee, then I would choose to catch up on reading news and articles of interest via Reeder which was not previously available to me. So will I carry both devices round with me all the time? Yes probably, but how it works in practice remains to be seen and will shake out over the next week or so.

This is an interim solution as its only a matter of time that enterprises will change and adapt, and some such as Wells Fargo, Unisys, Kraft and NBC already have by allowing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). For those who are resistant to change, it’s more than likely that RIM fold or be bought, leaving those companies who have invested heavily in Blackberrys facing a potential dilemma of unsupported and outdated devices for their senior management.

My biggest dilemma is whether I should run 2 mobile numbers or continue to use my Blackberry as my main number? I suspect the answer to this will become clear in the next few days too.

Do you use 2 devices for work and personal? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.