How to avoid frustrations with BlackBerry and Mac

Just don’t buy that combo: Mac and BlackBerry are two very closed environments, they don’t want to be interoperable, they hate each other and their customers.

Not that I would make such mistake, never. But I have friends that do this kind of stuff and then I’m enough of a friend to share with them the painful experience.  A very good friend of mine loves Mac: it’s a cult (no rationality, only emotions) coupled with a very strong lock-in strategy with non-standard data format and in general poor interoperability with the outside world. She hates touchscreens, so she ruled out buying an iPhone. I can’t really say that this is necessarily bad because the iPhone would have tightened her data in stronger shackles.

So she decided to buy a BlackBerry Curve 8900 hoping that RIM’s newly released Desktop Manager for Mac would work. As she soon realized, that was a wrong assumption. I tried to help her out but DM for Mac is a smelly piece of **ap.  The software installs fine and when you connect the phone for the first time the DM happily tells you that there are upgrades available for your device. Do you want to install them? DM asked. Not now, I answered, as I first want to do a backup of all data. Ok, clicked on Backup.  The DM tried to shit but only farted: after 3 minutes with a progress bar not progressing, it said ‘Sorry, can’t backup’. Ok, I said, lets try this again. This time no useless progress bar, nothing. I noticed that the BB seemed disconnected. I unplugged and plugged it in again several times but nothing changed.  I tried soft rebooting the machine with no result, so I hard rebooted it taking off the battery. Everybody hates rebooting a BB: after waiting for 3 minutes I connected the usb cable again to the Mac Desktop Manager and the device showed up again, connected. DM asked: Do you want to install the updates for your device? This time I answered Yes, thinking that maybe declining the request the first time was the reason for the mess. Well, it wasn’t: the DM started the upgrade process but, after a few painful minutes watching the progress bar not showing any progress, it eventually gave up. I tried again the soft reboots, unplug-replug., hard reboot, etc. I even uninstalled and reinstalled the RIM Desktop Manager as suggested in the BB forums (wow! a pure Windows mentality) until I finally gave up.  I’ll see if I can find a Windows machine for her to update the BB firmware and see if that solves the problem of communication between Mac and BB.

The lesson learned is: if you buy highly proprietary products like Mac and BlackBerry don’t expect them to be interoperable between each other. These companies hate each other and they sacrifice their user’s freedom of choice only to see the other company suffer.

Mobile open standards and Funambol on the Blackberry

Only a couple days ago I was having lunch with Carlo Piana and we started chatting about his Blackberry and about its dependence on MS Exchange. I’m moving the first steps in the mobile arena and I’ve already confirmed that the standards war on the desktop is nothing compared to the war on mobile standards. On the desktop there is ODF vs OOXML, Microsoft vs the rest of the industry; the market is much more mature and “stable” compared to mobile. What to me seemed a raging war looks now a cat-fight. On mobile the market is a volcano during eruption, and Funambol is in the middle of it. Beautiful and scary, I love it 🙂

Mobile needs that open standards emerge and get solid, therefore I’m happy to relay the announcement of the new version of Funambol’s Blackberry plugin v. 3.0.8 Community Edition. Go to the project’s page to download the binaries Over The Air (OTA) or as a bundle to be installed via USB cable. The source code is available on the ObjectWeb CVS repository (tag r_bbplugin_3_0_8). Check the release notes to see what’s new.

This release takes into account some of issues that Funambol Community has repeatedly pointed out in the last months on the mailing lists, and it’s as a starting point for the Community to further improve its quality adding the new features that the last generation Funambol clients already have.

Mobile need open standards, just like the desktop. There is another standards war to fight, so take your keyboards and start coding 🙂