When Two Phones Are Better
As Mary Alice Stephenson bounces between her two smartphones, sending emails with one and tweeting photos with the other, it often leads her to wonder: "Why can't the iPhone and the BlackBerry have a baby?"
Ms. Stephenson, a style and fashion consultant in New York, has tried using each phone alone. She liked the ease of typing on the BlackBerry's keyboard, and she also liked the photo-sharing tools on the all touch-screen iPhone.
A few months ago, she ditched her BlackBerry in favor of the iPhone but quickly became frustrated with the touch-screen keyboard and its autocorrect function. So, despite the hassle, she now always carries both.
Touch-screen smartphones, from Apple Inc. and the likes of Samsung, are the industry leaders, hogging much of the U.S. market share for mobile phones. Most of their users have adapted to the difficulty of sending emails and texts without a physical keyboard and are snapping up the phones because of features such as better Web browsing, camera quality and screen size.
But plenty of people remain attached to BlackBerrys for the ease of emailing and texting via a QWERTY keyboard. Though BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd. has seen most of its U.S. market share erode over the past two years, many employers still prefer the secure network that BlackBerrys run on.
There are currently 78 million BlackBerry subscribers world-wide, and RIM says that a large majority of Fortune 500 companies issue BlackBerrys to employees.
Instead of ditching one phone or the other, a corps of professional multimedia types have concluded, Why not keep both?
Carrying two phones can be annoying, and there are logistical challenges. First, where to put them? They are unwieldy in pockets and purses.
Then there's the issue of making sure not one but two phones are fully charged, and keeping track of two sets of power cords. There are two phone numbers and two separate carrier plans to manage, which often means different minutes and calling and text rates.
And then there are image concerns. Amanda Slavin, the 26-year-old director of marketing and events for a New York restaurant group, is used to getting skeptical looks when she pulls out her BlackBerry. She quickly heads off any judgment. "Don't worry, I also have an iPhone," she says.
She says people perceive her BlackBerry as outdated, and she agrees with that view-up to a point. "It's just not really practical for anything besides emailing," she says. But her BlackBerry serves up her work email messages very fast, Ms. Slavin says. As important, she can type on it without looking at the keypad. She also likes its instant-messaging feature, known as BBM, as well as its calendar, which syncs with her work PC.
Her iPhone, on the other hand, covers everything else. Ms. Slavin uses it for phone calls, text messages, her personal Gmail account and Web browsing. She also updates her social media, including Facebook, on her iPhone, so she considers it a networking tool. And besides, she says, "the iPhone is so pretty."
The two phones "complement each other really nicely," says Allen Adamson, a managing director at branding firm Landor Associates, New York, and himself a dual iPhone-BlackBerry user.
"Having two devices is often a more powerful solution," Mr. Adamson says. "If you're pounding out a ton of emails, it is very hard to do on an iPhone unless you're very, very fast or a 15-year-old."
Frank Boulben, RIM's newly appointed chief marketing officer, says he is well aware of the two-phone phenomenon, noting that many work-issued BlackBerrys have nonessential applications disabled. Users aren't getting a full BlackBerry experience, he says. "We are going to try and address those individuals differently with BlackBerry 10," he says, referring to RIM's next line of phones, which is expected to launch early next year.
"It would be much more convenient for you to manage all aspects of your personal life and professional life on the same device," Mr. Boulben says, adding that RIM is planning a number of innovations to help users do that.