As many readers of the 3 Geeks know, I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to security. And due to my materials being due last week for TECHSHOW, I’ve decided to weigh in on the iPhone versus Blackberry (BB) debate. Although iPhone gets all the buzz these days (including numerous comments on its lack of security) I still think Blackberry is the smarter choice – especially for lawyers.

As I like to tell my two sons who have iPhones – “My blackberry will do any of the gee-whiz stuff your iPhones will do … only slower. And when it comes to email and calendaring (the core applications for lawyers) I’ll whip your little butts.”

After my recent research on the latest and greatest on the various smart-phone platforms, the BB comes out on top for lawyers for two primary reasons. 1 – BBs focus on the core uses for lawyers. And, 2 – As a mature technology, BBs are stable and more importantly, secure.

Although BB doesn’t have the sheer volume of apps iPhone has, it does have the ones that matter. A quick stroll through App World shows many useful tools, including legal-specific apps like time-keeping. On the versatility side, BBs come in every size, shape and form. You can chose from a flip phone Pearl to the new Storm 2 touch screen. iPhone comes in one form factor.

I will say this for iPhone, Droid, Palm and Windows Mobile; if they figure out how to live behind the firewall and polish up their security and stability, BB will be in for a real fight

So … although my boys can find the closest Starbucks much faster than I can, I’ll stay productive and secure on my BB. Perhaps the technologies reflect the relative generational perspectives. The boys want fun, blingy stuff. And I want something that’s a functional work-horse and drives the bottom line.

[OMG – that made me sound old. Well … unlike my boys I can actually afford Starbucks.]

  • As a BB owner I'm of course glad to read this. And my somewhat uninformed impression is that while there are tons of apps for iPhones, most of them seem like novelty items, are in the social category. Many of the people I know who have apps don't really use many of them, except to be 'social'.

    That said I'm curious about data behind BB doing a better job of email. This fits in with what everyone I know says, but was your impression that iPhones are slower or less reliable on email?

    Also, I try not to read or do research on my phone, but it does seem somewhat easier to browse and read docs on the iPhone (when you do have a connection). I'm sure others out there – particularly part of the younger generation – do a fair amount of reading (or surfing) on the phone?

  • In re: to email – BBs integration via the BES is a primary reason it stands out (but not the only one). In my own experience, my email hits my BB before it hits Outlook.

    Admittedly the iPhone's interface can be better for reading. Although if that's your goal, you should try the Storm 2 with it's full screen, touch-screen. There are a number of apps for BB built for viewing, creating and editing MS docs (Documents To Go is one example).

  • To me, the only strong argument is security. I can't run Cliomobile or any other mobile SaaS practice management service on my BB (and neither can I run Pocket Quicken for my personal finances, which has always been a pet peeve). And the screen is tiny. And slower is in no way better. So, security is determinative because a lawyer can't do business with anything less than the highest available level of security.

  • Anonymous

    I am writing this comment on my iPhone, which I've had for a while now. I think BB users overemphasize and overdramatize the security aspect. I've used my iphone for e-mail and tested the security along side that of the BB. There was mo difference in security. Further, it is a lot easier to edit documents on the iPhone. I actually do believe that it is not a question of the reluctance to use the iPhone being generational, lawyers are simply not willing to be tech savvy– they just want to stick with what's tried and true-BB and Microsoft.

    The iPhone IS the future– let's embrace it!!!

  • Mark

    What are the data privacy laws in Canada? Would you be able to easily fight an attempt to access the information your blackberry stores there? What control over retention of information at Blackberry do you have?

    Blackberries have some great features but the central point of failure (in another country) concerns me. I would much prefer for my device to communicate directly with servers I own and control.

    That's why I prefer Windows Mobile and iPhone devices that sync with my exchange server.

  • You say the Blackberry is better for email than the iPhone. But you state it as an accepted fact, instead of testing it.

    My iPhone connects right to my Enterprise server and, like you said about your BB, I get email on my iPhone before I get it on Outlook.

  • I run a BB and an iPhone. My husband (works in IT for the U.S. Attorney) runs a BB and an iPhone. We both can't stand our BB's and love our iPhones. Back last summer, iPhone OS 3 added security features. There is also Exchange on the iPhone. We hate the BB's handling of our corporate address books, it is non-intuitive and beyond frustrating. We hate its browser. Glad you like yours, though.


  • Van resolves the security concerns companies have for Palms, droids and iphones. It currently lacks the ability to send and receive email attachments on the droids and iphones but the company is working to resolve that issue.

  • I have to say that I enjoy my Android phone and I had a Windows Mobile 6.0 phone for three years that synced with my Outlook Exchange server before that (I've never been assigned a BB… thankfully!!). I'm always hearing that BB works great within the 'enterprise', but never really understood what the overall benefit was of having a BB Exchange server versus Sync'ing with the Exchange server directly. I know that I had to go through a series of test (making sure that the phone locked, had a password, and could be remotely wiped if lost or stolen) before I could connect to the Exchange Server. But, once that was all set up, I was able to get email, contacts and calendar events just as well as a bb could. I thought that the BB was 'behind the firewall' but then found out that it really wasn't. So, if someone sent you a link to a document that was in the DMS, you still could not download it because the "BB Firewall" was not behind the same firewall that the documents or intranet pages were located. Perhaps that's a unique situation, but I'm guessing I'm not alone in that scenario.
    I have heard that iPhones capture all screenshots and save them on the phone somewhere that can be located if someone steals the phone, so that is a huge concern for IT security. I haven't heard any similar stories about Droid or Windows Mobile keeping screenshots.
    I'm not anti-BB… but, I don't see as much benefit to the 'enterprise security' that every seems to base their theories on why BBs are better than other smartphones.

  • Anonymous

    I dont think ANY lawyer needs the DOD security that BB offers. Exchange is secure enough for 99% of the average people out there.

    Also the iphone does DocstoGo as well so that argument is a push.

    Further, legal apps for BB? The whole one or 2?

    Let me point out a few legal apps on iphone that arent on BB:

    -State Statutes (FL specifically)
    -US Code
    -Black's Law Dictionary
    -Lexis app
    -Federal Rules- Civ Pro, Bankruptcy, Crim Pro, etc
    -apps to draft NDA contracts and sign right on the phone
    -CLE apps

    Need I go on why iphone is a more powerful tool for any attorney?