BlackBerry Losing out to iOS at Businesses Because of Screen Size?

Forget apps for consumers. Apps for internal business use might just be king.

Business intelligence—basically business executive reports—on smart phones never really took off in the pre-iPhone era because of screen size limitations. At least that is what Sanju Bansal, the chief operating officer at Microstrategy says. In a recent article from Forbes, his view of what is driving corporate growth of custom apps for its employees is laid to bare.

Microstrategy’s survey of businesses shows that while Research In Motion’s BlackBerrys still have the lion’s share of users at corporations, that number is quickly shifting. 72% of organizations have BlackBerry users. In comparison, 54% have iPhone users and 37% have iPads in use. Considering how long the BlackBerry has been an icon of big business (the iPad has only been around for a year), those are some very interesting figures. When you figure in that 62% of businesses are targeting their efforts at the iPhone and 55% are targeting the iPad, the 56% number for BlackBerrys is definitely bad news for RIM.

From June to November, the number of organizations interested in developing apps for the BlackBerry has dropped by 10%. iPad interest is up by 15%. Even considering survey bias (Microstrategy is in the iPhone and iPad business intelligence app game), these are some interesting figures, if not unexpected.

What’s this screen size stuff I mentioned? “The BlackBerry is not a really good information consumption device. What has changed is the amount of screen real estate available on the iPhone and iPad. The iPhone has about twice the screen size of a BlackBerry, and the iPad screen is about 10 times as big as the iPhone’s” Bansal says. That put things into perspective? In layman’s terms, the BlackBerry’s screen is just too small to display graphs, charts and other data in a useful way. Not to mention the ease of which touchscreen devices can scroll through information with just a swipe of a finger.

Does this mean that the mighty BlackBerry is dead in the corporate market? Not at all. RIM has certainly realized this and that is why it is building the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. With its 7-inch touchscreen, the PlayBook is being marketed towards business users. Future BlackBerry devices are also expected to resemble the PlayBook at smaller sizes. Apple built the iPhone, made it bigger and called it the iPad. It looks like RIM is building the PlayBook and then will shrink it down to smart phone size.

You’d never think something like screen real estate and resolution would be a powerful motivator for businesses would you? However, for large companies that want their own, in house apps for disseminating data to employees over the air, screen size might just be the key.

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