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Fruit wars! Apple aims guns at BlackBerry

But is iPhone as great as Steve Jobs makes out?

Every BlackBerry is operable with one hand, or if you use the in-handset voice dialling, no hands. Built-in GPS is there if you want it, with Google Maps and BlackBerry's own excellent mapping software showing you where you are and where you're going. Upgrade to the inexpensive and platform-defining TeleNav, and you'll find out why I can't leave home without its turn by turn directions called out by street name.

My BlackBerry 8820's battery lasts forever compared to iPhone's. BlackBerry comes with a holster. BlackBerry handsets are available from all major carriers, and they're subsidized. With iPhone, your 18-month contract commitment gets you list price, and you can shop around and pick any operator you like as long as it's O2.

Apple's favourite way to pin the gray beard on the BlackBerry is to point out that it uses indirect delivery. All messages, regardless of their origin or destination, are routed through BlackBerry's proprietary network. Every message makes a stop at Research In Motion's network operations centre in Canada (Jobs: "It's not even in this country!") before being sent to a handset or mail server.

In contrast, Apple and AT&T give you a direct TCP/IP connection between an employee's iPhone and your company's Exchange Server. Jobs wonders why BlackBerry users aren't concerned about security, given that all messages are gathered on a central group of servers, a single point of failure, where unencrypted messages sit naked and vulnerable to anyone roaming around the BlackBerry NOC. Can Americans really trust those nosy Canadians with our sensitive email?

The bulk of the email traffic coursing around the Internet right now is in plain text. What Apple sells as a direct connection from iPhone to Exchange Server is anything but direct. It hopscotches through router after router. When you send a message from your iPhone, the path it follows takes it through O2's bandwidth-limited EDGE network, through countless intermediate routers, to your Internet provider's router to Exchange Server. If a message makes it through that gauntlet before a TCP timeout, it's home free. There are literally thousands of places where it can go wrong, not least of which is within your walls. You might have heard or said "Exchange is down" a time or two in your career. No iPhone in your enterprise can talk to any other iPhone unless your Exchange Server is up.

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