After repeated insults about my Nokia flip phone, I broke down last week, went to the AT&T store, and purchased a new BlackBerry Storm. I also had a BlackBerry (that I used for mobile email, contacts, and calendar) so I figured I’d stay with what I knew — this despite repeated warnings from my colleagues that I should buy a droid.
The phone worked fine. When I tried to sync my contacts and calendar with Microsoft Outlook on my PC (I don’t run exchange server), the problems began. Weird characters started appearing in my contact addresses. I was using an old version of BlackBerry Desktop Manager (BDM) (version 4) so I figured I needed to upgrade. On the RIM website, I found and downloaded BDM version 6. So far so good.
When I connected the phone, BDM recognized the phone but couldn’t sync with Outlook. RIM doesn’t offer free support for its BDM so I googled the problem and was told in the many BlackBerry Forums that I should remove the new version, remove the old version and then reinstall the new version. Ok. I did that. No joy.
Then I found additional “support” that I needed to clean my registry. I downloaded the recommended registry cleaner, cleaned the registry, re-installed the latest version. No joy.
Ok, so I tried a previous version, version 5. Went through all the steps — uninstall, clean the registry, new install, etc. Still no joy. So I tried installing the original version, BDM 4.0. Wouldn’t work. Did I mention the 3rd party sync application I tried? It didn’t work either. We’re now 3 days into this fiasco. I’ve read every post on the topic on the BlackBerry support site, every post on the CrackBerry support site, and all I’m finding is irate users who can’t get BDM to sync with Outlook. Not good news.
Finally, I can get version 5 to sync contacts — don’t ask me why — but not with calendar. The many references I find to this problem — I was not alone — suggest several alternative work-arounds that I try but don’t work. Yet another day passes. I’m desperate by now because I rely on my mobile calendar when I’m not in the office, which is most of the time.
My project manager — the Big Dawg — says he might have a solution for the calendar sync. It’s not elegant, he warns, but it should work. Anything, at this point, that even hints at success is golden to me. We download a Google app that loads the data from my calendar in Outlook to my gmail calendar (which I had never used before). Then, we load a Google app on my BlackBerry that syncs the data in my gmail calendar with the BlackBerry. It works. Praise the Lord.
All of this happens seamlessly and and automatically. Certainly not elegant, but I now have current information on my BlackBerry and Outlook.
Back to Research In Motion. I realize that RIM gives BDM away for free. I appreciate that BDM is simply a cost to RIM and doesn’t drive revenue. But for people like me who don’t use the enterprise exchange server version, the ONLY reason to use a BlackBerry is to sync with Outlook. If I can’t do that — and apparently, RIM is ok with us not being able to do that — there’s no reason to buy a BlackBerry.
I certainly won’t buy another one.