I’ve been a fan of the Blackberry for years. I LOVE their “push” email technology, and it’s one-hand scroll-wheel functionality. But I had to drop-kick my crackberry for a Palm Treo when Supra came out with the eKey technology in order to access homes for sale with lockboxes. I actually kept both for a while but after I got an iPhone three phones was just too much, even for a geek like me.
Supra only supports a handful of smartphones and most of them are Palm Treos, either Palm OS or Windows Mobile. The reason for this is not because they are lazy or unresponsive to customer requests, even if they are. The real reason is that most devices do not support IRDA technology. That’s the infrared port that communicates with the Supra iBox to unlock or program it. So Blackberrys, iPhones, and a bunch of other popular and cool smartphones were effectively blocked from being used as an eKey. Until now….
Supra has decided to sell an “infrared-to-bluetooth converter” and offer their Supra eKey services from several Blackberry devices by the end of the year. It’s like a car key fob that you carry on your keychain. According to their press release, Supra will support the Pearl, the Curve, and the 8800 series devices. There will be a couple of different plans offered. The new eData Mobile application will give the listing agent instant notification of showings, even while they are in progress. I’m not sure how this will play out. I’m not excited about getting calls from agents for feedback while I’m still in the house and showing my client. We may end up needing some NWMLS guidelines to keep Realtors from being too aggressive with other agents. (not that there are any pushy agents out there).
So the real question is … (drum roll please) Will Supra support the new Blackberry Storm? This is the closest thing I’ve seen to a true iPhone competitor coming to the market. All the other vendors have been scrambling to come up with a product that can compete with Apple’s evolutionary and wildly popular device. So far, none of them have really even come close, IMO. They may have some of the look and feel down, but the vastly superior software options still puts the iPhone WAY ahead of anyone else. But the one thing almost all iPhone owners agree on is that typing sucks on the iPhone. I can thumb a text message 10 times faster on a Blackberry.
Well, Blackberry may have found a way to solve this dilemma. The new Storm offers an on-screen touch-and-feel keyboard that you have to actually PUSH in a way that gives you a true “keyboard feel”. People tell me you quickly and intuitively learn how this works and your back to speed-thumb-typing in no time.The Engadget Mobile website has a page-by-page copy of the Verizon Sales brochure of the Storm if you want to look it over. I spoke with someone at GE Supra and they would not commit to saying the Supra eKey product would be compatible with the Storm. It uses Verizon’s GSM and Ev-DO networks and not Wi-Fi, which could be a deal killer for some people too.
At least agents will have a viable alternative to the old and limited Treo. Finally, Change you can believe in! Sounds like the Blackberry’s running for office!