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A while back, I wrote about the Apple iPhone’s potential place in healthcare as the smartphone of choice, provided the innovative hardware developer makes a few key tweaks with physicians in mind. That column sparked a flurry of e-mails from Blackberry devotees, some of whom raised great counterpoints regarding the iPhone’s limitations in healthcare settings. So far, Apple hasn’t made any efforts to target healthcare specifically and, since that column was written, Research In Motion has unveiled the Blackberry Storm, an impressive touch-screen device that will likely knock the iPhone 3G out of the running when released later this year—at least as far as healthcare settings are concerned.
Sporting a 3.25-inch touch screen with 360x480 resolution, the Storm, like the iPhone, offers support for multi-touch interface, but the Blackberry device also boasts haptic feedback for its virtual keyboard, as well as cut-and-paste capability, a significant omission from Apple’s offering. The keyboard, which features a “clickable” screen that company officials say simulates the feel of a physical keyboard, sports two layouts: RIM’s SureType layout in portrait mode, as well as a full QWERTY layout in landscape orientation.
The Storm is capable of connecting to either EV-DO Rev. A or HSPA 3G cellular networks—and it offers 1GB of onboard memory storage, with a card slot that allows for up to 16GB of additional storage. When it comes to expandability, the Blackberry Storm has a clear advantage over Apple’s iPhone, which maxes out at 8GB. Another consideration favoring the Storm would be battery life; although we won’t know for certain until launch, the Storm most likely will feature the same swappable, extended battery option available in previous Blackberry models.
On the network side, Verizon continues to edge out the competition when it comes to call quality, having the fewest dropped calls, customer service and cost—advantage, Storm—but, in fairness, both Verizon and AT&T lay claim to impressive 3G networks that span the United States.
The Storm’s handset supports multiple e-mail accounts, including Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, Novell GroupWise, and various POP 3 providers. But it’s the Storm’s security features that promise a more enterprise-friendly device than the iPhone, which, of course, is a key consideration for healthcare settings.
As I mentioned previously, I think the iPhone’s security and keyboard limitations could quickly be remedied, if Apple were to aggressively pursue the healthcare market. Add to that Apple’s superior graphics capabilities and browsing interface, increase the RAM and provide speedier flash memory access—and Apple could be a serious contender in the healthcare space. Unfortunately, that’s a mighty big ‘if.’
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