Originally Posted by jwoods
That's a bit of a pain. I wonder why the devices are so heavily tied into backend Blackberry servers. There's no technical reason why they can't use used as regular email clients and connect directly to POP3 servers and the web.
Guess it's just about money...
No, not really... and there are plenty of other devices out there that will do what you want if all you're looking for is a POP client. You should really read up on the features and functionality of the Blackberry as RIM's infrastructure is really a major (but hidden) strength IMO.
RIM's backend is necessary for push email (which helps quite a bit with battery life versus pull -- among other benefits) to work properly. The backend also allows the user to merely power up a new Blackberry with a SIM that is associated with a Blackberry data plan and then have the carrier's network automatically push service books to configure the new Blackberry. Every other device requires manual configuration. That's not to say that BIS users don't have to input TCP settings for 3rd party apps but as a BES user I've never had to do this.
A bonus but probably not a major selling point is PIN messaging. My wife and I used to use SMS and had to constantly deal with SMS messages disappearing into the ether without any trace. With PIN messaging we know if a PIN was delivered/received/read. Yes, you can get delivery confirmation with SMS if your carrier and device both support it
. However, from a practical standpoint we've never lost any PIN's and we have mysteriously losts SMS's. Without RIM's backend PIN messaging wouldn't be possible. Really, though, PIN messaging should be a major bonus considering how much carriers are charging for SMS. If you have an unlimited BB data plan you have unlimited PIN messaging. My wife and I not only use PIN's but we use BB Messenger a lot when she travels domestically and internationally.
The Blackberry data plans aren't there to just as a money pit for RIM. It's really IMO the biggest reason why every "Blackberry killer" has failed. Competitors have focused so much on the device and the qwerty keyboard that they have failed to realize that what really makes a Blackberry a Blackberry is RIM's intrastructure. The device, as sturdy and as reliable as they have been, is mostly a front end though it can definitely run apps and perform to some degree without the backend.
BIS is precisely designed for consumers that don't want to pay for BES. It's really quite a deal if you consider the total cost of BES whether hosted or not. That said, I find BES worthwhile enough to pay for it (hosted) for personal use. Not everyone does though and many are very happy with BIS.