Location Scout Resource: SmartPhone


Location Scout Resource: location scout using Your BlackBerry / IPhone / SmartPhone

I recently purchased a BlackBerry Pearl 8130 (“Pearl” would seem to denote the small pearl-like trackball located on the face of the device used for navigation) (photos).

Regarding the purchase of the BlackBerry itself, it’s not like I needed to throw more moolah at yet another gadget for my kit, but the offer was too good to refuse:

  • As a long-time Verizon Wireless customer, I was due for a phone upgrade, consisting of a $100 credit (…and 2 year renewal of my contract…)
  • There were also two separate $50 rebates available on this particular phone at the time
  • The list price of the phone was $249 = minus $100 credit minus $100 in rebates = a $50 BlackBerry – how could I refuse?

What initially inspired me to consider going with a BlackBerry or other smartphone was an experience I had last winter location scouting with the producer I was working with at the time, we were driving around Brooklyn and Queens, visiting some location candidates we had both already researched in our offices but still needing other options; this particular producer was the proud owner of an Apple IPhone, so, as we drove, carefully concentrating on vehicular traffic as is reccommended in conditions likely to be encountered somewhere like New York City, she was able to use a combination of features included in her IPhone i.e. GPS, high-speed internet access / Google Search / Google Maps and of course, the phone itself to make appointment requests or other calls as needed.

As I drove, she would search on Google and Google Maps for the business category listings (we happenned to be looking for auto parts stores and flower shops at the time…) and local business listings which would typically include the business name / address / phone number; then, using that info and Google Maps we could drive directly there. If we got lost or turned around – GPS to the rescue! ๐Ÿ™‚

I estimate location scouting this way saved us at least a day in research *not* driving around “aimlessly” as might have been required using “old-school” location research and location scouting methods. Yellow Pages? what are Yellow Pages? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh, yeah – the IPhone also contained an IPod which we were able to play thru my truck’s stereo, which was nice – I have my own IPod but it was on the blink at the time – subsequently it was replaced by Apple (for free ๐Ÿ™‚ as it turned out it was defective…

In any case, it was at that point I decided to start looking at acquiring a smartphone – the IPhone was really nice, with its large display screen, Apple ingenuity and features – but it also cost about $500 at the time plus + / – $100 for the service each month, so I would have been looking at the (arguably steep) *cost of the IPhone at that time and the additional cost of the additional service to my existing Verizon cellphone service of about the same amount (the IPhone service is only available thru AT&T Wireless or cancelling Verizon contract (which would include a stiff penalty of several hundred dollars…), so… I started looking at the BlackBerry – which has a splendid reputation of its own and in fact was “the” pioneer in smartphone technology.

*In case you have been living in a cave lately, Apple recently announced the IPhone G3 at a much reduced cost for the equipment. Reportedly, the service is more expensive, so over time you end up paying more? …but then again maybe that’s easier for people to whom it matters – spreading out the expense of maybe a little more each month but over a long period and without having had to plop down a lot to get onboard …and inconsequential for still others?

I am very pleased with my BlackBerry! There are LOTS of mobile applications available due to BlackBerry’s popularity, including many…

  • Google applications for mobile, i.e. Gmail (including Mail / Google Apps), Google Maps (which includes ** My Location), Search, Calendar, GOOG-411 (voice-technology 411 service) and other useful FREE applications.
  • Yahoo has its own mobile application that bundles a number of similar features and is in fact very elelgant, but I have had intermittent problems with it crashing my phone (requiring a soft reset fix by removing the phone battery and turning the phone back on…)
  • Of course, there are many BlackBerry native applications included in the phone from the time you first turn the thing on…
  • You can search for other BlackBerry Apps
  • **My Location is NOT GPS – its positioning technology relies on cell towers to determine your position – generally, for the purpose of getting “un-lost” I find it quite adequate – and it is FREE – GPS service thru Verizon is a separate, paid service ($9.99 / month I think…), but I have my own separate GPS unit I can use if I need to provide exact coordinates of a location.

    Verizon’s unlimited personal Blackberry email / web data service that I subscribe to is $29.99 in addition to my regular voice plan, (its corporate plan, which is required if you work for a company that uses BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server is $44.99 / month. The extra $30 / month is a little stiff to a penny-pincher like me, but it is unlimited internet / email and several factors make it a wash. What follows are considerations you may want to make for yourself:

  • A while back I ditched my landline phone and ported the number to my Verizon Wireless service. The additional line costs me $9.99 per month as opposed to the $40-$50 / month I was paying for the landline – hey, the new line even included a free cel phone ๐Ÿ™‚
    Note: the possible down-sides to relying solely on cellular telephony are:

  • limited 911 emergency service capabilities
  • no landline for receiving faxes – but I use an electronic fax service – which costs $16.95 / month – working on eliminating this expense…
  • no landline for processing credit card merchant transactions using a merchant terminal – I solved this by using PayPal’s online payment processing; fees are competitive with my old conventional merchant account and no additional equipment (i.e. terminal, printer) to own / clutter my desk / wear out…
  • your mileage may vary depending on your business model / personal needs…
  • The BlackBerry does SO many things well, it will be a while (if ever) that I upgrade my laptop computer – I basically don’t need the laptop for mobile internet / email anymore… The laptop is currently needed for tasks particular to location scouting and other business chores for applications such as PhotoShop / Word / Excel, etc and a large, fast hard drive for working with images and other data is needed, but the laptop I currently own should be good for all this for a while.

Umm, oh, yeah, the BlackBerry is also a camera phone, but I personally have never been crazy about the image quality of camera phone photos – I much prefer my trusty, rusty Leica D-Lux3 ๐Ÿ˜‰



Smartphones at Amazon