Have you checked out your competitors recently? I was just reading a review that says the new Blackberry smartphone is by far the best, speediest, most elegant Blackberry ever. But the reviewer would not recommend anyone buy it. Why? Because it’s still missing a lot of the key functionality that other smartphones have. The hardware is leading edge, but they haven’t truly made the device do anything better.

What I want to know is what kind of smartphone the co-CEOs of RIM use? Do they use Blackberrys? I can’t imagine a worse choice. They should be using iPhone and Android devices for 95% of their calls and computing. We’ll let them use Blackberrys, but only on Sunday. And they’re not allowed to have their IT people set them up; they need to do that themselves. Then they’ll start to understand fundamentally what it’s like to use these devices, and why Blackberry is increasingly falling behind.

I’ve been in Blackberry’s marketing research list for years. I want so badly to tell them why my next phone will be an iPhone, and exactly how and why their platform falls short. But they never ask that. They ask too-specific questions about their guesses as to why I might prefer an iPhone. And their guesses are wrong, because they’re so steeped in their own product.

If you’re in a competitive market, you owe it to yourself to adopt your competitor’s product. Don’t just use it for an hour or a couple of days; really integrate it into your life. Understand its strengths and its shortcomings. Do this a couple of times a year. Only then will you have a hope of being able to take the next step and leapfrog what they’re doing with your own next product. Otherwise, you’re playing guessing games. You might get lucky once or twice, but at the end of the day, you can’t create a vision of a next generation product when you don’t even know what this generation holds.

Success Starts When You Stop Using Your Own Produc…

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