Q and A: How BlackBerry Passport Empowers this Clinical Research CEO


If you’ve ever heard that “the early bird gets the worm,” it should come as no surprise that people were eager to get the BlackBerry Passport in their hands for the “I had it first” factor, and to master its productivity power before everyone else.


I caught up with one early user, Janet McDougall, who says the BlackBerry Passport “screams business” and is already helping her get more done as president/owner of her pharmaceutical statistics firm, McDougall Scientific Ltd.

mcdougall scientific logo

Watts: Thanks for catching up with me, Janet. Let’s start with why you decided to get a BlackBerry Passport.

McDougall: First and foremost, it was worth the wait! I’m a long-term BlackBerry user and a Canadian. This is my seventh BlackBerry, and I was really excited about going back to the keyboard. When the device was released, I immediately went to Best Buy to get mine and get it activated.

Interestingly enough, there weren’t any on display and none of the sales guys I spoke with had any training on the device. In fact, all five people I talked to claimed they had never heard of the BlackBerry Passport, but it caught their attention because they had previously been BlackBerry users.

Watts: So what was their reaction when you received yours two weeks ago?

McDougall: I was the first person to buy one from the store, and they didn’t have any demos so it was a very interesting unboxing experience. As I opened it, the staff took pictures to show their friends and were really impressed with some of the features. Initially, some were put off by its size until I told them to slip it into their pocket to see how easy it fit. Another mentioned a lack of apps until I showed them what was offered in BlackBerry World and Amazon Appstore.

As this was happening, the tech guys started reminiscing about how they loved the 9000 series BlackBerry and would consider getting a Passport. These guys were all college, business-oriented students majoring in marketing, finance, and systems. They were won over with the “cool factor” of the BlackBerry Passport because it’s subtle, different, and “screams business.”

bb hub

Watts:  And how does the BlackBerry Passport fit into your line of work?

McDougall: The way I see it, you’re either a consumer or producer of information – and for my job I’m a bit of both. As a statistician, there is always something to read and write. So far, the overall functionality of the BlackBerry Passport is useful. The screen size compared to other phones is optimal for document viewing and web browsing, which allows me to easily read statistics, clinical research, and FDA regulations, in addition to marking up documents in the palm of my hands. I can also log in and check on the project metrics and respond to clients.

My company is considering replacing our corporate devices, and the BlackBerry Passport is on the top of our list. My employees, 15 in total, are technical people – statisticians, data managers, and programmers.  My company is a CRO (contract research organization) consulting to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries since 1984. We support international clinical research, so security and reliability are part of the corporate DNA. The managers travel to clients and conferences and have to keep in touch, but also our clients are global so 24/7 access to applications becomes important.

Because the device is so new, we’re still checking it out to evaluate its capabilities for our employees. But I will say that I initially got the Passport as I did the Z30 – to see options. I was clear that I would wait for the Classic and then evaluate. Well … I am personally hooked. I have transferred my BlackBerry ID over and will soon port my primary mobile number. I am not waiting for the Classic. When I made that statement in the forum, one of the guys came back and said that he had heard this same story from six other people. “Wait and see” turned into a decision that “this is it” – and it is happening to many others.

Watts: How about your core experiences such as with typing, browsing, BlackBerry Hub, email, etc.?

McDougall: Yes! For starters, the camera is good and has been used to take selfies.

I’m also in the process of setting up BlackBerry Blend to better understand and make use of it.

I’ve had great experiences with the Hub on my Z30 and enjoy using it on the BlackBerry Passport. I use the Hub for effective and efficient communication – managing all emails, weather, contacts, calendar, and social media profiles.

Ironically, while I know BlackBerry devices can deploy Android apps, with the breadth of those native to BlackBerry 10, I don’t look to Android for anything. I get all that I need from BlackBerry apps such as: Bus Arrival Time for TTC; news – CBC, The Globe, NY Times, Guardian; Maps; GasBuddy (best price for gas); Skype; Porter (small local airline); Wikipedia; and StarTracker (for stargazing).


But what I love most is the keyboard. The BlackBerry Passport provides a new take on the BlackBerry reality with the beloved “chiclet” keyboard, which also functions as a trackpad, with an excellent visual real estate experience. Thanks to the keyboard, I’m able to communicate better through written word.

Oh, and the battery life is also superb!

Watts: How important is the 30-hour battery life for your job?

McDougall: The first charge lasted the whole weekend with moderate use, as many of the built-in features – like the subtle opening screen, stripped-down icons, and the screen power-down when you place the device screen down – are engineered to reduce needless power consumption. Having the ability to use the device as needed without worrying about the battery is a plus.

Watts: Earlier you mentioned this is your seventh BlackBerry. What keeps you coming back to the brand and purchasing the devices?

McDougall: One of the things that keeps me a BlackBerry user is the fact the company is quietly innovative and dependable, providing a high-quality experience with all their devices. The current BlackBerries, including the Passport, are powered by software that runs mission-critical applications like nuclear power plants, air traffic control, and surgical instruments, yet are flexible enough to also have a rich infotainment footprint. With any BlackBerry, there is the additional legacy of security – which they have enhanced with the purchase of Secusmart data encryption and Movirtu, which will augment the existing shared personal and work space to enable you to do business securely and have a personal life all on one handset.

Watts: Is there anything we can do to better support your needs?

McDougall: The only thing I can say is that the screen could be a bit more vibrant. I realize this could affect battery life, but I wouldn’t mind brightening it up for better reading. Also, some websites don’t allow you to pinch and expand the page. But other than that, I am quite satisfied!

Watts: Thanks for your insight, Janet! It’s been a pleasure talking with you. I hope your love of your new BlackBerry Passport continues to grow. 

About Brea

Brea Watts is a lifestyle blogger with a hint of content and social media marketing expertise. She's also an occasional contributor to the BlackBerry Business Blog, and a Bay Area native who loves cooking and creativity.

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