Even by the standards of a TV chef whose face is known to tens of millions of viewers worldwide, Tyler Florence is a busy man. At his day job(s), the 43-year-old San Francisco Bay Area resident simultaneously hosts two popular shows on the Food Network and guest-stars on a third. In addition, Florence, like so many other Bay Area power players, is also an entrepreneur involved in running eight companies, including restaurants, retail shops, media production companies, and even two technology startups. And his new cookbook, Tyler Florence Test Kitchen – 120 New Recipes, Perfected, was released last month by Random House
To stay on schedule, securely manage all of his businesses, keep up with employees and family members, and more, Florence relies heavily on his BlackBerry smartphones – the Q10 that was his gateway a year ago, and a BlackBerry Passport that has become his primary phone in the last several months.
For him, BlackBerry devices provide the ultimate blend of secure productivity AND after-work features. “To say I love it would be an understatement,” he says. “In a sea of mobility sameness, the BlackBerry Passport is a productivity monster.”
(After you read this profile, check out our Black Friday sale on the BlackBerry Passport and other phones at ShopBlackBerry.com and Amazon.com, or pre-order our new red and white BlackBerry Passport models).
Why He Made The Switch
A self-professed “old-school BlackBerry fan,” Florence spent most of the 2000s decade using BlackBerry smartphones, until switching to an iPhone a number of years ago.
While Florence praises the iPhone’s usability and fun factor, there were downsides. As the host/co-host of shows such as The Great Food Truck Race, Food Court Wars, and Worst Cooks in America, Florence travels about 90 days, or nearly a quarter of the year. Being on the go became increasingly incompatible with the iPhone, which “left me stranded way too many times to count.” Searching for outlets to recharge his iPhone was an inconvenience he couldn’t afford. “I’d be filming on set for 10-12 hours, then we would wrap and I would have to rush to the airport. I’d only have a small window of time to catch up on e-mail and other work. I really needed a phone that could keep up with my busy day.”
Something as simple as the auto correct feature also put his carefully-nurtured business relationships at risk. “I’m the CEO of a company, in partnership in 8 different businesses,” he says. “E-mails are my word. People judge you by your typos.”
Florence recalls one gaffe that occurred when he was writing an e-mail to the President of the Macy’s department store chain. “I was writing it very quickly. Well, Auto-Correct changed Macy’s to Maybe,” he says. “I have a thousand more stories like that one.”
Back to Black
Florence’s BlackBerry epiphany took place on a flight last year. “I was sitting next to a gentleman who had a Q10. My iPhone battery had been dead for hours but this guy was still going,” he recalls. “The next day I started doing research on BlackBerry and it felt like a magnet.”
Florence first came back for the Q10, which he praised for its stamina as well as its unerring accuracy. The Q10’s physical keyboard “makes my e-mails very accurate,” Florence says. “The flick-to-text feature also makes me very fast. I can write a 5-page e-mail, if necessary, and still trust that it will be accurate and precise.”
But when Florence saw leaked photos of the BlackBerry Passport, “it was like looking at the future.” Having made it his primary phone for the last several months, Florence has nothing but praise. “It’s a beautiful, well-built device. And the technology in this phone is so brilliant. I’m really feeling it,” he says.
Florence also loves the BlackBerry Passport’s mammoth 4.5-inch, 1,440 x 1,440 screen. “Some people said the screen’s 1:1 aspect ratio would be awkward, but I think it’s beautiful,” he says. “The colors on the screen are great.”
And it makes him more productive than ever while on the go. “I can effortlessly write 50+ emails a day without having to have a disclaimer at the bottom apologizing for typos and sloppy auto corrects,” he says.
More than just a productivity device, the BlackBerry Passport is the first to run both BlackBerry 10 apps as well as hundreds of thousands of Android ones, courtesy of the Amazon Appstore. Now “whatever app you want, I’ve got,” he says. For work, Florence cites Documents To Go as a “fantastic” app for reading Microsoft Office files, while BlackBerry Express is an “awesome” way to quickly create “really compelling presentations” on his phone. Florence also posts photos of dishes created in his company’s test ktchen to Instagram using the iGrann app, he watches videos on Netflix and even edits family videos using StoryMaker.
Florence is also a huge user and evangelist for the BBM messaging service. “Everyone in my company is on BBM. And I will also force my most interesting friends onto BBM. Whenever they text me, I write back to them in BBM. I am personally responsible for getting a dozen people onto BBM that way.”
Great Wall of Security
When it came time to upgrade his e-mail infrastructure, Florence also invested in BlackBerry’s security solution, BES. Security, he says, is key for small-and-medium-sized businesses, especially ambitious ones such as his.
In addition to his media, food and wine businesses, Florence is transforming his Mill Valley retail store into Tyler Florence Test Kitchen, a food laboratory/think tank and TV studio so that he can film, produce and distribute clips and approved recipes via mobile app. As a result, “We have incredibly valuable intellectual property that has to be protected,” he says. “With BES, clouds aren’t going to be hacked and our e-mails are locked – they can’t be shipped off to someone else. That lets us sleep well at night.”
“Like most businesses, we’re trying to build our castle walls higher and our moat deeper,” he adds. “BES12 is the only encryption I would ever recommend.”
Indeed, Florence says he’s noticed business leaders starting to re-embrace the “quiet strength” of BlackBerry.
“I go to a lot of events and dinners. Many of the guests are leaders and top businesspeople. When I demonstrate the BlackBerry 10 gesture interface and the apps I run, everyone’s interested,” he says. “They really flip out when I take them through the BlackBerry Hub and show them how quick it is to read and reply compared to my iPad.”
“I was at dinner the other night with someone who is the director of the wine industry for Spain,” Florence continues. “She also chooses to organize her thoughts with a powerful, professional device. While almost everyone else was taking selfies with their iPhones, she and I shared a look that said ‘We’re different than everyone else.””
With strong demand for the BlackBerry Passport and the highly-anticipated BlackBerry Classic coming on December 17, Florence predicts the return of many more former BlackBerry users looking for an “incredibly durable” device that “doesn’t look like a toy.”
“If you want security, it’s Blackberry. If you want mobility that will work as hard as you do, it’s BlackBerry,” says Florence. BlackBerry “has been through the ringer the last two years. But if the BlackBerry Passport is a taste of what Mr. Chen is cooking up in Waterloo, then Blackberry has a perfect recipe for success. Take it from me – I know a good recipe when I see one.”
The BlackBerry Passport’s battery is pretty zesty as well. Consider this data on battery life:
|BlackBerry Passport||30 hours|
|Samsung Galaxy S5||23 hours|
|iPhone 6||21 hours|
|iPhone 6 Plus||25 hours|
(*Based on third-party lab testing sponsored by BlackBerry, under 4G and 3G wireless conditions, using a mixed-usage profile. Results will vary by carrier and network conditions.)
Pricing and Availability
You can get your factory-unlocked BlackBerry Passport from ShopBlackBerry.com at these links:
…and at Amazon HERE, with AT&T offering it for $649.99 unsubsidized or $199.99 with a 2-year contract. The BlackBerry Passport is also available in Canada via Rogers for $249 and Telus (for as low as $150 up front) and other carriers.
For those outside the North American market, you can get your BlackBerry Passport directly from us at our global shopping portal HERE.
(Check with your local carrier for device compatibility.)