The BlackBerry is a wireless handheld device introduced in 1999 as a two-way pager. The more commonly known smartphone BlackBerry, which supports push e-mail, mobile telephone, text messaging, internet faxing, web browsing and other wireless information services, was released in 2002. It is an example of a convergent device. Developed by the Canadian company Research In Motion (RIM), it delivers information over the wireless data networks of mobile phone service companies. BlackBerry first made headway in the marketplace by concentrating on e-mail. RIM currently offers BlackBerry e-mail service to non-BlackBerry devices, such as the Palm Treo, through the BlackBerry Connect software. The original BlackBerry device had a monochrome display, but all current models have color displays.
While including PDA applications (address book, calendar, to-do lists, etc.) as well as telephone capabilities on newer models, the BlackBerry is primarily known for its ability to send and receive e-mail wherever it can access a wireless network of certain cellular phone carriers. It has a built-in keyboard, optimized for "thumbing", the use of only the thumbs to type. System navigation is primarily accomplished by a scroll ball in the middle of the device (older devices used a track wheel on the side). Some models (currently, those manufactured for use with iDEN networks such as Nextel and Telus) also incorporate a PTT (Push-To-Talk) feature, similar to a two-way radio. Some BlackBerry devices do not depend on mobile phone service coverage and are Wi-Fi compatible, like similar handheld devices that are on the market.
Modern BlackBerry handhelds incorporate an ARM 7 or 9 processor, while older BlackBerry 950 and 957 handhelds used Intel 80386 processors. The latest GSM BlackBerry models (8100, 8300 and 8700 series) have an Intel PXA901 312 MHz processor, 64 MB flash memory and 16 MB SDRAM. CDMA BlackBerry smartphones are based on Qualcomm MSM6x00 chipsets which also include the ARM 9-based processor and GSM 900/1800 roaming (as the case with the 8830). The devices are very popular with some businesses, where they are primarily used to provide e-mail access to roaming employees. To fully integrate the BlackBerry into a company's systems, the installation of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is required.
RIM provides a proprietary multi-tasking operating system (OS) for the BlackBerry, which makes heavy use of the device's specialized input devices, particularly the scroll wheel (1995 - 2006) or more recently the trackball (September 12th 2006 - Present). The OS provides support for MIDP 1.0 and WAP 1.2. Previous versions allowed wireless synchronization with Microsoft Exchange Server's e-mail and calendar, as well as with Lotus Domino's e-mail. The current OS 4 provides a subset of MIDP 2.0, and allows complete wireless activation and synchronization with Exchange's e-mail, calendar, tasks, notes and contacts, and adds support for Novell GroupWise and Lotus Notes.
Third-party developers can write software using these APIs, and proprietary BlackBerry APIs as well, but any application that makes use of certain restricted functionality must be digitally signed so that it can be associated to a developer account at RIM. This signing procedure guarantees the authorship of an application, but does not guarantee the quality or security of the code.
BES can act as a sort of e-mail relay for corporate accounts so that users always have access to their e-mail. The software monitors the user's local "inbox", and when a new message comes in, it picks up the message and passes it to RIM's Network Operations Center (NOC). The messages are then relayed to the user's wireless provider, which in turn delivers them to the user's BlackBerry device.
This is called "push e-mail," because all new e-mails, contacts and calendar entries are "pushed" out to the BlackBerry device automatically, as opposed to the user synchronizing the data by hand. Device storage also enables the mobile user to access all data offline in areas without wireless service. As soon as the user connects again, the BES sends the latest data.
An included feature in the newer models of the BlackBerry is the ability for it to track your current location through Trilateration. One can view the online maps on the phone and see current location denoted by a flashing dot. However, accuracy of BlackBerry trilateration is less than that of GPS due to a number of factors, including cell tower blockage by large buildings, mountains, or distance.
BES also provides handhelds with TCP/IP connectivity accessed through a component called "Mobile Data Service" (MDS). This allows for custom application development using data streams on BlackBerry devices based on the Sun Microsystems Java ME platform.
In addition, BES provides security, in the form of Triple DES or, more recently, AES encryption of all data (both e-mail and MDS traffic) that travels between the BlackBerry handheld and a BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
Most providers offer flat monthly pricing for unlimited data between BlackBerry units and BES. In addition to receiving e-mail, organizations can make intranets or custom internal applications with unmetered traffic.
With more recent versions of the BlackBerry platform, the MDS is no longer a requirement for wireless data access. Beginning with OS 3.8 or 4.0, BlackBerry handhelds can access the Internet (i.e. TCP/IP access) without an MDS - previously only e-mail and WAP access was possible without a BES/MDS. The BES/MDS is still required for secure e-mail, data access, and applications that require WAP from carriers that do not allow WAP access.
Third-party software available for use on BlackBerry devices includes full-featured database management systems which can be used to support customer relationship management clients and other applications that must manage large volumes of potentially complex data.
The current 8X00 series offers 2.5G/EDGE. The current "Bold" 9000 series offers 3G/UMTS and GPS.
The BlackBerry 9500, code-named BlackBerry Thunder, will offer a touch screen.
On September 11, 2008 Tivo and Research in Motion announced that soon TiVo users would be able to control their system from a BlackBerry phone. The integration is expected by the end of 2008. No price -- if any -- was disclosed.
RIM settled on the name "BlackBerry" only after weeks of work by Lexicon Branding Inc., the Sausalito, California-based firm that named Intel Corp.’s Pentium microprocessor and Apple’s PowerBook. One of the naming experts at Lexicon thought the miniature buttons on RIM’s product looked "like the tiny seeds in a strawberry," Lexicon founder David Placek says. "A linguist at the firm thought straw was too slow sounding. Someone else suggested blackberry. RIM went for it. Previously the device was called LeapFrog, alluding to the technology leaping over the current competition, and its placeholder name during brainstorm was the PocketLink.
The ability to read e-mail that is received in real-time, anywhere, has made the BlackBerry devices infamously addictive, earning them the nickname "CrackBerry," a reference to the street-drug form of cocaine known as crack. Use of the term CrackBerry became so widespread that in November 2006 Webster's New World College Dictionary named "crackberry" the "New Word of the Year"..
Many users also refer to BlackBerrys in general simply as "berries", spawning a litany of offshoots. For example, "berry thumb" or "berry blister" is the soreness that occurs from handling the cramped keyboard.
The Certification requires the user to pass several exams relating to the BlackBerry Device, all its functions including Desktop software and providing technical support to Customers of BlackBerry Devices.
The BCESA, BlackBerry Certified Enterprise Sales Associate qualification, is the first of three levels of professional BlackBerry Certification.
Additional information on certifications can be found on the Blackberry.com website
The BlackBerry Technical Certifications available are:
During the trial, RIM tried to show that a functional wireless email system was already in the public domain at the time the NTP inventions had been made. This would have invalidated the NTP patents. The prior system was called System for Automated Messages (SAM). RIM demonstrated SAM in court and it appeared to work. But the NTP attorneys discovered that RIM was not using vintage SAM software, but a more modern version that came after NTP's inventions were made. Therefore the judge instructed the jury to disregard the demonstration as invalid.
The jury eventually found that the NTP patents were valid, that RIM had infringed them, that the infringement had been "willful", and that the infringement had cost NTP $33 million dollars in damages (the greater of a reasonable royalty or lost profits). The judge, James R. Spencer increased the damages to $53 million as a punitive measure because the infringement had been willful. He also instructed RIM to pay NTP's legal fees of $4.5 million and issued an injunction ordering RIM to cease and desist infringing the patents. This would have shut down the BlackBerry systems in the US.
RIM appealed all of the findings of the court. The injunction and other remedies were stayed pending the outcome of the appeals.
In March of 2005 during the appeals process, RIM and NTP tried to negotiate a settlement of their dispute. One of the terms of the settlement was to be for $450 million. But negotiations broke down due to other issues. On June 10, 2005 the matter returned to the courts.
In January of 2006, the US Supreme Court refused to hear RIM's appeal of the holding of liability for patent infringement, and the matter was returned to a lower court. The previously granted injunction preventing all RIM sales in the US and use of the BlackBerry device might have been enforced by the presiding district court judge had the two parties not been able to reach a settlement.
On February 9, 2006, the US Department of Defense (DOD) filed a brief stating that an injunction shutting down the BlackBerry service while excluding government users was unworkable. The DOD also stated that the BlackBerry was crucial for national security given the large number of government users.
On March 3, 2006, after a stern warning from Judge Spencer, RIM and NTP announced that they had settled their dispute. Under the terms of the settlement, RIM has agreed to pay NTP $612.5 million (USD) in a “full and final settlement of all claims.” In a statement, RIM said that “all terms of the agreement have been finalized and the litigation against RIM has been dismissed by a court order this afternoon. The agreement eliminates the need for any further court proceedings or decisions relating to damages or injunctive relief.” The settlement is believed low by some analysts, because of the absence of any future royalties on the technology in question.