[blak-ber-ee, -buh-ree]
blackberry, name for several species of thorny plants of the genus Rubus of the family Rosaceae (rose family). See bramble.

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.

On 25 Sep 2008, RIM announced the number of BlackBerry subscribers has reached approximately 19 million.

Operating system

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.


Early BlackBerry devices used Intel-80386-based processors. The latest Blackberry 9000 series is equipped with Intel XScale 624MHz CPU,which makes it the fastest Blackberry to date. Earlier BlackBerry 8000 series smartphones, such as the 8700 and the Pearl, are based on the 312MHz ARM XScale ARMv5TE PXA900. An exception to this is the BlackBerry 8707 which is based on the 80MHz Qualcomm® 3250 chipset, this was due to the ARM XScale ARMv5TE PXA900 chipset supporting 3G networks. The 80MHz Processor in the BlackBerry 8707 actually meant the device was often slower to download and render webpages over 3G than the 8700 was over EDGE networks.


Data extracted from a BlackBerry to a host computer is stored in a single file in IPD format.

Supporting software

BlackBerry handhelds are integrated into an organization's e-mail system through a software package called "BlackBerry Enterprise Server" (BES). Versions of BES are available for Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino and Novell GroupWise. While individual users may be able to use a wireless provider's e-mail services without having to install BES themselves, organizations with multiple users usually run BES on their own network. Some third-party companies provide hosted BES solutions. Every BlackBerry has a unique id called BlackBerry PIN which is used to identify the device to the BES.

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.

Newer BlackBerry devices use the proprietary Blackberry Messenger software for sending and receiving text messages via Blackberry PIN.

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.

Future features

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.

Name origin

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.


  • Early Pager Models: 850, 857, 950, 957
  • Monochrome Java-based Models: 5000-series and 6000-series
  • First Color Models: 7200-series, 7500-series and 7700-series
  • First SureType Phone Models: 7100-series
  • Modern BlackBerry Models: 8000-series including BlackBerry 8800. BlackBerry Pearl and BlackBerry Curve
  • Latest BlackBerry Model: Bold or 9000-series, Blackberry KickStart, Javelin (8900), Storm (9500)

Phones with BlackBerry e-mail client

Several ordinary mobile phones have been released featuring the BlackBerry e-mail client which connects to BlackBerry servers. Many of these phones have full QWERTY keyboards (except the Motorola MPx220, Nokia E50, Nokia E51, Nokia E60, and Samsung t719).

  • HTC Advantage X7500
  • HTC TyTN Operates on 3G/HSDPA/850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 240 × 320 pixel touch screen, QWERTY keyboard
  • Motorola MPx220 (selected models only), Operates on 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 176 × 220 pixel screen
  • Nokia 6810 Operates on 900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 128 × 128 pixel screen
  • Nokia 6820 Operates on 900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, American variant on 850/1800/1900 GSM network, 128 × 128 pixel screen
  • Nokia 9300 Operates on 900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 128 × 128 and 640 × 200 pixel screen
  • Nokia 9300i Operates on 900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 128 × 128 and 640 × 200 pixel screen
  • Nokia 9500 Operates on 900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 128 × 128 and 640 × 200 pixel screen
  • Nokia E50 Operates on 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 320 × 240 pixel screen
  • Nokia E51 Operates on 3G-UMTS/HSDPA 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 240 × 320 pixel screen
  • Nokia E60 Operates on 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 416 × 352 pixel screen
  • Nokia E61 Operates on 3G-UMTS/850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 320 × 240 pixel screen
  • Nokia E61i Operates on 3G-UMTS/850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 320 × 240 pixel screen
  • Nokia E62 Operates on 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 320 × 240 pixel screen
  • Nokia E70 Operates on 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 416 × 352 pixel screen
  • Nokia E90
  • Qtek 9100 Operates on 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 240 × 320 pixel touch screen and QWERTY keyboard
  • Qtek 9000 Operates on 3G-UMTS/850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 640 × 480 pixel touch screen, QWERTY keyboard
  • Samsung t719 Operates on 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 176 × 220 pixel screen
  • Siemens SK65, Operates on 900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, 132 × 176 pixel screen
  • Sony Ericsson P910 Operates on 900/1800/1900 MHz GSM network, American and Chinese variants on 850/1800/1900, 208 × 320 pixel screen
  • Sony Ericsson P990
  • Sony Ericsson M600i
  • Sony Ericsson P1


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.

  • BCTA (BlackBerry Certified Technical Associate)
  • BlackBerry Certified Support Associate T2

Additional information on certifications can be found on the website

The BlackBerry Technical Certifications available are:

  • BlackBerry Certified Enterprise Server Consultant (BCESC)
  • BlackBerry Certified Server Support Technician (BCSST)
  • BlackBerry Certified Support Technician (BCST)

The BlackBerry Store

In December 2007, it was reported that the first ever BlackBerry store was opened. While it is the only BlackBerry store currently in existence, it actually is not the first. There were three prior attempts at opening BlackBerry stores in Toronto, London, and Charlotte, but they eventually folded. The current location is in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The store offers BlackBerry device models from AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint, the major U.S. carriers which offer the Smartphones. Employees are trained not only on the BlackBerry devices themselves, but on the regulations of each service provider.

RIM patent infringement litigation

In 2000, the now infamous patent troll company NTP sent notice of their wireless email patents to a number of companies and offered to license the patents to them. NTP's patents were not based on any existing technology or even a working prototype, as no research and development had ever been done or had ever been planned by NTP on the patents. In contrast, RIM had spent years and millions of dollars developing its invention. Due to what was widely seen by industry leaders as NTP's attempt at extortion, none of the companies took a license. NTP brought a patent infringement lawsuit against one of the companies, Research in Motion, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. This court is well known for its strict adherence to timetables and deadlines, sometimes referred to as the "rocket docket," and is particularly efficient at trying patent cases.

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 early November, 2005 the US Department of Justice filed a brief requesting that RIM's service be allowed to continue because of the large number of BlackBerry users in the US Federal Government.

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 February 9, 2006, RIM announced that it had developed software workarounds that would not infringe the NTP patents, and would implement those if the injunction was enforced.

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.

BlackBerry PIN

BlackBerry PIN is an eight character hexadecimal unique identification number assigned to each BlackBerry device. PINs cannot be exchanged and are locked to each handset device. BlackBerrys can message each other using the PIN directly or by using the Blackberry Messenger application.

See also

References and notes

External links

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