by Gerald Boerner

 

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 The smartphone of choice in the business world before the release of the iPhone was the Blackberry by Research in Motion. This device was able to synch with the major mail servers (Microsoft’s Exchange Server and Lotus Domino) and was able to “push” mail to the Blackberry client. Other messenger services were also available to make the Blackberry the corporate smartphone of choice.

More recently, the Blackberry has been adapted for the general marketplace. These models use an Internet server base rather than the corporate server; add-on apps are now being made available from third-party developers. These are the phones being sold into the general marketplace..  GLB

    

“The Blackberry is really essential for keeping up on my emails when I’m out of the office, which is a lot.”
— David Neeleman

“There are moments when the body is as numinous as words, days that are the good flesh continuing. Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings, saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.”
— Robert Hass

“We would load up the yellow Cutlass Supreme station wagon and pick blackberries during blackberry season or spring onions during spring onion season. For us, food was part of the fabric of our day.”
— Mario Batali

“It created a global platform that allowed more people to plug and play, collaborate and compete, share knowledge and share work, than anything we have ever seen in the history of the world.”
— Thomas Friedman

“You take a plug and put it in a socket, and that’s what the theatre is-it lights up right away. You speak, and they respond immediately.”
— Chita Rivera

“Wouldn’t you like to have an augmented memory chip that you could plug into your head so you don’t have to look everything up and remember everything?”
— Kevin J. Anderson

“To me, ‘Blackberry Way’ stands up as a song that could be sung in any era, really. We do it with the new doing all sort of fanfare things in it and it works really well. It goes down great with audiences.”
— Roy Wood

“Pulling the plug on the BlackBerry could cost corporate America millions of dollars. The BlackBerry is more than e-mail but a handheld office, and if you shut down the BlackBerry, you shut off the data that powers American business.”
— Al Smith

History of Hand-Held Computers: The Blackberry OS

BlackberryOS5 BlackBerry OS is the proprietary software platform, created by Research In Motion for its BlackBerry line of smartphone handhelds. The operating system provides multitasking and supports specialized input devices that have been adopted by RIM for use in its handhelds, particularly the trackwheel, trackball, and most recently, the trackpad and touchscreen.

The BlackBerry platform is perhaps best known for its native support for corporate email, through MIDP 1.0 and, more recently, a subset of MIDP 2.0, which and allows complete wireless activation and synchronization with Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, or Novell GroupWise email, calendar, tasks, notes, and contacts, when used in conjunction with BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The operating system also supports WAP 1.2.

The Phone Unit

BlackBerry_Bold_9700 BlackBerry is a line of mobile e-mail and smartphone devices developed by Canadian company Research In Motion (RIM). While including typical smartphone 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 Internet e-mail wherever it can access a mobile network of certain cellular phone carriers. It commands a 20.8% share of worldwide smartphone sales, making it the second most popular platform after Nokia’s Symbian OS, and is the most popular smartphone among U.S. business users. The service is available in North America and in most European countries.

The first BlackBerry device was introduced in 1999 as a two-way pager. In 2002, the more commonly known smartphone BlackBerry was released, which supports push e-mail, mobile telephone, text messaging, Internet faxing, Web browsing and other wireless information services. It is an example of a convergent device.

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.

Blackberry7250 Most current BlackBerry models have a built-in QWERTY keyboard, optimized for “thumbing”, the use of only the thumbs to type, and there are also several models that include a SureType keypad for typing, and two models that are full touch-screen devices with no physical keyboard. System navigation is primarily accomplished by a scroll ball, or “trackball” in the middle of the device, older devices used a track wheel on the side and newer devices like the Blackberry Bold 9700 or Curve 8520/8530 use a small pad for navigation “trackpad” instead of a trackball. Some models (currently, those manufactured for use with iDEN networks such as Nextel and Mike) also incorporate a Push-to-Talk (PTT) feature, similar to a two-way radio.

Modern GSM-based 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 and 9500) and include up to 256MB flash memory.

Updating the Devices

Updates to the operating system may be automatically available from wireless carriers that support the BlackBerry OTASL (over the air software loading) service.

Pearls_002 Third-party developers can write software using the available BlackBerry API (application programming interface) classes, although applications that make use of certain functionality must be digitally signed.

RIM provides a proprietary multi-tasking operating system (OS) for the BlackBerry, which makes heavy use of the many specialized input devices available on the phones, particularly the scroll wheel (1999–2006) or more recently the trackball (September 12 2006–present) and trackpad (September 2009-present). The OS provides support for Java MIDP 1.0 and WAP 1.2. Previous versions allowed wireless synchronization with Microsoft Exchange Server e-mail and calendar, as well as with Lotus Domino e-mail. The current OS 5.0 provides a subset of MIDP 2.0, and allows complete wireless activation and synchronization with Exchange 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.

CPU

Early BlackBerry devices used Intel-80386-based processors. The latest BlackBerry 9000 series is equipped with Intel XScale 624 MHz CPU,which makes the fastest BlackBerry to date. Earlier BlackBerry 8000 series smartphones, such as the 8700 and the Pearl, are based on the 312 MHz ARM XScale ARMv5TE PXA900. An exception to this is the BlackBerry 8707 which is based on the 80 MHz Qualcomm 3250 chipset; this was due to the ARM XScale ARMv5TE PXA900 chipset not supporting 3G networks. The 80 MHz Processor in the BlackBerry 8707 actually meant the device was often slower to download and render web pages over 3G than the 8700 was over EDGE networks.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server

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. Google has made a Connector for BES which makes BES available for Google Apps as well. 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 an 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 or on a polling basis. Blackberry also supports polling email, which is how it supports POP. Device storage also enables the mobile user to access all data off-line 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 – Connection Service” (MDS-CS). This allows for custom application development using data streams on BlackBerry devices based on the Sun Microsystems Java ME platform.

In addition, BES provides network 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.

BlackBerry Internet Service

The primary alternative to using BlackBerry Enterprise Server is to use the BlackBerry Internet Service. It was developed primarily for the average consumer rather than for the business consumer. This service allows POP3 and IMAP email integration for the personal user. It allows up to 10 email accounts to be accessed, including many popular email accounts such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL. There are also special bundles for just Myspace, Facebook, & MSN as well.

A less common alternate to using BlackBerry Enterprise Server is to use the BlackBerry Desktop Redirector. This software is installed on a desktop computer that has the Enterprise email client installed.

BlackBerry Messenger

Newer BlackBerry devices use the proprietary BlackBerry Messenger, also known as BBM, software for sending and receiving instant messages via BlackBerry PIN or barcode scan. There is also the BlackBerry Alliance program of partners who work under contract with Research In Motion to create new BlackBerry applications. Typical applications include digital dictation, GPS tracking, CRM and expense management. On October 6, 2009 BlackBerry Messenger 5.0 was officially released, adding a whole new set of features, including bar code scanning to add contacts, profiles, sharing your location via GPS, and creating groups. The real advantage of BBM is that much like its internet based counter-parts, it also allows its users to connect to another user around the world.

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.

Addictiveness

The BlackBerry device has been criticized due to its ‘addictive’ nature, resulting it being coined by some as the “CrackBerry”.

President of the United States Barack Obama became notorious for his dependence on a Blackberry device for communication during his presidential campaign. Despite the security issues, he insisted on using it even after inauguration, becoming the first President of the United States to use mobile e-mail. This was seen by some as akin to a “celebrity endorsement,” which marketing experts have estimated to be worth between 25 and 50 million dollars.

Competition

The primary competitor of the BlackBerry is the iPhone from Apple. Those who use the BlackBerry defend its utility, supporting its physical keyboard, secure e-mail, and applications such as BlackBerry Messenger.

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Blackberry… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BlackBerry

Wikipedia: Blackberry OS… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BlackBerry_OS

Brainy Quote: Blackberry Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/blackberry.html