BlackBerry is a line of mobile e-mail and smartphone devices developed and designed by Canadian company Research In Motion (RIM) since 1996.
BlackBerry functions as a personal digital assistant with address book, calendar, memopad and task list capabilities. It also functions as a portable media player with support for music and video playback and camera and video capabilities. BlackBerry is primarily known for its ability to send and receive (push) Internet e-mail wherever mobile network service coverage is present, or through Wi-Fi connectivity. BlackBerry is mainly a messaging phone with the largest array of messaging features in a smartphone today, including auto-text, auto-correct, text prediction, support for many languages, keyboard shortcuts, text emoticons, push email, push Facebook, Twitter and Myspace notifications, push Ebay notifications, push instant messaging with BlackBerry Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, Windows Live Messenger, AOL Instant Messanger and Yahoo Messenger; threaded text messaging and a customizable indicator light near the top right of all Blackberry devices. All notifications and conversations from applications are shown in a unified messaging application which third party applications can access also. Many of these applications would have to be running in the background of other phones to be used. BlackBerry's push gives BlackBerry devices their renowned battery life. All data on the phone is compressed through BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS).
BlackBerry commands a 14.8% share of worldwide smartphone sales, making it the fourth most popular platform after Nokia's Symbian OS, Google's Android, and Apple's iOS. The consumer BlackBerry Internet Service is available in 91 countries worldwide on over 500 mobile service operators using various mobile technologies.
Modern GSM-based BlackBerry handhelds incorporate an ARM 7, 9 or ARM 11 processor, while older BlackBerry 950 and 957 handhelds used mudit 80386 processors. The latest GSM BlackBerry models (8100, 8300 and 8700 series) have an Intel PXA930 624 MHz processor, 256 MB (or 4 GB in case of the torch 9800) flash memory and 265 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. The CDMA Bold 9650 is the first to have 512MB flash memory for applications. All currently manufactured BlackBerrys support up to 32GB microSD cards.
The first BlackBerry device, the 850, 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. The original BlackBerry devices, the RIM 850 and 857, used the DataTac network.
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 its BlackBerry Connect software.
The original BlackBerry device had a monochrome display, but all current models have color displays. All models except for the Storm Series had a built-in QWERTY keyboard, optimized for "thumbing", the use of only the thumbs to type. The Storm 1 and Storm 2 include a SureType keypad for typing, and are the two models that are full touch-screen devices with no physical keyboard. Originally, system navigation was achieved with the use of a scroll wheel mounted on the right side of phones prior to the 8700. The trackwheel was replaced by the trackball with the introduction of the Pearl series which allowed for 4 way scrolling. The trackball was replaced by the optical trackpad with the introduction of the Curve 8500 series. Models 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.
Main article: BlackBerry OS
The operating system used by BlackBerry devices is a proprietary multitasking environment developed by RIM. The operating system is designed for use of input devices such as the track wheel, track ball, and track pad. 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. 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. RIM provides tools for developing applications and themes for BlackBerry. Applications and themes can be loaded onto BlackBerry devices through BlackBerry App World, Over The Air (OTA) through the BlackBerry mobile browser, or through BlackBerry Desktop Manager.
Early BlackBerry devices used Intel-80386-based processors. 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 PXA900 chipset not supporting 3G networks. The 80 MHz processor in the BlackBerry 8707 meant the device was often slower to download and render web pages over 3G than the 8700 was over EDGE networks. In May 2008 RIM introduced the BlackBerry 9000 series which are equipped with XScale 624 MHz processors. The BlackBerry Curve 8520 features a 512 MHz processor, while the Bold 9700 features a newer version of the Bold 9000's processor, but is clocked at the same speed.
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 a BlackBerry PIN, which is used to identify the device to the BES. BlackBerry now provides a free BES service called BES Express.
A close-up of a BlackBerry's distinctive layout
BES acts as an 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, task entries, memopad entries, and calendar entries are pushed out to the BlackBerry device automatically and instantaneously (as opposed to the user synchronizing the data manually or having the device poll the server at intervals). 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. When the user reconnects to wireless service, the BES sends the latest data.
An included feature in the newer models of the BlackBerry is the ability for it to quickly track your current location through trilateration without the use of GPS, thus saving battery life and time. Trilateration can be used as a quick, less battery intensive way to provide location-aware applications with the co-ordinates of the user. 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. BlackBerry Internet Service, or BIS is available in 91 countries internationally. BlackBerry Internet Service was developed primarily for the average consumer rather than for the business consumer. BlackBerry Internet Service allows POP3 and IMAP email integration for an individual personal user. BlackBerry Internet Service allows up to 10 email accounts to be accessed, including many popular email accounts such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL. BlackBerry Internet Service also allows for the function of the push capabilities in various other BlackBerry Applications. Various applications developed by RIM for Blackberry utilize the push capabilities of BIS, such as the Instant Messaging clients, Google Talk, ICQ, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. Social Networks Facebook, Myspace and Twitter's notification system is accessed through BIS, allowing for push notifications for them.
Further information: BlackBerry App World
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. BlackBerry messenger allows for instant messages to be sent internationally without the costs of regular text messaging. BlackBerry messenger also allows for display names, display pictures and personal messages, and deliver and read notifications. 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.
BlackBerry is widely referred to as "CrackBerry", which is a reference to crack cocaine. 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." A popular BlackBerry user forum is called crackberry.com.
Many users also refer to BlackBerry smart phones 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 keyboard.
In some parts of Scotland and England, users refer to their BlackBerry as a "Bramble", in the same way that the blackberry fruit is known in Scotland as the bramble. Users in England and Scotland also refer to BlackBerry Messenger Pins as "Thorns", BB pin in Nigeria., although usage of this term is not widespread and is confined to small pockets in Northern England and Scotland.
Many people also call it "BB" which stands for BlackBerry. "BB" is the most used nickname of BlackBerry in Thailand, Nigeria, The Dominican Republic, Egypt and many other countries. Presently in Nigeria, there is a BlackBerry (BB) craze; having a BlackBerry is seen as a significant improvement to one's image.
A BlackBerry Pearl 8100
Main article: List of BlackBerry products
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 (2006–2008): 8000-8830-series including: BlackBerry 8800, BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry Pearl Flip and BlackBerry Curve 8300
Latest BlackBerry Models (2008–2009): 8900+ GPS WiFi Series: BlackBerry Bold (9000), BlackBerry Curve 8900, BlackBerry Tour (9630), BlackBerry Storm (9500/9530), BlackBerry Curve 8520/8530
BlackBerry Storm 2 (9520/9550) (2009): BlackBerry Storm2
BlackBerry Bold Series (2009): BlackBerry Bold 9700 or Onyx (9700)
BlackBerry Bold Series (2010): BlackBerry Bold 9650 (9650)
BlackBerry Bold Series (2010): BlackBerry Bold 9780 (9780)
BlackBerry Pearl Series (2010): BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100/9105 (9100/9105)
Blackberry Curve Series (2010): Blackberry 9300
Blackberry Torch Series (2010): BlackBerry Torch 9800
Blackberry Style 9670 (2010) Officially Announced
Blackberry Bold 9900 (2011) Possible
Phones with BlackBerry e-mail client
Several non-BlackBerry mobile phones have been released featuring the BlackBerry e-mail client which connects to BlackBerry servers. Many of these phones have full QWERTY keyboards
HTC Advantage X7500
Motorola MPx220 (selected models only)
All Nokia E-Series phones (Excluding the Nokia E71 and Nokia E66 models)
Sony Ericsson P910
Sony Ericsson P990
Sony Ericsson M600i
Sony Ericsson P1
BlackBerry PIN is an eight character hexadecimal identification number assigned to each BlackBerry device. PINs cannot be changed manually on the device (though Blackberry technicians are able to reset or update a PIN server-side), and are locked to each specific BlackBerry. BlackBerrys can message each other using the PIN directly or by using the BlackBerry Messenger application.
A first generation BlackBerry Bold.
BCESA (BlackBerry Certified Enterprise Sales Associate, BCESA40 in full) is a BlackBerry Certification for professional users of RIM (Research In Motion) BlackBerry wireless e-mail devices.
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 Blackberry.com 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 a BlackBerry Store opened in Farmington Hills, Michigan. While it is the only BlackBerry store currently in existence, it actually was not the first. There were three prior attempts at opening BlackBerry stores in Toronto, London, and Charlotte, but they eventually folded. The store offers BlackBerry device models from AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint, the major U.S. carriers which offer smartphones. Employees are trained not only on the BlackBerry devices themselves but in the practices of each service provider. There is also an unofficial BlackBerry store called BlackStore in Caracas, Venezuela, because of the BlackBerry brand's popularity in Venezuela, especially in Caracas and Maracaibo, making Venezuela one of the biggest BlackBerry consumers in the world. There is also a BlackBerry Store in the Atlanta airport.
RIM patent infringement litigation
In 2000 NTP sent notice of its wireless email patents to a number of companies and offered to license the patents to them. 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.
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 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 2005 during the appeals process, RIM and NTP tried to negotiate a settlement of their dispute; the settlement was to be for $450 million. 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 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 amount is believed low by some analysts, because of the absence of any future royalties on the technology in question.
President of the United States Barack Obama became known for his dependence on a BlackBerry device for communication during his 2008 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.
The primary competitors of the BlackBerry are smartphones running Android, Windows Phone 7, and the iPhone. Those who use the BlackBerry defend its utility,supporting its physical keyboard, secure e-mail, and applications such as BlackBerry Messenger. In June 2010, according to RIM, they had sold up to 100 million BlackBerry including record sales in their first trimester.
Some countries have expressed reservations about the BlackBerry's strong encryption and the fact that data is routed through Research In Motion's servers, which are outside the legal jurisdictions of those countries. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were reported to consider the BlackBerry as a "security threat" for this reason, with the former having earlier been reported as trying to get users to install an "update" on their BlackBerry devices, ostensibly for performance enhancement, but which turned out to be spyware that allowed call and email monitoring.
On August 1, 2010 Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) of The United Arab Emirates officially announced the suspension of BlackBerry Messenger, Blackberry Email, and Blackberry Web browsing services in the country as of October 11, 2010. This measure was taken due to failed attempts to bring the service and have it hosted locally as per the UAE Telecommunication regulations.
On October 8, 2010 the TRA officially announced that the BlackBerry services e.g. BBM E-mail web will continue to work as regular.
Other countries threatening to ban the use of the BlackBerry Messenger include Algeria, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Indian authorities have asked Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian manufacturer of BlackBerry to provide them some means to access the encrypted data for calls to, from or within India, following concerns that it could be used by terrorist and rebel groups to carry out proxy war attacks on India. In the November, 2008 Mumbai attacks, terrorists used mobile and satellite phone technologies after which security agencies and Government of India have become more strict and alert towards communication within the country. BlackBerry has indicated willingness to set up a server in India by October, 2010 and giving the country limited access to its highly effective encryption technology.
Saudi Arabia has also threatened to ban the service, but it was reported close to reaching an agreement with RIM to set up a server for the service inside the Kingdom.