The BlackBerry is a wireless handheld device introduced in 1997 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 a prime 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 colour displays.

While including the usual Personal Digital Assistant 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 don't depend on mobile phone service coverage and are Wi-Fi compatible like similar handheld devices that are on the marketplace.

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 (BlackBerry 8100 and 8700 series) have an Intel PXA901 312 MHz processor, 64 MB flash memory and 16 MB SDRAM.[1] 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).[2][3] 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 April 2 2008, RIM announced the number of BlackBerry subscribers had passed 14 million.[4]

Operating system Edit

See BlackBerry OS

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 Wireless Application Protocol 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.

CPU Edit

Early BlackBerry devices used Intel-80386-based processors.[5] Later BlackBerry smartphones, such as the 8700 and the Pearl, are based on the ARM XScale ARMv5TE PXA900.

Database Edit

Data extracted from a BlackBerry to a host computer is stored in a single file in IPD format.[6]

Supporting software Edit

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.

Criticism Edit

RIM has been criticized for not including 3G/UMTS on any models other than the 8700 series.

The current generation of BlackBerry smartphones do not have a touch screen, unlike several Windows Mobile based devices, as well as the iPhone, which do offer touch screens.

Name origin Edit

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."[7] 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 plural form of "BlackBerry" is "BlackBerrys."

Nicknames Edit

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.

Models Edit

See List of BlackBerry Models
  • 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
  • Newer BlackBerry Model: Bold or 9000-series, announced May 12, 2008 that will be carried by AT&T

Phones with BlackBerry e-mail client Edit

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

Certification Edit

  • 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 website.

The BlackBerry Store Edit

In December of 2007, it was reported that the first ever BlackBerry store was opened.[8] 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,[9] but they eventually folded.[10] 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.

External links Edit

Notes Edit

  1. See BlackBerry 8700c Technical Specifications
  2. About Qualcomm - Qualcomm CDMA Technologies
  4. Research In Motion Reports Fourth Quarter and Year-End Results for Fiscal 2008
  5. BlackBerry Cool: RIM Circa 1999 - Blackberry History Revisited
  6. BlackBerry Wireless Handheld Devices, Software & Services from Research In Motion (RIM)
  7. From a Bloomberg article by Anthony Effinger
  9. Nexcom opens first U.S. BlackBerry store in Charlotte - Charlotte Business Journal
  10. BB Geeks: The inside scoop on the new BlackBerry Store


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