The Blackberry, developed and manufactured by the Canadian firm Research In Motion is one of the most popular, and certainly one of the best known, ranges of smart phones on the market today.
Although the BlackBerry brand is now very heavily associated with the smartphone, the first BlackBerry, introduced way back in 1999, was a PDA with a two way paging function.
In 2002, Research In Motion(RIM) introduced a smartphone to their BlackBerry range, which was to go on to be the product that would establish them as the biggest name in the PDA business.
A BlackBerry smartphone can be used to send and receive phone calls, text messages, faxes and emails, as well as surfing the web and acting as a personal organiser.
When RIM brought out their first smartphone in 2002, there were already several such devices on the market, including the market leading Nokia 9000, which was essentially a mobile phone with a QWERTY keyboard, organiser software, and a larger than usual screen. However the BlackBerry managed to steal a march on these rival products by including a number of unique new features.
The most exciting feature of the BlackBerry was its ability to send and receive emails on the move, using a technique known as push emailing. In a nutshell, push emailing allows you to use your works email account anywhere in the world, with automatic updating and downloading of new messages and contacts between the main server and the BlackBerry.
Another signature feature of the Blackberry was the control surface, which incorporated a small QWERTY keyboard optimised for use with the thumbs alone, and a fascia-mounted tracker ball for navigation, which replaced the side mounted track wheel found on earlier devices.
Some models featured a Push-to-Talk function, which effectively turned the unit into a two way intercom system across long distances, which took the concept of the portable office that one stage further.
Companies who employ a lot of roaming staff found BlackBerries to be a perfect way to achieve office-style integration within a more flexible spatial framework. Keen executives and workaholics were delighted that they could now stay in touch and carry on working while on the move, and as a result the units became an increasingly popular sight on public transportation during office hours.
The BlackBerry email system enables messages to be written and replied to in circumstances where reception is poor or intermittent, as all the information is stored inside the unit, meaning that packets of data could be sent and received as and when reception was available, with little or no adverse affect on productivity.
Another feature of the BlackBerry is its ability to function as a pseudo GPS device, using a technology known as trilateration, which allows users of the devices to find each other without the need for phone calls and text messages, which can be particularly useful in a busy train station or airport.
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