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BlackBerry

BlackBerry

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lackBerry devices are smartphones, which are designed to function as personal digital assistants, portable media players, internet browsers, gaming devices, cameras and much more. They are primarily known for their ability to send and receive push email and instant messages while maintaining a high level of security through on-device message encryption.

History

The first BlackBerry device, the 850, was introduced in 1999 as a two-way pager in Munich, Germany. The name BlackBerry was coined by the marketing company Lexicon Branding.In 2003, the more commonly known smartphone BlackBerry was released, which supports push email, 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 email. RIM currently offers BlackBerry email 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 and the all-touch Torch 9850/9860 have 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. 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 made to use iDEN networks such as Nextel and Mike also incorporate a push-to-talk (PTT) feature, similar to a two-way radio.

Operating system

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 email and calendar, as well as with Lotus Domino email. OS 5.0 provides a subset of MIDP 2.0, and allows complete wireless activation and synchronization with Exchange email, calendar, tasks, notes and contacts, and adds support for Novell GroupWise and Lotus Notes. The BlackBerry Curve 9360, BlackBerry Torch 9810, Bold 9900/9930, Curve 9310/9320 and Torch 9850/9860 feature the most recent BlackBerry OS 7 (as of July 2012).

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.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server

BlackBerry smartphones can be integrated into an organization's email 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 email 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 software called BES Express (BESX).

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, the 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.

BlackBerry PIN

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. BlackBerry PINs are tracked by BlackBerry Enterprise Servers, and the BlackBerry Internet Service, and are used to direct messages to a BlackBerry device. Emails and any other messages, such as those from the BlackBerry Push Service, are typically directed to a BlackBerry's PIN. The message can then be routed by a RIM Network Operations Center, and sent to a carrier, which will deliver the message the last mile to the device. Example of a BlackBerry PIN:2689FE30.

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.