The BlackBerry is a wireless handheld device introduced in 1999 which supports push e-mail, mobile telephone, text messaging, web browsing and other wireless information services. It was developed by Research In Motion (RIM) and delivers information over the wireless data networks of cellular telephone companies. BlackBerry made headway in the marketplace by first concentrating on e-mail. RIM currently offers BlackBerry e-mail service to non-BlackBerry devices, such as Palm Treo, through BlackBerry Connect software.
Research In Motion was involved in a patent dispute with NTP, Inc., which could have potentially forced RIM to suspend service to most BlackBerry users in the United States. The dispute was settled out-of-court in March 2006.
The devices are manufactured by the Canadian company Research In Motion (RIM) in Waterloo, Ontario, and are resold by cellular phone companies throughout the world. They fit in the palm of the hand and are operated using a trackwheel and buttons. The original BlackBerry device had a monochrome display, but all current models have colour displays.
While including the usual PDA 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 anywhere it has access to an appropriate wireless network, as well as for its built-in keyboard optimized for “thumbing”, or using only the thumbs to type. System navigation is primarily accomplished by the trackwheel (or “thumbwheel”), a scrolling wheel with a “click” function, located on the right side of the device. Some models (such as 7510 and 7520) also incorporate a two-way radio.
Thanks to their gain in popularity, BlackBerry devices are also used in social scenarios for setting up dates or movie viewing times with friends and acquaintances. The ease of keying in and sending not only e-mails, but mobile “short messages” (SMS) as well, is particularly practical, e.g. to quickly answer a mail message to a sender with a mobile phone, even if they do not have a BlackBerry.
RIM is increasingly integrating instant messaging into their new devices and software. RIM offers its own proprietary BlackBerry Instant Messenger, but also began offering a Yahoo Chat client in 2005 and introduced a Google Talk client in early 2006. There is speculation of an upcoming MSN Messenger client.