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What is a BlackBerry®?

Brad Cole
Brad Cole

A BlackBerry® is a mobile communications device from the product line of the same name. They are designed to fit into a large pocket or clip into a belt holster, and most have some type of built-in QWERTY keypad. Modern BlackBerries, unlike traditional mobile phones, are considered to be both smartphones and personal digital assistants (PDAs); they have Internet connectivity, web browsing, e-mail, an address book, a calendar, a day planner, an alarm clock, games, text messaging, and mobile phone service. Options on some models include a trackball, WiFi™, Bluetooth® connectivity, speakers, GPS, a digital camera, and functionality as a media player. The line is owned by the Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion Limited (RIM).

BlackBerries are popular both in the business community and in the retail consumer market. In business, a BlackBerry® allows employees that are out of the office or even off-site to stay in contact with the rest of the company. An executive traveling to an out-of-state business meeting would be able to receive electronic documents and communicate with the rest of his/her staff through the use of a BlackBerry® or similar PDA; a warehouse worker would be able to receive text messages telling him/her which boxes to pull from storage, and could even access maps showing the correct locations. For retail consumers, a BlackBerry® allows numerous features beyond being a simple mobile phone. These features include portable access to the Internet, the ability to check personal emails almost anywhere, text messaging, and, in some recent models, the ability to listen to music and other media. Starting in 2007, digital cameras became a feature on some BlackBerry® models.

A BlackBerry®.
A BlackBerry®.

New terms have come to be associated with BlackBerries due to their popularity. Because some users seem to become addicted to checking their e-mails and text messages once they get a BlackBerry®, the devices are sometimes called “CrackBerries.” When a person’s thumb becomes sore from typing too much on a BlackBerry®, they are said to have “Berry Thumb.” A BlackBerry® with a dead battery is called “sour,” and one that is recharging is “ripening.”

At the height of their popularity, BlackBerry phones were known to be extremely addictive.
At the height of their popularity, BlackBerry phones were known to be extremely addictive.

The history of the BlackBerry® begins in the 1990s. What would become the BlackBerry® line was introduced in 1996 when RIM released a two-way messaging pager called The Inter@ctive Pager. The RIM 950 replaced the Inter@ctive Pager in 1998, and, along with the RIM 850, is considered by many to be the first BlackBerry®. Both the 950 and 850 had horizontal orientation similar to a pager. The vertical orientation found in modern BlackBerries didn’t come about until 2000, when the RIM 957 was released; it was the first model to have vertical orientation and the famous “brick” style.

The BlackBerry® Storm™ is officially the first BlackBerry® to not have a physical keyboard. Similar to Apple’s iPhone, the Storm™ has a touchscreen that is used for entering data. When the device is held in landscape mode, a full digital QWERTY keyboard is available for messaging via the touchscreen.

Discussion Comments


I think that what made the BlackBerry so popular was that it was one of the first phones you could use to get your emails. Nowadays getting emails on your phone seems more effective than using a computer because you can get the email anywhere and at anytime.

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    • A BlackBerry®.
      By: Christian Delbert
      A BlackBerry®.
    • At the height of their popularity, BlackBerry phones were known to be extremely addictive.
      By: Felix Mizioznikov
      At the height of their popularity, BlackBerry phones were known to be extremely addictive.