I still remember the hype provoked by the first BlackBerry device, the RIM850, when it was launched in 1999 as a two-way pager in Munich, Germany. Ten years later Fortune proclaimed BlackBerry - then called Research in Motion (RIM) - the world’s fastest-growing company and smartphones have become so ubiquitous. Maybe that’s the reason why it’s easy to forget how stunningly disruptive the arrival of the BlackBerry—technically a pager before later models became phones—really was?
The more commonly known BlackBerry has been launched in 2003 and was standing out with its "push" technology that has actually always been at the center of the device's popularity.
Pioneer of ‘Push’ Technology
Push email is an email system that provides an always-on capability, in which new email is actively transferred (pushed) as it arrives by the mail delivery agent (MDA), or commonly called mail server. Email clients include smartphones and, less strictly, IMAP personal computer mail applications.
BlackBerry uses wireless mail user agent devices and a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) attached to a traditional email system. The BES monitors the email server, and when it sees a new email for a BlackBerry user, it retrieves (pulls) a copy and then pushes it to the BlackBerry handheld device over the wireless network.
To no surprise, the devices became an instant hit as they offer remote users "instant" email service as that new emails appear on the device as soon as they arrive, without the need for any user intervention. The handheld became a mobile, dynamically updating copy of the user's mailbox.
Great Example of a Convergent Device
As a result of the success of BlackBerry, other manufacturers have developed push email systems for other handheld devices, such as Symbian - and Windows Mobile-based mobile phones. However, they only support push email for some email services.
With the release of the BlackBerry 10 operating system for its new generation of mobile device, BES is no longer used or available for email delivery. Instead, BlackBerry 10 offers POP, IMAP, or ActiveSync for transferring email to and from a device. Of these, the latter two can provide push email delivery if the server supports it.
Mobile email is an ideal drive-to-store tool and mobile coupons are highly in demand, nowadays. The success of coupon providers such as Groupon or Daily Deal helped the conventional discount voucher to a revival. The email newsletter, received on your smartphone, is replacing the printed voucher in this case.
Remarkably, BlackBerry does not poll the server to look for updates, but simply waits for the update to arrive to notify the user when it does. With email, a copy of each message also goes to the user's inbox on the computer, but the email client can mark the message as read once the user reads it on the BlackBerry.
Used in the beginning mainly by influential political and financial high-flyers, celebrities, lawyers and bankers, made “Sent from my BlackBerry” hip. In a magic way, emails could be accessed on the run, providing information instantly onto the most personal device without even being plugged into the Internet. And isn’t email the most important application in the mobile Internet? Consequently, the growth prospects for mobile email are of course extremely positive.
The more surprising is what happened on Aug 12, 2013, when Blackberry announced in face of intense competition that it is up for sale. 40% of the operating staff had to go and the company reduced its product line from six to four models.
Now, ten days ago, Fairfax Financial Holdings made an offer to purchase the cell phone maker for $4.7 billion or $9.00 a share and BlackBerry announced it had signed a letter of intent but would be open to other offers until today. So, let’s see how this story continues….
By Daniela La Marca