BlackBerry : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary

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BlackBerry Z10  BlackBerry

BlackBerry, née RIM (Research In Motion) was a fabulously profitable Canadian maker of Java-powered cellphone/PDAs that have colour screens and an alphanumeric keyboard. Then it had a period of financial troubles, though their products were still high quality. The big advantage is they let you surf the entire web, not just special WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) sites. Of course, the screen is too small to display pages all at once which makes surfing painful.

They bet the farm on a new OS (Operating System) and a new line of smart phones. The BlackBerry 10 is selling spectacularly well in Britain and Canada. Canadians are rooting for the underdog and it is getting plenty of good press.

BES12 is Blackberry’s new OS. It provides high security for laptops, handhelds, cell phones etc.

Blackberries are much smaller than they look in the photos, with tiny little mechanical keyboards. The BlackBerry Bold 9780 for example is only 10.90 × 6 × 1.40 cm (4.29 × 2.36 × 0.55 in) They are designed to fit in a shirt pocket.

They combine a hand-held programmable computer with a cellphone and an optional GPS (Global Positioning System) or camera. Some models speak both WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) and cellular (CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) or 3G) protocols.

Some BlackBerry PDAs/cellphones, such as the 8700 (312 MHz Intel PXA901 Hermon processor, 16 MB SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic RAM), 64 MB flash memory) support J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition), CLDC (Connected Limited Device Configuration) 1.1, MIDP (Mobile Information Device Profile) 2.0. Last revised: 2004-08-09 Verified: 2008-01-09 Although BlackBerry devices run applications that use only the standard MIDP APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) (commonly referred to as Midlets (Mobile Information Device applets)), developers can also use BlackBerry’s proprietary JDE (Java Development Environment) API (Application Programming Interface). You need  Java version 1.5 or later to run the JDE simulator.

BlackBerry uses its own code-signing scheme. Certificates are free.

The main reason for the success of the BlackBerry is the way they offered tools for corporations to create custom applications. Further, the UIs (User Interfaces) are well polished. Cellphones in general are notorious for impossible-to-use command structures.

The phones come in a bewildering array of models. Some have 3G cellphone, WiFi, GPS, a camera, Internet Access, Java, full keyboards, Blue Tooth, USB (Universal Serial Bus)

The lower price models include the 7230, 7100, 7200. The midrange are the Pearl and the larger more-expensive full-keyboard Curve. The high end are the 8800 and the 9000 Bold. The newer model is the Storm, which has a touch screen instead of a keyboard. The latest is the 10z with a touchscreen and a new OS.

The Troubles

All through the financial troubles pundits trashed RIM. As often as I could, I publicly made the case thet should not be counted out. Investors listened to me and held onto their shares are probably feeling quite happy now. My argument went like this:

BlackBerry uses a proprietary secure email system. The products are polished for business use. President Obama uses a BlackBerry and do many US government officials. It will not be allowed to fail. The company has been having serious trouble from flashier but sloppier competition. I personally think its troubles are overstated. It has a new flashier model coming out in the fall. It has a huge loyal customer base. It has $2 billion cash. All it would take is for some event that highlighted the pathetic security provisions of the competition to have customers come running back.

I don’t often give investment advice, but I will make an exception. I have heard so many pundits trashing RIM who don’t know the first thing about RIM. I have been saying this for a long time. Do not count RIM out. Why? Here are five reasons:

  1. RIM provides a stable, secure platform for companies to develop their own in-house software applications. These applications are a huge investment. Custom applications have to keep on working on new models of phone year after year. RIM understands that. Apple does not.
  2. Companies like Apple and Samsung release a phone of the week, with obsolescence and incompatibility with previous products the goal. These are toys, not suitable for serious business.
  3. The #1 design goal of Apple is, like Rolex, to be a status symbol, something to make you look cool. The #1 design goal of RIM is to get undramatic work accomplished smoothly. RIM are sort of like the Volkswagen beetle, refined and refined over the years. The are not intended to be used as jewelry.
  4. President Obama could have any smart phone he wanted. He picks RIM because he has a country to run. He does not need to look cool.
  5. The only half-way secure cellphone texting system in the world is RIM’s. If privacy and security mean anything to you, there is no other choice.
  6. The Blackberry Z10 is designed to be easy to take apart and repair. Apple on the other hand charges more for a replacement battery than it does for a whole new iPod Shuffle. That is indicative of corporate philosophy.

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