Research In Motion spent the early years of their development focussing on the demands of the corporate business user, while continually refining their products and services, along with evolving them all. In the beginning, the rise of popularity within the BlackBerry society was purely down to the availability and access to email away from the computer.
Their enterprise server and ‘push' email technology addressed the needs of the modern business executive, who would prefer to check emails on the move. BlackBerry then attempted to simplify operations, making the handset more intuitive and easier to use.
BlackBerrys were once seen as a genuine advantage for big organisations, and the demand for them increased so that a company was not left behind and thus, the snowball effect continued. The devices were easily sold in business because of the instant messaging, but also their superior battery life and recharging speeds.
Lessons were learnt from the early business phones, where the BlackBerry Curve series were designed to bring the seamless features and integration from RIM to a much wider market. Young adults soon discovered BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), and quickly became familiar with the Qwerty keypad.
Every BlackBerry device sold has a unique PIN number, which identifies the device on RIM's own network. This PIN service and BBM is free as part of the BlackBerry contract, where users of all ages soon become lost in a world of smiley faces and meaningless vocabulary.
These ‘CrackBerrys', as they are known, can often be seen in coffee shops, bars and restaurants, where verbal conversation is just too much of an effort. All of a sudden, it's perfectly acceptable to zone out of a conversation and start typing away, whilst the other person lets out an audible ‘sigh'.
BlackBerrys are relentless machines when it comes to messaging applications, too. MSN, Yahoo, Skype, AIM and Facebook messenger also play a part of the device. If you really can't get off these apps, then a BlackBerry is probably the perfect phone for you.
There are clearly many unique features of any BlackBerry that keep RIM in a class of their own. Love or hate them, it's no coincidence that they still claim a large percentage of the smartphone market in the UK. In the U.S., however, it's a very different story with RIM's clasp slipping down in numbers, when this time last year, it was around a quarter of the entire market.
Unfortunately for RIM, it also looks like their impeachable security record has been ruined by three individual hackers who were able to root the PlayBook tablet platform and boast their success immediately, via Twitter. For the most part, the BlackBerry OS has proved air-tight and therefore RIM has rarely exercised its measures of protection. A drop in market share would arguably discourage hackers even more, but unlike other companies, they do have a solid reputation for mobile security. This is something that they have heavily relied upon, as a major selling point of BlackBerrys in the corporate environment.
It is interesting that Google and Microsoft have taken a far more liberal approach to hacking. Rather than focussing on a complete security lockdown, their idea is that if they allow ‘developers' to exploit holes in the system with the promise of non-disclosure, the hackers will then spend less time searching for vulnerabilities, of which less, will be published online.
Facebook has taken this one step further, by offering cash incentives to researchers who find and report security bugs. The social networking giant is reportedly offering around $500 for finding each bug and has even introduced a custom branded "White Hat" debit card, which can be reloaded with funds each time new flaws are discovered.
Apple has decided to actively fend off attackers, because they represent a threat to its revenue stream by allowing third party non-App Store applications - which is the one thing Apple can't get paid for.
Google had stunned the US market, where by August 2011 Android took a 43.7-percent share and left everyone else behind. The interface has proved so popular on smartphones that Google finds themselves with the time and resources to improve and update their software, in order to stay ahead.
Version 4.0 of the Android software, known as ‘Ice Cream Sandwich', is far more versatile than even the critically acclaimed Apple or iOS, because it allows for tiny variations between each device and processor speeds. Just one way in which Google has added versatility, is in the ability to use the phone as a USB hub. This means that mice, game controllers and other devices to can connect to tablets and smartphones. All of which is very different to what Apple has been able to offer recently.
We have found that navigating through BlackBerry menus and its options is akin to being thrown into an abyss. Why must it try to predict our actions? If you misspell an email address just once, it then appears again and again. It is almost as if the device is being deliberately obtuse and it's very annoying.
So why choose a BlackBerry over the Samsung Ace, as an example? It's not as if Research In Motion has exclusivity over email and messaging applications. You can hate BlackBerrys for their pretentious menu items, boring mid-management colour scheme and horrible little keys but you could love them for the battery life, reliability and the business world heritage.
The point is that the choice only needs to make sense to you, as the consumer.