's BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series

Welcome to Class! No falling asleep!! We're going back to basics for the first few lectures, so if you're already a certified CrackBerry you may want to come back in a week or two when things get real hands on. But for those of you who are contemplating jumping aboard the smartphone bandwagon or are thinking about making a change to a different smartphone manufacturer, this lecture is for YOU.

Let's assume you have never experienced the joy of owning a BlackBerry. Maybe you're a smartphone user of another brand, maybe you own a regular cell phone that you think is smart (but probably isn't), or maybe you've never even owned a mobile device before. But you're here reading this, which means there's something about the BlackBerry that caught your attention and you're yearning to learn more. Today we're going to look at some of the compelling reasons why choosing a BlackBerry will make sense for you. It also makes sense that this is our first lecture. The next lecture is entitled "Which BlackBerry is for You?" and if you want to attend class for the rest of the year you're going to have to ante up and buy a BlackBerry of your very own if you want to play along. So let's get to it! Tell me More!

BlackBerry's Rise to the Top

Even though Research in Motion introduced the BlackBerry to the market in 1999, I'd argue it's only in the past two (maybe three) years that the BlackBerry has achieved critical mass and is now a widely recognized household name. Ask anybody even in 2004 what a blackberry was, and they would probably have answered with "a fruit". Fast forward to the latter half of 2007 and ask the same question to a stranger on the street in small town North America / South America / Europe / Asia and the answer would be "a cell phone" (though it is soo much more than that!).

The road RIM took with the development of its smartphones is unique – instead of building a product and brand for mass consumer consumption, RIM spent its initial years focusing on addressing the demanding requirements of the corporate business user and continually refining and improving its technology in this environment. RIM's early rise to corporate smartphone dominance came from their ability to address the need for business users to have access to their email away from the computer. And indeed, with RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server and "push" email technology, RIM addressed that need with unequalled resolve.

In addition to solving the 'email' issue, RIM took things to the next level for the corporate user. RIM made the device easy and freakishly intuitive to use, so much so that even an old schooler with zero computer skills and zero keyboard typing skills could pick up the device and be effective with it in minutes (if you're reading this dad, yes I'm referring to you). RIM took an 'always on, always connected' approach with the BlackBerry, further simplifying operations. For the device user, there was no need to connect to the internet (you're always connected), or to ever turn the device off (I had my BlackBerry 8700 running for seven months onetime without turning it off - I finally had to shut it off one day when I boarded a plane and the flight attendant caught me playing on it and forced me to power down).

The speed of communication offered by the BlackBerry quickly become a source of competitive advantage for organizations, which then resulted in organizations around the globe demanding to get BlackBerrys in their companies so as to not be left behind. RIM made the BlackBerry relatively easy to deploy and manage within an organization, furthering the device's corporate adoption rate. With the introduction of the blackberry-blue BlackBerry 7290 model, BlackBerry went mainstream business and quickly became an icon and badge of honor for the corporate executive. Despite being the king of the corporate smartphone market for good reason, RIM is not a company to rest on its laurels and has continued to develop and refine their business smartphones since the days of 'old blue'.

In the North America, there are currently just over 10 Million smartphone users. By the 2010, the number is predicted to hit 70+ Million. The fact is, a smartphone isn't just a business user thing. In this day and age of technology, the need for a smartphone is becoming an every person thing. I believe that RIM's BlackBerry is going to grab a big chunk of this market growth thanks to all of the years of focus they first gave to the business user. RIM learned a lot of lessons in the business world, and the experience gained there only means good things for the consumer market. RIM began to address the consumer market with the entry of the BlackBerry Pearl, and with the recent launch of the BlackBerry Curve has really given the consumer market a device to be excited about. I firmly believe that what makes the BlackBerry a good device for 'business' users makes it an absolutely incredible device for 'consumer' users. Regardless of the environment you plan to use your smartphone in, you really cannot go wrong with a BlackBerry.

Why BlackBerry? Here's Why!

Still Awake?! GOOD. Without further adieux, let's dive into detail on why it makes berry good sense to own a BlackBerry.

Integrated All-In-One Device – These days the BlackBerry is a phone, email, sms, organizer, address book, arcade, media player, picture taker, navigator, chat messenger, calculator, alarm clock, best friend and more all-in-one device. It slices, it dices, can do the tango and the waltz. Seriously though, today's current BlackBerry models (8800, Curve) offer a host of functions and features out of the box, and with a ton of third party software now available for the BlackBerry (and more being developed each day) there really is little they can't do.

Better than the fact the BlackBerry is an all-in-one device is the fact it is an INTEGRATED all-in-one device. What's this mean? It's means all of the native applications included in the BlackBerry operating system are seamlessly integrated with one another. Let's say you receive an email from one friend that contains the telephone number of another friend to call. From within the email application, you can click on the phone number and easily dial the number (there's no need to exit one application and go into the other – they are integrated). Likewise, you can snap a photo on your BlackBerry Curve and send it to a recipient via email from within the Camera application. This integration is incredibly intuitive, it's like your BlackBerry always knows exactly what you want to do next.

Ease of Use – Mentioned already in my preamble and touched on again when addressing integration, I can't stress enough how easy it is to use a BlackBerry. A lot of well-spent thought and effort has gone into the BlackBerry's navigation menus, which becomes apparent when you begin to use the device. For people who have never used a BlackBerry before, it will take an hour or two to get acquainted. The biggest thing to learn is the BlackBerry option/menu key. This is the key you need to click when you're within applications (phone, email, calendar, address book, etc.) that brings up the mind-reading menu that always seems to know what you want to do. Once you understand the basic option menu concept, you can immediately use the phone effectively. Put in some time learning BlackBerry shortcuts, and you will not only be effective but extremely efficient in executing your whims.

Best Email Ever – BlackBerry's 'push' email can't be beat. Whether a BES (corporate) user or BIS (consumer) user, your email will arrive to your BlackBerry the second it's received by the server. There's no waiting around – your phone doesn't need to login every 15 minutes to check if you have received new messages (wasting bandwidth in the case where there are no new messages). With BlackBerry, emails are 'pushed' to your device the instant they are received. It's a beautiful thing.

The BlackBerry is designed to be left running – always on, always connected. Want to use it? Hit any button, the display turns on, and you are immediately working. Finished? Slam it back into it's case or holster or wherever you keep it. There's no need to power the device on and off. And when you're taking a break from your berry it's never slacking on the job – even when idle the BlackBerry will spring back to life by way of a mesmerizing blinking red led light (and vibration and/or chirp if you set your notification profiles up that way) letting you know you have received a message. BlackBerry email is always running on the device (you never need to connect to the Internet).

Does the always on, always connected nature of the device ever falter? I won't lie…it's happened twice in 2007 (but that's twice in basically seven years). Even with these two hiccups on RIM's relatively flawless record, the ultra reliable service has basically a 99.999999999999999999% uptime. Pretty reliable in my book. Besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder, which is exactly what happened during the 12 hours of time when my berry wasn't receiving messages. The two outages increased my love for the BlackBerry.

BlackBerry Appeal – I'm not making this one up…Woman with BlackBerrys are HOT.  It's a common belief (often talked about in the forums) that the quickest way to boost your Sex Appeal (men & women) is to get a BlackBerry. Skip the gym, eat McDonalds, it's all good as long as you develop a nice healthy BlackBerry Addiction. Oh, and it is common for BlackBerry Addicts (people who really love their BlackBerry) to name their device. My Curve's name is "Old Betsy". :)

BlackBerry Messenger – Every BlackBerry device has a unique PIN number, which identifies the device on RIM's network. The BlackBerry comes with a nifty BlackBerry messenger application that allows you do add other BlackBerry user's by their device PIN. Once added, you can message each other on the fly (think instant SMS in a conversation format, but unlike SMS it's free) and even send pictures and voice memos. It's basically the ultimate form of non-verbal communication. Just make sure your friend's overseas know not to message you at night!

Besides BlackBerry messenger, BlackBerrys are pure MACHINES when it comes to running other chat applications – MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Skype, AIM, you name it. With the BlackBerry you can be connected to every one of your friends no matter where you go (dangerous if you plan on taking your BlackBerry with you to REAL class.)

Battery Life – Is Awesome. You can leave the phone on for days and days and days (literally two weeks) in standby mode and it will continue to do its job of monitoring all of your incoming communications. If you use the phone actively (long conversations, GPS, play games, browse web, etc.) you'll suck the battery life out quicker, but at least a day and probably two days or more of life can be expected. And it recharges quick!

BrickBreaker – Comes standard on every BlackBerry and is the ultimate in addictive games. You'll never get sick of it. While there are lots of games available for the BlackBerry, the fact that BrickBreaker comes standard on every device makes it one you will want to master. When meeting other BlackBerry users, your BrickBreaker score is a topic that's sure to come up, and you definitely don't want to be the rookie!

Security – 128 bit encryption is standard for all BlackBerry connections, which means no incoming/outgoing connection will occur unless you approve it. In practice this causes a slight annoyance – when you install a new application that requires data to be transferred to the 3rd party's server you will be asked to approve the connection. It adds two clicks to your CrackBerrying (not that bad) but ensures your phone remains in your control (and not a hacker's) at all times.

Community – When you get a BlackBerry, you immediately become part of a community of BlackBerry users. Meet another BlackBerry user and you will notice the instant bond you form immediately. And don't forget there's great community websites like that help you to get the most out of your device, be it help in the forums, news and entertainment in the blogs, or taking your device to next level with ringtones, wallpapers, themes, games, software applications and accessories, accessories, accessories in the CrackBerry Shop.

2200 words and I decided 2000 was the lecture limit before all attention span is lost. That said, I have run out of time which leaves this list a bit short of a few other Why BlackBerry? reasons. I will turn it over to the class now to point these out.  So raise your hand, and add in your points in the Comments or BlackBerry 101 Forum Thread accompanying this lecture!

The next lecture will be on Choosing the Best BlackBerry for You.

Class dismissed!