Lecture 1: Why BlackBerry?

CrackBerry.com's BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series
By Kevin Michaluk on 10 Sep 2007 02:42 am EDT

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 CrackBerry.com 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 CrackBerry.com 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!

Reader comments

Lecture 1: Why BlackBerry?


Great Lecture, Kevin! Well thought out, lots of research and information. I'm a reformed Palm user, so it was very informative for me to learn a bit more of the history of RIM and BB. Keep up the great work!

Great lecture Kevin!

I agree with Dubya in saying that this lecture is quite informative and I look forward to all your future lectures to come!

Kevin, I think it is so wonderful of you to take time out of your busy schedule to teach us all about the blackberry and make us more informed about our devices!

These lectures are like an early Christmas gift! Thanks again for doing this for all of us! We are grateful for you sharing your knowledge with us.

All my best,

This article is just simply amazing. I was the type of kid that always read the "instructions" and the "box" on any new toy I got. After reading the article, I felt like I was brought back to yesteryear, not to mention the goo goo eyes I had for my 8700g sitting right on my hip. Man, I can't wait for the next article. Great first lesson!

Great article, great information. Only problem is your next lesson, (I believe you said is gonna be which BB to buy) isn't coming out fast enough for me. I am itching for my first BB big time, and hoping to pick mine up before the end of this week. Either way can't wait for the next lesson.

Kevin, you didn't miss a thing. The lecture was clear, concise, and very entertaining. I don't consider myself a "newbie", but I know I'll benefit from every class. This was such a great idea; cb.com is already an awesome site. These classes are just another testament to the site's greatness. There really is a special bond w/BB owners. We're so special and have a mutual love & respect for the design and capabilities.

I am no longer tied to my desktop to maintain my work at home online job. I now carry my office with me on my hip. It is the BlackBerry Curve equipped with Mobylo QuickResponse email templates. I am now able to fill my online orders anywhere, as long as I am within an AT&T cell phone signal.

I have to say that was a great overall lecture; very informative on RIM and BB history, and well detailed on the reasons to own a BB and be apart of the CrackBerry community!

I look forward to the rest of the class over the term!

Knowing a lot about tweeking on BB's. Entertaining, should be interesting when I forward class to some friends so I can say go to school

Fantastic article, Kevin. As usual, your posts are informative and comprehensive. It is so refreshing and satisfying to be able to visit a website like CrackBerry.com.

Keep up the good work. Looking forward to returning to class for the next lesson.


yes your article is correct on the many things that blackberries do out of the box. but blackberries still have a ways to go. One of biggest problems with them is you can't save office documents in email attachments on your phone. You have to buy another program. This is not the case with other smartphones. plus the memory shrinks down over time and you have to take the battery out to reset it. multiple users I know have this happen to them as well. It is also not the easiest operating system to use. A lot of things are not intuitive, and I have used many operating systems. I have to get tech support to many people who do simple tasks on them. Plus you can't delete apps from the phone, you have to sync it! I can go on and on... but you are correct that is does do email the best. but dont mislead so many into thinking how perfect they are..

I totally agree about the touchscreen... I know people who hate their iphones for things like texting and YM. But the bad news is RIM is looking at changing their design to touchscreens! Blasphemy!

Ok, well, I also have to say that the keyboard on the 8830 sucks. What were they thinking?

Still love my blackberrys!

Wow! Reading this article....it just....did something to me!!! I don't know, i think....i think that's a tear!!!! I'm so PROUD to be a new BB owner, almost as proud as I am to put on my uniform and boots (USAF) everyday!!!! Thank you oh knowledgeable one!

I have had my blackberry 8703e for just over a week.. I had crackberry already on it. So that is how I got to the site. I will continue to read what you have here. Very informative I like the history of it.

im such a geek this article got me excited about becoming a new blackberry owner, hopefully i august.. eeps x

Very informative. Interesting bit about the PIN. Does this work for all countries as well? I don't know any other blackberry users where I live so I can't confirm it on my own.

Thank God for SLOW LEARNERS! We get to SAVOR stuff like this!
I'm a BB Curve user and have just been USING and not GROWING/LEARNING until I began really reading your lectures. Thanks, I might be a good Berry! Babs

Time to update the section about touch screens being a poor design type... Heard of the Blackberry Storm?

It does need to be updated, but RIM must have read that section because they solved the major complaint here.

"Touch screens lack feedback – when you push a button you don’t really feel that you’ve pushed it unless you confirm it with your eyessss, often resulting in misstypees. "

The Storm added a first-ever, innovative tactile feedback so that it feels like clicking a button when you press it. Not bad for an article written over a year ago.

I know this was written months before any knowledge of the Storm/Thunder, but it seems that this 101 needs to be updated. There seems to be a lot of verbiage that speaks about touch screen phones and Blackberry's as two separate entities. With the introduction of the STORM, the Blackberry now also falls under the category of touch screens.

On a side note, I think it's a bit ironic as to how the negative aspects of touch screen cell phones are described. The Storm actually addresses some of these issues, so again, this 101 needs to be updated.

I have tried the Storm out and i don't think that this lecture is out of date. I went to Verizon on the Storms launch date and used my upgrade on the curve.
In the beginning i was just as excited as everyone else but, i did go to work. After using the storm it just reiterated why touch screen is just not practical.
Mind you, that i owned the HTC xv6800 before purchasing the Curve on Nov 22. Started using the Curve and never looked back. Kinda like a break up that you knew was coming. Then once it happens you are happy and you didn't look back. This article so far is timeless.

Thank you for the lecture Kevin. I did buy a Blackberry curve 8330 last week and have been adapting to it. I am eager to read what you offer about synchronizing with outlook calendar and contacts. I am not very tech savy and this is the first forum I have belonged to. Very helpful.

I started using a Blackberry for the first time this this year. I have had a Palm Treo for 2 years, and a Samsung Ace for 6 months...hands down my Bberry Curve runs circles around those other devices. I can't believe I waited so long to get one. Never turning back.This is a very good lecture. Love your site. On to the next lecture.

The comment that the Menu Key is the best key and guides you what to do, once you're in an Application makes reading the lecture worth it.
I am a beginner and the simplicity of the overall lecture makes me want to use my BlackBerry.
Though BrickBreaker- the gaming Application; is not an exciting option, for me at least!

it's called a "Blackberry" because of the appearance of the keys (they look like seeds). It was originally going to be called the "Strawberry" but linguists hired by RIM thought that it was too slow-sounding. Hence, "Blackberry." i have the T-Mo Sunset 8320 however, and I call it a strawberry for fun because the color is exactly that of well, a strawberry!

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are drempt of in your philosophy!" (Hamlet)

Had to begin this way because of "CrackBerry" pen name, I suppose. This is a big first for me - socializing on line - and it seems bewilderingly strange, but good. I just ordered my first BB, a Curve 8330, from Verizon, my carrier of over ten years, and I am ignited, excited and ready for the Fedex truck to appear NOW!
Your "Why BlackBerry" lecture. Kevin, is largely responsible for my final decision, my final choice of Blackberry, Curve and starting NOW instead of this next summer as I had planned. Thank you so very much!

Very Informative..need to find out more 'bout the messenger since it's better than SMS, and free.
Thank you.

This was a great article, I'm looking forward to viewing the rest of the series. I've had my Curve for about a month now, and have become curious about how this device does what it does. Thanks!

Hi all, been know this site for a month. i've tried many kind of phone from candy bar, slider, touch phone, qwerty, you named it. also many kind of OS, up to my latest is winMo. But hei, i got this blackberry attention and since then i become like one of you here, crackberry addict. Never miss a day to check here, but i haven't buy any berry though. Coz im waiting just like everyone here, the upcoming Pluto, or Hybrid berry. I hope this berry is true. When it come, sure it will be mine...

Thanks for the class Kevin,

Cheers all...

Enjoyed 1st lecture, hope there is more on PIN exchange and RIM network in next lectures. Thanks!

I can't believe we're still relying on an article that's now two years old as to why to choose a Blackberry over another device.

Haven't things changed???

There are lots of new things to address to potential newcomers!

Professor Kevin,

I am sitting up front in your class and hope to get an A+ in your class. I am boning up to get my degree in Blackberry 101. I give you kudos on the lecture and by the end of this course, I will be well versed on the blackberry and all it's goodness.

I am getting a blackberry hopefully at the end of this year from VZ wireless and getting the curve course I know my fellow students here will point me in the right direction on some alternatives.

I had a Palm Centro for years and now i recently purchased the BB Tour 9630 and already i am liking the BB a lot better..No comparison. I am looking forward to another lesson and thank you

I just discovered this site a couple of days ago. This is an excellent source of information for Blackberry users. I just purchased a new Blackberry Tour. I was introduced to the Curve no more than about three months ago, and I have to admit that I am now hooked on the Blackberry device. Up until now, I have only used a regular flip type cell phone. Blackberry blows that out of the water. Thanks for this great intro to Blackberry. There is much more for me to explore here and I am glad to be part of the "club".
Thanks again!

I have the 8530 black berry curve in black color, the phone itself is sooo sexy and sooo awesome. I love it when there is people around with there Itouch phones and than they see me with my black berry because I know its superior in every way ;)

thx for the info,i just got my bold 9000 and though it is hard to get to know i am sticking with it,til death do we part.

i charged my bb with out the simcard and i setting it up cuz it turned on. when charging was done i push my simcard in and the phone asked me to wipe settings or something like that. i clicked no. Now my question is did i do something wrong also i cant see my contacts they are on my simcard but i still cant get to them in the phonebook

I switched on my Blackberry Bold for the first time today, and so far, I am completely bewildered. I am looking forward to following this course and becoming a proficient user.