BlackBerry is a line of wireless handheld devices (commonly called smartphones) and services designed and marketed by BlackBerry Limited, formerly known as Research In Motion Limited (RIM). The very first RIM device was the Inter@ctive Pager 900, a clamshell-type device that allowed two-way paging, announced on September 18, 1996. After the success of the 900, the Inter@ctive Pager 800 was created for IBM, who bought US$10 million worth of them on February 4, 1998. The next device to be released was the Inter@ctive Pager 950, on August 26, 1998. The very first device to carry the BlackBerry name was the BlackBerry 850, an email pager, released January 19, 1999. Although identical in appearance to the 950, the 850 was the first device to integrate email and the name Inter@ctive Pager was no longer used to brand the device.
The most recent BlackBerry devices are the BlackBerry Passport (original, AT&T version, and Silver edition), BlackBerry Classic, and BlackBerry Leap, although the BlackBerry Z30 is also still considered one of the ‘second generation’ BlackBerry 10 devices. The user interface varies by model; most had featured a physical QWERTY keyboard, while newer generations have relied on a multi-touch screen and virtual keyboard. BlackBerry Priv is the upcoming device from the stable.
BlackBerry devices can record video, take photos, play music and also provide functions such as Web-browsing, email messaging, instant messaging, and the multi-platform BlackBerry Messenger service.
Blackberry is considered one of the major smartphone vendors in the world, specializing in secure communications and mobile productivity. For use on devices made prior to the new Blackberry 10 Operating System (BBOS 7 and earlier), the consumer BlackBerry Internet Service is available in 91 countries worldwide on over 500 mobile service operators using various mobile technologies. As of September 2013, there were 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide. That number has dropped steadily, down to 46 million in September 2014. Starting in November 2013, BlackBerry Messenger could be run on multiple platforms including Android, iOS and Windows Phone, and up to June 2015 got 260 million new users.
In September 2015, Blackberry announced it would launch a new smartphone called Priv on the Android platform. The Priv is expected to work with many of the world’s carriers, and the 4 major carriers in the US.
The first BlackBerry device, the 850, was introduced in 1999 as a two-way pager in Munich, Germany. The name BlackBerry was coined by the marketing company Lexicon Branding. The name was chosen due to the resemblance of the keyboard’s buttons to that of the drupelets that compose the blackberry fruit.
The original BlackBerry devices, the RIM 850 and 857, used the DataTAC network. In 2003, the more commonly known convergent smartphone BlackBerry was released, which supports push email, mobile telephone, text messaging, Internet faxing, Web browsing and other wireless information services.
BlackBerry gained market share in the mobile industry by concentrating on email. BlackBerry began to offer email service on non-BlackBerry devices, such as the Palm Treo, through the proprietary BlackBerry Connect software.
The original BlackBerry device had a monochrome display while newer models installed color displays. All newer models have been optimized for “thumbing”, the use of only the thumbs to type on a keyboard. The Storm 1 and Storm 2 include a SureType keypad for typing. Originally, system navigation was achieved with the use of a scroll wheel mounted on the right side of device models prior to the 8700. The trackwheel was replaced by the trackball with the introduction of the Pearl series, which allowed four-way scrolling. The trackball was replaced by the optical trackpad with the introduction of the Curve 8500 series. Models made to use iDEN networks, such as Nextel, SouthernLINC, and Mike also incorporate a push-to-talk (PTT) feature, similar to a two-way radio.
On January 30, 2013, BlackBerry announced the release of the Z10 and Q10 smartphones. Both models consist of touch screens: the Z10 features an all-touch design and the Q10 combines a QWERTY keyboard with touchscreen features.
During the second financial quarter of 2013, BlackBerry sold 6.8 million handsets, but was eclipsed by the sales of competitor Nokia’s Lumia model for the first time.
On August 12, 2013, BlackBerry announced the intention to sell the company due to their increasingly unfavourable financial position and competition in the mobile industry. Largely due to lower than expected sales on the Z10, BlackBerry announced on September 20, 2013 that 4,500 full- and part-time positions (an estimated 40% of its operating staff) have been terminated and its product line has been reduced from six to four models. On September 23, 2013, Fairfax Financial, which owns a 10% equity stake in BlackBerry, made an offer to acquire BlackBerry for $4.7 billion (at $9.00 per share). Following the announcement, BlackBerry announced an acceptance of the offer provisionally but it would continue to seek other offers until November 4, 2013.
On November 4, 2013, BlackBerry replaced Thorsten Heins with new interim CEO John S. Chen, the former CEO of Sybase. On November 8, the BlackBerry board rejected proposals from several technology companies for various BlackBerry assets on grounds that a break-up did not serve the interest of all stakeholders, which include employees, customers and suppliers in addition to shareholders, said the sources, who did not want to be identified as the discussions were confidential. On November 13, 2013, Chen released an open message: “We are committed to reclaiming our success.”
In early July 2014, the TechCrunch online publication published an article titled “BlackBerry Is One Of The Hottest Stocks Of 2014, Seriously”, following a 50 percent rise in the company’s stock, an increase that was greater than peer companies such as Apple and Google; however, an analysis of BlackBerry’s financial results showed that neither revenue or profit margin were improved, but, instead, costs were markedly reduced. During the same period, BlackBerry also introduced the new Passport handset — consisting of a 4.5 inches (11 cm) square screen with “Full HD-class” (1,440 x 1,440) resolution and marketed to professional fields such as healthcare and architecture — promoted its Messenger app and released minor updates for the BB10 mobile operating system.
On December 17, 2014, the BlackBerry Classic was introduced, with a keyboard that many consumers preferred over the touchscreen BlackBerry models (Z10 and Z30) introduced two years earlier.