It all began in 1996, when Ontario, Canada based Research in Motion (RIM) introduced the Inter@ctive Pager. As the first company outside of Scandinavia to develop applications for wireless data switch network protocols, RIM had switched its focus in the early 1990s from pagers to two-way wireless data transmitters.
The first Blackberry came two years later, in 1998, offering basic email and two-way paging capabilities as well as a screen capable of displaying up to six lines of text. It wasn’t until 1999, when the company added a small QWERTY keyboard to the Blackberry that demand for the device exploded. Despite losing a patent infringement lawsuit to a group of Illinois inventors in 2003 and battling an injunction against the sale of its devices set for 2004, RIM quickly rebounded to surpass in that same year the mark of one million Blackberries sold. Eventually, at a cost of $612.5 million U.S., the patent infringement lawsuit was settled.
Today, the Blackberry is the equivalent of a mini-computer, smaller than a notebook or netbook and still anchored, despite all its gradually added telephonic capabilities, around the business-essential function of high volume e-mail with attachments. At any one time, Blackberry now offers a dozen or so different models with sleek names such as Torch and Curve to go along with a vertiginous amount of individual model features.
Blackberry has also customized a large number of basic software features to go along with its e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, telephone, and social networking capabilities. These include: a ubiquitous e-commerce payment system, Blackberry Wallet; a central clearing area for third-party developed applications, Blackberry App World; Blackberry Podcast; Blackberry Media Sync; and Blackberry Maps.