Have you ever picked blackberries? What about picking at the keyboard on a BlackBerry?

The BlackBerry was once so dominant in the marketplace that it followed over into popular culture as a permanent attachment to the palm of anyone who was serious about business. The BlackBerry was ubiquitous in the world of business. Its half screen, half keyboard designer was the first bridge between a phone and a computer, long before smartphones were available.

Blackberry’s original technology was a cross between the pager and the first cell phones. It bridged a gap in tech that no one really knew existed, ushering in the modern age of cellular technology and constant contact. With a BlackBerry, workers never had to leave the job, whether they wanted to or not.

Picking Berries

The first BlackBerry to hit the market was the 850, introduced in Munich, Germany in 1999. This first device was a two-way pager. The name BlackBerry came from the marketing Lexicon Branding, who worked with Research in Motion (RIM), a Canadian technology company that developed the BlackBerry. The name was chosen because of the impression that the keys gave of looking like the blackberry fruit. 

Originally, the BlackBerry had a monochrome screen on the top half and keyboard on the lower half. 

Mike Lazaridis, the founder and original CEO of BlackBerry, led the company through its highest upswings until leaving to pursue philanthropic work. 

Huge Market

Initially, the mobile phone market was dominated by businesses. The individual cell phone service that is a constant today didn’t exist at that time. BlackBerry understood the importance of the business market and so focused its efforts on catering to the needs of corporate communication. 

What set BlackBerry apart initially was the instant access to email that these first smartphones allowed. The original system had a sidetracking navigation system that allowed users to move the display up and down. This was later replaced with a trackball, and then eventually with the thumbing motion on a touchscreen that’s associated with modern cell phones. 

Models early on used networks like Nextel, NII Holdings, Mike, and SouthernLINC to allow for push to talk functionality, something that was similar to two-way radio tech. 

2002 saw the release of the modern BlackBerry, with push emails, text messaging, mobile phone, and internet faxing. These functions again catered to business clients and further pushed BlackBerry as a necessary tool for anyone who was serious about getting their business done right. 

Intellectual vs. Real Property

BlackBerry didn’t only put its force behind its real property, but also behind intellectual property. 

That led to some trouble for the company, who was hit with multiple allegations of intellectual property theft from NTP, a patent-holding company. That case proved to be a massive issue for Blackberry in the year 2000. The company’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and other major organizations was thrown into jeopardy. The case made it all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States, who refused to hear the case. The issue went on for years, with BlackBerry finally announcing it would create a workaround so as not to use NTP technology in 2006.

The company experienced massive downturns as competing smartphone technology hit the market. By 2016, BlackBerry was slashing its workforce. At its height, the company had eight million BlackBerries in use around the globe in 2012. That number dropped dramatically over the next several years, down to eleven million in 2017. 

Despite losses, BlackBerry continues to create software and digital solutions for businesses.