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Research In Motion

Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) designs, manufactures, and markets innovative wireless solutions for the worldwide mobile communications market. It's best-known for the BlackBerry, the first wireless device to offer fully mobile e-mail. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company was founded in 1984 by Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin. It's currently run by Lazaridis, the president and co-CEO, and fellow CEO Jim Balsillie.

Company Description

Remember pagers? Those clunky little devices that businesspeople (of the legal and illegal variety) carried around before there were cellphones or BlackBerries? Those humble, now nearly nonexistent devices gave Research In Motion its start; from the get-go, the company was developing ways for people to send messages back and forth while on the move.

Initially, those efforts revolved around two-way pagers, simple devices to send text messages back and forth along cellular phone networks. Indeed, the first version of the BlackBerry, launched in 1999, did exactly this. The device didn't reach its current notoriously addictive status until 2002, when it added the ability to send and receive email. Suddenly, a legion of business-suited CrackBerry fiends began roaming the nation's streets, airports, boardrooms, and expense-account-friendly restaurants, sending and receiving endless quantities of wireless emails to the detriment of their thumbs, eyesight, and personal relationships.

RIM manufactures its own BlackBerry devices, licenses its e-mail client to other handset makers, and develops and distributes the back-end software businesses can use to keep their addicted legions of employees connected to one another and the wireless email they crave.

How powerful is CrackBerry addiction? Toward the end of RIM's 2000-2006 patent infringement battle with patent licensor NTP over the BlackBerry's technology, both the federal government as a whole and the Department of Defense in particular filed briefs arguing that they depended too heavily on their BlackBerries for the network to be shut down via an injunction. The DoD even deemed BlackBerries crucial for national security. (Thankfully for national security, RIM and NTP settled the case for $612.5 million in 2006.) And President Obama famously fought with government security experts for the right to keep using his BlackBerry after taking office in early 2009.

Only Apple's mighty iPhone has been able to successfully challenge the BlackBerry's dominance in recent years, hindering RIM's efforts to spread its addictive technology beyond the business world and into everyday life via a new series of consumer-oriented smartphones. The CrackBerry may be here to stay, but the battle for mobile communicators' hearts, minds, and thumbs is far from over.

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