TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Bye Bye BlackBerry?

Bye Bye BlackBerry?

Monty Solomon (
Sun, 4 Dec 2005 01:45:19 -0500


OTTAWA, Dec. 2 - What if your BlackBerry screen went dark?

To executives like Douglas M. Steenland of Northwest Airlines, the
idea of doing business without a BlackBerry is about as appealing as
reverting to rotary dial phones and Telex machines.

"It's the proverbial blessing and curse," Mr. Steenland said of his
BlackBerry, which sends e-mail messages wirelessly. "It's a blessing
because it liberates you from the office. It's a curse because there's
no escape."

That is why there was so much anxiety throughout corporate America
over this week's news that a long-running patent infringement battle
between the maker of BlackBerry, Research In Motion, and NTP, a tiny
patent holding company, might cause a service shutdown, perhaps within
a month.

Indeed, the prospect of life without BlackBerries is so frightening to
Northwest -- a heavy user if ever there was one -- that the airline
immediately demanded a conference call with R.I.M. executives and one
is scheduled for Tuesday.

"Everybody here hopes that somebody else will fix the problem," said
Andrea F. Newman, Northwest's senior vice president for government
relations. "But no one really knows what the problem is or what it
will take to fix it."

R.I.M., which is based in Waterloo, Ontario, promises it has a
solution that will keep its beloved BlackBerries humming even in the
face of an injunction. While most analysts view the prospects of a
shutdown as unlikely, they have little faith in the proposed solution,
which has potential legal pitfalls of its own. What's more, the
history of the struggle between the companies means that no outcome is
certain. (R.I.M. declined to comment.)

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