How Does a Blackberry Work?

How Does a Blackberry Work?

Many people who are considering buying a PDA often wonder, "How does a Blackberry work?" The difference between a Blackberry and a PDA, like a Palm Pilot or a PocketPC, isn't always obvious. Put simply, a Blackberry makes use of a special architecture using a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) or BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) for immediate updates when you receive an email or any other status update.

Answering the Question: "How Does a Blackberry Work?"

In the business world, maintaining direct and constant contact with your staff, clients, and partners can sometimes make the difference between business success and failure. When your business requires you to make critical, time sensitive decisions, it isn't acceptable to receive an email or a meeting schedule update an hour or two late. This corporate demand for immediate synchronization with your computer is what makes the Blackberry unique and in demand.

The Secret is the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES)

The Blackberry is a proprietary device, created in 1999 by a company called Research in Motion (RIM). RIM developed the Blackberry around a unique new technology called "push" email. This does exactly what it sounds like, whenever you receive an email on your Exchange email server at work, that email is redirected to the BES, which immediately alerts your Blackberry that you have a new message. The same process takes place if a secretary modifies your networked calendar stored on the Exchange server. The process of how data gets to you more quickly is as follows.

  1. You receive an urgent email on your Exchange email account
  2. The Exchange server immediately redirects the message to RIM's BES
  3. The server (BES) immediately transfers the message and alert to your wireless network
  4. Your wireless provider forwards the message to your Blackberry
  5. Your Blackberry displays the alert and provides the message in the format that you've configured

This means that when you send or receive email, check or modify your calendar, update your Blackberry address book, or even check or modify documents on the Exchange server, it's just like you're sitting at your desk back at work. How's this any different than a Palm Pilot or a PocketPC? The difference is all about timing, and this is what makes the Blackberry so popular for so many users.

The SmartPhone Delay

A Palm Pilot or a PocketPC can do almost everything a Blackberry can do, it just can't do it as quickly. Instead of receiving an alert from a server like the BES server, a Palm Treo or PocketPC needs to occasionally check your email server for new emails. Depending on how often you configure your phone to check the server, there can often be a significant delay between when someone sends you an email and you actually receive it. Additionally, the synchronization of the smartphone isn't as seamless or convenient as the Blackberry.

With a Blackberry mobile device, the handheld unit is always automatically synched with your exchange server thanks to the BES, which works directly with your company's Exchange mail server. RIM also provides a "Blackberry Desktop Redirector," if you don't use an Exchange server, which redirects your emails that arrive in Outlook from any POP, IMAP, or HTTP email accounts. This means that your Blackberry address book, calendar, and email messages are always identical to the data on your office PC. However, with other smartphones, you need to connect the device to your computer via a USB cable and then "synch" the data between your computer and the handheld unit. For many people, this is an extra step that can be annoying and time consuming. In the case of the Blackberry, the BES server does all of the synchronization for you.

Where To Find a Blackberry

Almost every major cellular provider in the world now carries and supports the Blackberry service. Typically, the costs of the service is a little more expensive because you need to pay for the Blackberry service on top of the regular cellular data plan. Some providers do offer better deals for the data plan, so make sure to shop around for the plan that meets your specific needs. If you will only be using the device for email, then an unlimited data plan may not be necessary. However, if you plan to do a fair amount of web surfing with the device, then the unlimited plan is the safest bet, otherwise you could find yourself faced with an unexpected usage bill.

Final Words

Barely three to four years ago, it was difficult to locate a single mobile device that could access the Internet or retrieve email messages. Most PDAs were simple data devices that could only update once you plugged them into your computer. However, the mobile technology has advanced so rapidly that now not only can you access almost all of the same Internet services, you can do it just as quickly and seamlessly as if you were sitting right at your desk. This is how the Blackberry service continues to lead the pack and that answers the question of how does a BlackBerry work.

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