(GROUP 5)-- Derrick, Jace, Nishita, Hera

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Group 5 Term Project

Group Members

Hera Ahmed
Derrick Fong
Jace Jonsson
Nishita Wadhwani

We are the MerryBerries and we conducted our research on the technology the Blackberry.


Through the course of the wiki page, we hope to provide you with adequate information and to make you aware of the dangers of such a technology on society, physically and mentally.

We will be going through the origins of the blackberry and its functions today compared to its initial use as simply a telephone. We will also look into detail on the effects of this technology on our society, the pros and the cons. We will look at a specific case study in which there was a blackberry black out which brought chaos to society therefore showing the over dependency of the corporate world on such a technology.

Finally we’ll enlighten you in what we believe to be the similarities between the usage of the blackberry and the usage of highly addictive drugs such as crack.

How it all began: From Walkie Talkie To CrackBerry

When we say from “Walkie Talkie” to “Crack-Berry”, we are serious. In early 1940’s people studied the radio technologies in taxi cabs, police cars and other service vehicles and how they communicated with one another or with a central base. Innovators soon found that by utilizing smaller cell range, the area in which a cell phone can operate, they could increase the traffic capacity substantially. However at that time, the technology to do so was nonexistent.

Martin Cooper and his original cell phone

It wasn’t until April 3rd, 1973 when Martin Cooper the general manager of Motorola's Communications Systems Division and now chairman, CEO, and co-founder of ArrayComm Inc created and demonstrated the first publicly phone call on a portable cell phone. On the 30th anniversary of this cell phone he was quoted saying, "As I walked down the street while talking on the phone, sophisticated New Yorkers gasped at the sight of someone actually moving around while making a phone call. Remember that in 1973, there weren't cordless telephones, let alone cellular phones. I made numerous calls, including one where I crossed the street while talking to a New York radio reporter - probably one of the more dangerous things I have ever done in my life."

Some of these earlier cell phone technologies can be traced back to people who owned radios that can connect into a phone line through a live operator to make a call.

Although many attempts and variations of cell phones were created between the 30 year gap of the two way radio and cell phone Martin Cooper used, none of them can be considered successful. There was even one in 1946 in a Swedish police car but that could make only 6 phone calls before. In 1967 mobile phone technology was finally available but only in one cell range, which means it’s not really “mobile”.

Despite the incredible demand, it took cell phone service 37 years to become commercially available in the United States. Consumers demands quickly outstripped the 1982 system standards. By 1987, cell phone subscribers exceeded one million and the airways were crowded. Today, there are more cellular subscribers than wireline phone subscribers in the world, with mobile phones weighing as little as 3 ounces.

First Generation

The Motorola DynaTac8000x

In 1983 Motorola developed the DynaTAC 8000X, the first generation of a “real portable” cell phone.It took 15 years to develop and only weighed about 28 ounces, very light at that time. It was 13 inches x 1.75 inches x 3.5 inches and was known as the “Brick” for its shape. It was largely developed with the help of Martin Cooper of Motorola.

Second Generation

The second generation is often referred as the 2G phones. Phones based on second generation (2G) technology are more compact than the so called “brick” phones of the 80's. Most 2G cell phones were usually in the range of 100 to 200 grams, these were hand held devices that were truly portable without the need for a large battery. Advances in battery technology and computer chip technology also helped to make 2G cell phones much smaller than their predecessors. With these innovations, cell phone usage soared.

Third Generation

The third generation of cell phones and most commonly used today is the 3G phones. 3G mobile phones usually include innovations to receive much more than phone calls; they are almost a “computer-on-the-go”. Some of these new additions are, SMS text messaging, email and Internet access as well. Handheld communication technology continues to improve and new innovations such as streaming radio and TV, as well as Wifi are currently breaking into the market.


It is this new 3G technology that RIM (Research in Motion) a Canadian company, developed the BlackBerry in 1999.

  • It started out as a pager with an enterprise email, note taking, and a calendar.
  • Then it transformed into a PDA looking device instead of the pager. This was merely visual upgrade.
BlackBerry Pearl
  • Due to the demand for a less bulkier phone blackberry released the 7100t, this was to blur the line between work and life.
BlackBerry Curve
  • And recently RIM added the Curve to the line up adding the camera function which has been missing in many of its model, and a more user friendly interface.

Uses of the Blackberry


The Blackberry has become a mini computer that fits on your belt strap, purse and pocket. It's also fair to say keeping in mind the audience the Blackberry is directed towards no other device in the market today offers as many services as the Blackberry.

Staying Connected

Through the variety of communication services Blackberry offers staying connected with family, friends and co-workers has never been easier. Through Blackberry an individual has access to the following communication services and much more through a single Blackberry device:

  • Instand Messaging Messengers
  • Pin to Pin Messaging
  • Voice Calls
  • Wireless extensions to current email addresses
  • Blackberry webmail
  • Instant access to Social Networking Sites
Business Solutions

Businesses are finding it hard to survive without these Blackberry devices. There are a number of key features offered exclusively by Blackberry which makes this unique one of a kind device business friendly. Viewing attatchments in their Word, Excel, PowerPoint or picture format is nothing hard for the Blackberry to do. Through access to internet faxing sending those documents anywhere anytime hasn't been easier.

Emergency Call Option when Blackberry is Locked

Many schools,universities,colleges and office buildings take advantage of the communication services provided by the Blackberry to assist them in their emergency alert programs. On the BlackBerry an emergency call can be made while the wireless is turned off but the phone still on, and also when the BlackBerry is locked there's an option to make an emergency call.


Use of abbreviations

The increased use of abbreviations has caused lower range of vocabulary, increased spelling errors, and lack of good grammar in BlackBerry users. The mentioned deficiencies have reduced intellectual growth in the business environment where this BlackBerry is widely used. On the other hand the same deficiencies have caused a regression in language skills in students.

Decreased dependency on ones bioligical memory

Due to the extensive memory capacity on the BlackBerry users are able to store entire address books on this device. This feature, as well as other features such as the calculator, the calendar (which allows a user to input appointments, birthdays etc with reminders through an alarm) and the “to do list” application have caused a decrease in dependency on ones biological memory. A poll taken by our group from family and friends has shown in the age group of 18-25 only 28% of the individuals actually had more than 10 phone numbers memorized. Therefore the effect of this technological memory on the Blackberry is crucial to our own biological memory.

Etiquettes Compromised

Where and when the use of the BlackBerry is appropriate and not appropriate seems to be a challenging question for many users today. Individuals can be seen using their BlackBerries in lectures, meetings, conferences, dinner table, interviews etc. Through the misuse of this device etiquettes are most definitely being compromised. Many users will be emailing away during conversations with their bosses, teachers, parents etc, and these users don’t realize that what they are doing is considered rude behavior. These situations are common where the use of the device disturbs surrounding people.


I’m sure everyone has heard about laws being passed on the ban on use of cellular mobiles while driving. Many articles and newspaper reports can be found regarding the percentage of increased road collisions caused by the use of cell phones for talking, emailing, texting and even games. There are studies that indicate an increased percentage of users of cell phones violating traffic laws compared to non-users of cell phones. Even pedestrians focused on their cell phones while crossing roads lose focus on the road and can be involved in serious accidents.

Uses of the Blackberry by the Government

Government Applications

Over Dependency on the BlackBerry

The BlackBerry provides a communications medium that plays a key role in Canadian politics. The BlackBerry increases the efficiency of politicians and government staffers through:

  • Distribution of news stories
  • Data transfer & Communication
  • Issue management / Damage control
  • Election information

Distribution of news stories – Every morning the Conservative Party puts together a quick list of all the relevant news stories that are in the days paper and emails these stories to different ministries and members of parliament. Most politicians are briefed on the day’s happenings by these lists and rely on their Blackberries to be caught up on the day’s news before they get to their office.

Data transfer & Communication – The ease with which Emails and file transfers are sent is taken for granted and is greatly relied on by politicians and their staff.

Issue Management / Damage Control – After the introduction of the BlackBerry, government screw ups are managed and resolved much quicker that before. The increased communication made possible by the Blackberry allows parties to bring up and counter Issues in question period rather than having all the responsibility lie on one member.

Election Information – BlackBerry use can also increase the speed of election results for parties. Having volunteers who are working at polling stations email the initial results to the head office can let the party know the results ahead of the media.

Government Initiatives

The increase in efficiency has led to a dependency on the Blackberry in the Canadian government. BlackBerry overuse has become so predominant on parliament hill that some ministries have put forward initiatives to limit BlackBerry use during the evenings and weekends.(Reuters, 2008)

"It may be wishful thinking, but a Canadian government ministry has sent out a directive to its employees urging them to relax and not to use their BlackBerry smartphones at night or on weekends and holidays. Trying to re-establish a proper balance between work and life, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is starting by trying to cut the chains to what some have called CrackBerries." (Reuters, 2008)

Triple B: Blackberry Blackout!

Comic about the BlackBerry Blackout

Government and business dependency on the BlackBerry is made even more obvious when BlackBerry service outages occur. Although outages have been rare in BlackBerry’s nine year history, when they do occur those who are addicted do not hold back there fury (Wall St Nation, 2008)


"We all lost our data when we were in the House of Commons last night. The sound of BlackBerrys being thrown against the desk was deafening for a while… Everyone's in crisis because they're all picking away at their BlackBerrys and nothing's happening," -Garth Turner, former Member of Parliament (CBS News, 2008)

"I don't know what happened, I don't care what happened. They need to save their excuses for someone who cares," said a frustrated Stuart Gold, who said he gets 1,000 e-mails a day (Associated Press, 2008)


a Web poll taken found that 81 percent of IT and telecom professionals surveyed reported their work was disrupted by the outage, with 44.5 percent saying that the effect of the BlackBerry blackout was "moderate or substantial."(IDG News Services, 2007)

Those findings show that "wireless communication has gone from a travel convenience to a mission critical communications tool," Randall De Lorenzo, ProfitLine's vice president, Mobility Strategies said in a statement about the poll. Between 70 and 100 enterprise IT or telecom managers responded to the poll, according to a ProfitLine spokesman. (IDG News Services, 2007)


Top executives and government officials were the hardest hit in the blackouts because of there heavy reliance on the blackberry. Even a couple of hours without their BlackBerry could mean hundreds of unanswered communications but...

"The love so many BlackBerry users have for their devices will be a saving grace" said telecom analyst Jeffrey Kagan. "BlackBerry will take a hit, but it will probably come back because the users are almost rabid". although BlackBerry's competitors can use the blackouts to their advantage, the bottom line is that the addiction to the BlackBerry is far stronger than the annoyance cased by the blackouts. (IDG News Services, 2007)

The actions and quotes of these professionals almost resemble a junkie who is unable to get high. The overuse of the "CrackBerry" has become widespread in many developed countries and has created a truly unhealthy addiction, an addiction that can even lead to health problems.

The BlackBerry Thumb

The BlackBerryThumb

The BlackBerry thumb is a term commonly used to describe the symptoms that many over users of the BlackBerry come face with. These symptoms are caused due to the small keyboards of the BlackBerry being tough on the hands and wrists of the users. The victims have the BlackBerry thumb have steadily been increasing over the last decade, which now raises the issue of the BlackBerry affecting ones health and therefore moving from simply a social issue to a health issue as well.

The American Society of Hand Therapists issued a consumer alert in January saying that handheld electronics are causing an increasing amount of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendinitis (Joyce, 2005). In addition to that, there have been new numerous attempts to make users aware of the dangers of the overuse of the BlackBerry. Some examples of this are the directions on how to properly hold the devices, urging users to take breaks and, if possible, place pillows in their laps so their wrists are in a more upright position. (Joyce, 2005)

These symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of over users of video games due to the characteristics of the controller. However, children are more immune to this overuse than parents, “"Tendinitis won't affect your teenage son the way it will a parent". This is why we’re seeing more victims being middle aged and who depend on the blackberry for work rather than a teenager who possibly uses the blackberry just as much due to school and socializing.

BlackBerry subscribers now total approximatly 14 million(CBC News, 2008), up 5 million subscribers since June 28, 2007. (BlackBerrycool, 2007)The increase in the use of blackberry also raises another issue in society, workers filing for compensation wages. The issue we have seen in the past lies with blue-collar workers who due to the nature of their jobs, required compensation for injuries. However, there has been a substantial rise in work related injuries amongst the white-collar workers due to the mobile technology industry. Although these workers don’t have the need to work with labour intensive items such as machines and ladders, they’re still facing the similar pains.


In the end, the introduction of the BlackBerry has increased productivity and connected individuals more than ever before. While these benefits are noteworthy, the disadvantages are hard to ignore. The over dependence, drain on mental functions strain on etiquette, and the physically harmful side effects all strengthen our opinion that, like in all things, a balance must be strive for. A healthy balance between apathy and addiction will ensure the BlackBerry is taken for what it is, a communications device designed to keep us connected and efficient, the BlackBerry was never designed to run our lives.


  1. BlackBerry Geeks (Origin of BlackBerry)-- [1]
  2. Inventors About (Martin Cooper) -- [2]
  3. Inventors About (Cell Phones) -- [3]
  4. Tech-faq (History of Cell Phones)-- [4]
  5. BlackBerry Official Website -- [5]
  6. A site dedicated to BlackBerry Abusers -- [6]
  7. Photo: Over Dependency on BlackBerry -- [7]
  8. Washington Post article on the BlackBerry Thumb --[8]
  9. Blackberry causing collisions Article--[9]
  10. Ban on use of cell phones--[10]
  11. BlackBerry Official Wikipedia Page--[11]