Will Blackberry Be Shutdown?

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

December 1, 2005

Millions of Blackberry users in the United States, including government officials, may soon be left in the dark. The maker of the popular device had a legal setback this week that could force the company to stop service.

For those who have one, "it's great because the communication just stays with us the entire day 24/7," said Ric Barrick, Interim-Director of Communications, for the City of Charlottesville.

It's hard to imagine life without one.

"We can get phone calls, we can get our emails, we can answer our emails on the road. So in some senses, I wouldn't want to be without it," said Barrick.

Busy thumbs seem to be pecking away at Blackberry's everywhere you look. But , with the maker of the popular device now on the losing side of a four-year court battle, service could soon be cut off for everyone including government officials.

Officials with the city of Charlottesville use the handheld devices daily. Equipped with tiny keyboards, the gadget allows staff to access e-mail while away from their computers.

"Communication is key--being able to make decisions right away, being able make to send information right away is really important," Barrick added.

Since the Blackberry was introduced in 1998, more than three and half million users have signed up for the text paging service.

On Wednesday, Research In Motion, the company which makes Blackberry, was dealt a legal blow. A judge rejected a 450 million dollar copyright infringement settlement between them and the company which patents wireless e-mail technology. By some estimates, Research In Motion may have to shell out a billion dollars or more to keep U.S. service from being shutdown. Accustomed to a convenience which has become an addiction for some, just how will anyone get by?

"Of course, that's going to be an inconvenience, but we'll find a different way," said Barrick.

Research In Motion says it will take the case back to the U.S. Supreme Court, but is working on alternate technology to keep the service running which is sure to have Blackberry users giving the thumbs up.

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