Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

This Is No Raspberry

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

This Is No Raspberry

Article excerpt

Let's say you're a US congressman or high-ranking government official, and when another terrorist attack strikes, your cellphone and pager networks are overloaded and inaccessible. How do you find out where the emergency response meeting is? Thanks to the BlackBerry, an internet-connected PDA that has become an omnipresent fixture of American boardrooms and business-class compartments, a reassuring vibration in your pocket will help you find your way to the hidden war room. "On 11 September, they were the only thing that worked," the Ohio Republican congressman Robert Ney told the Washington Post. "That's how I found out how to go to an undisclosed location."

Not only serving as a last line of communication in such dire circumstances, the BlackBerry has superseded all other methods of interaction for hundreds of thousands of fanatically dedicated high-powered professionals in the US. Its latest incarnation, the BlackBerry 7230, offers a razor-sharp colour screen for wireless web access and doubles as a mobile phone, but its original killer application--e-mail on the go--remains its main selling point. Unlike competing products that allow you to download e-mails, the palm-sized, blueberry-coloured BlackBerry is "always on" technology that notifies you automatically whenever a message arrives.

The 615,000 people who have taken up the gadget (including 35,000 in the UK) have eagerly abandoned the last vestiges of freedom from contact for an unprecedented degree of accessibility and productivity. …

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