Blackberrys – the Debate Continues

Yesterday’s brief (approx. 3 hours) Blackberry outage prompted a lot of email traffic on a listserv I read. The debate seemed to be between those who thought that notwithstanding the occasional system-wide failure, Blackberrys were still the preferred mobile device for the legal community, and those who favoured some of the newer devices that have more features and functions. Interestingly, there wasn’t much traffic blaming RIM for the service disruption.

Blackberrys have been in the news a lot lately. There have been news stories about employers cuttting back on employee off-hour use. There was even a story about a hotel that offers a weekend program for those who are ready to retire their Blackberrys (but need some help to let go).

I wonder where mobile devices will be two years from now. My personal view is that it’s too late to turn back the clock – too many people are used to any-time email access. For me, this means that the occasional system-wide failure is an opportunity to enjoy some quiet time.


  1. As a Blackberry user let me tell you your concerns are valid. I have both a personal account and the option to use our secure network at the office but recently I have opted out.

    The problem I’ve been having with the Blackberry service is twofold:

    My first concern is that you lose valuable time sorting and re-sorting the same messages. Ignoring in-person conversations, etc. This is frustrating given the only benefit is that you have the 30-second jump on someone else who hasn’t yet replied.

    The second problem I have encountered is a lack of support. While trying to resolve an issue where only 2 of every 4 messages were reaching my handheld a Rogers support technician once told me that my handheld was clearly working. When I askedto escalate the problem to RIM (as maintainers of the server) my request was denied since this was against policy.

    When 50% loss becomes a standard of good service you can bet there is a problem on the network and this explains yesterday’s outage: all carriers, and for that matter all law firms with Blackberry servers, are all at the mercy of a single network maintained by RIM. No other email systems utilize this method because of the risks posed by a mass failure.

    The reason that things are setup this way is to enable the “push” email feature that RIM provides. What they don’t tell you is that sometimes it “slows down” for up to an hour. They also gloss over that with a personal account your messages only get pushed every 15 minutes. So maybe push email isn’t so hot after all?

    I have since installed a program called LogicMail to access my email over a secure connection to bypass the Blackberry servers altogether. I have less interruptions and my messages are conveniently sorted into folders on the server. Even better that I can get to my folders on the handheld directly now, and they’re up-to-the-second accurate. It’s a welcome change, even if it means I can’t be “pushed” by my messages.