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Blackberry satisfies that hunger for e-mail

May 13, 2001

Go shopping for a personal digital assistant to use for e-mail and the compromises become all too clear. The Palm, iPaq and Visor may be too cool for school, but they are washouts when it comes to managing messages.

On the other hand, the humble Blackberry, from a Canadian company called Research in Motion, has become the prime choice for people who want to stay connected all of the time. Those who need information while fishing or sitting at a Mariners game will find this is the only way to go.

Since I first reviewed the Blackberry (Oct. 1), this useful little puppy has shown up everywhere.

Our own Maria Cantwell learned the rules the hard way when she was stopped from bringing her Blackberry onto the Senate floor. Regulations aside, the Blackberry is a natural fit for anyone who thinks her e-mail should be able to follow her wherever she goes.

The unit has become a great corporate tool. Kirkland-based Pivotal has equipped 400 employees who spend any time out of the office with Blackberries.

Company Vice President Matt Duncan explains that the unit can provide a competitive advantage through its ability to send out information in seconds. Several times the company has sent out last-minute dispatches to the sales staff to prevent it from being blindsided at a meeting. This works as long as the recipient can glance unobtrusively at the screen when a message arrives.

This is perhaps the hardest thing about using the Blackberry. You may set it to vibrate as messages come in, but there are some times when it just isn't cool to peer at the screen. In those cases, a true e-mail addict will find some excuse to wander into a restroom or duck into an alley.

The alley analogy, in fact, is not so far afield. There are several reports of people who call the unit the "Crackberry" because of its addicting nature. As wonderful as this technology may be, we hope that it doesn't become compulsory.

To use another drug analogy: You should be able to "just say no" to always staying connected.

You can contact Charles Bermant by e-mail at Type "In-box" in the subject field.

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