Although it's just a year old, the BlackBerry wireless e-mail service and terminal are already providing benefits for a number of corporate users, ranging from brokerage houses to attorneys.
Many other wireless e-mail services require that users have a separate e-mail address for the wireless device, but BlackBerry allows wireless users to maintain a single e-mail address.
The service and terminal from Research In Motion (RIM) is being resold by Compaq Computer, and America Online plans to use the BlackBerry service as part of its consumer service.
RIM also lets users tap into desktop e-mail systems, through partnership agreements with Internet service providers such as OneMain.com which has 700,000 subscribers. Lease of the device and unlimited use of the BlackBerry service costs $40 per month for each user.
While the Palm VII offers similar wireless e-mail connectivity, corporate users have deployed BlackBerry in large numbers since its introduction in January. Financial services firm Salomon Smith Barney plans to equip 2,500 employees with the BlackBerry service and RIM 950 terminals. Wireless provider American Mobile plans to deploy a RIM 850 device - though not the BlackBerry service - throughout its network. RIM's market could include more than 20 million Lotus Notes users through a partnership with IBM.
Law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker in Los Angeles provided 350 of its attorneys with the BlackBerry service last year. "It was the best thing I did all last year," said CIO Mary Odson. "Not a month goes by that I do not hear a success story."
For example, she said, during a recent deposition, a Paul, Hastings lawyer wanted to check a document that a witness mentioned. The lawyer made a quick call back to the office and had the document cut and pasted into an e-mail and sent to the BlackBerry terminal to prove that the witness' memory didn't match the document, Odson said.