BlackBerry users are surprisingly unified in their strategy for coping with a possible shutdown of the mobile email service looming as early as February 24.
They are, in a word, optimistic. So confident are individual and corporate users that the BlackBerry won’t go away that contingency plans seem minimal.
“Something in me is in state of a denial; I haven’t done any preparedness,” says Brian Kanter, a partner for Deloitte Consulting who so faithfully triages several hundred emails daily on his BlackBerry that the silver on the four-year-old device has worn off in places.
Michelle Deets is more resolute. “I refuse to believe that I will lose any part of my BlackBerry service,” Deets tapped into the handheld gadget on a recent afternoon between appointments for the tutoring service she runs near Irvine, California.
As for her prospects for retaining access to the device on which she dials phone calls and checks email while walking, driving and drinking coffee, she says “I’m a good person; I must have karmic credit out there.”
For now, the mobile device with the cult-like following is the subject of far more terrestrial tugs. The judge in the patent case that has pitted BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) against a patent-holding company called NTP has indicated he could rule on NTP’s request to shut down RIM following a Feb. 24 hearing. Post-shutdown strategies boil down to a will-the-judge-or-won’t-he guessing game — at least among those that are publicly discussing their plans. Cingular Wireless, whose national digital network supports the BlackBerry as well as Palm Treo and HP iPAQ Pocket PC, isn’t commenting on its contingencies for BlackBerry users in the event of a service blackout.
“RIM has stated publicly that they have a non-infringing work-around, and we expect our customers could take advantage of that should that need arise,” says spokesman John Kampfe.