Saturday, December 10, 2005

BlackBerry Work-Around Finally Revealed

Written By: Enterprise Spy
Posted By: IT Management Press


RIM’s new “Push-a-Link” Push-Pull configuration likely will make NTP nervous and BB users breathe a little easier.

First review

There are a few dozen companies that have seen the RIM work-around and the specification under an NDA, I included. I won’t elaborate on when, where or details that might give away my ID but I will attempt to give you enough information to set your heart at ease that the BlackBerry work-around isn’t such a big deal at all – IMO.

Prototypes

There are (as far as I have seen) two versions. One is indistinguishable from the current service (The StealthBerry) and the other is far more interesting and introduces more features (dubbed “The Blackcherry or The StrawBerry”) that will be integrated into future models if a settlement is not reached with NTP. I’ll attempt to describe the latter product first.

Appearance, Function, Ease of use of the BlackCherry

After the standard alert, I picked up the prototype and the preview screen looked very traditional. It included a list of email headers. The headers contained the name of the sender, the subject, date and time received, an attachment indicator and an importance level indicator. I believe (but do not recall for certain) that there was an indicator for the type of email (Fax, Video, Gif, etc.) or I could have been looking at the attachment file header itself. Either way, it was very informative and if anything it was an improvement as far as a preview screens goes.

At the preview screen were several soft key options. They were: view, forward, reply, move, and delete all. The view key (after selecting a header) brought up the selected email. I noticed a slight delay before the first page was displayed (almost 2 seconds). The forward key allowed for forwarding an email to another recipient. The reply allowed for replying before viewing the email (not sure why anyone would do that), the move key is provided for moving an email to another folder (never tried that), and finally, the delete key deleted the header and the email on our corporate server (ability to delete spam while waiting at the airport). All-in-all, the demo BlackCherry service was the same or better than before, except for the slight delay after selecting the view key. There are only minor user interface changes (mostly positive) and the learning curve is negligible. Personally, I don’t believe updated instructions will be required. The updated Blackberry service is still very intuitive, maybe even more so.

Required updates

There are no software updates required to convert a BlackBerry into StealthBerry handset. The new BlackCherry will ship with new firmware. The BES remains unchanged (no updates). The work-around is actually preformed at the NOC in Canada. My understanding is, the NOC update is very minor. I’ll talk more about that later.

Security

As presented, there are absolutely no changes to any security features or security specifications whatsoever.

Technical Description

This is (in my opinion) the best part. The only change at the NOC is – The email headers are pushed to the handset in the form of a link vs. the headers and the first page or two of the email body being pushed to the handset. The resulting effect is the Blackberry recipient receives a notification of an email (i.e. who it's from, the subject, the description and a ton of other information describing the email but not the actual email. Then, based on information displayed within the header, the subscriber determines an appropriate function, such as view the selected message. When the subscriber selects view, the body of the email is retrieved and then displayed (a process that takes 1-2 seconds). The effect is indistinguishable from the current Blackberry service. In other words it’s a push – pull system. The headers are pushed and the body is pulled. Believe it or not, it’s that simple and the result is invisible to the subscriber.

Market Trials

From what I have been able to ascertain, more than 160,000 subscribers are currently and unknowingly experiencing the Stealth service. The actual market trials are being conducted in countries other than the U.S. Only 0.5% of these subscribers have voiced any dissatisfaction relevant to the slight delay introduced during retrieval of the email - No other noticeable differences at all. Better than 99% seem to go on with their Blackberry life as usual – According to the perfectly honed speech.

The Work-Around

The NTP patents have (at the very least) a singular weakness. They are all limited to a one-way (push) email systems. At the time the NTP Patents were filed, two-way pagers had yet to be invented and they were not contemplated by the NTP patents. Hence, NTP’s inventions do not cover a two-way pager or system that would be required to push only the header (not the actual email message) to the pager and enable retrieval of remotely stored email based on a transmission from the pager – One-way pagers cannot transmit anything.

Information regarding the NTP one-way paging system can be found at the links below.

http://www.virginiabusiness.com/magazine/yr2005/sep05/law.shtml
http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1126688711482
http://fedcir.gov/opinions/03-1615r.pdf

Information regarding RIM's "Push a Link" messaging technology revealed in this RIM document.

http://epic.ca/TechnologyDay/April2005/Presentations/RIM%20-%20Gordon%20Grant.pdf

Why the Wait?

I have no idea what they are waiting for. Perhaps they have filed their own patents on the push-pull system and they are waiting for them to get approved or there is some other strategic reasoning.

How to tell when you get Stealthed

When you view a new email on the StealthBerry the first time, the handset communicates with the mail server and downloads the email in a second or two. Once downloaded, everything functions the same way as before. However, if you try to view (download) an email for the first time when you are out of range it won’t download until you are in range again. When you are in range again the desired email will automatically be downloaded and ready to view. This is no big deal considering you can’t receive email on any device when you are out of range.

Final review ***** 5 stars



__________________________________________________________________
The above review, descriptive texts, parodies, spoofs, fiction, literary works, and/or academic study material, are presented herein according to fair use provisions of the United States copyright law. The authenticity of this document is neither expressed nor implied. Descriptive trademarks and Tradenames are owned by their respective companies. This document may be freely copied only if this notice is attached thereto.

10 Comments:

Blogger Blip said...

I saw what you are calling the stealth handset and had no problem with the way it operated but I didn't no that it was a push/pull. Nor did I notice any delays.

They must be doing something like they do with attachments or emails larger than 2K.

I did not see the new models but I guess that answers some questions about the delay to market noted here http://www.techworld.com/mobility/news/index.cfm?NewsID=4855

It sounds to me like everything might be under control. I was even hearing that Nokia might buy RIM on a user group because they already have a NTP patent license.

tks for the info hope you're right. I'm in sales and I'm feeling the pain and panic.

--blip--

7:58 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Hi, Would you be willing to chat? I am a reporter at Business Week.

heather_green @ businessweek dot com or 212-512-4029

12:23 PM  
Blogger Ian Austen said...

Another reporter who would like to talk, this time from The New York Times.
Ian Austen
t 613 236 0621
austen@nytimes dot com

5:43 PM  
Blogger BillK said...

I'm sorry but I don't share the enthusiasm of the author for this workaround. If I've got a handheld and I get on a plane I expect to be able to read messages on the handheld and reply to them (knowing that delivery will take place after I land). If RIM puts this in place users will run to Goodlink or other solutions.
Fortunately with the latest Patent office decision this whole issue may be moot.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Steve Makris said...

Hi there...can we have a brief chat?
Steve Makris
Technology Writer
Edmonton Journal/Canwest
Canada
smakris@thejournal.canwest.com
780 4295461

10:54 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I have to agree with Billk and disagree with you about the change being 'no big deal'. This solution will take away a huge part of the BlackBerry's utility. I frequently read email when I'm out of coverage - on the London Underground for example. I can read all but the longest message and write my replies which will be queued and sent automatically when I'm back in range. If I can't get email until I'm in range, I'll have to stop in a coverage area, grab messages one by one and then move one. This needs an 'always send the request to download the message' setting or BlackBerry will stop being a useful tool for me. I don't think many users realise that having the whole (up to 2K) message pushed asynchronously is a key part of the usability of BlackBerry, but I think they'd notice once their email stops just being there. You can't rely on universal coverage - it simply isn't there in many places.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Construction 129 said...

I don't believe RIM would employ this without a Desktop Manager 'rules' solution, such as allowing trusted or recognized headers to be automatically downloaded without the delay.

2:17 PM  
Blogger doug8007 said...

I think what Chuck says has some merit, for the auto email download to be included with the OS it might be "too close for comfort" for the legal types. As a plugin I think there is some wiggle room to get that done. But I am not a lawyer, so what do I know.

6:07 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I don't have a Blackberry; I have a question. What's the big deal? As an outsider uneducated in patent law it seems to me that the "process" they are fighting over already exists in a variety of forms. The fact that the work-around is what it is demonstrates the idiocy of the argument. If I call you I don't have to leave you message so you can call me back so that some fictitious patent that says only X customers can call other X customers directly isn't violated. Every cell phone works essentially the same way - I call you, you pick up, we have 2-way communication; yet there are many cell phone service carriers. How can this be so? Why can't I patent the "I call you, you pick up, we have 2-way communication" system? This would then lead to the "I call you, I leave you a message, you call me, you leave me a message." patent work-around which seems very silly to me. It's like saying that Fex-Ex can't come to your house because UPS already has the patent on door to door service for packages. Some things just don't seem patentable. If the argument is an ecryption type, a specific hardware design, or a name I can see that. If more than one company can do whatever a Blackberry does successfully, more power too them.

5:55 AM  
Blogger Craig Johnston said...

Our new podcast discusses this work-around and the RIM vs NTP case in general. You can subscribe at http://mca.libsyn.com

6:09 AM  

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