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BlackBerry 7100 Wins Datamation Handheld Award

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Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry 7100 claimed a decisive first place in the Handheld Category in Datamation’s Product of the Year 2005 reader survey.

The Treo 650 by Palm came in a distant second place, followed by PalmOne Tungsten T5 by PalmOne, MyPal A 730W by Asus and HP’s iPaq 6315.

Industry analysts say Datamation readers most likely threw their support behind the BlackBerry 7100 because of its superior email and voice capabilities. The PDA handily integrates phone, wireless email and data abilities all in a small set.

Jeremy Anticouni, chief technology officer at Make It Work, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company which provides onsite computer services to home users and businesses, says his company uses the BlackBerry 7100 as an integral tool for their daily business.

”I am constantly using it,” says Anticouni. ”It enables me to be out of the office but to still be fully functional.”

Anticouni says he jumped at switching from his original BlackBerry to the 7100 model as soon as the new device hit the market. He also says he likes the size of this handheld because it is more like a traditional mobile phone, and adds that the screen has unmatched clarity.

”The form factor of the 7100 is why I switched over,” says Anticouni. ”You have full BlackBerry functionality in a phone format.”

Anticouni says Make It Work technicians use the device not only as a phone but also to access their email, allowing the technicians to set up customer appointments. Administrators can then better track the appointment and collect payments from customers.

Mark Guibert, vice president of corporate marketing at RIM, says when designing the 7100, designers and engineers were keenly aware that a large segment of the population is not open to using a PDA unless it’s the shape, size and weight of a traditional mobile phone.

”Users like the BlackBerry because it looks more and feels more like a phone,” says Brownlee Thomas, principal analyst at Global Telecom Services with Forrester Research, Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based technology research company.

The device’s ”push” technology also helped to propel it into first place, analysts say. The technology allows users to access email on command, without using a dial-up modem or plugging into a computer.

”With the BlackBerry 7100, users have email information at the tips of their fingers wherever they are. It combines voice capabilities with data capabilities,” says David Linsalata, a research analyst at IDC, an industry research firm based in Framingham, Mass.

RIM designers realized that people use wireless email intermittently throughout the day, Guibert says. ”They are using email at down times during the day — it could be only 10 seconds,” he explains. ”They must be able to do it smoothly and quickly.”

Guibert says the BlackBerry 7100 model is successful because of RIM’s attention to its ease-of-use. ”In an era when a lot of people opt for cramming as much as possible into a product, they often lose sight of usability,” he notes.

Guibert says the BlackBerry 7100 has a ”well-oiled end-to-end system in place,” referring to the handheld’s winning combination of push based email, a bright, easy-to-read screen, extended battery life, and Blue Tooth technology, along with its small, light size and shape.

Guibert adds, ”Others have pieces of the solution but they are not packaged to make it easy to use and get on with the business of life.”

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