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The 950 could run about three weeks on a single AA alkaline battery, depending on usage (Some cynics have quipped that things have gone downhill ever since) One RIM veteran told me that It was a decent device For years, RIM left massive boxes of Duracell AA batteries around for workers who still used the 950 and 850 Every Christmas, the batteries used to disappear rapidly RIM probably saved a bundle when they nally replaced all of the older devices with ones that would charge
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Wireless projects weren t that unusual for telecom companies at the time, says Lazaridis, but the business was a consulting industry, not a product industry A customer had to take products from tens to hundreds of different companies and weave them into a solution 26 The 950 changed all that BellSouth Wireless Data was a true believer in RIM s solution In August 1998, it replaced the older RIM 900 with the RIM 950 and started marketing the service as BellSouth Interactive Paging, to compete against the inferior SkyTel two-way paging network and Motorola s PageWriter 2000, as well as Motorola s Synapse Pager Card for the PalmPilot27 Bill Lenahan, CEO of RAM/Bell South, was delighted with the new trimmer design for the 950: We committed to hundreds of thousands of these devices so they could get their manufacturing set up and their costs down Without that, I don t think RIM would have been able to develop the products and manufacture them at the price point they did *
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26 Erick Schonfeld, BlackBerry Season, Business 20, Oct 1, 2004<*> 27 Rebecca Day, Pagers Get Smart, Popular Mechanics, February 1999 Paging became known as Interactive Messaging Plus(sm) when BellSouth and SBC formed Cingular Wireless <*> * At time of writing, RIM still supports the old Mobitex devices, including the only Java-based device they created for the Mobitex network, the data-only 5790 See the RIM Archives<*>
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Suddenly, RIM had traction By early 1998, Balsillie had inked a contract to supply IBM with Inter@ctive pagers for use by its eld service representatives across North America Other customers included Panasonic Corp, Mobile Integrated Technologies, and Telxon Corp The new RIM Inter@ctive Pager 950 got rave reviews, and won the C|Net Editors Choice award: The updated version, the Inter@ctive Pager 950, is even better It s more compact (you don t have to fold it out), a brand-new interface makes it much easier to use, and a jog-dial switch takes you through the menus quickly and intuitively And it still boasts nearly instantaneous send and receive times and excellent service prices Pricing for the RIM Inter@ctive Pager 950 started at $249 with a at monthly fee of $2495 Companies who wanted RIM s enterprise server (later the BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BES) to manage company e-mail, had to fork over $2,999 for a twenty-user license and $490 for every ten additional users Back at RIM, many people were getting frustrated that the company s customers were not taking full advantage of the 950 s power They were hooking it up to old servers and weak networks, using it mostly for paging, rather than email Maybe the name was the problem
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As soon as I saw BlackBerry, for some unknown reason It s like when you rst fall in love you know right away Mike Lazaridis Mike Lazaridis had a hunch his new baby needed a proper name, instead of calling it the RIM 950, RIM 960, RIM 970 and so on RIM marketing had come up with the name PocketLink, but that didn t turn too many cranks Mike decided to talk to
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