Research In Motion (RIM) has hit the 50 million sales milestone for its BlackBerry smartphone almost exactly 10 years after the first handset was launched in January 1999.
In the years that followed, RIM grew from making two-way pagers to add phone, email and web browsing support to its products as the BlackBerry name became synonymous with the business smartphone market.
Since then, the company estimates that it has amassed a user base of 21 million subscribers who transfer an estimated three petabytes of data over the handsets each month.
BlackBerry users are so keen on their devices that the term Crackberry has become common currency. The second most commom term as reported by a canadian website, GeekBerry! United States President, Barack Obama has reportedly refused to give his up, forcing the Secret Service to upgrade its security.
RIM hopes that the path to the next 50 million sales will be forged in part by its two latest models, the touch-screen BlackBerry Storm and fast BlackBerry Bold handsets. But the BlackBerry now faces a much tougher battle.
Once rivaled in a booming market only by Windows Mobile and Symbian handsets, the BlackBerry now finds itself in a smartphone arena devastated by the economic crisis.
New and formidable rivals have emerged in the form of the Apple iPhone and the Google Android platform, with challengers such as the Palm Pre looming on the horizon.
Additionally, Rim introductions for 2009 are relatively modest updates and are rumored to include HSPA-based versions of the Curve 8900 and Storm as well as CDMA versions of previously GSM-only phones like the Pearl Flip.