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Telecommunication resellers are evaluating the impact of Life without a “Blackberry?” the wireless portable e-mail device is set to be banned by a US court. Both Vodafone and Telstra could be hit if the US court decides to close down the Blackberry operation.

The chance of a Blackberry ban looks strong as the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review a major patent infringement ruling against maker Research In Motion Ltd. A US federal judge could issue an injunction to block RIM’s business as early as Wednesday .What is not kown is what impact the ruling will have on Australia.  Many observers, however, suspect RIM may develop alternative technology or perhaps pay what some say could be as much as a billion dollars to settle with patent-holding company NTP.

I have just spent a month evaluating a Vodafone Blackberry and I have to be honest I am not addicted as are many users. I find the keys small and the instructions as to how to connect ones email service poor. I also found it bulky. I prefer the Windows Mobile devices such as those built by iMate. They interface easily into Outlook and the screens are easy on the eys. Above all the keys are easy to see and access which is a big problem with the Blackberry.

However some people are addicted.  “They should pay the billion dollars and get it over with,” Blackberry user and insurance company executive Jim Long said recently. So pervasive is the Blackberry culture, with some 3.65 million customers worldwide, that the device is nicknamed the “Crackberry” for its addictive allure. And it’s blamed for woes ranging from rudeness to injury to obsession.  “It consumes me. I shouldn’t be looking at it on weekends, but I do,” said stock broker Ryan McDonald. “My wife tells me to put it down all the time.”

Of course, like many addicts, plenty of Blackberry fanatics are in denial. “I’m not addicted,” growled one man who refused to look up from typing on his Blackberry as he crossed a city intersection. “I don’t want to be that guy.” Complaints about Blackberry users have seeped into etiquette columns, where the high-minded gripe that terse messages on Blackberry’s miniature keyboards mean grammar, capitalisation and full sentences are a thing of the past.

According to Reuters, celebrities complain about each others’ Blackberry use. They say that Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley complained his friends supermodel Naomi Campbell and singer Mariah Carey are compulsive Blackberry users. Some people complain of “Blackberry thumb,” prompting the American Society of Hand Therapists to warn that users of small electronic gadgets can develop repetitive stress injuries. A few high-end spas offer special Blackberry massages, complete with scented balms, warm towels and hot tea.

“Your thumb cramps up,” said an executive for a beverage company, standing in an office lobby, who did not want her name publicly associated with the affliction. The legal battle over Blackberry goes back to 2002 when NTP successfully sued RIM for using its patents.

While wireless e-mail users could use other gadgets like Palm’s Treo, some users say they favor Blackberry’s technology. RIM itself has argued that an “exceptional public interest” is at stake in keeping its business functioning.

In a recent study of 1,700 e-mail users around the world, 75 percent said they think it is addictive.

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