Students React to the BlackBerry Court Ordered Shutdown

In the wake of a court battle that began four years ago, many BlackBerry owners are preparing for a possible shutdown.

In 2002, a Richmond jury decided that BlackBerry makers Research In Motion (RIM) had infringed on NTP’s patent, The Associated Press reported Jan. 25.

Four years later, the Supreme Court’s rejection of RIM’s petition for a rehearing has set the stage for a possible court-ordered shutdown of most of its 4 million e-mail devices in the United States, The Washington Post reported Jan. 24. 

"BlackBerry users have been unnerved by warnings from industry analysts and media coverage highlighting the shutdown threat," said Bruce Meyerson of The Associated Press in a Friday column.

Among the many users "unnerved," are some university students.

Makia Kambon, a senior at Howard University, purchased her BlackBerry a month ago because it was vital for the television sales and marketing industry she will enter upon graduation.

"It’s easy to contact people.  You can immediately contact them through BlackBerry messaging…or surf the web wherever you are," said Kambon, a communications management major.  So it’s just a convenient little tool."

In preparation for a possible shutdown, she is prepared to return her BlackBerry and settle for a regular cell phone.

"I feel they should have stopped selling them (BlackBerry) until this problem was resolved," Kambon said.  "I will probably terminate my contact [with them]…because this is…the last straw."

Dushawn Thomas, a senior at Howard University  who is in the process of starting her own business as a real estate investor, said the on-the-go accessibility was why she bought her BlackBerry a week ago.

"I use the BlackBerry e-mail account as a form of communication between other investors," said Thomas, a marketing major.  "When I have group meetings, I use the chat rooms that I’m able to use over my phone when I’m not at home or near a desktop computer or laptop."

When news of the possible shutdown broke, Thomas contacted the company immediately to figure out what to do.

"They suggested that I wait to see what was going on," she said.  "Being that [the petition] was denied…I’m kind of thinking about taking it back since it would be no need for it if I can’t use the services."

In the meantime, RIM has been preparing a software workaround in case the court order passes, CNN.com reported Jan. 24.  While this has not been publicized, the company says it will deploy the workaround if necessary to maintain the operation of the wireless services in the United States.

U.S. District Court Judge James R. Spencer set a hearing, which will consider a possible injunction on BlackBerry wireless e-mail service, for Feb. 24