BlackBerry Writes the Rules

Sometimes it's hard to believe that Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) BlackBerry platform is a mere 10 years old. Once a fringe device, the mobile email platform is now a mainstay. And while it arguably doesn't hold the same cult theater stage as the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone, the BlackBerry has a stronger following.

At Research In Motion, growth has been unstoppable lately -- the company recently counted more than 14 million users of its email platform, 2.2 million more than it had only three months before. The rapid expansion and adoption that has been smacking investors in the face quarter after quarter lately is the result of RIM's dedication to a new way of looking at wireless services.

Since its initial foray in wireless data communicators in the late 1990s, Research In Motion has made a slow yet phenomenal impact on the wireless industry and how telecommunications companies approach products and services. When most wireless companies were just talking about wireless data, RIM was already focused on one area that would truly become a "killer application" for users of mobile devices -- wireless email.

While top device manufacturers of the 1990s such as Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC  ) , and Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) continued to build voice-centric mobile phones that tacked on data capabilities, RIM was on a different wavelength. The Canadian company continued to focus on wireless email as a complete solution anchored to a handheld device designed exclusively for tapping out text and browsing the Web.

Today, you don't need to look much further than the product shelf of your local AT&T (NYSE: T  ) or Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) store to see who has had more influence on advanced wireless services -- next to several BlackBerry versions, you'll find several competing devices utilizing full QWERTY keyboards aimed at email and messaging enthusiasts.

Now Research In Motion is driving change on yet another level -- by proving that corporate folks aren't the only ones willing to pay handsomely for wireless email. Its consumer-focused devices have been a hit, and now RIM is boldly extending its reach into other consumer niches such as those that prefer touch-screen interfaces.

If the past is any indication, I'm betting that other companies will continue to follow RIM's lead, rather than the other way around.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock wonders if "berry thumb" has been classified as a disorder yet. He owns shares of Motorola and is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. The Fool's disclosure policy floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.

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