The BlackBerry is beating the Apple iPhone and Google Android to the cool kids and remains "the only device to work in a crisis", claims Mike Lazaridis, founder and co-chief executive of Research in Motion (RIM).

While RIM's BlackBerry was the leading mobile smartphone operating system in the US in December 2009 (with 41.6 percent share of US smartphone devices) Apple's iPhone OS ranked second with 25.3 percent share - up 1.2 percentage points since September, while BlackBerry dropped a percentage point in the same period.

But Lazaridis claims that the smartphone of choice for teenagers - particularly girls - is actually the businessman's BlackBerry.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade fair in Barcelona Lazaridis claim BlackBerry has developed a cult following in classrooms thanks to its free instant messaging service.

"Lots of younger people are using BlackBerry Messenger and Facebook capability on these devices," he said.

"The speed at which they can type on a full Qwerty keyboard is quite amazing to watch."

BlackBerry better than Apple iPhone

BlackBerry Messenger, RIM's mobile IM application that uses unique "PIN" codes associated with every BlackBerry to connect RIM smartphone users, is like a mobile version of AIM or Google Talk that only works with BlackBerrys.

"It's the fastest and most reliable messaging experience you can have today," said Lazaridis.

"It is also nice that it's a closed community. You keep your friends close and you keep your really good friends on BBM."

"If you really want everyone to know what you're doing [go to] Facebook. But, if you want a small group of friends that are special to you there's really nothing like BBM in terms of how it allows you to keep that circle tight," he told The Telegraph.

Lazaridis is dismissive of the mobile-application focus of Apple iPhone and Google Android.

He maintains that the success of BlackBerry is down to RIM's focus on the ability to communicate, and says the company won't let itself be distracted by creating hundreds of thousands of fancy applications and games found on rival devices.

"We have 14,000 people focused on only one product - the BlackBerry and the BlackBerry service," he says.

"BlackBerrys are the only devices to work during moments of crisis. There's a reason for that - the BlackBerry is five times more efficient in terms of email and has a much longer battery life."

Lazaridis calls this BlackBerry's "secret weapon of efficiency".

Because BlackBerry's email service uses less capacity than other email systems, mobile networks already under pressure from growing demand for bandwidth can carry five BlackBerrys for every one iPhone.

At the start of the year UK iPhone carrier O2 CEO Ronan Dunne explained that the company was struggling to cope with the rising number of mobile apps, particularly those associated with Apple's iPhone.

The US service launch of iPhone MMS was delayed several times, with exclusive carrier AT&T citing the need to make sure its network was ready.

Lazaridis said the company's new WebKit browser uses one third the bandwidth capacity of rivals.

In his MWC keynote address, Lazaridis was quick to focus on the fact that the new, WebKit-based BlackBerry Browser not only loads JavaScript much faster, it handles AJAX efficiently, supports HTML 5.0 and CSS3 and even scored a cool 100/100 in the Acid3 Web standards test, which is used to gauge a browser's compatibility with a variety of Web standards.

"We are looking right down the barrel of a capacity crunch," he told The Telegraph.

"The bottom line is all the carriers will run out of capacity within the next three to five years. By being thoughtful with our applications, we are enabling them to get better value out of their networks, that's good for them and their shareholders."

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