Not much. It has built much of its reputation in the corporate world on rock-solid security. To give a government wholesale access to e-mails on BlackBerry's corporate service, it would have to dismantle its whole system in the country and rebuild it in an insecure fashion. BlackBerrys would have to be modified to not encrypt messages. RIM's customers would move to other systems that still offer secure e-mail.
There have been suggestions that some countries, such as the Emirates, would be partly mollified if RIM places a server within their borders, meaning e-mails between local BlackBerrys would not have to leave the country while in transit. That could assuage any fears that other countries can spy on locals' e-mail, even though doing so would be difficult if not impossible. Still, having a server in their own country wouldn't make it any easier for their law enforcement to read the e-mails.
Possibly, but not in a fast, easy way. The e-mails exist in decrypted form on corporate servers, but those may be overseas, and it takes time to get access to them through a legal process with warrants. RIM stresses that governments can satisfy national security and law enforcement needs without compromising commercial security requirements.
If they need secure communications, there are plenty of options, pointing to the futility of banning BlackBerry services. Business travelers can use their laptops to get secure corporate e-mails, or they can carry other smart phones, such as iPhones and those running Windows Mobile. Others can use encrypted Gmail connections, or standalone e-mail encryption programs.
However, Indian Internet service providers say the government is set to go after Skype SA and Gmail operator Google Inc. next, for access to their encrypted services. That would amount to large-scale attempt to undermine secure communications on the Internet
I'm using the 7520 and 7100i right now, although I can't wait to get my hands on an 8703e. I'm really hoping that the 8703e has solved some of the GPS hardware issues that I see in the 7520 and 7100i, in particular the power consumption. In the past I've used Palms, and I even dabbled in Palm programming for a while in the late 90's but it was really cumbersome and very buggy (at least for Java).
Every time I talk to my RIM contacts I tell them what a pleasure it is to write applications for the Blackberry. One reason is that the development environment takes care of a lot of the deployment nightmares that you find on other platforms. Another reason is that RIM supports standard Java APIs (JSR's, as Sun calls them), which means it's easier to port applications to other devices. At the same time, though - and this is what drew me to the platform - Blackberries have all the same basic capabilities of your standard desktop, at least as far as a developer is concerned. Other platforms make developers think in really narrow terms and force you to change your thinking to fit the hardware. But you really don't have this problem with Blackberries, so you can innovate very quickly.
I was actually about to start building Naggie by strapping a laptop to my back and stapling a GPS receiver to my head, but then Blackberry came out with models that had embedded GPS. What's more, they (along with Nextel) actually opened up the device so that third party developers could access the GPS data. On any other handheld, there are major hurdles to accessing GPS information, but this isn't the case for Nextel Blackberries.
Lastly, the security is incredible. There's a reason that DoD relies on Blackberries. Consumers often don't think much about security, but developers really have to, and Blackberry provides a very rich set of security options.