Quentin alerted me to an interesting facility of the BlackBerry — direct handset-to-handset messaging. In the event of a catastrophic loss of network, email, or back-end infrastructure, BlackBerry users can take advantage of PIN-to-PIN messaging to communicate directly with similarly-equipped folks over the wireless network. Unlike email, PIN messages travel within RIM’s messaging network and are not routed through your organisation’s (or network’s) email servers. This provides greater speed of interaction and communications fault tolerance. BlackBerry PIN messaging will continue to work when email servers are down or when their connection to the Internet is disrupted. That’s one reason why BlackBerries are increasingly popular with governments and security services. Paradoxically, it’s also why they have become problematic for US banks and financial institutions in a post-Enron age. Many financial firms are bound by SEC and NASD regulations to archive and monitor all forms of communications between their employees and customers — and to avoid the liability of non-compliance, many have chosen to disable PIN messaging, thus reducing the communication flexibility provided by the BlackBerry device. Verily technology giveth and the law taketh away.