These are dark days for the BlackBerry lovers. RIM is losing market share to Google(GOOG) and Apple(AAPL). New CEO Thorsten Heins was quoted saying he would consider a sale or partnership. That has BlackBerry fanatics fretting over their favorite devices’ future.Like fans of many iconic products, BlackBerry loyalists love the form factor of their phone. They love its fast messaging features and, most of all, the pleasure of typing on the physical keyboard. BlackBerry loyalists come from all walks of life and from every corner of the world, from high-powered CEOs to freelance artists and students. All have one thing in common: They can’t imagine a world without their BlackBerry.

BlackBerry phones probably won’t meet the same fate as the Palm Treo, Kodachrome film, or Saab cars anytime too soon. There are more than 75 million users out there including President Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, with more than two-thirds using RIM’s internet services.

While RIM’s BlackBerry has lost its top spot in Canada and in the United States, it continues to grow in emerging markets. The company still has seen its stock slide, and the challenge for CEO Heins is to recover the magic in North America before it’s too late.

Sources say traffic has remained level as international users replace those in the US. RIM out-shipped Apple by a margin of more than 3-1 in the Middle East and Africa last year, while it also outsold iPhone in Latin America 5-1, according to research firm IDC.

Michaluk said he likes that a BlackBerry allows him to be more efficient, by emphasizing fast messaging, as opposed to helping him waste time with games.

In Saudi Arabia, teenagers have embraced RIM because they can connect using its encrypted and fast BlackBerry Messenger, which allows them to dodge local religious police who enforce the restriction of interaction between unmarried men and women.

In Venezuela, where the device is omnipresent in Caracas, President Chavez has dubbed his BlackBerry and Twitter account his “secret weapon.”

RIM could still make a comeback, its loyal fans insist, especially with the planned release of BlackBerry 10 later this year.

Read more: Sarah Frier