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February 25 2014

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February 21 2014


February 20 2014


February 13 2014

BBM Update Adds Voice Calls, Channels, Dropbox And Location Sharing For iOS And Android Users
bbmA new update to the BBM apps for iOS and Android add a laundry list of anticipated features to the messaging platform. BBM Voice makes its first appearance on the Android and iPhone clients, allowing users to make direct voice calls to their BBM contacts via either Wi-Fi or cellular networks; BBM Channels provide message-board style group interactions around a particular topic, theme or personality; plus, users can now share location information with contacts via Glympse, and Dropbox files. Also new is one-click sharing, which makes it easier for users to send photos, documents, voice messages and other kinds of content to their network connections. The Glympse-powered location sharing lets people send their real-time current whereabouts, complete with timed data availability set by the user, so that you can let a business contact know where you are relative to their location if you’re running behind, but take away that access after say 30 minutes. There’s also expanded emoticon support, with 100 new ones added to help users perfectly convey their feelings without the need for pesky, hard to spell words. Many of these features are inherited from the existing set of capabilities of the native BlackBerry OS version of BBM, and were promised back when the app launched on iOS and Android last year. But they’re very welcome additions, and should help provide the network with value add incentives to draw in new users. BBM recently lost its top executive leader as Andrew Bocking departed BlackBerry, and now it seems likely he was hanging around to make sure this update shipped before taking his leave. BBM 2.0 shipping is a good sign for the messaging client, but its progress in terms of user growth since launch remains a bit of a question mark. These updates at least show that third-party platform development continues to be a priority for the company. Under recent executive shifts, BBM now falls under the purview of the Global Enterprise Solutions, division, so we’ll see how that affects consumer product efforts.

February 10 2014

BBM Chief Andrew Bocking Departs BlackBerry, Division Will Be Folded Into Global Enterprise Solutions
ThorstenHeinsAndrewBocking2-h1bBlackBerry had another high-profile executive departure today, as Executive Vice President of BBM Andrew Bocking has left the smartphone and enterprise software maker. Bocking’s exit was first reported by BGR, but BlackBerry confirmed the move to TechCrunch in an emailed statement, and explained that BBM’s new home will be in its Global Enterprise Solutions under John Sims. “Andrew Bocking, EVP, BBM has made the decision to leave BlackBerry,” BlackBerry said in its statement. “We thank him for his years of leadership and contribution.” The BBM EVP role won’t be filled by another candidate at this point, the company revealed to TechCrunch, and instead BBM will fall under the purview of Sims. BlackBerry says that this doesn’t mean that BBM product development falls by the wayside, however. “The BBM organization remains as a group within BlackBerry and will continue to focus on BlackBerry and BBM strength in messaging and new areas of strength such as mobile marketing, community-building and enterprise messaging,” they explained in a statement. “John Sims, President, Global Enterprise Solutions, who has extensive experience in mobile messaging, will add the BBM team to his organization.” Sims does indeed have prior mobile experience – he was SAP’s mobile lead before being hired by BlackBerry back in December, where he oversaw the sending and receiving of 1.8 billion messages per day according to a press release from April last year. The new home for BBM suggests it could possibly be focused more on the enterprise market, which might mean shying away from the consumer push that’s been going on recently. The iOS and Android apps were greeted with an enthusiastic response from users when they were launched last year, but we haven’t heard much about their progress since.

February 05 2014

BlackBerry Wants BBM Users To Have More Friends
THE_SUPERFRIENDS_(1973_-_1974)It’s hard to turn that D into an R if you ain’t got friends. It’s with that thought that BlackBerry just released a tool to find friends on BBM. The tool will scour your phone’s contact list for users currently on BBM, allowing the user to quickly send a PIN invite to other users. It will also allow for invites to be sent over SMS. BlackBerry claims this is a feature BBM users have longed asked for. While that’s probably true, BBM is also widely seen as on of BlackBerry’s last remaining options. It needs every user it can get and the best referral is a personal recommendation. Ever since it was released on Android and iOS, its messaging platform has seen notable gains especially in emerging markets where the BlackBerry platform already has a foothold. BBM is standing tall against the new kids on the block of Line and WhatsApp. BlackBerry isn’t slowing BBM’s roll, either. BBM v2.0 is hitting soon.

January 28 2014

BBM Is Coming To Gingerbread Android Phones
800px-HTC_Evo_4GBBM will soon be available for Android phones running Gingerbread. This is a shockingly brilliant move which allows BBM to fully compete in developing countries where BBM is already an established brand, but current smartphones are still running the legacy operating system. As Chris points out at Engadget, despite being generations old, Android 2.1.x Gingerbread still powers 21% of Android phones. A lot of those devices are located in emerging markets where new messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Line, and Facebook Messenger, are quickly gaining in popularity. Recent numbers suggest that BlackBerry cannot count on consumers in these markets, or any market for that matter, to jump on the BBM ship by buying one of its smartphones, so the company is making it available on competitors’ hardware. As the current version of BlackBerry sinks into obscurity, a new BlackBerry is emerging. For better or worse, this version seems a bit more lean and focused. Today’s update to BlackBerry OS 10 feels like a company clearing its current product pipe as it moves away from the cut-throat consumer hardware market. A public beta will be released prior to the full launch in late February.
BlackBerry Update Adds FM Radio, Because Why Not?
z10-6Great news for the dozens of remaining BlackBerry fans. The latest platform update adds a bunch of little tweaks to your Z30, Q10, and Q5 including an FM radio. Why wasn't the FM radio enabled from the start, you ask? Great question, friend. Let me answer with this question: Why didn't the Playbook launch with native email support? Because BlackBerry!

January 21 2014

BlackBerry Soars 10% On Pentagon Order, Shares Now Up 34% In 2014
Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.01.06 AMBlackBerry has an almost uncanny ability to not die when it’s been written off again and again. Today, the Pentagon has announced that it will install 80,000 BlackBerry handsets on its network by the end of January. According to Fox News, the new phones are part of the Pentagon’s “new mobile program for unclassified work.” BlackBerry’s shares soared 10% in midday trading on the news. The Pentagon’s faith in BlackBerry gives the company the sort of credibility it needs to retain corporate clients and keep investors interested in its future — that it has one. Today’s gains pushed BlackBerry temporarily north of the $10 per share mark. The company is trading at the time of writing a hair below that threshold. BlackBerry ended 2013 at $7.44, meaning it is up around 34% so far in 2014. Given that we are less than a month into the year, that’s somewhat impressive. BlackBerry has suffered from declining device sales, loss of corporate clients, and eroding mind share more than commensurate with its slipping unit volume. This Google Trends chart is telling, I think, showing the decline in interest in BlackBerry: But whether BlackBerry could carve out a niche away from the consumer space, vending its hardware and software to large clients was never a closed question. The Pentagon’s installation plan of new BlackBerry devices certainly keeps the dream alive. Unless, of course, the Pentagon is making a poor buying decision and BlackBerry’s future remains as cloudy as widely thought. Top Image Credit: Flickr

January 17 2014

Even BlackBerry Thinks Windows Phone Is Too Small
Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 2.39.49 PMNews is out today that BlackBerry has no intention of bringing a BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) application to Windows Phone. Comments published in TrustedReviews from the company indicate that it deems Windows Phone too small to warrant the investment. TechCrunch confirmed the statements.

January 03 2014

BlackBerry Files Lawsuit Against Seacrest’s Typo Keyboard Startup For Having Keys
Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 10.00.12 AMBlackberry has today filed a lawsuit against startup Typo Keyboards, which is backed by Ryan Seacrest. The company alleges that Typo copied BlackBerry’s patented ‘iconic’ keyboard design. “We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations,” Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer, said in a statement today. Seacrest invested $1M in the accessory, which encloses an iPhone in a case with a keyboard attached to the bottom half. The keyboard covers the iPhone’s home button but offers an alternate home button on the bottom right corner. BlackBerry says that the Typo Keyboard violates its intellectual property rights, and that it will protect those rights from “blatant copying and infringement.” “BlackBerry’s iconic physical keyboard designs have been recognized by the press and the public as a significant market differentiator for its mobile handheld devices,” the statement concludes. The design certainly bears some resemblance to BlackBerry’s signature rounded-corner keys and sloped corner design — right down to the placement of the back and return buttons. But one has does have to wonder how many ways you can arrange keys on a keyboard. Here’s the BlackBerry Q10 keyboard: And here’s the Typo keyboard accessory: Either way, BlackBerry’s death rattle is unlikely to be slowed by its new strategy of ‘get money from Seacrest‘.

January 02 2014

BlackBerry Executive Culling Continues As Alicia Keys Hits The Chopping Block
Alicia_about_image2BlackBerry continues to tighten its purse strings, and even top executives and global recording stars aren’t safe – and if you’re both, you’re screwed. Alicia Keys will depart her role as “global creative director” for the smartphone, software and services provider as of January 30th, CTV News reports. New CEO (who has dropped the “interim” from his title) John Chen has been cleaning house at BlackBerry since taking the reins, likely getting rid of executives who were too aligned with the vision of Thorsten Heins and his predecessors. Keys was a noteworthy Heins hire, and as such was probably too close to the throne to escape with her job intact. It might also just be that Chen and the company’s new management realize that a thinly veiled PR arrangement with a celebrity whose fame arguably peaked a while ago isn’t the best use of company resources. Keys has obviously been little more than a highly paid spokesperson for the company, despite the seemingly meaty title, and coming off a quarter where it posted a $4.4 billion loss, even perceived waste isn’t something they want kicking around. BlackBerry’s share price is up 2.91 percent in trading today, as of the time of this writing. She’s just a girl and she’s on fire.

December 23 2013

BlackBerry Reveals Its BlackBerry Live Developer Event Is Dead For 2014
blackberry-deadBlackBerry isn't hosting its own big annual conference this year, the company announced Friday. The event has been called various things, including BlackBerry World, and BlackBerry Live once the World name became what BlackBerry called its mobile app store and things got confusing. This is the first year since 2002 that BlackBerry hasn't held one of these big events, and it's a sign of the change taking place at the company under new CEO John Chen.

December 20 2013

BlackBerry’s First Foxconn Partnership Phone Will Be 3G BB10 Device, Coming March Or April 2014
OFxKHAhBlackBerry announced today that it would be partnering with Foxconn to produce devices going forward, and CEO John Chen revealed a few details about the first fruits of that partnership on the company's earnings call today.
BlackBerry To Work With Foxconn On New Smartphone For Growing Markets As It Posts $4.4B Loss
blackberry-deadBlackBerry announced its fiscal Q3 2014 results today, and the numbers aren't pretty. The company revealed a whopping $4.4 billion GAAP-adjusted loss for the quarter, which includes a write-down on current inventory of around $1.6 billion. It "recognized revenue" on only 1.9 million BlackBerry handsets, compared to 3.7 million in the same period a year ago, but it also claims that it sold around 4.3 million BlackBerrys through to end customers it says, of which 3.2 million were BlackBerry 7 handsets. Whichever way you look at that, it's not good.

November 25 2013

BlackBerry Cleans House As COO, CMO And CFO Depart
BlackBerry's executive shifts may have only begun, after exiting CEO Thorsten Heins was replaced by John Chen earlier in November, as three more high-profile C-levels get the boot today. The company announced today that BlackBerry COO Kristian Tear, CMO Frank Boulben and CFO Brian Bidulka have all departed the company. Bidulka has already been replaced by former BlackBerry SVP, Controller and head of Compliance James Yersh, but no replacements for the other top spots have been chosen as of yet.

October 25 2013

A Way To Save BlackBerry
The first smartphone I owned was a Nokia communicator, which I chose because the C++ dev kit gave me the most freedom. When the iPhone appeared I did not switch, because mandatory App Store signing to execute code seemed like a major step in the war on general computation. Eventually I rid myself of Nokia and got an Android acting upon a moral imperative. Many hackers adhere to the ideology of Richard Stallman. We believe that the use of free software (that is software whose source can be viewed, altered and distributed by all of its users) is morally advantageous. We subject ourselves to "inferior" platforms in exchange for more liberty. Android is not free software, but has many free software components, so it is the most free for the time being.

October 24 2013

Viber Releases Update To BlackBerry App To Catch Up With iOS And Android
If you’re a BlackBerry fan, it may feel a bit like you can’t catch a break. But today Viber wants to change all that, delivering an updated version of the free calling and messaging app to the BlackBerry platform. The update marks the first big upgrade that BlackBerry-flavored Viber has seen since bringing voice calls to the platform in April. BlackBerry has been supported by Viber since May of last year. The new update includes a few details that Viber has already gone the extra mile to implement on other platforms, like iOS and Android. For example, user images and read receipts are shown in conversations, and users can now use custom location sharing. Overall, the UI received a much-needed facelift. To be clear, this app supports BB 5, 6, and 7, but not the new BB10 operating system that’s compatible with newer BlackBerry devices. Viber CEO and founder Marco Talmon reminds us in the press release that BlackBerry is the third larges platform for Viber, a company with over 200 million registered users. iOS and Android comprise first and second place. Official quote: Our continued support for the community of Viber users on the platform goes hand-in-hand with our efforts to reach the broadest possible audience of users around the world. Viber has also included Bahasa Indonesian as an available language in the BlackBerry version. On top of the new features, the new BlackBerry version has also been translated into Bahasa Indonesian, allowing Viber users who speak the language to easily access the app. Viber recently flipped the switch on monetization with the launch of a sticker market. However, the sticker market isn’t available in the latest BlackBerry release. The update will be rolling out over the next 24 hours.

October 23 2013

BlackBerry's Bad Timing Buries Its Own Flicker Of Good News On BBM Android/iOS Downloads (10M In A Day)
BlackBerry finally started rolling out its BBM messaging client to iOS and Android yesterday -- weeks later than originally planned, after a botched earlier attempt. And years late from a market point of view. All of which is bad enough, but yesterday was also the day Apple selected for its October iPad launch event... So hello highly unfortunate marketing clash.
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