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Sep
28

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Blackberry is to stop designing smartphones in-house after 14 years, the company has announced.

Once a market leader, the company has struggled to keep pace with modern handsets produced by rivals such as Apple and Samsung.

In May, the company’s chief executive, John Chen, said he would know by September whether the hardware business was likely to become profitable.

Now, Blackberry says it will outsource hardware development to partners.

Blackberry website
Image copyrightBLACKBERRY
Image captionBlackberry is repositioning itself as a software company

But the company has not yet confirmed when any further Blackberry phones will be released.

“I always wanted to make sure that we keep having the iconic devices,” Mr Chentold BNN.

“I just need to find a way to be efficient and be able to make money. I think we found the model.”

The company said it sold about 400,000 smartphones in its second quarter – fewer than the previous three months.

“Blackberry can’t keep producing its own phones indefinitely just to serve a small subset of its clients addicted to its home-grown devices,” said Ben Wood of the CCS Insight consultancy.

“Blackberry had made no secret of the fact that it might shut down its own phone-making business. Pushing it out to a third party is a sensible solution – but any manufacturer making Blackberry branded devices will ultimately face the same challenges.”

Mr Chen has been candid about the future of Blackberry’s handset business, saying he would consider closing the division if it could not become profitable.

In May, he told Bloomberg that he would know by September whether that was likely.

“The first time I made that statement was September a year ago,” said Mr Chen.

“When people ask me, ‘How long will it take?’… I said a year. So, it’s going to be September this year.”

In October 2015, Blackberry changed the direction of its handset business by producing its first smartphone running Google’s Android operating system, rather than its own BB10 software.

However, Mr Chen has admitted the device, which featured a slide-out physical keyboard, was too expensive to appeal to a mass market.

The company has since launched a less expensive touchscreen-only Android handset, based on a phone released by Alcatel owner TCL.


A bumpy history

Blackberry 5810
Image copyrightBLACKBERRY
Image captionThe Blackberry 5810 is described as one of the first smartphones

March 2002: Technology company Research In Motion (RIM) released the Blackberry 5810 – a phone, email and mobile web-browsing device with a full Qwerty keyboard. Described as one of the first smartphones, it was able to make and receive calls when connected to a headset.

Blackberry
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionKim Kardashian used a Blackberry Curve smartphone in 2008

2007: Now featuring a colour screen, camera and an improved mobile web browser, Blackberry handsets became popular in the business world and soon enjoyed celebrity endorsements from the likes of Kim Kardashian.

Steve Jobs
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionSteve Jobs with the iPhone

June 2007: Steve Jobs introduced Apple’s iPhone. The device is said to have changed the course of the smartphone industry by introducing downloadable apps and bringing an easy-to-use touchscreen device to the mass market. The iPhone was the first mobile phone to feature a “full” web browser, something Blackberry executives are reported to have thought would cause mobile phone networks to collapse.

Blackberry
Image copyrightBLACKBERRY
Image captionThe Blackberry Storm was designed to battle the iPhone

November 2008: Under pressure from mobile networks to develop an “iPhone killer”, Blackberry produced the Storm. The handset featured a touchscreen that physically clicked when pressed, to emulate the feeling of the firm’s famous keyboards. The device ran Blackberry OS – the firm’s legacy operating system, which had been built before the advent of downloadable apps. Critics said the Storm was glitchy and slow, and its web browser paled in comparison to the iPhone’s offering.

Despite the Storm’s poor reception, Blackberry continued to grow its market share until 2010.

Mike Lazaridis with Blackberry Playbook
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionBlackberry founder Mike Lazaridis launched the Playbook tablet

April 2011: The company launched its Playbook tablet, its first device to ditch Blackberry OS in favour of a new, modern operating system. The Playbook was marketed as a larger-screen “companion” for the firm’s smartphones but lacked basic features such as a built-in calendar and email app. By December, the company had written $485m (£370m) off the value of its unsold tablets.

The firm’s chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepped down soon after.

Thorsten Heins
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThorsten Heins replaces Mr Lazaridis and Mr Balsillie, and introduced BB10

January 2013: RIM became Blackberry Limited and launched its BB10 operating system, six years after the appearance of the iPhone.

The platform struggled to attract app developers, who were already occupied producing software for Android and iOS and were reluctant to support a third platform. Big-name apps such as Google Maps, Instagram and Snapchat never officially made it to BB10.

Blackberry Priv
Image copyrightBLACKBERRY
Image captionBlackberry Priv was the final device designed in-house

October 2015: Blackberry released its first Android-powered smartphone, Priv, seven years after rivals produced the first Android devices.

Sales of Priv were thought to have missed targets and the firm’s current chief executive John Chen later admitted the device had been too expensive.

Blackberry Dtek 50 handset
Image captionBlackberry’s latest handset was designed by Alcatel owner TCL

July 2016: The company’s first touchscreen-only Android device, Dtek 50, was released. To reduce costs the handset was based on a phone manufactured by Alcatel owner TCL.

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Aug
20

It was once hoped that the mobile ecosystem would be big and buoyant enough to support a whole number of different operating systems, but the data suggests that, just as with the PC ecosystem, there really is only room for two major players.

According to the latest Gartner report, the bottom has fallen completely out of Windows Phone and BlackBerry device shipments over the past year. A year ago things weren’t great, with Windows Phone and BlackBerry having a market share during Q2 2015 of 2.5 and 0.3 percent respectively, but for Q2 2016 these had fallen to 0.6 and 0.1 percent respectively.

See also: The question every Windows Phone owner needs to ask: “Do I switch to Android or iOS?”

In real terms, shipments of Windows Phone devices stood at 1.97 million for the quarter, with BlackBerry at 400,000. Compare this to the 44.4 million iOS devices or 296.9 million Android smartphones shipped during the same period, and you see just how bad it is.

Essentially both Windows Phone and BlackBerry are headed for extinction. It’s not a matter of if this is going to happen, but when.

This has some serious repercussions for the mobile arena:

  • BlackBerry, once the flagship brand for government and corporate smartphone users, is in serious trouble, made worse by the fact that its transition to Android isn’t going well.
  • Microsoft’s mobile plans are in tatters. While it’s not doing too badly in relation to tablet sales, not having been able to break into the smartphone market is likely to hinder overall mobile growth as users become more likely to settle on iOS or Android for both tablets and smartphones.
  • The death of Windows Phone and BlackBerry is good news for Android because that’s the platform benefiting the most.

One interesting question to ponder is this — with only two major players in the game, where will the needle come to rest? Right now the quarterly shipments are divided roughly 85 to 13 between Android and iOS respectively. But over the past year, Android has climbed four percentage points, while iOS dropped almost two points. I predict that in a year or so shipments will be nine to one in favor of Android.

From there, it’s difficult to predict where things will go, but we might see a period of stability.

Here’s another question worth pondering — is there now room for another operating system?

Given the dominance of the incumbent players (remember that while Apple has well under 20 percent of the shipments, it manages to scoop up more than 80 percent of the smartphone profits), and how impossible Microsoft found it to break into the market despite throwing masses of cash at the attempt, it seems unlikely.

It’s unclear what Microsoft might do from here on in when it comes to smartphones — make a switch to Microsoft would be my guess — but trying to break into the market again just seems like throwing good money after bad.

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Jul
29

BlackBerry unveils ‘world’s most secure’ Android smartphone

We have just one question, in this age where we are surrounded by touch technologies, who writes ‘touchscreen’ on their smartphone’s box?. PHOTO: BLACKBERRY

We have just one question, in this age where we are surrounded by touch technologies, who writes ‘touchscreen’ on their smartphone’s box?. PHOTO: BLACKBERRY

BlackBerry has unveiled it’s second-ever Android device, DTEK50, and as opposed to general expectations the device is surprisingly good.

The device has a 5.2-inch screen, 1080p display and has Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor with 3GB RAM. It has a 13-megapixel rear and 8-megapixel front camera with flash for taking selfies in the dark and runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with BlackBerry’s software features, such as the Hub. DTEK50 is a sleek phone with a thickness of 7.4mm and has 2,610mAh battery.

Looking at the device you might notice a striking resemblance between BlacBerry’s DTEK50 and Alcatel’s Idol 4, as the specifications in both the phones are the same.

World’s most secure phone goes on sale for $14,000

However, DTEK50 is not about the device. BlackBerry is touting it as the world’s most secure Android device. The smartphone has BlackBerry’s DTEK software that the company claims protects users from malware and other security problems which Android users often face.

The software alerts you when your privacy is at risk as DTEK software monitors a device’s overall security rating and helps users tackle it. It also tracks your apps and notifies you when someone is taking pictures and videos without your knowledge, accessing your contacts, location, turning your microphone on or sending a text message.

This Snowden-designed device can alert if your iPhone is being snooped upon

All in all DTEK50 is a basic Android device packed with BlackBerry’s security features. The device is available to pre-order from ShopBlackBerry.com in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and The Netherlands for $299.

We just have one question, in this age where we are surrounded by touch technologies, who writes ‘touchscreen’ on their smartphone’s box?

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Jul
25

BlackBerry’s licensing strategy looks smart – and a lot like Nokia’s

It’s an IP world now

Analysis BlackBerry didn’t show a new phone in New York City at its annual Security Summit last week, and CEO John Chen sounded a bit fed up that the assembled press corps kept asking about phones. But there was enough in his comments to glean how BlackBerry’s device strategy has evolved – and it’s following a familiar path taken by once-mighty Western electronics brands.

One, in fact, that’s remarkably similar to that of Nokia. Not to mention Leica and Zeiss.

All these companies are essentially licensing their brand and – in varying degrees – their technology know-how too. It’s a recognition that the global centre of gravity for manufacturing is now In China, which can also absorb the risk of moving into new markets. And in theory, it suits both sides. If Chinese industry can out-engineer and out-manufacture the West, it hasn’t yet show it can out market an Apple or a Sony.

Nokia announced its strategy in November 2014, but it was off to a bit of a false start. The N1 tablet, manufactured by Foxconn, never appeared in the West (and didn’t really appear in China for very long either). It took 18 months to clarify, with the formation of a new company in May, HMD Global Oy.

In BlackBerry’s case, it’s going to be subtly different. The brand comes with a software stack and set of requirements before it can be deemed worthy of carrying the logo. BlackBerry announced its “crown jewels” were available for licensing back last year at Mobile World Congress, when it promised to license and/or make its software suite available for iOS and Android.

This appears to be a further evolution: securing a third party device, loading it with some BlackBerry software, and then branding and selling it. The first fruit of this is expected to be announced imminently, with a “BlackBerry-ized” Alcatel Idol 4.

Last week, the TCL-manufactured BlackBerry device showed up again in regulatory reports.

“We have a tremendous amount of technology. We can stay in the handset biz by not making every handset,” said John Chen last week.

Musing on what BlackBerry could license, he explained:

“Maybe even the name. But obviously this is at a different level, we have to protect our brand reputation.”

Chen had justified the continuation of a device business because so many blue chip enterprise customers were BES and Blackberry device customers too.

“I could stay in the handset business, where I provide a strong secure end point and by providing customers continuity and a soft landing – if I can make money doing that.”

How much BlackBerry is there in a rebadged phone?

It’s an acknowledgement of the reality that even the once unassailable high-margin electronics brands have had to confront. German imaging giant Leica is synonymous with high end SLRs, and vows to stay there, but is gradually complementing this by licensing much of its IP portfolio, allowing Chinese manufacturers to buy some credibility. The first results of the multiyear agreement between Huawei and Leica emerged in April.

This raised some to question how deeply Leica was involved in co-engineering the dual lens imaging units. But it’s actually subtly deeper than most people realise. Optical giant Zeiss (formerly Carl Zeiss) apparently certifies factories when it deems that they pass its tests. Reading the joint statement issued by Huawei and Leica, we could infer that the agreement works in a similar way. Pay particular attention to the lines: “Collaborative development, evaluation optimization of optical design (lens calculation)in compliance with Leica standards” and “Definition of the most stringent common quality standards and production requirements for serial production by Huawei to ensure consistently high quality.” (Our emphasis added). We’ve asked Leica for comment.

For BlackBerry branding to work, it would be wise to do something similar. Security concerns over Chinese technology have inhibited their growth in the USA. BlackBerry calls itself an end-to-end security company these days, and touts its Priv as the most “secure” Android. And it sells to the most security-conscious customers in US defence and government. So assuring people the manufacturing processes are squeaky clean is probably a prerequisite.

If BlackBerry can pull it off, it may yet confound expectations and stay in the device game for a while yet. ®

 

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Sep
29

best-choice-blackberrySince the past couple of “inventions”, BlackBerry has been slacking a bit as compared to its competitors but still there are many “fans” that prefer BlackBerry over the rest of the companies. BlackBerry has its own style and format and is very different compared to its competitors. It has its own complete interface, applications and even looks that do not have any sort of resemblance with its competitors which makes BlackBerry very unique.

People while buying cell phones are very picky and they Continue Reading…

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Jul
08

With Blackberry phones you have a few choices for copying photos to your computer, or for copying them from your computer to your Blackberry. These instructions also work for copying music files and videos.

1. Transfer via email.

This is the easiest way, and doesn’t cost any money because data transfer is included in the Blackberry service. With the picture open on your Blackberry (Media Continue Reading…

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Dec
28

Here is good news for those who want to own the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Research In Motion have slashed the prices of their tablet PCs by 50 per cent and are now offering them at a price as low as Rs 13,490.

The company is selling the base model, which is the 16GB version at Rs 13,490, while the 32GB and 64GB models Continue Reading…

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