BlackBerry Selling Phones Directly After Bleak Earnings Report

If things weren’t already looking bleak enough for BlackBerry, the company released its latest earnings report on Friday. Second quarter results for the three months ending August 31 show revenue of $1.6 billion, down 49 percent from the previous quarter and 45 percent from the same quarter last year. The company also reported an adjusted loss of $248 million. And on the heels of a near $1 billion inventory markdown, BlackBerry announced it will start directly selling unlocked smartphones. Continue reading BlackBerry Selling Phones Directly After Bleak Earnings Report

Alternative Mobile Platforms Look to Join Apple and Google

Notable handset makers and telecom carriers are turning to alternative mobile operating systems in an effort to beat Microsoft and Research In Motion to the punch as the next credible challenger to smartphones run by Apple and Google. A range of companies are hoping an alternative platform to market leaders iOS and Android will emerge. Watch for devices running Firefox OS, Tizen, Ubuntu and Sailfish. Continue reading Alternative Mobile Platforms Look to Join Apple and Google

RIM Changes its Name, Unveils Surprising BlackBerry Z10

In his review of the new BlackBerry Z10, personal-tech columnist David Pogue reverses his earlier suggestion that Research In Motion’s smartphone was doomed. While the once dominant BlackBerry has dropped to a single-digit percentage of the market and the company’s stock has plummeted, Pogue surprisingly notes that the new phone is “lovely, fast and efficient, bristling with fresh, useful ideas.” Continue reading RIM Changes its Name, Unveils Surprising BlackBerry Z10

CES 2013: RIM Quietly Shows BlackBerry 10 in Suite Demo

Unlike last year, Research In Motion was not an official CES booth exhibitor this time around, but BlackBerry devotees got a sneak peek at the company’s new BlackBerry 10 at the Venetian Hotel. The touchscreen-only device does away with the BlackBerry’s iconic QWERTY keyboard and home button. RIM is set to officially unveil its two new BlackBerry units at a press conference January 30 in New York (originally scheduled for the fourth quarter). Continue reading CES 2013: RIM Quietly Shows BlackBerry 10 in Suite Demo

New IDC Study: Will Microsoft Purchase Netflix and LinkedIn?

  • A study from IDC predicts that Microsoft may consider purchasing Netflix and LinkedIn next year in an effort to cash in on “the convergence of mobile computing, social networking, cloud services, and big data analytics.”
  • “Look for Microsoft to buy a content/media cloud, like Netflix, to provide a marketplace for its apps and content,” says Frank Gens, senior VP and chief analyst at IDC.
  • Gens refers to the platform built on mobile computing, cloud services, social networking, and big data analytics as the “3rd Platform.”
  • “The industry’s shift to the 3rd Platform will accelerate in 2012, forcing the industry’s leaders to make bold investments and fateful decisions,” predicts Gens. He suggests companies including Apple, Microsoft, HP, SAP, RIM and others will face “crossroads moments” next year.
  • Is Computerworld blogger Preston Gralla convinced? Not really. “Building an app store directly into Windows can serve the same purpose. If the price is right, buying Netflix might make sense. But I don’t expect the price to be right.”

iPhone is Safer Than Android and BlackBerry, but For How Long?

  • Malware has grown dramatically on Android’s open operating system compared to Apple’s closed iOS.
  • “Juniper Networks says Android malware traffic rose by 400 percent between June 2010 and January 2011,” reports Forbes. “Lookout Mobile Security reported a 250 percent jump in smartphone malware from January to June 2011.”
  • QR malware codes are becoming increasingly popular. Hackers are looking to acquire personal information, especially banking info.
  • “Apple has a walled garden, with its curating of apps for its App Store, so it’s had far fewer instances of malware, but Android is far more porous,” John Dasher, McAfee senior director of mobile security, told the Financial Times. “There are more than a dozen apps sites, it’s very easy to download apps and ‘sideload’ apps on to a device, and so it’s far easier for a hacker to get an app published that contains malware.”

Kindle Fire: Amazon Jumps into the Tablet Fray with iPad Competitor

  • Amazon has unveiled the Kindle Fire — a 7-inch touch-screen, color, and Wi-Fi tablet with dual-core processor that will sell for $199. The new tablet was announced by chief exec Jeff Bezos at a press event yesterday in New York City.
  • The Android-based device will offer access to Amazon’s app store, books, streaming movies and TV shows. Moreover, the expectation is that it will increase sales for Amazon’s other merchandise. Fire is available for pre-ordering and will be available November 15.
  • “The online retailer is gambling it can succeed with its tablet where several other giants, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., have so far failed,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Unlike those companies, Amazon already has a vast library of digital content to sell and tens of millions of credit-card numbers.”
  • The article suggests that the Kindle Fire may have an advantage over other tablets that have attempted to take on the iPad: “Amazon’s library of digital content, which its tablet users can access. Customers can pay $79 a year for a service known as Amazon Prime, which gives them access to 11,000 movies and TV shows, as well as unlimited two-day shipping for physical goods purchased on Amazon also sells single movies, TV shows and music songs, with a catalog that competes with that of Apple’s iTunes store.”
  • Amazon also introduced three new Kindle e-readers — a touch-screen 3G version for $149, a touch-screen Wi-Fi version for $99, and a non-touch-screen model for $79.

Insiders Say Sprint Will Offer Unlimited Data Plans for iPhone 5

  • Sprint Nextel will reportedly offer unlimited data service plans for the new iPhone 5, expected to debut next month. This would be attractive to big data users and mark a major difference from rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
  • Sprint has been struggling with its bigger rivals and hopes that adding the iPhone to its lineup will lure new customers. “It’s a competitive disadvantage if your two larger competitors have the iPhone and you don’t,” says Matthew Thornton, an analyst at Avian Securities. “Getting the iPhone closes that gap.”
  • Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, already offers unlimited voice and data for RIM’s BlackBerry and HTC’s Evo customers at $99.99/month.
  • According to Bloomberg: “Apple’s iPhone has proved to be a valuable recruitment tool for rivals: Of the 5.6 million smartphones AT&T sold in the second quarter, the device accounted for 3.6 million. A quarter of the subscribers who bought the iPhone were new to AT&T, the company said.”

Trouble at RIM: Will the BlackBerry Company Consider Selling?

  • Jaguar Financial Corporation CEO Vic Alboini, an investor in struggling Research In Motion, is urging the BlackBerry maker to consider selling the company. He has recommended that RIM form a committee of independent executives to explore the proposal.
  • According to the article: “RIM is seeing its once commanding presence in the smartphone market eroded by the likes of Android and Apple’s iOS: where a year ago RIM accounted for 19 percent of the market, second-quarter figures from Gartner put the company’s current share at 12 percent.”
  • Alboini suggests that selling RIM would maximize the company’s value to investors, who have watched their investments in the Canadian company significantly decline during the last year.
  • “RIM has been hanging hopes for its future on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, as well as a new swath of smartphones expected to land in 2012 based on RIM’s recently-acquired QNX operating system — the same OS used in the PlayBook,” reports Digital Trends. “So far, industry response to the PlayBook has been muted, with many citing its reliance on a BlackBerry handset for email as a major impediment — and U.S. mobile carrier Sprint recently backed out of plans to offer a 4G version of the PlayBook, citing lack of customer interest.”

Is BlackBerry PlayBook Heading Down the Same Road as the TouchPad?

  • It looks like HP’s TouchPad is not the only tablet to face a challenging market.
  • Best Buy has placed RIM’s PlayBook on sale, discounting the 64GB model by $150, while the 16GB and 32GB versions have been marked down by $50.
  • “Research In Motion’s PlayBook has had something of a rough ride since its launch in April this year,” reports Digital Trends. “Reviews have been mixed, while just a month after appearing on shelves, almost 1,000 of the tablets had to be recalled due to unspecified faulty hardware issues.”
  • Additionally, Sprint announced last month that it was dropping its plan to bring the 4G PlayBook to its network, leaving the device without a major U.S. carrier.

New BlackBerry Smartphones may Jump on the Android Bandwagon

  • Can Research In Motion turn around waning sales of its BlackBerry smartphones by adding the ability to run Android apps?
  • Rumors suggest that the next generation of BlackBerry phones, to be released during the first half of next year, could be designed to run Android apps.
  • Bloomberg cites “three people familiar with the plan” who suggest RIM is building smartphones now that will use its new QNX software. Phones with the new software will be able to run Android apps, the sources claim.
  • “It has to be said, [BlackBerry] App World looks a bit sorry for itself when compared to Google’s Android Market,” reports Digital Trends. “App World currently has around 40,000 apps available for download. If next year’s phones are able to run Android apps, that’ll open up owners of the new BlackBerry devices to a further quarter of a million. If BlackBerry can create some unique, feature-rich phones in the coming months, that may well cause consumers to pay RIM’s devices some serious attention.”

What Can (Should) We Learn from the HP $99 TouchPad Fire Sale?

  • ReadWriteWeb journalist Dan Rowinski posted an interesting op-ed piece this week: “HP’s $99 TouchPad Fire Sale Can Teach Everybody A Lesson.”
  • “Tablets priced at $99 flying off the shelves and what had been a significant headline on Tuesday (Best Buy has 250,000 unsold TouchPads) had completely turned around on Sunday (Good Luck Finding a $99 TouchPad),” writes Rowinski. “It got me to thinking. As much as consumers love their Apple products and the iPad is a terrific device, consumers want something that is price efficient, even if it is a touch flawed. With literally hundreds of thousands of TouchPads sold over the weekend, a significant note should be playing in retailers’ and manufacturers’ heads — opportunities await for those willing to make a sacrifice.”
  • Rowinski speculates that an iPad killer is not in our immediate future. He also suggests that major changes are in the making with the browser-based mobile apps enabled by HTML5. He discusses tablets by Motorola, Samsung, HTC and Research In Motion and how price point may become as significant a factor as available apps. He addresses how Amazon learned valuable lessons with its Kindle and could possibly “recreate the Kindle furor by introducing a tablet into the market at $200 or less.”
  • “The great equalizer will be price,” writes Rowinski. “Amazon and to a certain extent Microsoft with Windows 8 have actually benefited from waiting to enter the tablet wars. They now see the battlefield in front of them and what it will take to make an impact. Quality devices with reasonable prices. Then turn and make money through value-added services.”

BBM Music Service: Too Little, Too Late?

  • Research In Motion may roll out BBM Music, a new music service designed to work with BlackBerry Messenger, as early as this week.
  • RIM has nearly completed deals for the service with Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment, Access Industries Inc.’s Warner Music Group, and EMI Group Ltd.
  • Subscribers would only get access to 50 songs but they can share them with other Blackberry Messenger users.
  • The service will reportedly cost less than $10/month and is not intended to compete with the likes of iTunes or Spotify. “Instead, the BlackBerry service is supposed to help younger users ‘customize’ their phones and share their songs with friends.,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Tablet War: Can Anyone Compete with the iPad?

  • You’re probably tired of reading about it, but as the tablet wars continue it seems little traction can be made against Apple’s market leader. The Wall Street Journal offers the latest look at the iPad’s impact.
  • HP announced it will lower its price on the TouchPad by 20 percent, only a month after the tablet hit the shelves. Motorola cut the price of its Xoom tablet following the February launch and offered a cheaper model, with little response.
  • Samsung has stopped reporting how many Galaxy Tabs they are shipping — and is now stuck in a patent dispute with Apple that threatens its European sales.
  • Motorola and RIM don’t say how many tablets they have sold and, as recently reported on ETCentric, RIM’s PlayBook is in carrier trouble since Sprint Nextel pulled its support.
  • Meanwhile, Apple has sold some 28.7 million iPads since April 2010. According to WSJ, Apple “says it is having difficulty keeping up with demand and selling every iPad it can manufacture. Five months after its release, its iPad 2 can be hard to find in retail stores. The company said it shipped 9.3 million iPads in the June-ended quarter.”
  • Despite price changes, many consumers seem to view the iPad as the tablet leader and others as imitators. As a result, the tablet market is essentially divided into two sectors at this point — Apple’s iPad…and everyone else.
  • Do any of our readers have a different take on this trend? Does anyone recommend using a tablet other than the iPad?

Facebook Introduces New Messaging App Dubbed Messenger

  • Facebook has announced a new iOS and Android messaging app named Messenger that will allow users to send and view messages to Facebook friends across the two most popular phone platforms.
  • The app will also include a group messaging feature that will enable users to message multiple people for a single large conversation. Additionally, Messenger will help with coordinating group events by allowing users to include their current location in messages.
  • “Now Facebook’s vision when buying app maker Beluga is becoming clear,” reports Digital Trends. “The company has taken Beluga’s group messaging app and married it with Facebook contacts and messages.”
  • Messenger joins other emerging messaging services such as Apple’s iMessage and Google’s Huddle, but Facebook has the advantage of its 750 million member user base.
  • Will Facebook’s Messenger have an impact on RIM’s BlackBerry?