alphabet · android · blackberry · blackberry os · google · rim

BlackBerry to Focus Entirely on Android Devices

In a piece out today from TheNational, BlackBerry CEO, John Chen, admitted that the other fruit themed company will solely focus its efforts on Android devices.

“Mr. Chen said that while BlackBerry would continue to release updates for [BlackBerry 10 OS], there were no plans to launch new devices running the operating system.”

This would mean that the current BlackBerry 10 OS devices, the Classic, Passport, and the Leap will presumably be the last devices running the OS.

Further complicating the handset problem BlackBerry faces, Mr. Chen also told the paper that the price of the first ever BlackBerry running a version of Android, the Priv, was too expensive at the $700 price point.

“A lot of enterprise customers have said to us, ‘I want to buy your phone but $700 is a little too steep for me. I’m more interested in a $400 device’.”

I really liked BlackBerry and had used a few of their devices, most notably, the BlackBerry Curve and Storm.  (Yes, I was one of the few people who liked the ‘unique’ touchscreen on the BlackBerry Storm and Storm 2.)  It is sad to watch a market leader essentially transition from a hardware/software company to a services company.  (IBM sans their PCs anyone?)  With only 600,000 devices having been sold last quarter, according to TheNational, it is hard to see a strategy that will make the handset unit of the company profitable over the long-haul.

The BlackBerry April 2016 earnings report can be downloaded from the BlackBerry website (Direct PDF download link).

[Via TheNational…]

blackberry · good technology · rim

Backberry to Acquire Good Technology

Blackberry, makers of the same named smartphones, is acquiring mobile device management mainstay Good Technology.

Waterloo, Ontario and Sunnyvale, Calif. – BlackBerry Limited (NASDAQ: BBRY; TSX: BB), a global leader in secure mobile communications, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Good Technology for $425 million in cash.
The acquisition of Good is aligned with BlackBerry’s strategy to offer customers the most complete, end-to-end solution that secures the entire mobile enterprise, across all platforms. Enhanced by Good, BlackBerry will expand its ability to offer a unified, secure mobility platform with applications for any mobile device on any operating system – supported with security that has been certified by governments around the world embedded in every component of the mobility infrastructure.
 

Good will bring complementary capabilities and technologies to BlackBerry, including secure applications and containerization that protects end user privacy. With Good, BlackBerry will expand its ability to offer cross-platform EMM solutions that are critical in a world with varying deployment models such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD); corporate owned, personally enabled (COPE); as well as environments with multiple user interfaces and operating systems. Good has expertise in multi-OS management with 64 percent of activations from iOS devices, followed by a broad Android and Windows customer base. 

“By acquiring Good, BlackBerry will better solve one of the biggest struggles for CIOs today, especially those in regulated industries: securely managing devices across any platform. By providing even stronger cross-platform capabilities our customers will not have to compromise on their choice of operating systems, deployment models or any level of privacy and security,” said John Chen, BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO. “Like BlackBerry, Good has a very strong presence in enterprises and governments around the world and, with this transaction, BlackBerry will enhance its sales and distribution capabilities and further grow its enterprise software revenue stream.”


With this acquisition, CEO John Chen is shoring up his company by safe guarding it from a future where Blackberry devices may no longer exist and has to focus on security and backend device management software.  Good Technology has been around for a very long time.  I recall attending webcasts  demonstrating their secure email technology for Palm OS devices like the Palm Tungsten C.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) Ben Hummett writes:

“BlackBerry last November introduced the latest version of its mobile device management software, which works across mobile operating systems, including Google Inc.’s Android operating and Apple Inc.’s iOS. But analysts have questioned demand for the software, dubbed BES12, after the company surprised the market in its fiscal first quarter ended May 30 by including revenue from technology licensing as part of total software sales. That move raised concerns about overall sales of BES12.”

“BES”, is short for the Blackberry Enterprise Server, the software that has long driven the secure backend communications of Blackberry smartphones.  As demand of Blackberry smartphones has declined, so has sales of BES.  With BES12, Blackberry tried to make the software more attractive to companies who have Blackberry smartphones deployed by also adding support for Apple’s iOS and Googles Android devices.  With the Good acquisition, Blackberry has legitimized their leadership position at the mobile device management (MDM) for fleets of mobile devices.

Many have written Blackberry off after a cataclysmic sales implosion following many failed attempts to out do the iPhone.  Untimely, Blackberry faltered by misunderstanding the powerful allure of the “prosumer” market who gobbled up iPhones and Android devices by the millions.

John Chen was appointed Executive Chairmen and CEO after his major turn around of Sybase, a once popular enterprise database software company.  Sybase was sold to SAP for 12bn.

While readers of this blog know that I’m a fan of Apple.  With the fate of Palm OS/webOS unknown, I have to keep rooting for Blackberry to make some sort of comeback.  Mobile needs to be more than a two horse (iOS and Android) race.

You can read the full press release on the Blackberry website.

blackberry · blackberry q10 · iphone · keyboard · typo

Judge Blocks Sale of Typo Keyboard Case

No mention of a sales ban here.

Late Friday, Judge William Orrick granted BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s wish and issued a sales ban against Typo Products’ Typo Keyboard.

Mr. Chen vowed to defend BlackBerry’s IP when calling on the court to issue the sales ban while BlackBerry and Typo Products slug it out to see if the Typo keyboard really infringes on patents held by the handset maker.
Looks like you can still order a Typo case.

“A California judge has granted BlackBerry’s wish to temporarily halt sales of an iPhone keyboard produced by start-up Typo Products while the two companies argue over alleged copyright infringement. 

BlackBerry had petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in late January to block sales of the Typo keyboard because it was an “obvious knock-off” of the keyboards on its phones.”

While the judge may have ordered the sales ban, a quick look at the Typo Products website reveals no indication that they can no longer sell their iPhone 5/5S keyboard.
If you want to get a hardware keyboard for your iPhone 5/5S, it might be a better idea to put your money into the Boxwave Keyboard Buddy case for iPhone 5/5S.  The keys look to be larger, sells for $80, and doesn’t cover up the TouchID home button like the Typo does.
blackberry

John Chen Becomes BlackBerry CEO

John Chen, BlackBerry’s best chance at a come back in the smartphone arena, has been named the struggling smartphone maker’s permanent CEO.

Ian Austen, writing for the New York Times Bits blog:

“After earnings, and again in meetings with media and analysts at C.E.S., John said that he would be BlackBerry’s C.E.O. until the company is back on solid financial footing,” Mr. Emery wrote. “The search for a CEO has been put on the back burner for now.”

That is some welcomed news for BlackBerry, it’s investors, users, and fans.  The question of whether Mr. Chen can really pull off the turn around is still yet to be seen, however, he clearly likes a challenge and righting this ship is right up his alley.

If you might recall, another well noted tech industry was able to right his ship after becoming the “iCEO” of Apple on January 5, 2000.

[Via NY Times Bits blog…]

blackber · blackberry · rim

Blackberry Lives to Fight Another Day, Gets New Leadership, Cash

BlackBerry, the Canadian smartphone maker and services company, received an 11th hour save yesterday.

In a sweeping move, the company announced that Mr. Thorsten Heins has stepped down as CEO and has given up his seat on the board.  At the same time, Blackberry announced that the company was no longer for sale, and that it had entered into an agreement with Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, one of the companies looking to take BlackBerry private, would invest $1 billion dollars into the company.
In what is sure to set Crackberry users into a tailspin was the announcement that BlackBerry will continue to build BlackBerry 10 smartphones and not sell off that part of the business.

BlackBerry also announced that Mr. Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, would become a new board member and that Mr. John Chen would be brought on as the new chairmen of the board and interim CEO.

“[…]John S. Chen will be appointed Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors and, in that role, will be responsible for the strategic direction, strategic relationships and organizational goals of BlackBerry.  Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, will be appointed Lead Director and Chair of the Compensation, Nomination and Governance Committee and Thorsten Heins and David Kerr intend to resign from the Board at closing.”

In addition, Mr. Heins will step down as Chief Executive Officer at closing and Mr. Chen will serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer pending completion of a search for a new Chief Executive Officer.”
With all the churn with the BlackBerry leadership, board member Barbara Stymiest was tapped to announced the shake up.

“Today’s announcement represents a significant vote of confidence in BlackBerry and its future by this group of preeminent, long-term investors,” said Barbara Stymiest, Chair of BlackBerry’s Board.  “The BlackBerry Board conducted a thorough review of strategic alternatives and pursued the course of action that it concluded is in the best interests of BlackBerry and its constituents, including its shareholders.  This financing provides an immediate cash injection on terms favorable to BlackBerry, enhancing our substantial cash position.   Some of the most important customers in the world rely on BlackBerry and we are implementing the changes necessary to strengthen the company and ensure we remain a strong and innovative partner for their needs.”

“I am pleased to join a company with as much potential as BlackBerry,” said Mr. Chen. “BlackBerry is an iconic brand with enormous potential – but it’s going to take time, discipline and tough decisions to reclaim our success.  I look forward to leading BlackBerry in its turnaround and business model transformation for the benefit of all of its constituencies, including its customers, shareholders and employees.”

Mr. Chen is no stranger to corporate turn arounds.  The last time we saw him, he was CEO of Sybase, Inc, a database and corporate software company.  When Sybase was purchased by SAP AG, in 2010, the company sold for $5.25 billion.

In the interest of full disclosure, I earned my Sybase ASE and Rep Server merit badges as a DBA in the early 2000’s and I though that Mr. Chen, hearing him speak at two of the Sybase’s annual user conferences, did a good job of turning Sybase around leading up to it’s sale to SAP.  I’m interested in seeing what he can accomplish with BlackBerry.

You can read the full press release on the BlackBerry website.

blackberry · blackberry q10 · rim · sprint

BlackBerry Q10 Arrives on Sprint Aug 30 for $199

The BlackBerry Q10 keyboarded smartphone will be arriving on Sprint this weekend for $199 with a new two-year service agreement.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), August 26, 2013 – The first 4G LTE BlackBerry® 10 smartphone from Sprint, the BlackBerry® Q10 smartphone, will be available Friday, Aug. 30, in direct ship sales channels, including Sprint Stores, Business Sales, Web Sales and Telesales at 1-800-SPRINT1, for $199.99 (excludes taxes and surcharges) with a new line or eligible upgrade and two-year service agreement. 

“Our customers have anxiously awaited the arrival of the BlackBerry Q10 smartphone,” said David Owens, vice president-Product Development, Sprint. “Its best-in-class physical keyboard, productivity features, enhanced security capabilities and apps make it easy to be productive at work and connected to friends and family after hours. With the Sprint Unlimited, My Way and My All-in rate plans, our customers will be able to use the BlackBerry Q10 smartphone as it was intended, without worrying about silly data caps or overages.”

If you are still rocking an old school BlackBerry running BlackBerry OS 7 or earlier this is the upgrade you have been waiting for.
For more details, see the Sprint website.
blackberry · blackberry os · blackberry z10

BlackBerry "Reinvented"

BlackBerry has clearly fallen on hard times.  It’s slow response to the growing threat from Apple’s iPhone and smartphones running Google’s Android operating system in the late 2000’s clearly caught then Research in Motion’s management team off guard.
Now the company has launched their new software platform, BlackBerry OS 10, and a few new smartphones, with and without keyboards, that no one much seems to care about.  That’s really bad news for a company desperately trying to recapture their former glory as a market leader in mobile.
It’s true what they say about history repeating itself.  As a recovering Palm fan, and Crackberry addict, I’ve seen this show before.  The same thing happened to Palm shortly after the iPhone was released and Palm was desperately trying to get webOS and the Pre out the door to try and turn their dwindling fortunes around.
On Monday, the New York Times outlined just how bad things are for BlackBerry, which is now officially exploring “strategic options” which is executive speak for “sell the company.”
It becomes very difficult, in my opinion, to try and sell your company when long time tech industry people like Jean-Louis Gassée, a former PalmSource and Apple executive, is trash talking what little BlackBerry has left.

“Acquiring BlackBerry is necrophilia.  The BB brand is tarnished.”

But if that wasn’t bad enough, BMO Capital Markets analyst Tom Long, from Bank of Montreal on BlackBerry’s home turf, wasn’t very optimistic about BlackBerry’s options either.

“We don’t foresee any scenarios where the value of the company will be significantly larger.”

At this point it’s hard to tell if BlackBerry will be acquired by a larger company with deeper pockets – similar to what happened to Palm when they sold the company to HP – or if the Board of Directors decides to sell of key assets and patents to other companies.
[Via the NewYorkTimes.com…]