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.

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 · bold · rim · rumors

New BlackBerry OS 7 Smartphone On the Way

“Wait, what?!” was my reaction when I saw the news the BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, or BlackBerry LTD as they like to go by now a days, was releasing a new phone running BlackBerry OS 7.

If reports from BGR and Crackberry are correct, the new phone will be similar in design to the BlackBerry Bold series devices, but actually be associated with the consumer Curve family of devices.

The new phone is rumored to have the following specs:

  • It’s listed as the BlackBerry 9720
  • Full QWERTY keyboard
  • Display resolution is 480×360
  • Runs BlackBerry OS 7.1
  • Supports: 802.11b / 802.11g / 802.11n / 3G
I’ve carried a handful of BlackBerry devices over my many years in IT, from the pager-like devices to the Curve, and even the Storm 2 (Which, believe it or not, I liked.)
I want to see BlackBerry do well enough that they can at least stay in the corporate game as their devices really are good at messaging.  But I’m having a hard time getting excited about to seeing customers getting excited about a phone running an outdated operating system.  The only way I see this working is if this new phone is the new, cheap – as in low low cost – entry level device to “emerging markets.”  Coming in at north of $300 I don’t see the Q5 doing that.
blackberry · blackberry os · rim

BlackBerry 10 OS Not Coming To PlayBook

I was hoping to get my hands on a 16 or 32GB second hand BlackBerry PlayBook to install the new BlackBerry 10 software on to become more familiar with the engine of RIM’s turn around vehicle.

After Friday’s quarterly earning’s report filed by Research In Motion, otherwise known as RIM, doing business as “BlackBerry,” it would seem that the door for an officially supported PlayBook running BlackBerry 10 software is completely out of the question.

In the June 28 filing, RIM reported that no more than 100,000 PlayBook devices were sold in preceding 90-day period.  I’m not going to quote how many iPads Apple sold in that same time period because it would be a cruel joke to say anything more than “a lot.”

But 100,000 is still something, right?  We should be able to use BlackBerry 10 without having to sign a 2-year cellular contract or shelling out $600+ for an off contract Z10, right?

However, during the quarterly earnings conference call, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins reported that he has pulled the plug on developing a version of BlackBerry 10 for the PlayBook sighting poor software performance on the fruity tablet.

If I was in his shoes, I’d probably make the same call.  RIM is fighting for it’s life right now, and a platform that is only moving 400,000 – 500,000 devices annually is not where RIM needs to spend it’s limited software engineering resources right now.

I may still pick up a PlayBook on eBay, but my enthusiasm for one has dropped considerably.

android · apple · blackberry · blackberry q10 · blackberry z10 · google · iphone · rim

BlackBerry Still Struggling to Revitalize Itself

This past week was not particularly a good one for mobile device maker BlackBerry, formerly known as Research In Motion.

This past Friday, BlackBerry, announced details about their first quarter earnings, and Wall Street was caught off guard, in their opinion, about how few new BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 devices were sold.  For the quarter wrapping up, BlackBerry sold about 2.7 million new BlackBerry 10 devices.  BlackBerry 10 is the company’s mobile operating system, similar to Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS.  Adding insult to injury, BlackBerry sold 4.1 million of their older, BlackBerry 7-powered devices for a combined total of 6.8 million units shipped.  Once the news was released, BlackBerry’s stock price started trending downward, some would say “crashing”, down 26-28%, ending up at $10.46.  Worse, according to BlackBerry, their subscriber base has shrunk by 4 million users ending up at 72 million users globally.

To help mount their turn around, BlackBerry will continue to rollout their existing Z10 and Q10 around the world while bringing new BlackBerry 10 devices like the “budget” Q5 to “emerging” markets this summer and through-out the calendar year.

Research In Motion was caught completely off guard, as was just about every other smartphone maker, in 2007 when Apple released the game changing iPhone.  Everyone, except maybe Google, has been chasing the fruit phone maker since.

What surprises me, however, is that history seems to repeat itself.  I always hated it when my parents or teachers told me this, but I have come to accept and believe it.  You see, there was another smartphone maker that found itself in a similar position a few years ago: Palm.

There are a number of similarities between BlackBerry and Palm.  Palm, like BlackBerry, was down on their luck after the iPhone was released. Palm was limping along on sales of their previous generation Palm OS and Windows Mobile smartphones just like BlackBerry is doing now.  BlackBerry, like Palm, is desperately trying to reinvent itself with the Z10 and BlackBerry 10 just like Palm attempted to do with the Pre and webOS.  We know, that after a long, drawn out battle, Palm after being acquired by HP, finally came to an end.  Will BlackBerry and the BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system suffer a similar fate?  Will they continue to be a niche corporate market player or will they finally fade off like Palm?

We don’t know the answer to that question.  Make no mistake, what BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is attempting to do to turn around his company is extremely difficult.  This past spring I had a chance to play with the new Z10 handheld and BlackBerry 10.  The phone had a quality design and feel to it.  The new software, was still very much foreign to me after having used older versions of the BlackBerry software.  While the gestures did leave me bewildered during the few minutes I had with the phone, people that I know who have purchased the Z10 have gotten used to it.

Oh, and there is one other similarity that BlackBerry shares with Palm, a small, yet dedicated core user base. Will it be enough to carry BlackBerry through the stormy weather until BlackBerry can grown their subscriber base and software marketshare?  We will have to just wait and see.