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Logic Board: Bye, Bye, BlackBerry

ByeByeBlackBerry_mark

Photo by Eric Leamen

Logic Board is a recurring column that examines the biggest news stories and controversies in the technology industry with a rational, logical eye.

Earlier this week, BlackBerry announced that it had accepted a conditional buyout offer from Toronto-based Fairfax Financial, valuing the company at $4.7 billion and effectively putting an end to one of the longest and hardest falls any tech company has ever taken.

I’ve seen a number of different sentiments expressed over this news. Those in the tech industry are none too surprised that BlackBerry as we once knew it is going away. Some users are disappointed at the news that BlackBerry will retreat from the consumer market, instead choosing to focus on the only markets it has left: enterprise and government. Others are curious what value Fairfax Chief Executive Prem Watsa sees in BlackBerry, which reported an operating loss of nearly $1 billion in the last quarter Continue reading

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Leaked BlackBerry 10 L-series (left) and N-series (right) smartphones. Image credit: Crackberry.
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RIM to launch BlackBerry 10 at January 30th event

Leaked BlackBerry 10 L-series (left) and N-series (right) smartphones. Image credit: Crackberry.

Hold on to your keyboards, BlackBerry fans! Research In Motion announced this morning that they will hold a BlackBerry 10 launch event on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013. The event will take place “simultaneously in multiple countries around the world” according to RIM, though official venues and times were not announced.

The company says they will show off the first two BlackBerry 10 devices at the event, which are likely to be the recently leaked L-series touchscreen and N-series QWERTY devices. Launch information for the new phones will be discussed, though RIM has already stated that BlackBerry 10 will launch in the first quarter of 2013.

RIM will also show off a near-final version of their new BlackBerry 10 operating system at the event, which we already know will feature a new UI, innovative touch keyboard, navigation gestures, a universal Messaging hub, and home screen “live tiles”.

Source: RIM

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RIM posts huge fiscal Q1 loss, cuts 5000 jobs, delays BlackBerry 10 until 2013

RIM reported their fiscal Q1 2013 earnings today, and things are looking very bleak. The company posted an operating loss of $518 million on $2.6 billion in revenue, which represents a 33 percent decrease from last quarter. RIM managed to ship just 7.8 million BlackBerry phones, and 260,000 PlayBook tablets during the quarter.

As a result, RIM announced that they are cutting 5,000 jobs as part of a company-wide restructuring. Even worse, BlackBerry 10 has been delayed until Q1 2013, all but signing RIM’s death certificate.

Thorsten Heins, RIM CEO, explained the delay in a statement released today. “RIM’s development teams are relentlessly focussed on ensuring the quality and reliability of the platform and I will not compromise the product by delivering it before it is ready. I am confident that the first BlackBerry 10 smartphones will provide a ground-breaking next generation smartphone user experience.”

Looking forward, RIM sees more tough times ahead thanks to the delay of BlackBerry 10 and declining sales of existing devices. The company expects to post another operating loss in Q2.

Source: The Verge [1], [2], MarketWatch

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RIM Shows Off Parts of BlackBerry 10 For Developers

One can never accuse RIM of lacking innovation. During CEO Thorsten Heins first keynote address at RIM’s annual conference, BlackBerry World, the Canadian company announced it’s newest mobile OS BlackBerry 10 — or at least part of it. A brand new touchscreen keyboard was shown, with amazing predictive ability, essentially allowing the user to swipe up on a key to type a full word. RIM also showed off their new camera technology, an amazing feat within itself, as BlackBerrys have never been known for having great cameras, a fact that will soon change. The camera takes a longer shot, allowing the user to turn back time to get the perfect shot. If someone blinked during the shot, you can turn back their face to get the perfect view. A truly innovative product. Announcing part of an OS can be tricky — since it’s not finished, a fact that seems secondary to RIM, as they gave BlackBerry 10 Alpha devices to every developer in attendance.

The full release of BlackBerry 10 won’t be ready until “later this year” but RIM has an opportunity if what they showed off today is the tip of the iceberg. But with an iOS 6 announcement in June, and an Android 5 release in the fall, the clock is ticking.

Press Release:

ORLANDO, FLORIDA–(Marketwire – May 1, 2012) - BlackBerry World 2012 / BlackBerry 10 Jam – Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM)(TSX:RIM) today unveiled its vision for the BlackBerry® 10 platform at the BlackBerry World™ conference in Orlando, Florida and released the initial developer toolkit for native and HTML5 software development. The toolkit is available in beta as a free download fromhttp://developer.blackberry.com.

“BlackBerry 10 builds upon the core values and exceptional user experiences that have attracted more than 77 million BlackBerry customers around the world today,” said Alec Saunders, Vice President, Developer Relations and Ecosystems Development. “Developers building for BlackBerry 10 will be able to easily create the kind of cutting-edge apps that deliver truly engaging experiences and ‘wow’ customers, whether through integration with native features and other apps like BBM or by leveraging the new signature design elements of this new and powerful mobile computing platform.”

“There is tremendous interest, anticipation and momentum building toward the launch of BlackBerry 10 devices, and today we’re extremely excited to release the BlackBerry 10 developer beta tools for general use,” said Christopher Smith, Vice President, Handheld Application Platform and Tools at Research In Motion. “Developers can use this first beta of the tools to get started building apps for BlackBerry 10 and as the tools evolve over the coming months, developers will have access to a rich API set that will allow them to build even more integrated apps. The toolkit we are delivering today also meets developers on their own terms. Whether using the powerful Cascades framework, writing direct native code or developing in HTML5, BlackBerry 10 will empower developers to create attractive and compelling apps that excite customers.”

The toolkit includes the BlackBerry® 10 Native SDK with Cascades, which allows developers to create graphically rich, high performance native applications in C/C++ using Qt. The Native SDK for BlackBerry 10 has a rich set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that give developers access to core device features and a range of BlackBerry application services, such as Push and Payment services. Cascades is a powerful native application development toolset that allows developers to easily build visually stunning applications without having to write complex, low-level graphics code.

More details about the NDK for BlackBerry 10 are posted on http://devblog.blackberry.com/2012/04/blackberry-10-native-sdk and for Cascades at http://devblog.blackberry.com/2012/04/blackberry-10-cascades-available-now.

The toolkit also includes support for HTML5 application developers with the BlackBerry 10 WebWorks™ SDK, allowing them to create native-like applications using common web programming technologies. The BlackBerry 10 WebWorks SDK allows developers to use HTML5 and CSS for building apps and provides JavaScript bindings to native device APIs along with RIM’s open source UI toolkit, bbUI.js, to create applications with native-like capabilities. In this initial release of the BlackBerry 10 WebWorks SDK, developers have access to a core subset of the full WebWorks APIs, including Identity, Application and App events, System and system events. More details about the BlackBerry 10 WebWorks SDK are posted on http://devblog.blackberry.com/2012/04/blackberry-10-webworks-sdk.

Applications created with any of the BlackBerry 10 tools will run on BlackBerry 10 smartphones as well as BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablets when the new platform becomes available for the PlayBook. All of the SDKs will be updated to give developers access to more of the BlackBerry 10 unique capabilities over the coming months.

To further help developers get started on the BlackBerry 10 platform, BlackBerry 10 Jam attendees are being provided a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device. This testing unit is a further commitment from RIM to provide the developer community with the tools they need to build successful applications for BlackBerry 10 devices, so that they are ready when the first BlackBerry 10 devices are expected to launch in the latter part of 2012.

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Watch the BlackBerry World 2012 Keynote Live!

Thorsten Heins, new President and CEO of Research In Motion, has just taken the stage at BlackBerry World 2012. You can watch the Keynote stream live at the BlackBerry World website.

RIM is expected to launch their new mobile operating system, BlackBerry 10, during the keynote. Our own Micah Singleton is at the show to provide you hands-on impressions and news. Stay tuned…

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BlackBerry World 2012 May 1-3

The first week in May means it’s time for RIM’s annual BlackBerry World Conference, where the Canadian company will announce its newest operating system, BlackBerry 10. This will also be the first keynote address for RIM’s new CEO Thorsten Heins, which should be interesting. While we don’t expect any hardware announcements, we will be there to bring you all the coverage. Stay tuned!

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Jim Balsillie resigns as Director of RIM Board

Image Credit: TekTok.ca

The Globe and Mail has broken the news that after reporting extremely poor Q4 2011 results, RIM co-founder Jim Balsillie has resigned as director of the board, which means he is leaving the company.

Balsillie and fellow co-founder Mike Lazaridis resigned as co-CEO’s of the company back in January, though they both remained at RIM; Lazaridis as co-chair of the board, and Balsillie as director.

RIM reported extremely poor Q4 earnings today, with BlackBerry sales declining 21% over the previous quarter, only shipping 11.1 million handsets. The company also missed what were already low earnings projections, posting a loss of $125 million on $4.2 billion in revenue – a 19% decrease from Q3.

In a quote published by All Things D, Balsillie said, “As I complete my retirement from RIM, I’m grateful for this remarkable experience and for the opportunity to have worked with outstanding professionals who helped turn a Canadian idea into a global success.”

Software CTO David Yach and Jim Rowan, COO, Global Operations are also leaving the company.

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In the Battle Between Giants, is There Room for a Titan?

 

Article first published as In the Battle Between Giants, is There Room for a Titan? on Technorati.

Last week, Microsoft released a web app for Android and iOS (which can be found here), allowing users to test a limited version of Windows Phone 7 on their devices; It was very intriguing to say the least. This was another part of Microsoft’s recent push to bring users onto their platform, following a free $25 gift card (U.S. only) with the purchase a Windows Phone. But with Android dominating the smartphone space, and Apple holding an 84 percent retention rate, is there any way Microsoft can do what it hopes, and surpass one of them? I think so, and there may be a correlation between this and the browser war.

Since 2006, two players have dominated the browser battle; Internet Explorer and Firefox, Android and iOS in this scenario. Then came Chrome, which has quickly grabbed market share since its launch in 2008, surpassing Firefox in November. Windows Phone has the potential to be Chrome-like player in the near future.

Most people would agree that WP7 is, at the least, aesthetically pleasing, but the interface is so different from what we are used to, many do not know if it is practical. You can have all the integration with Microsoft Office and the Xbox 360 you want, but if the device is too complicated, it will not gain enough traction to be a long-term success. The web app can help alleviate some of these worries.
As an iPhone and Android (I prefer the iPhone), The web application was a pleasant surprise when I heard about it last week. The first thing that caught my eye was the integration. On WP7, contacts social outlets are brought together, seamlessly combining text, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn updates in one place. (A full breakdown of WP7 features can be found on Engadget)

While the interface is elegant, and there are enviable features if you are a smartphone owner on another platform, the main challenge for Microsoft to grow its platform is the lack of similarity. People don’t like change, especially when it comes to their phones. Windows Phone is an immense departure from the squared app and widgets that Android, iPhone, and even Blackberry users are accustomed to. This air of unfamiliarity may change in the near future.

The design inspiration for WP7 comes from Microsoft’s Metro UI, which some of you may remember from Windows Media Center, will be well-known after Windows 8 is released at the end of 2012. You can bet that there will be integration between Windows Phone and Windows 8, and probably with the next iteration of the Xbox. Microsoft is pushing for a Mac/iPhone or Google Products/Android synergy, on a much broader scale. With so many PCs, they may have a chance.

After using a Windows Phone for a few days (HTC Radar 4G), my interest has been piqued. the interface is productive and easy to use once you get the hang of it (much like Android). But as much as I enjoyed my time with the device, I still can’t see myself switching from iOS. With Android, I don’t have as much invested into the OS as I do with the iPhone, which would make a switch from Google to Microsoft a possibility. A count totaled $94 for iOS apps compared to $35 for Android, which is more in line with the free $25 gift card that comes with the WP7 device.

I believe that Windows Phone can be that third player, but I don’t know how they will get there. Will the security risks with Android that will drive users to Windows Phone, or will it be enterprise users? Will Microsoft do what I called for them to do months ago and buy RIM, bringing its market share with them, or will Nokia get them over the hill? It seems the best bet would be to focus on the 60% of cellphone users that don’t own a smartphone.

As more and more people purchase smartphones over the next few years, Microsoft will be in prime position to take advantage of it. You would be hard pressed to find a Mac owner that doesn’t own a smartphone, which would leave Windows as the OS of choice for dumb phone users. The tiles interface will become familiar, and integration is always a selling point. Microsoft will have it’s chance, but will it take it, or will Google and Apple fend them off? Hopefully, Windows Phone will prevail to rival the dominance that is Android and iOS.

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