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10/21/2013

BlackBerry's BBM Messenger launches for Android, iPhone users – slowly

Screenshot_2013-10-21-22-14-28Remember when BBM was the “in” thing?

Asking a girl or guy for their number at the bar was passe. With BBM, it was all about getting their PIN. And if you didn't have a PIN, you were immediately deemed as uncool as someone with a flip phone.

But then there were alternatives, other apps that worked across all smartphones, not just those made by Canada's Research in Motion – at the time.

Apps like WhatsApp took off, and so did Apple's own iMessage instant messaging service.

Both used data connections to send and receive messages and attachments. You could have group chat too. A feature most people really liked with BBM and spread to the competitors was send, delivered and read receipts

So finally, the company decided to release a BBM app for Android and iPhone users – many of which may have once used BBM on a BlackBerry phone.

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09/27/2013

BlackBerry loses almost a billion dollars in a single quarter

Once-great Canadian tech company BlackBerry announced its second quarter results yesterday. It was more bad news for a company that is on the verge of being acquired by an investment group.

BlackBerry lost $965 million dollars in Q2, on revenues of $1.6 billion. The biggest cause of the loss?  It didn't sell as many of its Z10 phones as it had hoped, leading to a $934 million write-down. It also incurred $72 million thanks to staff layoffs.

This is a huge comedown from the same quarter last year, when the firm earned $2.9bn in revenues, and lost just $84m.

The firm - which didn't have an official analyst earnings call this quarter - also announced late last week that it was laying off another 4500 staff (that's around a third of its workforce). It would slim its business down to just four handsets, it said, and focus on providing secure IT services to the government and corporate market.

And the firm has also signed a letter of intent with Canadian insurance and reinsurance firm FairFax Fairfax Financial to take the company private with a $4.7bn takeover offer.

It looks like it's over for BlackBerry, at least as far as being a consumer phone company goes. 

How do you feel about the future of this former Canadian technology icon?

Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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08/25/2013

Review: BlackBerry Q10

When I got the BlackBerry Z10 to review, I thought it was great. Finally, the Canadian company had made a solid piece of hardware without a physical keyboard, and a touchscreen the size of a proper smartphone.

The keypad-free formula seemed to have worked for Apple. Nobody is waiting for an iPhone with a QWERTY keyboard (though hackable alternatives exist).

My “CrackBerry” acquaintances disagreed. They wanted a BlackBerry with physical buttons. It was, so they say, impossible to type on a touchscreen. So they waited as the company formerly known as RIM prepared to release the Q10, a BlackBerry running the newest operating system with a physical keyboard.

Alas, it has arrived. Finally.

At a time when screen sizes are getting bigger and bigger, the size of the Q10 touchscreen suggests BlackBerry didn't get the message that bigger is better.

While Samsung is going bonkers with the 6.3-inch screen on the Mega smartphone, the 3.1-inch display on the Q10 is as appealing as a pencil is to swat a dragon fly.

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07/12/2013

Will BlackBerry pull out of its dive?

BlackBerry, the mobile phone company which was once the darling of the Canadian tech industry, is still struggling, it seems. The company released its latest quarterly results at the end of June, and this week, it spend a lot of its annual general meeting defending itself. Is the beleaguered firm going to make it?

Thorsten Heins, Blackberry's CEO, spent a lot of the Q&A at the general meeting fending off shareholder questions about the firm's misfortune.

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The company reported an $84 million loss in its most recent results. That's a big problem, because earlier this year, it launched its BlackBerry 10 operating system, along with two new phones – the Z10 and Q10 - specifically built for it. This was the first quarter to give us clear data about how the phones were selling, and it was pretty disappointing. The firm sold 2.7 million BlackBerry 10 devices during the quarter, and its revenues didn't meet analyst expectations. It also lost $84 million. This was meant to be BlackBerry's big splash.

The company didn't break out sales of the Z10, but one shareholder called the phone's launch a disaster. "I talked to staff at many points of sale and they were either inadequately trained or not trained at all," he said. "Marketing materials were missing." (Hein's response: no, it wasn't).

BlackBerry's share of the US market is still horribly small – Comscore says it has just 4.8% of the mobile operating system market down there, compared to over 50% for iOS. No wonder that rumors are emerging of layoffs in the company, beginning with its US chief.

One activist investor who has long called for the breakup of the company asked again: "could you touch on whether your strategic analysis has led you to some conclusions?" he asked.

Heins replied that the company is in the middle of a three stage transition. The first stage, which happened last year, was simple survival. It had to avoid going bankrupt. The second stage, which it is currently in, sees it consolidating position and getting new products successfully adopted by the market. The third stage will see it gain profitability, he said.

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But Heins is an operations guy, from an operations background. Steve Jobs captured the mobile market because he was a visionary, which is why he innovated first, and left BlackBerry playing catchup. Jobs invented the tablet computer as we know it today. Heins spends a lot of his time predicting its death, as he apparently prepares to kill off the ill-fated Playbook tablet. Meanwhile, Gartner says that tablets will outstrip sales of pretty much everything else combined, other than smartphones, within four years.

BlackBerry may have a loyal following in Canada, but it needs all the help it can get to crack that crucial and ever-elusive US market. Is it going to succeed? What do you think?

Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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06/28/2013

BlackBerry needs to sort itself out - urgently

Canada's biggest tech darling may want to do something else rather than make cellphones and tablets, and the operating systems that power those device.

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05/07/2013

Photos of possible new BlackBerry leaked

 

Blackberry_r10_picture_bjxiaoc
Photo via bjxiaoc.com
New photos of a possible replacement for the BlackBerry Curve appear to have been leaked on a Chinese website.

 

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04/03/2013

New BlackBerry could tell friends you’re watching porn

 

Bbm-privacy-tip-porn
Photo via CrackBerry.com user sosof
Looking up naughty videos on X-rated websites? Your BlackBerry Z10 could likely be sharing this private information with your contacts.

 

Whatever you do on your personal time is personal, but it seems that a feature designed to help you be more social could actually be causing quite a lot of embarrassment.

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03/22/2013

Apple tops smartphone satisfaction survey

Which smartphone brand scored the highest level of satisfaction with consumers?

The results of a U.S. survey found that Apple is the brand with highest user satisfaction, while Canada's BlackBerry squanders at the bottom of the list.

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02/26/2013

Is the new BlackBerry Z10 really good?

Weeks after the new BlackBerry Z10 launched, some are wondering if the new smartphone is really any good.

According to various reports, the answer is yes. But the details are mysteriously unclear.

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01/30/2013

Should you get the new BlackBerry Z10?

Photo (1)With the official launch of RIM, er, BlackBerry's new operating system, many people have been wondering whether they should get a phone running the new BB10 operating system.

The answer is yes. And no.

There's a lot to consider and the answer isn't a black and white one. But this should help you make a decision.

But first, know this: Forget about the Q10. The keyboard/touchscreen hybrid phone won't be available for at least a couple months, and really – you're short changing yourself with a small screen. There's a reason iPhones and Galaxy SIIIs sell like hotcakes, and it's not because either phone has a physical keypad.

Should you upgrade if...?

You have a BlackBerry phone sold before Feb. 5:

Yes. Stop reading this and place your order right now. Pay whatever the penalty is to get out of your contract and upgrade your device.

If your BlackBerry is anything but the new phone running BB10, and you like your BBM and handheld device security, then yes of course, you should definitely upgrade to the Z10.

There's a good chance you might not even think the BlackBerry World ecosystem is limited with more than 70,000 apps – more than any other mobile operating system at launch.

You probably don't really care about app selection either if you're still using a BlackBerry Bold, so it's not like you'll think the new BB10 app selection is small.

Sure, using a large 4.2-inch might seem overwhelming. But then again, the internal combustion engine was a significant upgrade from the horse-drawn carriage.

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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