BlackBerry Reports $84 Million Operating Loss In First Fiscal Quarter 2014

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 2, 2013 - 03:22 AM |
Tagged: RIM, financial results, blackberry, BES10, BB10

BlackBerry (the company formerly known as RIM) recently posted its financial report detailing performance in the first fiscal quarter 2014. Unfortunately, it did not perform nearly as well as investors hoped. BlackBerry experienced increases in quarterly revenue and units shipped, but it still ended up with a hefty operating loss.

Specifically, at the end of fiscal Q1 2014, BlackBerry reported revenue of $3.1 billion with 6.8 million devices shipped and an operating loss of $84 million. The $3.1 billion in revenue is a 15% increase versus the previous quarter ($2.9 billion) and a 9% increase YoY (year over year). Despite the operating loss (which is actually an improvement over the $518 million operating loss in the previous year), BlackBerry still managed to ship 6.8 million units, which is 13% increase versus the previous quarter. BlackBerry did not detail how many of those devices where BB10 devices, but it is estimated to be 2.7 million of the 6.8 million devices shippped versus 1 million BB10 devices shipped in the previous quarter. At least BB10 is gaining some small amount of traction. Among those BlackBerry devices shipped in Q1'14, the company did state that it shipped 100,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

Speaking of the PlayBook, the company had to break its promise to users with the statement that it would not be providing an update for the tablets to its latest BlackBerry 10 operating system. The reason given was that the company ran into performance issued on the PlayBook hardware when attempting to get BB10 running, and because they were not able to get it running smoothly they are not giong to release any update after all.

Needless to say, investors where not pleased with the performance of the company or of BlackBerry 10 which (despite being an interesting mobile OS) has not caught on like many had hoped. Instead, the BlackBerry OS is reported to occupy fourth place in the market behind Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone. BlackBerry's stock price dropped as much as 26% following the release of the financial report, according to GSMArena.

According to the company, the following quarter will see improvements, but it will still be operating at a loss. BlackBerry will continue to forge ahead with BlackBerry 10 OS and the accompanying hardware. The company will further development of BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) 10, and a cross-platform version of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) social messaging client. Handsets are going to be the focus with no new tablets. Finally, BlackBerry is going to continue focusing on cost cutting and company streamlining efforts to reduce overhead and other expenses.

The full financial report is available here on the BlackBerry website.

It is not all bad news. BlackBerry still has a fighting chance and I hope they can turn things around and make the new BlackBerry a success. What do you think about BlackBerry's performance so far this year/ Have you seen any BB devices being used instead of the typical iPhone or Android handset?

Source: BlackBerry

BlackBerry Releases BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 Smartphones With BB10 OS

Subject: Mobile | January 31, 2013 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, RIM, blackberry z10, blackberry q10, blackberry, BB10

Research In Motion (RIM) is no more, but the company will live on as BlackBerry. Earlier this week, the company held a press conference where it made the name change official and introduced two new smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 operating system. It was a lot to take in at the time, and it has taken me this long for me to write about it as I have been torn on how I feel about the new BlackBerry.

First up though, the phones certainly look quite good. They are rather sleek looking utilizing curved edges well. BlackBerry has designed an all-touchscreen Z10 and a smaller Q10 smartphone with physical keyboard that is has just enough Bold DNA to evoke fond memories of my first smartphone.

BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 Smartphones.jpg

The Z10 features a 4.2” touchscreen with a resolution of 1280 x 768 (356 PPI). Beneath the hood is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC clocked at 1.5 GHz along with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. For expansion, the phone supports micro SD cards. It can output video over HDMI and the phone includes an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP webcam. NFC and Wi-Fi are included along with LTE support.

Customers in the UK and Canada will be getting their hands on the phone sometime this week. US residents will have to wait until springtime, however. The BlackBerry Z10 is slated for a spring 2013 US launch (around March). In the US, the black version will be available on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for $149 while a white SKU will be $199 and a Verizon exclusive (Verizon will also sell the black model, but reportedly at the higher $199 price).

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The Q10 carries the same internal hardware as the Z10 but goes with a smaller 3.1” 720 x 720 touchscreen. Beneath the screen is a physical keyboard reminiscent of the old BlackBerry Bold. Specs and pricing were more-scarce here, but it should see a US release sometime in April 2013.

Both BlackBerry smartphones run the company’s new BB10 operating system. The new OS is a complete overhaul that has several neat features. There is a new BBM client that integrated video chat and screen sharing, an app store with 70,000 launch apps, a work and home workspace separation (which will be great for BYOD workplaces), and a feature called Peek. Peek is invoked by a swipe gesture and allows you to, well, peek at a second application (such as email0 while watching a video or browsing the web. BlackBerry 10 will run multiple applications in the background and has an app switcher similar to Maemo where it displays live icons laid out in a grid. The OS also includes a camera application and editor. The camera app allows you to time-shift a bit after the photo is taken in order to find the best shot (for example, finding the shot where everyone was looking at the camera and/or not blinking). It is nice to see that rolled into a smartphone camera as it is rather useful when trying to get group shots of the family! Having the physical keyboard is sure to be a boon to many former BlackBerry users and may be the deciding factor in those users coming back to BlackBerry after leaving for Android and iOS.

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That statement does segway nicely into my worry, however. Essentially “former users” is the key phrase, and after Android and iOS have gobbled up the market I do not know that BB10 and the two new phones will be enough to win back their former users much less new customers that did not grow up using BlackBerry phones. Don’t get me wrong, the phones look really nice, and BB10 as an operating system shows promise. On the other hand, Google and Apple have a colossal head start and the majority of the market share. This is a stranglehold that even OS-juggernaut Microsoft has not been able to crack with its new Windows Phone 8 devices. BlackBerry may be able to win back the hearts of IT departments and grab some of the enterprise market, but I worry that BlackBerry took too long to put out BB10 and supporting hardware to reclaim its former glory.

I suppose I will just have to wait and see how well-received the phones are at the contract prices versus deals that are likely to be given out for Galaxy SIII phones, the Nexus 4, and previous-gen iPhones (keep in mind the Galaxy S4 is rumored to be released soon, so that would make the S3 likely to get a nice discounted on-contract price).

By all that is Brick Breaker, I hope that RIM BlackBerry finds some way to succeed. Perhaps a partnership with NVIDIA for Tegra-powered BB10 devices? After all, as Ryan mentioned on the podcast NVIDIA is in need of design wins for it's chips and BlackBerry could do with more hardware aimed at more price points.

Enough of my speculation, however. What do you think about the new BlackBerry and it's new devices?

Source: Ars Technica

Because Alicia Keys wouldn't want to lead a company called RIM

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2013 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: RIM, blackberry, awkward, Alicia Keys

The new Blackberry models are here, well two of them anyways, the fully touchscreen Z10 and the Q10 sporting the familiar keyboard.  Inside the Z10 is a 1.5GHz dual core SnapDragon S4 Plus, similar to the Lumina 920, 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage, behind a 4.2-inch LCD at 1280 x 768 which gives it a better pixel density than the iPhone 5.  The Q10 sports the same insides but has a smaller screen to make room for the full keyboard and it has a resolution of 720 x 720.  The OS adds some interesting features and enhancements to BBM, such as video calling and Balance which separates work and personal apps and documents may allow some users with two phones to drop one in favour of the new BlackBerry.  On the other hand why you would need Instagram-like filtres for your pictures or a Storytime mode, but with around 70,000 applications not all can be winners.  You can catch Slashdot's reaction to the launch here.

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"CANADIAN PHONE MAKER Blackberry, formerly known as Research in Motion, unveiled its first Blackberry 10 smartphones today.

First up is the long-rumoured Blackberry Z10, a fully touchscreen device that clearly is meant to compete with the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3."

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Lenovo to buy RIM? That's a little hard to swallow.

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2013 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: RIM, Lenovo, blackberry, purchase, rumour

We are looking at all opportunities -- RIM and many others” is the actual quote from Chief Financial Officer Wong Wai Ming that spurred the speculation that Lenovo is going to buy RIM.  These rumours have spread to the point that Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has gone on record to say that any such proposal would be scrutinized by the government before it could go through.  If you look over the past five years of the Harper government and how they have treated foreign acquisition of large Canadian companies you will notice a pattern, the sale of MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Ltd. to an American based company was blocked, sale of Potash Corp to the Australians was blocked and while Nexen was purchased by a Chinese mining firm, the current Canadian government is on record as saying no more state companies will be allowed to buy oil sands firms.

It is not just the regulatory hurdles that make this sale seem unlikely, at least in the terms pundits are currently bandying about.  Lenovo did base their current success on purchasing IBM's hardware line but it was at a time when IBM chose to move out of the hardware business; IBM did not have to sell off that successful business but instead saw an opportunity in doing so.  RIM on the other hand is in trouble and if they try to flog their hardware business off to the highest bidder they are not going to meet with the success that IBM did.  In fact, even without seeing the 10 new phones that will be arriving in the near future, it is not a stretch to theorize that they will not have the speed and attractiveness of Samsung or HTCs current or upcoming models. 

What is sexy about RIM is behind the scenes, their architecture (at least now that they've moved away from the single point of failure model) and the security features that Blackberrys on a proper BES have.  Native ActiveSync support is nice as BYOD becomes more common in the corporate world but those devices lack the security assurances that a Blackberry has, which is what makes it attractive to Governments and Security Agencies across the world in addition to corporate users.  It is also the only part of the company that IBM found interesting when the last set of RIM rumours circulated.  It is possible that the stories such as you can see at The Register have some merit, it would seem far more likely that Lenovo would be considering a purchase similar to their IBM purchase, sell and support the hardware but not the software side.

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"Lenovo CFO Wong Wai Ming says the company is actively pursuing ways to improve its position in the mobile device market, spurring speculation that the Chinese firm may be planning to cozy up with Research in Motion – or even swallow it whole."

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Source: The Register

RIM is licensing from Microsoft, not the other way 'round

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2012 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: RIM, blackberry, microsoft, exFAT

While the news was enough to bump RIM stocks up somewhat this morning, the deal inked between Microsoft and RIM does not have Microsoft licensing hardware or software to RIM, instead it is the other way around.  RIM is licensing the exFAT operating system for use in its phones at an undisclosed price per device.  We know that Microsoft has charged $15/device from some other mobile companies; not that they paid it that way, instead it took a court case for Microsoft to get their full price.  Where exactly RIM is going to find the resources to pay for this deal is a mystery, the already cash strapped company is currently suffering from their new OSes failure to launch on time.  At least their new phones will be using a common format for their flash storage, assuming the company lasts until the BlackBerry 10 can be marketed.  More over at The Register.

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"Shares of Research in Motion spiked briefly on Tuesday on news that the struggling smartphone maker had signed a new licensing agreement with Microsoft, but investors who hoped the deal meant Redmond would bundle BlackBerry technology with its phones were in for a disappointment."

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Source: The Register

Big Blue likes RIM's infrastructure ... the phones not so much

Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2012 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: RIM, blackberry, IBM

One of the scariest things about the failure of RIM to recover from its attempts to move into the consumer market is the damage being done to the services they supply to businesses.  The Enterprise Services Division of RIM handles the servers which ensure secure delivery of messages over the cellular network and is one of the main reasons that RIM devices and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server are the preferred choice of many institutions.  If RIM goes down then that ability to ensure security and to remotely administrate devices will go down with them.  That is why this story on The Register will make many sysadmins very happy, not only is someone interested in purchasing that business unit, the company that is interested is IBM.  They do not have any interest in the actual BlackBerry phones, so this could mean that BES type management could be expanded to more devices and the death of RIM may not mean the death of secure delivery of business emails.  Pity about the CPP though.

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"IBM is reportedly interested in snapping up the enterprise services division of troubled BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion.

Well-placed sources whispered to Bloomberg that Big Blue could help Canadian mobile biz RIM by taking the unit off its hands, and has already made an informal approach about it."

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Source: The Register

Was the wait for the PlayBook worth it?

Subject: Mobile | April 19, 2011 - 03:59 PM |
Tagged: RIM, blackberry, playbook, tablet

It has been a long wait for the 7.6" by 5.1" BlackBerry PlayBook, smaller than some competitors but also lighter.  It fully supports Adobe Flash, another benefit on top of its main competitor but Wired had trouble finding any other benefits.  Check out their full review to see what they thought.

wired_playbook.jpg

"The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is a good-looking piece of hardware.

Like the proto-humans in 2001: A Space Odyssey, you’ll be eager to touch the monolithic object’s black, buttonless visage. But once you do, things get a little more complicated."

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Source: Wired