NOAA ditches BlackBerry for the iPhone and iPad

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (via The Loop) is turning the tide in its IT department. Doing what many companies are doing these days, NOAA plans to ditch RIM’s BlackBerry in favor of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. NOAA’s support for the BlackBerry will end May 12, 2012, according to a memo sent to CIO Joseph F. Klimavicz. NOAA did not give a time frame for the roll out.

This is a broader move in the “consumerization” of IT.  Apple makes very little effort to woo IT departments, instead making products that consumers want to bring to work (Read: the CxOs want iPhones).  Coupled with the crashing market share and outlook for RIM, smart IT departments are getting ahead of the curve by moving to iOS.

Oil company Halliburton is also making similar moves over the next two years by dumping the BlackBerry platform and moving to the iPhone. In an internal memo, Halliburton said after “significant research,” the iPhone is more favorable than Android.

Read more

RIM co-CEOs co-resign, co-COO Thorsten Heins takes over

I think the Globe and Mail was the first to report that RIM’s beleaguered CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are out – moved upstairs to the boardroom.  The strangest thing about the story, and really the past few years, is the total denial by the leadership that Blackberry is in a death spiral.

Research In Motion Ltd.’s new chief executive officer says the company is doing everything right and does not need a change in strategy, and must instead focus on harnessing its talent to improve the BlackBerry and revive sales.

“It’s a fantastic growth story and it’s not coming to an end,” Mr. Heins said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “What you will see with me is rigour and flawless execution.”

When asked whether he thought the appointment of Ms. Stymiest as chair and himself as CEO would be enough to satisfy investors, Mr. Heins retorted, “Change to what? Change for what?”

He continued, “I mean, what’s the objective of a change? We’ve made a lot of changes in the past 18 months. Not changes, but also evolution. I changed a lot of my management team, in hardware, software … I’ve trained a lot of other people in the last four years. What do you think I did? … We didn’t stand still in the last 18 months, we did our homework. And I think we will complete our homework soon.”

Even in appointing a current co-COO, who looks even less charismatic than either of the two people he replaces (video below), RIM is hedging its bets on Blackberry 10/QNX, which it won’t release until the end of 2012 on phones —if it bucks recent trends and ships on time.  Heins joined RIM just as the iPhone was released in 2007, and he has seen the company’s market share dive.

RIM’s tablet effort, the Playbook, is barely selling and only when priced below cost.  It still somehow does not natively do email.

It is hard not to feel bad for the position this once great company is now in.

(Making it easier, RIM has scheduled an 8am ET Monday conference call with the press on the details. Press release follows) Read more

ChangeWave: iPhone steals more than half planned smartphone purchases

According to the latest ChangeWave Research survey posted Monday, both Apple and Samsung are enjoying “explosive momentum” as 2012 begins while other handset makers are struggling to win the hearts of minds of consumers, such as Canada-based Research In Motion, which today updated its struggling BlackBerry platform with new software features, and Taiwan-based HTC, which posted a 26 percent income drop today —its first quarterly profit decline in two years.

Based on data obtained from 4,000 North American consumers, 54 percent of respondents planning to buy a smartphone in the next 90 days will opt for an iPhone. This is a drop from 65 percent last quarter, but more than enough to keep the coveted title of the most sought-after device. The iPhone’s “industry leading” customer satisfaction remains off the chart at 75 percent by vendor and mobile OS each (3 in 4 iPhone owners said they are ‘Very Satisfied’ with their device). Google’s Android is second with 47 percent mobile OS satisfaction rating and Samsung and HTC are at 47 percent each…

Read more

Millennial: iOS and RIM gain over Android, Kindle Fire beats iPad in adoption rate

Analytics firm Millennial Media, the second-largest mobile advertising platform behind Google, on Tuesday, released its monthly Mobile Mix report for November. Similar to their October survey that saw Android’s growth slowing (and iOS gaining). Compared to the summer period for November, both Apple’s and Research in Motion’s respective platform grew at the expense of Google. Specifically, Android went from 56 percent ad requests in October to 50 percent in November.

Meanwhile, iOS went from 28 percent ad requests in October to 30 percent in November. The BlackBerry platform recorded the biggest gain of all mobile platforms, increasing its share of ad requests from 13 percent in October to 17 percent in November. Because both iOS and BlackBerry grew their combined ad impressions by six percentage points, the same amount Android lost in the period, it is safe to assume that Apple and Research In Motion gained traction at the expense of Google’s mobile platform.

The findings are in stark contrast to the seemingly unstoppable Android growth that appears to have slowed down during the crucial holiday sales period. Android in November doubled iOS in ad impressions, but last month – its respective share changed to 50 percent for Android versus 30 percent for iOS. The Kindle Fire vs. iPad adoption figures and more info graphic charts are available below.

Read more

Apple hires designer Jan-Michael Cart praised for his iOS interface concepts


Apple is hiring dozens of talented people on a daily basis, but this one deserves your attention. Jan-Michael Cart, a mass media arts student from Georgia, is the brains behind a bunch of very insightful iOS interface concepts you’ve likely seen on the web, as noted by iPhoneinCanada.ca. This includes the notification center and application switcher mockup videos below.

As Apple is always on the lookout for young blood, Cart’s work caught the company’s attention and they decided to hire him as an intern, he announced in a blog post:

Soon I will be embarking to California, where I will be interning at a fruit company for seven months. I will be updating this to chronicle my adventures and misadventures in the Bay Area for my family, friends, and followers online. Stay tuned, I leave in less than a month!

“And like that, my time has come — I am now a member of the Apple community”, he confirmed on the front page of his personal web site. Congrats to Cart on his new gig! We sure are looking forward to seeing some of his great concepts implemented in iOS.

Heck, even the BlackBerry maker Research In Motion hired the Astonishing Tribe design shop to make the PlayBook tablet’s operating system aesthetically appealing. Watch Cart’s Dynamic Icons and Speech Recognition user interface concepts right after the break and don’t forget to check out his YouTube channel.

Read more

Amazon’s Kindle Fire vs. Apple’s iPad 2


With the $199 Kindle Fire out of the gate, the inevitable questions pops into mind: Which is faster overall, the Amazon or Apple tablet?

The comparison isn’t really fair because Amazon skimped on internal components, which was key to its breakthrough $199 price point. An iFixit teardown reveals Texas Instruments’ OMAP 4430 chip inside the device, also  found inside Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

For starters, iPad 2 boots much quicker than the Amazon tablet – again, due to its more efficient dual-core processor and optimized software. Browsing the web? No surprises here either, Safari on iPad 2 stormed ahead, performing noticeably faster than Amazon’s Silk browser which offloads page rendering to the Amazon cloud. One thing to remember: In this test, Kindle Fire was loading Flash content which of course is not supported on Apple’s device.

The iPad 2’s graphics unit, praised for its nine times performance jump, helps with scrolling, which is pretty choppy most of the time on Amazon’s device. One surprising finding is that Kindle Fire streams Netflix smoother than iPad 2, most likely due to the new version of their Android client which is not yet available for Apple’s platform.

This is not the most scientific test in the world, mind you. Again, as 9to5Google noted in its quick review, there’s really no comparing Kindle Fire to iPad 2, be it on the price, overall polish, performance or shininess. As for the speed, mainstream buyers may not be interested in raw specs anymore and Amazon has priced this thing out of the range of the Samsungs and BlackBerrys of this world so it’s more of a competitor to Android tablets than to Apple.

Read more

Sprint tells employees not to discuss upcoming iPhone 5 launch

While it may seem obvious, Sprint is telling its dealers not to discuss the possibility of an upcoming iPhone 5 according to SprintFeed.

If the nation’s third largest carrier wasn’t getting the iPhone, would they put in such harsh lockdown measures?  Why not instruct employees to tell customers to look at a nice Blackberry or Android instead?  Color us skeptical.

Earlier this month, the WSJ reported that Sprint would be getting the iPhone 5 at launch.  That followed our report a month earlier that Sprint engineers were preparing for the iPhone 5.  In May, an Engineering job had been advertised for an iPhone technician to work in Sprint’s HQ city, Kansas City.

T-Mobile is also likely to get access to the iPhone 5 later this year, though they already have 1 million iPhones on their network. Read more

Virgin hikes plans and introduces throttling, just in time for an iPhone?

We’ve discussed the next generation ‘value-tier’ iPhone.  But we weren’t the first.  Apple COO Tim Cook was.

While Tim stopped short of explicitly stating that Apple would pursue a lower price iPhone, he did state that Apple was working hard to “figure out” the prepaid market and that Apple didn’t want its products to be “just for the rich,” but “for everyone”; he also stated that Apple “understood price is big factor in the prepaid market” and that the company was “not ceding any market.” ….He further noted that the handset distribution model was poorly constructed and that Apple would look to “innovate” and do “clever” things in addressing that market.

That was the WSJ tapping the line (har) of  Bernstein Research’s Toni Sacconaghi in February.

Today, Virgin announced that it was hiking its data plans to $35/month for unlimited data which coincides with the launch of a big Android phone. But more interesting, to me anyway, was that Virgin is changing its ‘unlimited’ to ‘unlimited with throttling at 2.5GB’ in…October.

Beginning in October 2011, Virgin Mobile will also move to reduce data speeds when a customer’s data usage exceeds 2.5GB in a month but still provide unlimited 3G access without a contract, usage cap, overage or activation fees. Based on current usage patterns, fewer than 3 percent of Virgin Mobile USA customers use more than 2.5GB of data usage per month. After reaching this level, this minority of customers may experience slower page loads, file downloads and streaming media. When a customer’s next month begins, the data usage meter starts back at zero with unlimited 3G speeds.

If Apple was going to do a pre-paid carrier in the US, it would certainly be Virgin (vs. Cricket, US Cellular, Boost).  If Virgin did do iPhone, they’d certainly want to put measures in place to prevent the iPhone from killing its network.


image via

We got word yesterday that AT&T was changing its iPhone insurance plans on October 4th, perhaps signaling some new models.  With what we had, we’d have given the info about a 25% shot of being legitimate.  However, since then, we’ve heard that a big commotion was made about that information being made public.  Based on that and today’s Virgin announcement, we’re thinking the probability of that date being right has increased significantly. Read more

AT&T raises iPhone device tier on October 4th, perhaps signaling launch date?

We’ve just been handed some internal AT&T information on device changes:

.

A new tier of device will be created in AT&T’s phone database on October 4th (a Tuesday:) which will require a higher rate of insurance.  iPhone (and other devices) will move there on the arbitrary October 4th date.  It is curious that the iPhone was mentioned specifically and not other devices.

While light years away from a new iPhone launch date confirmation, it could be a sign that new iPhones will hit AT&T in this timeframe.

In any case, it might be a good idea to buy insurance before that date as the monthly prices are going up.

Thanks at&T! Read more

Apple consortium wins Nortel patents with $4.5B bid

A consortium including Apple Inc, Microsoft, EMC Corp, Sony, Ericsson, and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion bought bankrupt telecommunications gear maker Nortel Networks Corp’s remaining portfolio of 6000 patents for $4.5 billion, in an auction that began early this week.

RIM reportedly paid $770 million, Ericsson paid $340 million.  It wasn’t immediately clear how much Apple paid.

Google had originally opened bidding with a $900 million bid.  The consortium of strange bedfellows will split up the portfolio based on the split of the purchase price.

The sale is subject to Canadian and U.S. court approvals which will be sought at a joint hearing expected to be held on July 11.  Full press release follows:

Read more

Apple is US smartphone market leader, Nielsen data shows

Apple’s battle with Android continues with the latest Nielsen market share data revealing iOS remains the dominant smartphone OS, at least right now.

Android is picking up users: according to November data from The Nielsen Company, the popularity of the Android OS among those who purchased a smartphone in the last six months (40%) makes it the leading OS among recent acquirers. Read more