RIM Stories June 10, 2015

Former RIM CEO admits iPhone killed the BlackBerry

After passing “the baton to new leadership” three and a half years ago, ex-Research In Motion chief executive Jim Balsillie has publicly admitted in a new interview what everyone already knows: the iPhone was devastating to the company’s BlackBerry smartphone business. The Associated Press reports Balsillie’s comments came during a Q&A session with the authors of the recently released “Losing the Signal. The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry” book (Amazon/iBooks):

RIM Stories January 14, 2015

Samsung rumored to be making a ~$7.5B offer to buy BlackBerry…for its patents

Update: BlackBerry is denying the story:

BlackBerry Limited (NASDAQ:BBRY)(TSX:BB) (“BlackBerry”) is aware of certain press reports published today with respect to a possible offer by Samsung to purchase BlackBerry. BlackBerry has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry. BlackBerry’s policy is not to comment on rumors or speculation, and accordingly it does not intend to comment further.

Samsung approached BlackBerry regarding a possible takeover of the company for as high as $7.5 billion, according to a report from Reuters (via CNBC)BlackBerry stock has jumped 16% following the report.

Blackberry stock skyrocketed Wednesday afternoon after a report that the device maker had been approached by Samsung about a potential takeover… At its high, Blackberry was up more than 21 percent… South Korea’s Samsung proposed an initial price range of $13.35 to $15.49 per share, which represents a premium of 38 percent to 60 percent over BlackBerry’s current trading price, the source said.

The report says executives from Samsung and BlackBerry met last week regarding the possible takeover, but both companies declined to offer a statement to Reuters for the story. The buy would be mostly for access to the patent treasure trove according to the GlobeandMail. 

Smartphone company Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has recently approached BlackBerry Ltd to buy the company for as much as $7.5-billion, looking to gain access to its patent portfolio, according to a person familiar with the matter and documents seen by Reuters. South Korea’s Samsung proposed an initial price range of $13.35 to $15.49 per share, which represents a premium of 38 per-cent to 60 per-cent over BlackBerry’s current trading price, the source said.

Recently Samsung announced a partnership with BlackBerry in an attempt to push its Knox security services and mobile devices to enterprise customers, and it’s likely Samsung would be after BlackBerry’s patents and presence in the enterprise. The companies announced in November that the partnership would include bringing BlackBerry’s BES12 platform to Samsung Galaxy devices equipped with Knox. 

BlackBerry currently develops its enterprise platforms and BBM messaging services for both iOS and Android, but what an acquisition might mean for support on non-Samsung devices remains to be seen.

RIM Stories June 6, 2013

BlackBerry’s BBM apps for iOS and Android arriving June 27?

Update: T-Mobile has now removed its original tweet.

According to a tweet from T-Mobile UK’s Twitter account, the previously announced BlackBerry Messenger service will be arriving on both Android and iOS later this month on June 27. A release date for the BBM service, which will arrive for the first time on iOS and Android as a free download, has not officially been announced by BlackBerry, but the tweet from T-Mobile is a pretty good indication on when we will see the service begin to roll out. However, a report from BusinessInsider later claimed that the date is incorrect based on a source close to the situation. We’ll have to wait for official confirmation from BlackBerry to find out for sure, but BlackBerry told us last night it hasn’t yet made an announcement:

BlackBerry first announced the service was coming to iOS and Android at its event last month. The company said that it would be bringing messaging and groups functionality to new platforms first, but also has plans to introduce voice features, screen sharing, and its just announced ”social engagement platform” dubbed ‘Channels’ in future releases.

RIM Stories May 14, 2013

BlackBerry-BBM-iOS

Although BlackBerry has been rumored to bring its BBM messaging platform to iOS and other devices before, today the company has made things official announcing at its event that support for both iOS and Android will be arriving in the coming months. The service, which BlackBerry says currently has about  60 million monthly active users, will come to devices running iOS 6 and Android 4.0 or above when it’s launched as a free app sometime this summer in the App Store and Google Play.

The company said that it would be bringing messaging and groups functionality to new platforms first but also has plans to introduce voice features, screen sharing, and its just announced “social engagement platform” dubbed ‘Channels’ in future releases. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said the company is “committed to making the BBM experience on other platforms as fully featured” as possible. expand full story

RIM Stories May 1, 2013

DOD-iPad-USThe iPhone and iPad have already been cleared for use by a number of US government agencies, and in February the US Defense Department confirmed plans to open its networks to 100,000 new devices from Apple and Google by February of next year. Today, The Wall Street Journal reports the DoD is about to grant two more important security approvals that could increase the number of agencies allowed to deploy iPhone, iPads, and Samsung Galaxy devices:

The Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, the agency that sanctions commercial technology for Pentagon use, is set to rule that Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones, preloaded with Samsung’s Knox security software, conforms with the Pentagon’s so-called Security Technology Implementation Guide, according to people familiar with the approval process. That would allow it to be used by some Pentagon agencies for things like sending and receiving internal emails, according to these people.

Separately, DISA is expected to rule that Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 6, conforms to a different security-requirement guide, these people said. That would allow iPhones and iPads to be used by military agencies for nonclassified communications, like email and Web browsing.

The report from WSJ explained Samsung has been steadily increasing its attempt to break into corporate and government markets by hiring a new team of security experts and former RIM employees to reach out to Western governments and corporations: expand full story

RIM Stories April 23, 2013

Tim Cook talks product pipeline, 5-inch iPhone, growth in China, supply chain, and more

Apple CEO Tim Cook is currently answering questions from the press following the company’s live Q2 2013 earnings call.  Here are some of the highlights:

Cook on growth in China:

We had our best quarter ever in greater China. Revenue came in at 8.8B. That’s up 11 percent y-o-y. It’s the same as Apple’s growing… iPads grew 138% y-o-y… set new records for sell through for iPhone…

Added about 8000 iPhone point of sales, plan to add more and further grow our distribution. Innovating with our online store there and adding different functionality to the store. China has an usually large number of potential first time smartphone buyers… We’ve seen a significant interest in iPhone 4 there and recently made it even more affordable to make it even more attractive to first time buyers.

Cook on competition:

“In the beginning RIM was the strongest player. Of course today our top competitor from a hardware point of view would be Samsung, and married to Google on the software side. They’re obviously tough competitors but we feel we have the best products by far… continue to feel very confident about our product pipeline. We have the best ecosystem by far. We’re going to keep augmenting it and making it better and better. I feel very good about our competitive position.”

On new product pipeline:

“I’m just saying we’ve got really great stuff coming in the fall, and across all of 2014.”

Cook on confidence level in supply chain and moving to new vendors:

“I have incredible confidence. We exited the March quarter with no shortages. The December quarter you’re referring to is the largest for Apple.. The reality is the work we do to create truly innovate products is hard… I would assure you we are working very closely with our manufacturing partners for what we feel is a very exciting roadmap.”

On a larger screen iPhone:

My view continues to be that iPhone 5 has the absolute best display in the industry. We always strive to create the very best display for our customers. Some customers value large screen sizes. Others value other factors such as resolution, white balance, color, portability, clarity, compatibility with apps… Our competitors have made some significant trade offs in many areas in order to ship a larger display. We will not ship a larger display iPhone while these trade offs exist.

On Mac market:

The reason we were down last quarter, we were down 2%, is because the market is incredibly weak. It’s the largest decline I remember from being in this industry for a long time. It’s certainly true that some iPads cannabalized some Macs. I don’t think it was a huge number but i do think it was some… That said, i don’t think this market is a dead market or a bad market by any means… We’re going to continue to innovate in it… if anything the huge growth in tablets might end up benefiting the Mac… People may be more willing to buy a Mac… We’re going to continue making the best personal computers. Our strategy is no changing. we delivered some incredible innovation last year with the Retina Display MacBook Pro.

RIM Stories April 4, 2013

comScore-Feb-2013-Apple-OEMs

Research firm comScore is out with its usual monthly report that ranks the top smartphone OEMs and platforms for the three-month period ending in February. Apple continues to grow its lead this month as top OEM in the U.S., jumping 3.9-percent from November to 38.9-percent of the market and increasing its lead on the second biggest OEM by subscribers, Samsung:

Samsung ranked second with 21.3 percent market share (up 1 percentage point), followed by HTC with 9.3 percent share, Motorola with 8.4 percent and LG with 6.8 percent.

Feb-Comscore-Apple-PlatformsIt’s important to point out that the shipped vs. sold argument doesn’t apply to comScore’s results, as its data comes from surveys tracking smartphone subscribers and usage and not sales or units shipped. Google grabs the spot as top smartphone platform at the end of February, but Apple continues to close the gap capturing 38.9-percent of the market (up from 35 percent) compared to Google’s 51.7-percent (down from 53.7-percent): expand full story

RIM Stories February 26, 2013

DOD-iPad-USWe heard reports in October that the U.S. Department of Defense was preparing to approve a large number of iOS and Android devices for use on government networks. Those reports were followed earlier this month with news that CACI International Inc. was modifying thousands of iPads for use in U.S. government agencies. The Pentagon confirmed in a statement today that it plans to open its networks to 100,000 new devices from Apple and Google by February of next year:

The Pentagon said it wants employees to have the flexibility to use commercial products on classified and unclassified networks. It plans to create a military mobile applications store and hire a contractor to build a system that may eventually handle as many as 8 million devices.

The move comes as iPad and other iOS devices continue to be adopted by government agencies over BlackBerry. Documents from October revealed the U.S. Department of Defense planned to deploy up to 8 millions devices partially made up of iOS devices, while a number of other U.S. agencies also switched from BlackBerry to iPhones over the last year. As for the App Store and system for managing the up to 8 million devices, the DOD will select one or more companies by summer to develop the necessary software: expand full story

RIM Stories January 21, 2013

iPhone 5 compared to upcoming BlackBerry Z10 smartphone on video

German-language blog telekom-presse.at posted images and video of BlackBerry’s upcoming Z10 smartphone today said to be running a beta of BB 10. In the video (and images below), the site compared the new 4.2-inch BlackBerry to the slightly smaller and thinner iPhone 5. The Z10 is expected to officially launch at RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry event on Jan. 30 and is rumored to be priced under the iPhone 5’s $199 price tag.

RIM Stories January 10, 2013

Adam_Carolla_Pictures

In July 2011, a federal jury in Texas awarded “patent licensing company” Personal Audio LLC $8 million in its patent infringement lawsuit against Apple. The jury found Apple infringed two valid patents related to downloadable playlists with its iOS devices as far back as the original iPod. One covered an “audio program player including a dynamic program selection controller,” while the other covered an “audio program distribution and playback system.” 9to5Mac has now learned Personal Audio LLC is attempting to target content creators directly, starting with a new patent infringement case in Texas against one of iTunes biggest podcasters, Adam Carolla’s Ace Broadcasting.

If the outcome of the case is anything like Personal Audio’s previous cases, it could have a major impact on podcasters and other content creators on iTunes and elsewhere. Personal Audio also sued and entered licensing agreements with Sirius XM Radio, Archos, Coby, RIM, Samsung, Amazon, and Motorola related to its downloadable playlist patents and others.

The new patent, issued just last year on Feb. 7, 2012, is quite broad and describes a “System for Disseminating Media Content Representing Episodes in a Serialized Sequence.” Personal Audio is also suing the popular Howstuffworks.com series, which like Ace Broadcasting, is a large podcasting presence on iTunes and across the web…

expand full story

RIM Stories November 21, 2012

Following the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announcing it would end its contract with RIM and purchase $2.1 million worth of iPhones, Bloomberg reported today that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will also make the switch. The agency said in a notice posted to its website that BlackBerrys have been “failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate” while announcing plans to purchase iPhone 5’s as replacements:

The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates plane accidents, disclosed its plan to switch to Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 in a document posted last week to a federal website. The BlackBerrys have been “failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate,” according to the NTSB’s notice.

While the agency only has about 400 employees, last month’s announcement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs agency means RIM will lose additional 17,600 government employees to the iPhone in the near future. According to the document posted by the Transportation Safety Board, the agency “requires effective, reliable and stable communication capabilities to carry out its primary investigative mission and to ensure employee safety in remote locations.” RIM, however, is still counting on many government customers to upgrade to BlackBerry 10… expand full story

RIM Stories October 29, 2012

In December, we heard reports that the Pentagon had officially certified an Android device and Android 2.2 for use on Defense Department networks. According to a report from The Washington Postciting a recent document posted by the Defense Department, the Pentagon is hiring contractors to securely manage a combination of at least 162,500 iOS and Android devices. The document also noted the project could expand up to 8 million mobile devices: expand full story

RIM Stories October 22, 2012

US Immigration and Customs Agency switching 17,600 employees from BlackBerry to iPhone

Reuters reported today that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is ending its contract with RIM and purchasing $2.1 million worth of iPhones for its 17,600 employees:

The agency said it has relied on RIM for eight years but that RIM’s technology “can no longer meet the mobile technology needs of the agency” 

The agency said the iPhone will be used by a “variety of agency personnel, including, but not limited to, Homeland Security Investigations, Enforcement and Removal Operations, and Office of the Principal Legal Advisor employees”.

“The iPhone services will allow these individuals to leverage reliable, mobile technology on a secure and manageable platform in furtherance of the agency’s mission,” ICE said in the document.

RIM Stories June 24, 2012

RIM to be split into handset and services, sold off piecemeal?

TheVerge reads behind the Sunday Times’ firewall:

The Sunday Times reports today that RIM is considering a plan to split its handset division and messaging network into two separate companies, and will sell off the struggling BlackBerry hardware business. The British paper doesn’t cite any sources in the report, but it says that Facebook and Amazon are both “potential buyers.” As part of this plan, RIM could keep its enterprise-friendly messaging and data network (including BBM and BIS) in-house and license them out.

BBM and BES only run on Blackberry now, and that platform will have a market share heading toward zero by the time RIM gets all of this organizational structure sorted. So keeping that a separate business makes little sense.

The other option is selling out piecemeal to Microsoft for parts and people. I imagine that by then, the price of RIM will get so low, even Apple and Google would be interested in picking up the parts (patents, people, and tech). Microsoft is probably already lining up some cash to buy the remnants of Nokia as well, so it is less likely to pick up RIM (although it made several attempts to pick up RIM in the past).

Moreover, RIM’s QNX/Blackberry 10 might have some value for companies like Dell, HP (which recently fumbled WebOS), Lenovo, Toshiba, Acer, or ASUS due to Microsoft now building its own tablets and scaring OEMs.

That split could also see Cisco or Oracle taking the backend stuff.

Any way you look at it, on the fifth anniversary of iPhone, Blackberry —as we knew it— is almost over.

RIM Stories June 18, 2012

Ex-AT&T employee leaked Apple (and RIM) sales numbers to traders

In case you ever thought the U.S. stock market is an even playing field:

“I provided insider information concerning AT&T’s sales of Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s (Research In Motion Ltd) Blackberry products, as well as other handset set devices sold through AT&T distribution channels,” Ebrahim told U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan.

AT&T’s Marty Richter said:

“We took this matter very seriously and cooperated fully with the authorities,” said AT&T spokesman Marty Richtman. “The conduct alleged was clearly against our code of business conduct, and Mr. Ebrahim is no longer an AT&T employee.”

RIM Stories March 29, 2012

With iOS gaining roughly 30 percent United States marketshare as of Q4 2011 at the expense of RIM, Nokia and Microsoft, new numbers from Nielsen’s latest study show just how much of a duopoly the U.S. market has become. While noting about 50 percent of mobile subscribers in the U.S. are now smartphone owners, Nielsen gave a breakdown of how the two leading platforms continue to dominate as of February 2012: expand full story

RIM Stories February 9, 2012

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.

expand full story

RIM Stories January 22, 2012

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) expand full story

RIM Stories August 29, 2011

RIM has filed an ‘opposition action’ (via Patently Apple) in Canada against Apple’s trademark application for ‘WebKit’, the rendering platform based on KHTML that Apple help create before making open-source. The move grants RIM more time to build their case before a November 22, 2011 deadline.

Apple originally filed the trademark application in May of 2010 which, while getting a little bit of media attention, kind of flew under the radar of most. After all, WebKit has been made open-source.. so trademark or no trademark this shouldn’t affect Google, RIM, and all other platforms currently relying on WebKit in their browsers. Right?

If Apple were granted the trademark, it would mean other companies wouldn’t be able to associate the “WebKit” name with their products. Something that could potentially become more valuable if the WebKit name was marketed more prominently as a feature of future devices. Perhaps if Apple branded “WebKit” as a feature or technology in future products, other companies inability to do so would give Apple an advantage. Apple’s trademark application asserts the company’s rights to the name based on a “screenshot of Applicant’s website [WebKit Nightly Builds page] showing use of mark in connection with download of Applicant’s software”. expand full story

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