The Tech News Blog

January 30, 2013

BlackBerry 10 Finally Unveiled Alongside Z10, Q10 Smartphones

BlackBerry Z10

After several months of delay, Research in Motion today unveiled its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 operating system, as well as the first smartphones that will run the OS.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins also announced that RIM will re-brand itself as BlackBerry in order to have "one consistent brand." Farewell Research in Motion, hello BlackBerry.

"We have re-engineered our products, we have reinvented this company, and we want to reflect this in our brand," Heins said today during a BB10 launch event in New York City. "We are now more than ever a company that is united in our vision for mobile computing."

The first devices to sport the BlackBerry 10 OS will be the BlackBerry Z10 (above) and BlackBerry Q10 (below).

The BlackBerry Z10 is a slab-style, touch-based smartphone that features a 4.2-inch display with 356 pixels per inch. The back of the smartphone features a textured surface, while the back cover curves ever so slightly around the edge, Heins said today. 

December 22, 2012

RIM Changing Up Service Fees for BB10, Spooks Investors

BlackBerry 10 Demo

Research in Motion, no longer commanding the Enterprise market as it once did, is switching from a one-size-fits-all approach to enterprise services to tiered services offerings.

For consumers – enterprise consumers, at least – that means they'll have additional flexibility to choose from a menu of service offerings that better reflects their business needs. Some customers might keep on paying the same services fees they currently do for these features; others, both enterprise and consumer, might pay much less or absolutely nothing at all.

The news comes straight from RIM CEO Thorsten Heins, mentioned during the company's recent announcement of its third-quarter financial results. However, the new tiered pricing setup won't take effect until after RIM debuts what's been dubbed its "all-or-nothing" platform, BlackBerry 10, next month.

"Subscribers that require enhanced services, including advanced security, mobile device management, and other services, are expected to continue to generate monthly service revenue. Other subscribers, who do not utilize such services, are expected to generate less or no service revenue," Heins said.

"However, I want to be very clear on this. Service revenues are not going away, but our business model and service offerings are going to evolve. Our vision is to position BlackBerry as the clear leader in the enterprise mobility market," he added.

December 10, 2012

RIM Releases BBM 7 With Free Wi-Fi Voice Calling

BBM Voice

Research In Motion continues to try to sweeten the pot for BlackBerry users, today releasing a BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) update to the public.

BBM Version 7, formerly available only in beta, comes with BBM Voice — RIM's answer to free voice calls over Wi-Fi.

"I can't tell you how many times I've been chatting with someone on BlackBerry Messenger, trying to explain something, and realize it'd be a lot easier to just pick up the phone and talk it out," BlackBerry social media manager Donny Halliwell wrote in a blog post.

Along with new voice messaging, BBM 7 now synchronizes users' BBM profile, groups, and contacts linked to their BlackBerry ID, offers notifications when updates are ready for download, and comes with 16 additional emoticons, when typed or spoken words just aren't enough.

The phone maker announced the free voice calling over Wi-Fi in November, adding it to a beta version of BBM version 7. It allowed users to talk and text at the same time with the new split-screen function. Users can initiate a BBM Voice call directly, or switch from texting to talking, and vice versa.

June 20, 2012

RIM Cuts Jobs in Bid to Save $1 Billion

RIM BlackBerry

Troubled BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) confirmed that it has started laying off employees as part of a company restructuring initiative aimed at saving at least $1 billion by the end of its 2013 financial year.

In an emailed statement, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company on Wednesday said it has "reduced some positions as part of its program and may continue to do so as the company methodically works through a review of the business."

The company did not specify how many employees would be laid off, but said it would provide more information when it reports quarterly financial results on June 28. Rumors swirled late last month that RIM would be shedding at least 2,000 employees this summer.

According to the The Wall Street Journal, RIM has been laying off at least 10 employees at a time over the past several weeks.

"RIM has committed to achieving significant efficiencies and operating cost reductions over the course of this fiscal year," the company's statement reads. "Our financial target is to drive at least $1 billion in savings by the end of fiscal 2013 … and headcount reductions are part of this initiative."

RIM last year slashed 2,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its global work force at the time. After that round of layoffs, RIM had about 16,500 employees worldwide.

January 23, 2012

Balsillie, Lazaridis Step Down as RIM Co-CEOs

RIM Mike Lazaridis

Research in Motion on Sunday confirmed that Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis (left) will step down as co-CEOs after heading up the company for two decades.

Taking over as president and CEO will be Thorsten Heins, who had served as chief operating officer of product engineering. "Mike created a whole new way of communicating and I look forward to continuing our close collaboration," Heins said of Lazaridis.

Lazaridis will remain at RIM as vice chair of the board while Balsillie will remain a director, RIM said.

"There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership," Lazaridis said in a statement. "Jim and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now. With BlackBerry 7 now out, PlayBook 2.0 shipping in February and BlackBerry 10 expected to ship later this year, the company is entering a new phase, and we felt it was time for a new leader to take it through that phase and beyond. Jim, the Board and I all agreed that leader should be Thorsten Heins."

Lazaridis went on to sale that he was "so confident in RIM's future" that he will purchase an additional $50 million of the company's shares.

"I agree this is the right time to pass the baton to new leadership, and I have complete confidence in Thorsten, the management team and the company," Balsillie said. "I remain a significant shareholder and a Director and, of course, they will have my full support."