The Tech News Blog

August 12, 2013

Struggling BlackBerry Exploring ‘Strategic Alternatives’

White BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry today announced the hiring of a special committee that will "explore strategic alternatives" that could range from partnerships to a complete sale of the company.

CEO and President Thorsten Heins, who will serve on the committee, said it will be business as usual at BlackBerry during this process.

"We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition," Heins said in a statement. "As the special committee focuses on exploring alternatives, we will be continuing with our strategy of reducing cost, driving efficiency and accelerating the deployment of BES 10, as well as driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, launching the multi-platform BBM social messaging service, and pursuing mobile computing opportunities by leveraging the secure and reliable BlackBerry Global Data Network."

BlackBerry stressed that this exploration phase might not result in anything. But the team is considering "possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the company or other possible transactions."

The committee also includes Barbara Stymiest, Richard Lynch, and Bert Nordberg, and will be chaired by Timothy Dattels.

June 29, 2013

BlackBerry Stumbles, Ships 2.7M BB10 Smartphones

White BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry on Friday reported a loss for the quarter, during which it shipped 2.7 million smartphones running its latest BlackBerry 10 operating system.

But during a conference call with investors, CEO Thorsten Heins argued that BlackBerry 10 is "still in the early stages of its transition," with many users - particularly those in emerging markets - still on the earlier BlackBerry 7 OS.

In fact, BlackBerry plans to release at least one more BlackBerry 7-based phone this year to take advantage of those who still favor the older OS.

The company is not taking such care with its tablet lineup, however. Heins confirmed that the BlackBerry PlayBook will not be updated to BlackBerry 10, essentially marking its demise.

Overall, BlackBerry shipped 6.8 million smartphones during the quarter, with 2.7 million of those sporting the latest BB10 OS, like the BlackBerry Z10 and QWERTY Q10 . Heins declined to break out how many BB10 devices it actually sold, sticking instead to shipment numbers.

For comparison, Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones during the first quarter, while Nokia sold 5.6 million Lumia smartphones during the same time period.

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. 

January 28, 2013

Lenovo Downplays RIM Acquisition Report

BlackBerry Curve 9310

PC giant Lenovo is downplaying a recent report that the company is looking to acquire BlackBerry maker Research in Motion.

The rumor spread on Friday following a Bloomberg report that cited Lenovo chief financial officer, Wong Waiming, as saying that the company is "looking at all opportunities — RIM and many others." In a statement to on Monday morning, Lenovo said it does not comment on mergers and acquisition rumors or speculation, but clarified Waiming's statement.

"We are aware that Lenovo's CFO Waiming was speaking broadly about M&A strategy in a recent interview," the company said. "RIM was raised as a potential target by the journalist and Mr. Wong repeatedly answered in a manner consistent with all of our previous statements on M&A strategy: Lenovo is very focused on growing its business, both organically and through M&A. When inorganic ideas arise, we explore them to see if there is a strategic fit."

Meanwhile, RIM also issued a statement about the report, but did not directly address the possible Lenovo bid. The company said it is focused at this time on the delivery of its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 operating system, which will be unveiled at a press event on Jan. 30.

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January 25, 2013

Report: Lenovo Considering Bid for BlackBerry Maker RIM

RIM BlackBerry Curve 9370 (Verizon Wireless)

PC giant Lenovo is considering potential acquisition targets, including BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, as part of an effort to bolster its smartphone unit, according to a new report.

"We are looking at all opportunities - RIM and many others," Lenovo chief financial officer Wong Wai Ming, told Bloomberg yesterday in an interview at the World Economic Forum's meeting in Davos, Switzerland. "We'll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders."

Beijing-based Lenovo has a team working on possible acquisitions, and has already spoken to RIM and its bankers about different opportunities, Bloomberg reported. Wong did not reveal when the company would make a decision about whether to bid on the struggling phone maker.

RIM last year hired bankers from J.P. Morgan and RBC Capital to help evaluate its strategic options after facing several disappointing financial quarters in a row as it struggles to deal with the popularity of Apple's iPhone and smartphones based on Google's Android.

RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company declined to comment to Bloomberg about the possible Lenovo bid.

January 10, 2013

3 Major U.S. Carriers Confirm BlackBerry 10 Devices

RIM BlackBerry

Research In Motion's new BlackBerry 10 handsets now have a home among three of the top U.S. cell phone carriers, according to a report from Reuters.

Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have confirmed to the news outlet that they are all "looking forward" to the devices, which RIM will unveil on Jan. 30.

"We're hopeful it's going to be a good device," Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam told Reuters this week at CES in Las Vegas.

Verizon did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

RIM is keeping its fingers crossed for the same outcome. A positive response to its new smartphone lineup could make or break the firm, which has struggled to compete against Apple and Samsung.

RIM's name has been sullied by a number of missteps, including the lackluster release of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, as well as the delay of the BB10 rollout.

T-Mobile declined to comment to PCMag about the new BlackBerry 10 devices. The carrier last week puzzled onlookers by releasing the BlackBerry Curve 9315 ahead of the BB10 launch. For more on that, see Why Is the Curve 9315 Launching Without BlackBerry 10?

January 1, 2013

Leaked Slides, FCC Filing Tip More BlackBerry 10 Phone Details

BlackBerry 10 L-Series Leaked Photo

With the launch of RIM's BlackBerry 10 operating system just several weeks away, the next question is what type of devices will be running the company's next-gen OS? We've seen a few leaks hit the Web, and now it appears that one of RIM's BB10 gadgets has made its way through the official government approval process.

This weekend, two mystery versions of a new RIM smartphone showed up in the Federal Communications Commission's database. RIM must receive FCC approval before releasing its new gadgets in the U.S., and it seems to be well on its way.

BlackBerry model number RFF91LW hit the FCC site on Sunday, according to Engadget, which reported that the device was put through standard tests and given the green light for AT&T's LTE and GSM bands. While the handset's label was censored, the filed paperwork points to at least three RIM devices running OS 10.0.9 — possibly the L-series BlackBerry Z10 (pictured), Engadget said, or simply one of the Dev Alpha devices handed out in recent months.

Documents for the model RFH121LW handset don't reveal much about specs or connectivity.

There's more to the upcoming BB10 OS, though, including BBM with video chat and screen sharing, according to leaked slides. As reported by Engadget on Thursday, the images have been removed from various sites, helping to confirm their legitimacy.

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.

November 12, 2012

RIM’s BlackBerry 10 to Launch Jan. 30

BlackBErry 10 Hands On

Research in Motion today announced that its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 operating system will be released on Jan. 30, 2013.

The company said it will also unveil two new BlackBerry smartphones that day at simultaneous launch events around the world.

"In building BlackBerry 10, we set out to create a truly unique mobile computing experience that constantly adapts to your needs," RIM CEO and president Thorsten Heins said in a statement. "Our team has been working tirelessly to bring our customers innovative features combined with a best in class browser, a rich application ecosystem, and cutting-edge multimedia capabilities."

This, Heins continued, will be integrated into a user experience known as the BlackBerry Flow. "We believe our customers will have the best experience possible with BlackBerry 10," he said. "We are looking forward to getting BlackBerry 10 in the hands of our customers around the world."

RIM said BlackBerry 10 has reached FIPS 140-2 certification, which means government agencies can deploy BlackBerry devices after the OS is released. This is the first time a BlackBerry OS has been certified before its launch.