This is the first Blackberry I’ve used in YEARS, and while I was a big fan of their messaging services, the smartphone arena has become very competitive with some fantastic camera options. Let’s see how Blackberry’s mid-range, throw-back designed Classic performs in our real-world video benchmarks!
Blackberry might not be as popular as they once were, but I’m still glad to see the Canadian company producing alternatives to the current crop of rectangular “slabs of glass” design that pretty much every other phone manufacturer has agreed on.
While it’s a bit more niche, for those of us who still enjoy a hardware keyboard, the Passport and Classic BB smartphones will be available on AT&T starting February 20th. The higher end Passport will drop for $199 on two year agreement, and the Classic will go for $49.99 on contract.
Are any of you thinking about jumping back on the BB bandwagon? You can find more info here, and AT&T’s full press release is below.
AT&T announced it’ll carry the BB Classic, which pairs their spiffy new BBOS 10 with the classic stylings of older BB handsets. Were you missing that old tic-tac keyboard experience? The Classic should be available early next year on Big Blue, and you can catch the full press release below.
I’m tied into tech and the Typo iPhone case barely made a blip on my radar. It’s a case with a hardware QWERTY keyboard designed for iPhone 5/5S. There’s nothing particularly special about that. There have been a number of keyboard solutions for the iPhone over the years, some portrait, some landscape sliders.
It’s sort of an “old fashioned” idea that many people will poo-poo anyway as there seems to be a collective hatred of hardware keyboards from the self-proclaimed “Tech Elite” on the intarwebs.
Here’s a video showing the Typo off:
About the only novel aspect of Typo was the fact that it was backed by Ryan Seacrest of all people. No. Big. Whoop.
That is until Blackberry went and stepped their foot in it.
Delivered via press release, BB Chief Legal Counsel Steve Zipperstein had this to say:
“This is a blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard, and we will vigorously protect our intellectual property against any company that attempts to copy our unique design. From the beginning, BlackBerry has always focused on offering an exceptional typing experience that combines a great design with ergonomic excellence. We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations,”
Would the Typo have been a success on its own? Backed by Seacrest, probably yes, but I still have significant doubts that it would have been high mind share. Regardless of the legal outcome, Blackberry just guaranteed that it’s going to show up in a lot more headlines now. You just can’t buy that kind of publicity…
Full BB PR after the jump.
Earlier this week it was announced that Blackberry would not be bought out by Fairfax Financial, the company would not be going private, and that CEO Thorsten Heins would step down. Fairfax and other investors will be offering up instead a $1 Billion bond to help float the company, as its cash reserves are starting to dwindle. John Chen is stepping up to the plate as interim CEO, receiving a $3 million salary and over $80 million in restricted stock. John Chen was responsible for fixing up Sybase, a corporate data solutions company.
At its core, Blackberry has been facing a crisis of identity. Like Microsoft, BB missed the boat on the consumer driven data services market. Our favorite little tic-tac keyboarded phones were corporate sweethearts, but BB was late in attempting to crack into the general consumer demographics where Android and iOS dominate. The new BB Z10 was a first step towards offering up corporate friendly mobility which would be pretty enough for consumers to enjoy.
Of course it was not successful. Continue reading “Blackberry: An interim CEO and the illusion of action…”
Not a lot of news on this one yet, and I’m building it off of a tweet here, so I’ll update when we have more info.
Looks like BB is going to be acquired:
BlackBerry agrees to be acquired by a group led by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $4.7 billion. http://t.co/JL1Y5syX6q
— CNNMoney.com (@CNNMoney) September 23, 2013
Pretty much all we know right now.
It’s official. Blackberry is going private.
Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, said:
“We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees. We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world.”
Fairfax Financials has 6 weeks to conduct due diligence. Stock holders would receive $9 per share in cash (stock currently trading at 8 points).
Official Blackberry press release after the jump.
Maybe the final sign that Blackberry might be running out of options, their terrific Messenger app is being ported to iOS and Android. It was one of the few experiences that BB could claim as being superior to other messaging apps on the market. However under the onslaught of Facetimes, Hangouts, Skypes, WhatsApps, and more BBM was getting lost in the shuffle. If BB leaves the hardware market, there’s still a potential future for them as a branded software solutions company. Releasing BBM wide could help them improve mind share with consumers who might have walked away from their phone offerings.
BBM is now available on iOS, but we’re still waiting for the official Android version. There are apparently some security concerns regarding the Android app ecosystem. From the BBM Blog:
Prior to launching BBM for Android, an unreleased version of the BBM for Android app was posted online. The interest and enthusiasm we have seen already – more than 1.1 million active users in the first 8 hours without even launching the official Android app – is incredible. Consequently, this unreleased version caused issues, which we have attempted to address throughout the day.
Our teams continue to work around the clock to bring BBM to Android and iPhone, but only when it’s ready and we know it will live up to your expectations of BBM. We are pausing the global roll-out of BBM for Android and iPhone. Customers who have already downloaded BBM for iPhone will be able to continue to use BBM. The unreleased Android app will be disabled, and customers who downloaded it should visitwww.BBM.com to register for updates on official BBM for Android availability.
As soon as we are able, we will begin a staggered country roll-out of BBM for Android and continue the roll-out of BBM for iPhone. Please follow @BBM on Twitter for the latest updates and go to www.BBM.com to sign-up for updates about BBM for Android and iPhone. These issues have not impacted BBM service for BlackBerry.
Now the question remains, how many of my friends might still be using BBM…
I’ve been staving off writing this for some time now. Even among all the reports of potential buyouts, I kept hoping the company would start to turn itself around, find some momentum. It looks like that wont be happening.
Blackberry is warning investors ahead of their official call on September 27th that revenue will be more than a billion dollars below expectations. Yup. Expectations were hovering around $3 Billion, and BB will be reporting $1.6 Billion. Ouch.
Of course these are analyst predictions, and analysts are notoriously bad at predicting the future, but this will obviously hurt BB’s image (under-producing) more than it’ll hit any market watching “guru”.
Reactions to the news has caused a stock slide of almost 20 percent. Another blow to the company, and now CEO Thorsten Heins is announcing the first measure to be taken will be a round of layoffs to the tune of 4,500 axed jobs. They’ll also be streamlining future handset launches. Instead of the six phones they were planning on introducing over the next year, they’ll be dropping down to four, two high-end and two entry-level.
It’s this combination of expectations and time which is going to put a hurt on upstarts and smaller companies moving forward. Yes, BB once ruled the smartphone landscape, but they didn’t properly focus on the consumer experience. Sure they have great mind-share and brand recognition, but they are also creating a new product line from scratch. New OS. New devices. Customers are wary of “new” right now.
Apple found success in smartphones based on years of consumer trust built on iPods. Android needed about three major revisions before it started gaining traction outside low cost, entry-level gear. HP bailed on Palm before it had a shot when it wasn’t immediately successful out of the gate (they’re currently floundering with half-way attempts at Android, with rumors pointing to a possible Windows Phone in the works). Microsoft is just now starting to be taken seriously in mobile, now that we’re looking at a third generation of Windows Phone hardware about to hit the market.
BB is on that “new” list. The bummer is, BB OS10 is pretty great. It’s a refreshing spin on a mobile UI. Gestures are clean. It looks good. It’s a nice experience. This means almost nothing right now. Customers don’t want “new”, they want an established ecosystem. They want to trust that their devices will get updates and that they’ll see new devices in the future. They want apps, and they want to see cases they’ll never buy at Mall kiosks. Those things only come with time and sales. Those early sales are going to be harder and harder to come by as every player that fails in this market will only reinforce why consumers should only buy something established. Why they shouldn’t take a risk.
Years. Blackberry needs years.