BlackBerry Confirms OS Upgrade for BlackBerry PlayBook

Well, well, well…isn’t this an interesting turn of events?  The BlackBerry PlayBook has the potential to become an iPad mini and a Nexus 7 competitor.

The OS upgrade, from PlayBook OS 1.x and/or 2.0 to BlackBerry OS 10 was announced during the BlackBerry 10 launch event last week.  (It was also mentioned as far back as March, 2012.)

The BlackBerry PlayBook, originally released in 2011, was suppose to be an iPad “killer.”  The market disagreed.  You can still purchase PlayBooks online and in retail outlets, but it is running it’s original OS which, evolutionally speaking, is stuck between BlackBerry OS 7 and the new BlackBerry OS 10.  The PlayBook OS was built on the technology acquired from QNX.

I think it’s amazing that another company besides Apple is going to reward their customers with a software update that will refresh previous generation hardware.  Heck, this might even be the excuse I’ve been looking for to purchase a refurbished BlackBerry PlayBook and then upgrade it to BlackBerry 10 later on.

You can read more about the BlackBerry PlayBook on the BlackBerry website.

[Via GadgesOnTheGo.net…]

BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 Announced

Last week, BlackBerry, the new corporate name for the Canadian company formerly known as Research In Motion, unveiled their new name, their new BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system, and a pair of new BlackBerry smartphones; the BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry Q10.

Waterloo, ON – BlackBerry® (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) [on January 30, 2013] launched BlackBerry® 10, the re-designed, re-engineered, and re-invented BlackBerry platform that creates a new and unique mobile computing experience. Available on two new LTE-enabled smartphones, the BlackBerry® Z10 (all-touch) and BlackBerry® Q10 (touch with physical keyboard) smartphones powered by BlackBerry 10 offer you a faster, smarter and smoother experience than any other BlackBerry you have used before.

“Today sees a re-invented BlackBerry launching an entirely new mobile experience,” said Thorsten Heins, President and CEO of BlackBerry. “We are thrilled to be introducing BlackBerry 10 on the new BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones, to deliver a faster, smarter experience that continuously adapts to your needs.  Every feature, every gesture, and every detail in BlackBerry 10 is designed to keep you moving.”

BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 Smartphones

The new BlackBerry 10 smartphones are elegant and distinctive, and the fastest, most advanced BlackBerry smartphones yet. They feature 1.5 Ghz dual core processors with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and an expandable memory card slot. They include the latest enhancements in high density pixel and screen technology to display clear, sharp, and incredibly vivid images. Both feature a micro HDMI out port for presentations, and advanced sensors such NFC (near field communications) to support mobile payments and the exchange of information with a tap of the smartphone. They also have a removable battery.

Models of the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 will be available from carriers to support their respective 4G LTE or HSPA+ networks, and all the available models include connectivity support for global roaming. The BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones will also each come in White and Black. For more information about the new BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones powered by BlackBerry 10 please visit www.blackberry.com/blackberry10

A range of accessories for the new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, including the new BlackBerry® Mini Stereo Speaker as well as a variety of carrying and charging solutions including a unique charger that provides on-the-go charging, will be available from select carriers and retailers.

Pricing and Availability

Worldwide, we have several key markets that are revealing pricing and availability today, including the UK, Canada and UAE.

In the U.S. market, we expect availability with most carriers for the BlackBerry Z10 to be in March. Today, U.S. carriers will start announcing pre-registration and price plans.

We expect the first global carriers to launch the BlackBerry Q10 in April. We will announce new pricing and availability information as carriers roll-out around the world.

[Via GadgetsOnTheGo.net…]

RIM Executive in Denial

The public flame out of a smartphone company is never easy to bare, but at least RIM CEO Thorsten Heins is trying to keep us entertained.

The BlackBerry making chief was quoted as saying “There’s nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now,” in a recent interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corp’s Metro Morning show.
Uh…ya.  Hilarious.
RIM’s stock value has dropped something like 70-75% in value since the beginning of 2012.  2012!!  Adding insult to injury, there have been departures from the executive wing, layoffs coming for some 5,000 employees, 6-day work weeks and restricted summer vacations for the remaining employees, and RIM’s golden egg, a new iPhone-like BlackBerry running the newly rewritten BlackBerry OS 10 won’t be ready until the first half of 2013.  (And well all know that when a tech company says ‘the first half of’ we can safely assume the very last of the first half.)  Research in Motion is the new Palm.  Anyone remember the Palm Pre and webOS 1.0 back in 2009?
Yup, that sounds like a company that’s headed in the right direction.
Look, I like BlackBerry hardware. I still have my Curve and Storm2.  They were good messaging devices and I get the whole “Crackberry” thing.  If RIM really wants to get some market share going, I say look to recent history to get  a new game plan.  HP’s Palm TouchPad shot up to the number 2 tablet in the US when they had a fire sale to draw down inventory.  The TouchPad, #2!!  People where lining up for HP’s ‘hot’ new little tablet and got the lines Palm always wanted for one of their devices.
RIM is reportedly sitting on a $1 billion dollars stockpile of Blackberry smartphones and Playbook tablets.  They should start selling them at a deep discount, without cellular service contracts from the BlackBerry website.  Who knows, it could work.  I’d like to have a BlackBerry Bold with BlackBerry OS 7 and a BlackBerry Playbook in my collection.  They would be fun toys to play with.  Maybe RIM can get a temporary boost in marketshare, and more importantly, mindshare, until they can get the new BlackBerry smartphone out.  If there is no 2-year contract that I’m bound to, there is no reason why I can’t march into an AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile store and buy a new BlackBerry…assuming that the top four US carriers actually picks up the new device.
So, to recap:
1. RIM CEO Heins is drinking too much “BlackBerry” Kool-Aid
2. Make no mistake about it, RIM is in serious trouble
[Photo credit: David Manning/Reuters, via The Daily]

BlackBerry PlayBook Next Up for Deep Discounts?

With today’s revelation that RIM has only sold 200,000 BlackBerry PlayBooks in the last quarter.

During the conference call to discuss RIM’s performance, co-CEO Jim Balsillie “noted that the company plans to offer price cuts on the not-so-popular BlackBerry PlayBook in the form of rebates, and an incentive program for enterprise sales.”

Could the BlackBerry PlayBook be the next tablet that will under go a fireside sale like the now discontinued HP TouchPad tablet?

I won’t buy another tablet for $300, but I will buy a $99 tablet to play with.

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com…]

Facebook 2.0 Released for BlackBerry, BlackBerry Playbook

The Facebook 2.0 client is out for both current edition BlackBerry smartphones and the new BlackBerry Playbook.

The new features of Facebook 2.0 for BlackBerry include:

  • Facebook Places – Users choose to share where they are, what they are doing and who they are with – with Facebook friends. Get directions to and from a Facebook Places by clicking on the map image, which will seamlessly launch the Bing! Maps on the BlackBerry Playbook.
  • Facebook Events – View events and birthdays and receive notifications of new invitations. View event details like the time, place, guest list and more. Users can even RSVP and write on the event’s Wall.
  • View ‘Likes’ – See the names of the friends that ‘liked’ a user’s post. Users will also be able to tap their friends’ names to launch directly to their profiles.
  • Privacy control on status updates – Control who can see each update users share. Simply click the lock icon in the lower-right corner of the status publisher to select who to make the status update visible to before posting it.

As my long time readers know I own a BlackBerry Curve 8330 and most recently used a BlackBerry Storm2, which I had to turn in for a Droid Pro back around February.  I miss having my BlackBerry and still think about picking up a new Bold at some point.

[Via CrackBerry.com…]

BlackBerry Bridge Now Available to AT&T PlayBook Owners

After a long string of bad news, a dramatic decline in stock prices, departures of senior management, and calls from investors and alleged employees to restructure how the CEO and President of the Board roles work, there was finally some good news for BlackBerry fans on AT&T who plan on purchasing a BlackBerry PlayBook.

Yesterday, AT&T allowed the BlackBerry Bridge software for AT&T branded BlackBerry phones to be released into the BlackBerry App World.

“BlackBerry Bridge is an app you can download to your smartphone to get access to your email, calendar, contacts, memo pad and tasks—all on the large tablet display. Depending on your wireless service provider you can even browse the web using your existing BlackBerry smartphone’s data plan.”

That last item, browsing the web using your BlackBerry’s data plan will run you an extra $20/month for the privilege AT&T has announced.

You can download BlackBerry Bridge from the BlackBerry App World (link).

Rumor: RIM Cancels 10″ Playbook, Realizes They Need New BlackBerry Phones

The Boy Genius Report blog has word that the executive management team has gotten a cold, hard dose of reality and has finally realized that they need to get new QNX-powered BlackBerry smartphones out the door as quickly as possible.

The sobering fact that RIM’s stock has taken a nose dive in recent weeks has served as what I can only describe as a wake up call.  According to BGR, plans for an iPad sized 10-inch BlackBerry Playbook are being scrapped and the company will “focus as much effort as possible on building and releasing its first QNX-powered BlackBerry smartphone.”

The specs and timing for a new BlackBerry running the QNX operating system are, obviously, thin at best.

“Specs of the purported next-generation BlackBerry smartphone include a single-core 1.2GHz processor — though it may be swapped for a dual-core if RIM can find a way to reduce the drain on the battery — along with a 4.3-inch high-resolution touchscreen display. Further details surrounding the device were not made available, nor was a codename, launch name or a time frame for the device’s release.”

The previously planned 4G cellular version(s) of the BlackBerry Playbook is still planned for release in the October timeframe.

As a strictly utilitarian device for email, text/instant messaging, and phone calls (who makes those anymore?), the BlackBerry is a great phone.  Messaging has always been at the core of what a BlackBerry is.  (I own and have used a BlackBerry Curve and Storm2 and loved them both.)  But today’s “prosumers” want more features than that, and when compared to the iPhone and Android devices, all of the RIM devices fall flat on their faces.  If RIM is serous about turning their company around, they need to get QNX-powered phones out the door as quickly as possible.

[Via BGR.com…]

Oh, Snap! O2 Takes a Pass on the BlackBerry PlayBook

BGR.com is reporting today that UK-based wireless carrier O2 is going to sit this round out for the BlackBerry PlayBook.

“Citing issues with the user experience, O2 UK announced on Thursday that it “will not be selling” the BlackBerry PlayBook. The wireless carrier began notifying customers who had signed up for more information about its change of heart on Thursday. The carrier officially stated: “unfortunately there are some issues with the end to end customer experience,” but didn’t delve further into its reasons for the decision.”

I guess it’s better to not let an unfinished product out the door then to have it ship and then be a headache for your customers downstream.

[Via BGR.com…]

RIM Announces Layoffs, Fights for Relevance

RIM released their quarterly earnings report today, and while the news appears upbeat, the BlackBerry maker also announced that layoffs are on the way.

Revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2012 was $4.9 billion, down 12% from $5.6 billion in the previous quarter and up 16% from $4.2 billion in the same quarter of last year. The revenue breakdown for the quarter was approximately 78% for hardware revenue, 20% for service and 2% for software and other revenue. During the quarter, RIM shipped approximately 13.2 million BlackBerry handheld devices and approximately 500,000 BlackBerry Playbook tablets.

“Fiscal 2012 has gotten off to a challenging start. The slowdown we saw in the first quarter is continuing into Q2, and delays in new product introductions into the very late part of August is leading to a lower than expected outlook in the second quarter.” said Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO at Research In Motion. “RIM’s business is profitable and remains solid overall with growing market share in numerous markets around the world and a strong balance sheet with almost $3 billion in cash. We believe that with the new products scheduled for launch in the next few months and realigning our cost structure, RIM will see strong profit growth in the latter part of fiscal 2012.”

Additionally, RIM “will begin a program to streamline operations across the organization, which will include a headcount reduction. This realignment will be focused on taking out redundancies and a reallocation of resources to allow us to focus on the areas that offer the highest growth opportunities and align with RIM strategic objectives, such as accelerating new product introductions.”

I can’t help but thinking that RIM is now the new “Palm.”  RIM is still a long way from dropping down into single digit market share territory, they seem to be having all of the same problems that Palm did in the mid to late 2000’s.  With Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS platforms grabbing huge segments of the market, you have to wonder if anyone really cares about the BlackBerry brand anymore.

You can read the full press release on the RIM website.

Rumor: New BlackBerry Handsets On the Horizon

Late last week a friend of my told me that she was interested in renewing her contract with Sprint and what new BlackBerry phone she should get.

While reading up on the Windows Phone event I just wrote about, I noticed that BGR.com also had written an article about the upcoming BlackBerry handsets that should be arriving at US carriers this summer.

I think my favorite model is the GPS/Wi-Fi enabled edition of the Curve.  Call me crazy, but I was addicted to my Curve 8330 that I used in the six months between my Palm Treo 755p and my Palm Pre.  I also liked the Verizon exclusive BlackBerry Storm2.  It is the only smartphone that I liked using the on screen keyboard on.  (Hey, I just said to call my crazy!)

If you are interested in reading about what to expect from Research In Motion this summer, check out BGR’s featured article.

[via BGR.com…]