The high-level shakeups aren't over at BlackBerry just because the company has a new CEO. The company has just let go of Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear (pictured at left) and Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben (right), both of whom had assumed their roles roughly one year ago. There's no mention of immediate replacements. The Waterloo firm is also replacing Chief Financial Officer Brian Bidulka with the company's Compliance head James Yersh; Bidulka will stay on as an advisor for the rest of the fiscal year to ease the transition. CEO John Chen hasn't provided explanations for the individual departures, but he describes the executive shuffle as necessary for focusing on BlackBerry's "core strength" in mobile device management. Let's just hope that Chen is better at engineering a turnaround than his predecessors.
If your company produced a device that, while technically accomplished, managed to lose you $1 billion a few months later, you'd probably try and pretend that it never existed. That's not the approach that BlackBerry is taking with the Z10, however. Instead, the beleaguered smartphone maker has teamed up with Porsche Design to create the P'9982, a gussied-up version of the touchscreen smartphone designed to tempt gold course-bound executives and the super rich in ways that the original evidently failed to do. We've just got one of the devices in our hand, and we thought we'd run the rule over it to see how the other half live.
It has been possible to snag an unlocked BlackBerry Q10 or Z10 in the US for a while if you've been willing to search around, but you now won't have to. BlackBerry has quietly begun selling unrestricted GSM variants of the two smartphones through its US site at prices of $449 for a Z10 and $549 for a Q10. Either device remains LTE-capable, and both should play nicely with AT&T and T-Mobile. The direct sales aren't likely to attract many converts, but they should help American fans who may have a tough time finding a BlackBerry in stores.
BlackBerry has just reported a $935 million hit in Q2 due entirely to what it's calling a "Z10 Inventory Charge" -- in other words, a charge against inventory and supply commitments for a flagship handset that is failing to sell. Echoing Microsoft's catastrophic write-down due to unsold Surface RT inventory, this single write-down was enough to wipe out much of the company's quarterly revenue of $1.6 billion. When added to an additional loss due to corporate restructuring, it resulted in a final GAAP loss for BlackBerry of $965 million.
26/09/2013 - BlackBerry manufacturing partner Jabil Circuit says it's looking at how it will 'wind down the relationship'
The news for BlackBerry is just going from bad to worse these days. The latest development comes from its manufacturing partner Jabil Circuit, which has apparently had enough of the company's troubles and is looking for a way out. Speaking on the company's quarterly earnings call yesterday, Jabil CEO Mark Mondello said that "we are faced with a strong possibility of disengaging with BlackBerry," adding, "our team has worked diligently over the past few days to comprehend the recently announced changes," and that "we're in discussions right now on how we're going to wind down the relationship."
As All Things D notes, BlackBerry is Jabil's second-biggest customer (behind Apple), so this is no doubt not a decision it's taking lightly, but it looks like it's one it intends to move quickly on. Mondello went on to say that while the company is looking for a path that's in the best interest of its shareholders and also "supports the needs of BlackBerry," it plans to "take a restructuring charge, move swiftly and decisively and mitigate the impact to FY '14 as best we can."
Source: All Things D
26/09/2013 - Motorola plans hiring spree in BlackBerry's hometown
Unless BlackBerry bosses embark on some wild scorched earth policy as they retreat from the smartphone business, their hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, should prove to be fertile ground for other mobile companies looking to expand. Motorola could become one of the first to capitalize on the situation, having just opened a small office in Kitchener-Waterloo, where its parent company Google has already had an R&D base since 2006. Speaking to the Financial Post, Motorola Canada's engineering director, Derek Phillips, said he has "big plans" for the area and is "optimistic" about finding the right mobile tech talent. He stopped short of saying he wants BB workers specifically, instead pointing to other sources of brainpower like the University of Waterloo (which happens to be the home of the Lazaridis-backed Quantum-Nano Centre). For the sake of the 4,500 people recently left unemployed due to BlackBerry's strategic failures, however, we hope he was just being diplomatic.
Source: Financial Post
23/09/2013 - BlackBerry enters agreement for $4.7 billion sale of company to consortium led by Fairfax Financial
For the second time in as many trading days, shares of BlackBerry were halted in advance of some big news from the company. Today's news is no less big. BlackBerry has just announced that it's signed a letter of intent agreement for a sale of the company for $4.7 billion to a consortium led by Fairfax Financial (the company's largest shareholder).
23/09/2013 - Z30 - Blackberry’s New Flagship Smartphone
20/09/2013 - Bad news from Blackberry: 4,500 jobs to be cut, expected Q2 net operating loss of over $950 million
Things haven't been going well at BlackBerry for awhile, what with lackluster adoption of BB10 and the hardware running it, and rumors that massive layoffs are coming before the end of the year. Today, the company confirmed the latter rumor, announcing that it will lay off around 4,500 employees as a part of a plan to reduce its operating expenditures by half over the next year. The plan's necessitated by an expected Q2 2014 net operating loss of almost one billion (955-995 million) dollars, driven primarily by the lackluster sale of its BB10 phones -- the company will take a pre-tax charge of $930-960 million which can be attributed mostly to the Z10. Blackberry expects revenue for Q2 to be $1.6 billion, which is roughly half of the $3.1 billion it pulled in last quarter.
Needless to say, the financial outlook for the company isn't good, and some changes are in order. To try to turn things around, Blackberry is going to refocus on its enterprise offerings and will reduce its device portfolio from six devices to four, with two high end and two entry level phones. And, don't get it twisted, the days of BlackBerry courting mainstream consumers is all but over-- its future phones will be aimed at the "enterprise and prosumers."
BlackBerry hasn't been hiding the fact that it's cutting back on its workforce, but a new report from The Wall Street Journal today suggests that another particularly big round of layoffs could be in store. Citing people familiar with the matter, the paper says that the company is preparing to cut up to 40 percent of its workforce by the end of the year, with the layoffs expected to "cut across all departments" and "occur in waves." As the WSJ notes, the most recent tally of employees the company has disclosed is 12,700, which is already down from 17,000 two years ago.
This latest news also comes after an report earlier this month that at least some BlackBerry board members are pushing for a speedy sale of the company, which reportedly could happen as early as November. For its part, BlackBerry isn't commenting on the specific number of layoffs, telling the WSJ only that "organizational moves will continue to occur to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities in mobile computing."
Source: The Wall Street Journal
16/09/2013 - Refresh Roundup: week of September 9th, 2013
Your smartphone and / or tablet is just begging for an update. From time to time, these mobile devices are blessed with maintenance refreshes, bug fixes, custom ROMs and anything in between, and so many of them are floating around that it's easy for a sizable chunk to get lost in the mix. To make sure they don't escape without notice, we've gathered every possible update, hack, and other miscellaneous tomfoolery we could find during the last week and crammed them into one convenient roundup. If you find something available for your device, please give us a shout at tips at engadget dawt com and let us know. Enjoy!
Filed under: Mobile
Details about an eventual sale of BlackBerry are slowly but surely starting to pick up steam. Following a confirmation from the Waterloo-based company about it being open to seeking "strategic alternatives," The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that members of the board are "aiming to run a fast auction process" which could be finalized as early as November of this year. Sourcing the well-informed people familiar with the matter, the publication goes on to say that BlackBerry has narrowed its list of potential buyers, with the sales process "expected to begin soon." We'll see how long it takes for Thorsten Heins and Co. to find someone interested in the troubled brand, but something tells us it won't be much longer before this story reaches its climax.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Just before a smartphone turns up at the debutante ball, the internet comes alive with frenzied claims about what the new hardware will offer. While most of 'em turn out to be wishful thinking on behalf of whoever entered the data, we imagine that standards are a little stricter over at the Wireless Power Consortium. It's there that a listing has popped up claiming that BlackBerry's as-yet unannounced Z30 will support Qi wireless charging. The listing goes on to say that the smartphone will pack a medium power receiver, capable of pulling 120 watts from a charger, which should be enough to juice that (rumored) 2,800mAh battery in short order.
Source: Wireless Power Consortium
12/08/2013 - BlackBerry confirms it's looking for 'strategic alternatives' such as sale or going private
Remember the rumor that BlackBerry was planning to take itself private? Just a few days later and the company has confirmed that some very fundamental discussions are indeed taking place. In a press release, the Canadian smartphone maker revealed that a committee has been formed to look for "strategic alternatives" to push BlackBerry 10, which could involve a merger, selling the company or taking BlackBerry private. Naturally, there's no indication that anything will actually change at the beleaguered company, but at least we know Thorsten Heins is actively pursuing new options.
Via: The Globe and Mail
Those BlackBerry Z30 rumors (which was known previously as the A10) might turn out to be for real after all, if this early hands-on video from Vietnamese outlet Cellphone S is to be believed. The footage shows what is presumably the BlackBerry Z30 in all its glory, with what is apparently a 5-inch AMOLED display with 295 ppi and 720p (1,280 x 720) resolution. Purported specs include a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, a rear 8-megapixel camera, a front-facing 2-megapixel cam, a 2,800 mAh battery, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and it's said to ship with BlackBerry 10.2 as well. Perhaps more interesting to our US audience is that it appears to have the AT&T logo on the back, hinting that it may arrive on our shores sooner than later. Have a peek at the video after the break, and hit the source for more close-up pics of what could be yet another BlackBerry savior.
Source: Channel S
As BlackBerry continues to claw its way back into the smartphone race, a Reuters rumor tonight suggests its next move may be to pull a Dell and go private. Among other possible options including licensing the BlackBerry 10 OS or "other partnerships," the idea is that this could let it fix problems away from the public eye. The paper's "sources familiar with the situation" indicated BlackBerry has talked with private equity firm Silver Lake Partners -- currently best known for its part in the still-in-limbo Dell buyout -- about teaming up on enterprise computing, but that those talks did not include buyout-related discussions. Of course, being open to the idea is hardly actually taking the jump, and many analysts, investors and potential partners have their own ideas about how to repair things in Waterloo. We'll see if these rumors ever pan out, feel free to leave suggestions for Thorsten & Co. -- remember, BBM on iOS and Android is already happening -- in the comments below.
Some good news for the phone makers in Waterloo: the US Defense Information System Agency is OK-ing BlackBerry's first two BB10 handsets for use on Department of Defense networks, confirming that the phones have all the necessary security measures in place. With the governmental go-ahead, the DISA's building out an infrastructure to support 10,000 Q10 and Z10 handsets by fall -- a number expected to triple by year's end. More info on the approval after the break, including some understated gloating from BlackBerry.
18/07/2013 - BlackBerry Q5 review
This is probably the most important smartphone that BlackBerry will launch in 2013. You see, the Z10 and Q10 were designed for diehards, gadget lovers and those who desired a like-for-like replacement for their aging Bolds. Unfortunately for CEO Thorsten Heins, those people were never the total sum of RIM's (now BlackBerry's) customer base. After all, it was the budget-conscious crowd that embraced BBM to the point where London's 2011 civil unrest was nicknamed the "BlackBerry riots," not to mention the company's popularity in the developing world. Given that the business most recently posted an $84 million quarterly loss and has only managed to ship 2.7 million BB10 devices, it'll be these customers, then, who the company will need to win back in order to keep its head above water. Unlike its struggling rivals, however, BlackBerry does have one thing its rivals do not: a pedigree in QWERTY keyboards that offer a real alternative to the legion of Android and Windows Phone touchscreens out there.
That's where the Q5 comes in -- a portrait QWERTY handset with a 3.1-inch display described as "youthful" and "fun," designed for markets outside of the US, with a variety of color options. But is that enough to tempt back the text addicts of Latin America and the disenfranchised voters of London? It's available for £320 ($490) off-contract in the UK, or free on plans from £21 ($32) per month, but is it enough of a handset to justify its mid-tier price? Can this form factor work in a world where even the cheapest phones can offer 4-inch, pixel-rich displays and broader app support? Is this the handset that BlackBerry needs, or the one it deserves? We could tell you at the top here, but that'd kinda negate the point of the following 2,613 words.
BlackBerry has had trouble retaining executives as of late, and its situation may not be getting much better when the Wall Street Journal claims that two software overseers recently left the company. T.A. McCann (pictured at left), a VP who oversaw BBM and social networking apps, reportedly said goodbye two weeks ago. Marc Gingras (right), who masterminded the BlackBerry 10 Hub and came with the Tungle.me acquisition, supposedly quit in "recent weeks." BlackBerry hasn't commented on the rumored exits, although the Journal believes that both McCann and Gingras left voluntarily. If real, the departures aren't coming at a good time -- BlackBerry is in rough financial straits, and it needs executives willing to turn the ship around.
[Gingras image credit: Kris Krüg, Flickr]
Source: Wall Street Journal
BlackBerry may see BB10 as the future of the company, but it isn't breaking with the past quite yet. Thorsten Heins just told those at BlackBerry's annual shareholder meeting that there will be one BB7-based phone this year. While he didn't elaborate further, there's a good chance he's referring to the Bold 9720 that reportedly leaked just hours ago. Don't expect a wide resurgence of BB7 devices, however. Heins mentioned that BlackBerry won't have more than six devices on sale at a time, and most of those slots will be occupied by BB10 hardware.
If you were hoping your BlackBerry PlayBook would get a taste of BlackBerry 10, think twice. Thorsten Heins just revealed that the new OS isn't coming to his company's tablet due to "performance and user experience" concerns. The executive didn't discuss the long-term future of the PlayBook, but it's clear that the current model is at the end of the road. When the company is back in the red, devoting attention to a long-struggling device isn't likely to be high on the priority list.
Every quarter is pivotal for BlackBerry right now, but the one covered by today's earnings report (Q1 2014, in fiscal terms) is especially important. It's the first full period of Z10 availability and also the first quarter to cover significant Q10 shipments to markets like Canada and the UK (although not the US). So far, the news looks mixed, but mostly glum: revenues are up to $3.1 billion, compared to $2.8 billion generated in the same quarter last year, which was when RIM (as it was called back then) announced significant job cuts and an equally major delay to its next-gen BB10 operating system and hardware range. However, none of that cash was retained as profit, despite all the cost-cutting measures. In fact, BlackBerry managed to lose $84 million, reversing the positive shift seen last quarter when the company kept a hold of $94 million as profit. Worryingly, the press release provides no breakdown of the crucial BB10 device shipments, versus older devices. There's just a quote from Thorsten Heins saying "we are still in the early stages of this launch," which doesn't bode well -- although an imminent earnings call should provide further information.
Update: Execs on the earnings call refused to break down Z10 and Q10 shipments specifically, but did say that 40 percent of the 6.8 million reported shipments were BB 10 devices -- which adds up to a disappointing 2.7 million next-gen units.
When Rob Orr left his role as BlackBerry's UK and Ireland chief earlier this month, we knew it wouldn't be long before another company sought out his skills. Turns out, his final destination has been Samsung, where the seven-year RIM veteran will take up a vice presidential role in the Korean giant's business-to-business telecoms operation. There's an official release from Samsung after the break, but we'd have preferred it if Orr had posted something amusing to his Linkedin.
Via: Mobile Today
17/06/2013 - UK reportedly set up fake internet cafes, hacked diplomats' BlackBerrys during 2009 G20 summit
If you're antsy at the idea of PRISM reading your Facebook messages, be thankful you're not a foreign diplomat. The Guardian is reporting that GCHQ, the UK's communications surveillance unit, hacked delegates' BlackBerry handsets during 2009's G20 summit in London. According to leaked documents, spies were able to relay private messages to analysts in "near real-time," and pass that information along to top politicians as they were negotiating deals. The organization is also said to have set up fake internet cafés around the conference area, which used key-logging software to steal dignitaries passwords for long-term surveillance. If you'll excuse us, we're just off to, you know, change all of our login details.
Source: The Guardian