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
It's not the most exciting hardware launch to come from the newly reinvigorated (and rebranded) BlackBerry, but the Q5 is device with a mission. Announced formally this morning by CEO Thorsten Heins on stage at BlackBerry Live, the Q5 is in some ways a more approachable successor to the Q10. Combining a 3.1-inch, 720 x 720 touchscreen display with BlackBerry's well-loved physical QWERTY, the Q5 is being squarely positioned at users in the developing world. And it's less-than-premium build quality is a testament to that affordability. We spent some brief time getting to know this newest BB10 device, so stay tuned for our initial thoughts.
Gallery: BlackBerry Q5 hands-on
We've gotten word of a new BlackBerry smartphone today, and we now also have some news about familiar one. Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have all confirmed that they'll soon be carrying the BlackBerry Q10, although some are being more specific with details than others. Verizon is saying that it will be available sometime in June (with pricing still to be announced), while Sprint will only go as far as to say "late summer." T-Mobile will also be rolling out the phone sometime in June, and has confirmed that it will run $99.99 down with its new plan structure, or $579.99 if you want to buy it outright -- that follows business registation for the device, which began last month. We've yet to hear anything more from AT&T, but it has already committed to the device and will presumably be launching it in roughly the same timeframe as well.
05/05/2013 - Mobile Miscellany: week of April 29th, 2013
If you didn't get enough mobile news during the week, not to worry, because we've opened the firehose for the truly hardcore. This week brought a leak of the BlackBerry R-Series smartphone in red, a clever new notification system from the Paranoid Android team and quarterly earnings from Leap Wireless, the parent company of Cricket. These stories and more await after the break. So buy the ticket and take the ride as we explore all that's happening in the mobile world for this week of April 29th, 2013.
03/05/2013 - BlackBerry Z10, Q10 and PlayBook get DoD approval
The average consumer may be able to thumb through FCC filings to get a peek at their next smartphone, but certain government employee's hopes lie in the hands of another agency: the US Department of Defense. Good news for federally employed BlackBerry fans, then -- the company just announced that BlackBerry 10 smartphones and PlayBook tablets running Enterprise Service 10 have been added to the Defense Information Systems Agency's approved product list. Finally, DoD employees can toss out that BB7 handset and join their friends in 2013. Check out the company's official statement after the break.
Filed under: Mobile
24/04/2013 - Selfridges to get Blackberry Q10 ahead of official UK launch, available this Friday for £580
The keyboard lover's BlackBerry is on its way, and the first place to sell it will be none other than our old favorite, Selfridges. The UK department store will carry a black version of the Blackberry Q10 exclusively between April 26th and April 28th, according to a tweet from Blackberry UK, well before other retailers. You can pre-order it now for £580 (at the source) or, if you'd like to meet other people who also love keyboards, grab one at the store starting Friday.
Via: Pocket Lint
23/04/2013 - BlackBerry Q10 review
You can't please everybody all the time, and if there's a company who knows this better than the rest, it's BlackBerry. At the showy launch for BlackBerry 10, the company finally unveiled its new stable of smartphones with which it would fight the likes of Apple, Samsung, HTC, Microsoft, Nokia and Google. No simple task, that, and so BlackBerry rolled out not one, but two weapons: the all-touch Z10 and the portrait-QWERTY Q10.
But there was a catch: only one would launch at a time. It was a staged attack, with the Z10 forming the initial volley. This, many said, was a mistake, and that the Q10 and its familiar physical keyboard should have gone first, paving the way for the more radical, all-touch Z10. After what seems like an eternity, the $249 BlackBerry Q10 is finally ready for duty, so let's put it through its paces and see which of these fraternal twins is truly the flagship. Gallery: BlackBerry Q10 review
Gallery: BlackBerry Q10 review
BlackBerry just confirmed to us the target pricing of its upcoming QWERTY smartphone in the US, and the quick takeaway is that keyboards don't come cheap. According to company representatives, the Q10 is intended to be sold for $249 on a two-year contract, which positions it as more expensive than the Galaxy S 4, iPhone 5, One and Z10. Now, the one hiccup in this equation is that carriers may turn around and do whatever pricing shenanigans they please, but outside of special promotions, you can rightfully expect the Q10 to be one of the most expensive on-contract smartphones of the day. With so few compelling QWERTY handsets on the market, however, it seems that BlackBerry is hoping you'll value a keyboard more than your hard-earned dollar. If it the company's correct, that'll mean a lot more profit. If not, well... you know the rest.
If you're already starting to feel that shiny 'wow' factor fade from BlackBerry 10, then you'll be glad to know about some new features that are primed to appear with the next update. Reports are now flowing in from developers that suggest an HDR camera mode, PIN-to-PIN messaging within the BlackBerry Hub and an improved text selector are all likely candidates for inclusion in BlackBerry 10.1 OS. Other smaller tweaks include the ability to paste phone numbers into the dialer, the option to disable alerts for specific applications and the ability to check for app updates more easily. These reports are based on a pre-release version of BlackBerry 10.1 OS that the company recently shared with its developers, and while the list is by no means comprehensive, it sure beats unsubstantiated rumors.
Gallery: BlackBerry 10.1 SDK OS preview
We're fairly certain that the BlackBerry Q10 will make its hometown debut on April 30th, but Thorsten and Co. haven't been very precise about when the handset will land in the US. Thanks to the FCC, however, we know that it can't be too far out, as the first BB10 device with a physical QWERTY keyboard has been passed fit for human consumption by the federal agency. We'd have guessed that professional keyboardist Alicia Keys would be first in the queue, but she probably got a freebie ahead of time.
BlackBerry fans waiting for an opportunity to blend the BlackBerry 10 OS with a more familiar QWERTY formfactor may know exactly how long they have left, at least north of the border. Mobile Syrup received this pic tonight of what is purported to be an internal Rogers document, which lists the launch date for the BlackBerry Q10 as April 30th. A few other phones appear on the list as well, revealing the Canadian carrier will be offering the Nokia Lumia 520 and a couple of Doro's PhoneEasy models. If this date holds up it's a lot more specific than what we'd heard before -- hopefully we're not left waiting much longer for US release information.
Source: Mobile Syrup
If BlackBerry's Z10 and QWERTY-keyboard equipped Q10 aren't enough for you, how about a successor to the venerable Curve series? This image popped up on the BlackBerryOS forums and purports to be an "R-Series" device that will fill the lower-end hole in the lineup, with 8GB storage, less RAM, the QWERTY keyboard you see and side mounted SIM and SD card slots. Meanwhile, BlackBerry Empire has posted a diagram of the supposed device which shows off the externally accessed ports and suggests a $300 - $400 off-contract price. The screen's blurred edges can be explained by the placement of serial numbers seen on earlier BlackBerry 10 developer units, however we may not know if there's truth to this rumor until the supposed Q3 / Q4 release window arrives.
Alright, so Microsoft is in no danger of toppling iOS or Android anytime soon. But the analytics firm Kantar has seen significant growth for Windows Phone, largely at the expense of BlackBerry. In practically every major market WP8 has started to chip away at its competitors, growing from 6.2 percent to 6.7 percent share in the UK in just one month. Twelve months ago it was at only three percent in the country. The most dramatic ascent has taken place in Italy where it accounted for just 5.4 percent of handsets sold in February of 2012, and now makes up 13.1 percent of sales. Even in the US Windows Phone is seeing steady, if hardly eye-popping growth.
Symbian and BlackBerry are obviously the biggest losers. In Mexico, both platforms have seen double digit drops in their share of sales over the last year. While in the UK, the company formerly known as RIM has gone from a seemingly secure third place with 16.8 percent of the market to a quickly fading fourth with 5.1 percent is just 12 months. Meanwhile, Apple is sitting pretty with hardly a change to its position and Android continues its juggernaut-like assault on all markets. To see the complete global figures check out the images after the break.
28/03/2013 - BlackBerry makes makes $94 million on revenue of $2.7 billion, ships 1 million BB10 devices in 2013 Q4
This isn't quite the BlackBerry earnings story you're waiting for -- after all, the US figures covering the success (or otherwise) of the Z10 won't arrive until the next quarter. Instead, we're looking at the company's results from the end of the fiscal year to March 2nd, which shows that the smartphone maker made $94 million in GAAP income on revenues of $2.7 billion -- in contrast with the $125 million net loss it made in the same quarter last year. More importantly, however, it shipped out almost one million BlackBerry 10 devices during the three weeks of the quarter that they were available. In addition, it managed to push five million of its older smartphones and 370,000 PlayBook tablets out of the door, but saw user numbers fall from 79 million last quarter to 76 million now.
As revenue has remained relatively flat, the surge in profits can only be attributed to Thorstein Heins' aggressive cost-cutting measures, with the CEO remarking that the "numerous changes" he has implemented at the company has "resulted in [BlackBerry] returning to profitability." At the same time, Mike Lazaridis has announced that he'll retire from his position as vice-chair and director of the outfit he founded the better part of three decades ago. He'll exit the business on May 1st so that he can concentrate on his new enterprise, Quantum Valley Investments.
25/03/2013 - BlackBerry Z10 gets the iFixit teardown treatment
Screws and a little glue -- that's all that stood between an intact BlackBerry Z10 and the curious hands of those iFixit folks. And the results? Well, it's nothing you didn't know already: a motherboard, some Samsung flash memory, a Snapdragon S4 and camera modules. So, if you're the type that needs a little tech carnage to help seal your purchase decision (and, yes, the Z10 is finally on sale in the US), go ahead and click on the source.
While Canadians got a major NFC payment system through Rogers' Suretap service late last year, it was largely defined by what it couldn't do: there was only one platform to use, in only some places, with only one bank. Those horizons are at last broadening, as the carrier just certified a much wider range of phones for Suretap-capable apps. Android at last joins the party with approval for Suretap use on LG's Optimus G, as well as Samsung's Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II. BlackBerry fans also won't have to cling to older devices now that the Z10 is good to go. More than a few pieces of the NFC puzzle are still missing, of course. Beyond waiting for the apps themselves, there's no certification for Windows Phone 8 or a broad range of Android devices, and customers still don't have the freedom to choose their banks or carriers. Still, we're glad that there will be at least some choice in hardware for future wallet-free trips to Tim Hortons.
When we put our mitts on the official BlackBerry Q10 design in January, it carried a "glass weave" back that was meant to convey a premium feel, not to mention give Bold 9900 series owners a sense of continuity. The crew at Genk have snagged a pre-production example that teases what could have been. Their black device has the same grippy, rubberized back as the Z10, suggesting that BlackBerry was at least experimenting with using the same extra-practical (if less refined) material up until the unveiling. What else do we learn? While we wouldn't want to judge the user experience from a prototype, the look reminds us that there should be a 2,100mAh battery inside -- a big boost over the Z10's 1,800mAh pack, especially when there's a smaller screen involved. If only we didn't have to wait until later in spring to try the finished product.
Source: Genk (translated)
Going dual-screen is really the nuclear option for smartphone design -- it's what you use to draw attention when your regular, single-screen phones aren't thriving. We're at once unsurprised and appreciative, then, that BlackBerry has applied for a patent on a dual-screen phone concept that hasn't gone further than a filing. As shown, it would embrace the familiar concept of running separate apps on each screen, with a slight twist: it could recognize touch gestures that span both displays, such as a pinch to switch app positions. Naturally, it could recognize distinct gestures on only one side or put a keyboard on one display for typing on the other. Given BlackBerry's current design directions and very different gesture concepts, the application is more of a what-might-have-been than any kind of roadmap. It's just as well when many twin-screen smartphones haven't exactly panned out.
Most of the worry about BlackBerry's market share has centered around its once-certain corporate and government clientele: when even stodgy institutions have either embraced Bring Your Own Device policies or have switched platforms outright, nothing has seemed safe. The company may be clawing back some stability through a newly approved deal with Germany's Federal Office for Information Security. The government agency has reportedly agreed to buy 5,000 BlackBerry Z10 phones for its staff, all of which will be locked down with Secusmart protection for data, messaging and voice. We wouldn't call it a full comeback when there's been just a few weeks for such deals. Still, the purchase is a very public endorsement for BlackBerry at a time when it's not clear that large-scale customers will remain faithful.
25/02/2013 - BlackBerry Z10 for Verizon swings past the FCC
When the BlackBerry Z10 previously reached the FCC, we hadn't yet received the common courtesies of a product name or official carrier plans. Now that it's a known quantity, the device's latest FCC go-round presents a simpler picture. The RFA91LW you see here is clearly the Z10, and the inclusions of CDMA and upper-range 700MHz LTE spectrum leave little doubt that this iteration is headed to Verizon. We also see the expected GSM roaming and NFC. About the only riddle left is the Z10's release date on the network, which isn't yet forthcoming; with FCC approval, though, there's one less thing to hold back a launch on Big Red.
25/02/2013 - BlackBerry launches the Z10 in India for $800
The BB10-toting BlackBerry Z10 has just been unveiled in India, priced at Rs 43,490 ($800) for an unlocked unit. Coinciding with the announcement, the BlackBerry Music Store has also gone live in the country starting today, offering a mix of local and international music. Support for local languages aside, the app offerings have also been given an Indian flavor with the inclusion of country-specific goodies spanning various genres including news, banking, travel, entertainment and lifestyle. The subcontinent is quite important for the company formerly known as RIM, and its devices are still popular in the region, despite taking a beating in market share recently (see coverage), courtesy the BBM service that makes them the go-to smartphones for those hooked on to the instant messaging platform. However, the Z10's sticker price puts it in the same league as the 16GB iPhone 5 and HTC's full-HD Butterfly (both costing roughly $50 more), and it remains to be seen how the price-sensitive Indian market will react to the new entrant.
If BlackBerry lives to see 2014 (and beyond), it could end up delighting smartphone users with some neat gesture recognition tech. In a recently surfaced patent filing, the company formerly known as RIM outlines a method for selecting onscreen images using hand or finger movements above a display. By synthesizing a combo of images -- one taken with IR, the other without -- the software would be able to determine the intended area of selection. And just in case there was any doubt this feature would be headed to smartphones and tablets, the docs go on to specify its use within "a mobile communications device, comprising: a digital camera... [and] a cellular subsystem." So there you have it -- you'll either potentially see this hands-off editing tool pop up in future BB devices or BB simply stands to make a some nice coin in licensing fees.
Jim Balsillie, the former co-CEO of Research in Motion (now known as BlackBerry), has been until recently the third-largest shareholder in the company with 5.1 percent ownership. According to Financial Post, however, he's cut his stake in BlackBerry altogether, now reporting a grand total of zero shares. Balsillie stepped down as co-CEO in January and resigned from the board in March; this next big move away from the company will likely lead to speculation that his interest or faith in BlackBerry's future is waning, though his successor certainly would beg to differ.
Source: Financial Post
Before you get too excited, lets remember two things: one, companies file patent applications for things all the time that never see the light of day. Two, the application is for the hinge specifically, so don't get your hopes up for a BlackBerry 10 laptop. That being said, this glimpse at a potential future form factor has us intrigued. Even when the company formerly known as RIM has experimented with design in the past, it's been conservative. The Pearl squished the keyboard and split the keys, the Storm went with a touchscreen that was also a giant button and the Torch opted for a sliding mechanism that was old hat for most other manufacturers. This is a little different, however. It's a hinge, not terribly dissimilar to that on HTC's ancient Tilt2, that lets you adjust the position of a screen in relation to a base. This version offers a lot more freedom than the HTC creation however, seemingly allowing the screen to flip 180-degrees on the arm. This design could be used for a future phone, and would be a great fit for a larger device -- say five-inches or more. Alternately, it could wind up as part of a keyboard dock for a future tablet, which would be closer to the filings illustrations. Then again, it could just end up collecting dust in a corner at Waterloo. If you'd like to check out the patents for yourself hit up the source links.