We often hear rumblings about Research In Motion (RIM) potentially licensing its BlackBerry 10 OS to other manufacturers. In a recent interview, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins flat out said that his company is looking into this option, which would provide an additional revenue stream and allow BlackBerry to compete on a larger scale.
Of course, if RIM does eventually go this route, it won’t stop manufacturing its own BlackBerry devices. “We will not abandon the subscriber base,” said Heins. “You could think about us building a reference system, and then basically licensing that reference design, have others build the hardware around it – either it’s a BlackBerry or it’s something else being built on the BlackBerry platform.”
The challenge, of course, would be convincing other manufacturers to get on board, not to mention overcoming the recent wave of negativity surrounding the BlackBerry brand. RIM hopes to improve things with its BlackBerry 10 OS, but the Waterloo-based company was recently forced to delay it until early 2013. Could RIM succeed in licensing its OS? Only time will tell.
First, the fire control: RIM is not leaving the consumer sector—at least not entirely, and not yet. It is, however, rethinking many parts of its business, three executives resigned, and fourth quarter numbers? Not so good. It was a very painful report and investor call, but it has a few highlights.
The biggest bright spot out of Thursday’s call is the fact that RIM finally looks ready to do whatever is necessary. “It is now very clear to me that substantial change is what RIM needs,” said Heins. There was hardly an option that wasn’t mentioned—even selling the company wasn’t rejected outright, but it “is not the main direction we are pursuing right now.” “This company needs to learn to partner,” Heins said. “We can’t do everything ourselves, but we can do what we are good at.”
The least you need to know about the call—which lasted for nearly an hour—is that RIM will be making some major partnerships in the near future, possibly including contracted media app developers, OS licensing, and hardware licensing/outsourcing. RIM will also be offering a new line of heavily subsidized low-end BlackBerry 7 phones, and will be shifting its focus back on the enterprise sector. Note that this is not the same as leaving the private sector
RIM’s BlackBerry devices once commanded a drug-like influence over its adopters, mostly thanks to its once ultra-geeky feel. BlackBerry 7 is starting to bring some of that sexy back, with a few updates here and there that actually sound like something we may want to use again. With the announcement of the addition of Iris ID biometric NFC credentials, RIM has gained some serious cool points.
Iris ID biometric NFC credentials say you? If that’s not a complicated mouthful of technical jargon, I don’t know what it. Basically, Iris—a now-independent company that spun off of LG in the US—makes iris scanners for companies to use for various things, such as for time cards and door locks. Sometimes it’s an actual iris scanner at each checkpoint, but unfortunately this does not mean that your BlackBerry 9900/9930 or BlackBerry Curve 9350/9360 will suddenly double as a 007 eye scanner.
What it does mean is that if your employer uses Iris ID’s iCAM7000, you can store your biometric signature—read: ultra-detailed picture of your eyeballs—as a NFC tag in your NFC-enabled BlackBerry 7 device. You can then use your BlackBerry as you would a swipe-able credential card, making for one less thing to carry around. Best of all, this technology will likely cost you very little, though it may cost your employer a pretty penny—but we’re probably all ok with that. Hit the jump for the full press release.
For the first time in a long time, we’ve heard about good news for RIM two days running. RIM’s stock closed up a massive 6.91% today, jumping up $0.93 to $14.38 per share. While yesterday’s China Unicom announcement was good news, it hardly warrants a 6.91% jump. Rather, rumors are fueling this jump, with some investors whispering about a possible $1.5 billion investment by Samsung.
This would be a fantastic short-term boost to the beleaguered RIM, with murky long-term ramifications. Samsung will certainly not be buying out RIM for any dollar amount—the Canadian government has stated in no uncertain terms that a sale of RIM itself is not on the table. RIM needs money anywhere it can get it short-term, but what does Samsung see in an investment deal?
Perhaps Samsung sees BlackBerry 10. Thorsten Heins—RIM’s new CEO as of late January—did state upon his promotion that he was open to considering licensing agreements. And Samsung has made it clearly known that it is not pleased with Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a move that it sees as threatening its security and investment in Android. So possibly rather than an altruistic Samsung investment, there is a licensing agreement in the works.
However, this too has its major pros and cons. Samsung giving RIM money in any form is good for the short-term, but Samsung is clearly RIM’s superior when it comes to handset manufacturing—the world’s superior, really. So any long term agreement may just put RIM out of its own business. And if open-source Android is risky for Samsung, what about locked-down BlackBerry 10? There are a lot of holes in these rumors, but RIM doesn’t need them to hold water, just stock prices.
[CNN Money | Barron's via SlashGear]
News surrounding RIM at this year’s Mobile World Conference (MWC) in Barcelona has been depressingly absent of new tech, but encouraging in other ways. The BlackBerry App World is growing, with more and more carriers signing on for RIM’s integrated carrier billing-perhaps a small vote of confidence in the Canadian company.
Integrated billing, as RIM does it, provides customers the option of putting app purchases on their monthly bills, both for one-time and subscription purchases. This convenience is welcomed by both consumers and app markets, with adopting carriers reporting an average 120% increase in customer app purchases. There are now more than 40 carriers worldwide who have adopted RIM’s integrated carrier billing.
Carriers offering integrated billing on BlackBerry App World include:
- A1 Telekom (Austria)
- AT&T (United States)
- Bell (Canada)
- Digicel (25 markets in the Caribbean and Latin America)
- Indosat (Indonesia)
- Rogers Wireless (Canada)
- SFR (France)
- Telefonica (UK)
- T-Mobile (United States)
- Telus (Canada)
- Telstra (Australia)
- Vodafone (Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom & Netherlands)
The press release further went on to note how the App World is now available in 164 markets and territories globally. Two billion apps have been downloaded to date, with 60,000 currently available. I see this as a good sign for the much-beleaguered RIM. Any income is welcome income, and customers who are spending money on BlackBerry apps are mostly likely not planning to switch in the near future. Who knows, RIM might just survive after all.
[RIM via BlackBerryRocks]
With public outcry over services and products lacking, and with turmoil at the very top of the company’s hierarchy, RIM is certainly in trouble right now. But just because its marquee product has been delayed a year or so doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, nor all development stopped. This is evidenced by today’s announcement of BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365.
“This new cloud-based option allows customers to cost-effectively support mobility across their organizations and easily manage and secure their BlackBerry deployments,” said Alan Panezic, Vice President, Enterprise Product Management and Marketing at Research In Motion.
Key features include:
- Wireless synchronization with Microsoft Exchange Online email, calendar and organizer data from a BlackBerry smartphone
- BlackBerry® Balance™ technology, which presents a unified view of work and personal content on a BlackBerry smartphone while keeping the content separate and secure
- An intuitive web-based console for IT administrators to provision, manage and secure BlackBerry smartphones from anywhere
- Online access to employee self-service smartphone security functions, allowing users to easily reset a device password or remotely lock or wipe a device in the event of loss or theft
Pretty much, what this means is that BlackBerry users of Microsoft Office 365 and Exchange—a component of Office—will be able to access their remotely stored files from their BlackBerry devices. This may not mean much for your Average Joe smartphone user, but for businesses this is a big deal. Big business services are what got RIM its glory in the first place and, in this humble editor’s opinion, are what RIM needs to refocus on if it wants to stay alive.
[BlackBerry via BlackBerryRocks]
Waterloo, ON [January 22, 2012]– The Board of Directors of BlackBerry® maker Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) today announced that, acting on the recommendation of its Co-Chief Executive Officers to implement the succession plan they previously submitted to the Board, it has unanimously named Thorsten Heins as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Heins was also appointed to RIM’s Board. The Board acted after conducting its own due diligence. Both appointments are effective immediately.
After a year in 2011 that at best could be described as disappointing, RIM’s customers and more importantly, RIM’s shareholders have been out for blood. Up until now, the CEO, president, and Chairmen of the board positions were all co-held by RIM’s two founders, namely Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.
It came out at the start of the year that Lazaridis and Balsillie could be getting the boot, and it now has come to pass. Back when it was speculated, it sounded like it would be the board forcing them out, and there was some question as to whether or not that would even be possible. Yesterday’s press release makes it sound more like a resignation than a force out, with both former CEOs retaining a high-rank at RIM.
While Jim Balsillie didn’t say much in the press release, Mike Lazaridis stated that both he and Mr. Balsillie chose to step down to avoid being a stumbling block for investors and customers. Mr. Heins is wasting no time, and has already started with some significant policy changes. Mr. Heins has stated that he is open to hearing BlackBerry licensing offers, and has already started recruiting for a new Chief Marketing Officer.
[RIM via Endaget]
After more leaks than I care to count, the BlackBerry Bold 9790 and the BlackBerry Curve 9380 have gone off and gotten all official. Seriously though, even RIM was providing some of the leaks.
As far as the launch date goes, all that they have told us is that both phones will be up for grabs “around the world over the coming weeks.” Word has it that at least the Bold will be up for grabs in Indonesia on November 25, with Singapore and Thailand soon to follow.
The BlackBerry Bold 9790 provides a curvy update to the venerable BlackBerry Bold QWERTY form-factor. The buttons also received a facelift, and it comes packing a 2.44-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 360 x 480. 8GB of on-board storage, a 1GHz Processor, 768MB of RAM, a microSD expansion slot, and a rear-facing 5MP camera all come standard.
The BlackBerry Curve 9380 is really just another run of the mill smartphone. We’re looking at a 3.2-inch touchscreen that only hits 480 x 360, which is the exact same number of pixels on the 2.44-inch screen of its previously mentioned cousin. And with a rumored 800MHz processor and only 1GB of storage, it may even be a bit below run of the mill.
On a happier note, both phones will be running BlackBerry OS 7; which comes complete with a snazzy new browser, Near Field Communication (NFC), and BlackBerry Messenger. What’s more, RIM is going to stock both devices up with several free apps to help you manage work, personal life, and the balance between the two. Included on the free app list are Documents to Go Premium, BlackBerry Protect, and BlackBerry Balance.
A leaked T-Mobile roadmap has revealed some very interesting information about the network’s fall device lineup. The company also officially announced the specs for the next generation myTouch handsets on Wednesday.
The device roadmap kicks off with mid-October launches for the HTC Amaze 4G (codenamed “Ruby”) and Samsung Galaxy S II (codenamed ”Hercules”). The release dates on the roadmap are incorrect, but the two handsets will indeed launch in October for $259 and $229 respectively. The Huawei “Wayne” will hit T-Mobile on October 19 for $99. Of course, the prices for all three Android devices factor in a $50 a mail-in rebate.
November 2 will be T-Mobile’s biggest day, ushering in the launch of the HTC Radar 4G Windows Phone for $199. Also set for release are the LG Flip II at $149 and the Samsung “Ancora” at $99, which TmoNews believes might be the successor to the Samsung Exhibit 4G or the next Samsung Galaxy phone.
The LG myTouch (“codenamed Maxx”) and myTouch Q (codenamed “Maxx Touch”) will also be released on November 2. Both Android handsets, which were officially announced this afternoon, will include a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, 5MP camera, and 4G network speeds. The myTouch will sport a 3.5-inch screen, while the myTouch Q will have a slightly larger 3.8-inch display.
Last, but not least, is the BlackBerry Torch 9860 (codenamed RIM “Dumoine”), which is scheduled to hit T-Mobile stores on November 9 for an as-yet undetermined price.
[TmoNews via enConnected | Engadget]
Research In Motion (RIM) has announced that it will be releasing its latest BlackBerry handset, the Torch 9850, on Thursday. The 3G Verizon-exclusive will be made available for purchase online starting September 8, and it will show up in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores on September 15.
The BlackBerry Torch 9850 has a 3.7-inch 800 x 480 display, complete with the classic BlackBerry trackpad. It will also come with a 1.2GHz processor, a 5MP camera with flash and 720p video, and 16GB of internal memory via a pre-installed microSD card. Those that want additional space can swap out the microSD card for up to 32GB of storage.
Additionally, the device will support network access in more than 200 countries thanks to its quad band with support for UMTS, HSPA, GSM, GPRS, and EDGE. It will also support 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1.
The Torch 9850 will come with BlackBerry OS 7 and the premium edition of Documents To Go. Verizon subscribers will be able to pick up the device with a two-year contract on Thursday for $199.99.
[Verizon via Engadget]