Did Blackberry Just Make a Hit Phone?

blackberry priv
© Provided by IBT US

The reviews are in: BlackBerry’s first Android phone is in the hands of reviewers, and they’ve been (literally) getting to grips with it. The verdict? Considering the state of recent BlackBerries, it’s actually pretty good. But that may not be enough to turn the tide.

The Priv is a big moment for BlackBerry: on Wednesday, it was revealed that BlackBerry OS is now fifth in the global smartphone rankings. The most recent quarterly earnings report spelled bad times ahead for the company, and CEO John Chen has previously hinted that if the Priv is not a success, the company could exit hardware altogether. No pressure.

Thankfully, the Priv has found some fans in the tech world. The Verge has not had enough time to write a full review due to a faulty initial device, but Dieter Bohn noted in his preview how grippy the back of the device is. The changes to Android were welcome, and the 18-megapixel camera is really nice, if a bit slow.

Top Marks For Design

Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal was quick to caution against this being the historic comeback of BlackBerry, saying the company really should have moved to Android back in 2010 to change its fortunes. But history aside, the keyboard impressed. Stern managed 60 words per minute, compared to 45 words per minute on the iPhone, thanks to the presence of a physical keyboard.

“For the first time in years, BlackBerry has a phone that can win back the hearts and dollars of people it lost years ago—at least enough that I’ll once again spot a BlackBerry owner or two among my friends and colleagues,” Stern said.

Daniel Cooper of Engadget was less positive. The curved screen was praised, but the keyboard left something to be desired. The keyboard has touch gestures, and is not the same as the ones consumers will be used to from BlackBerry Classic devices. The keys are close together, and doesn’t quite feel the same. Despite this, Cooper still praised the look and feel of the device overall. “The Priv is probably the best-looking BlackBerry device ever,” he said.

Not The Savior

Mario Aguilar at Gizmodo was far less kind. Declaring it a phone “not even for my worst enemy,” Aguilar said the keys are tiny, performance is slow despite the Snapdragon 808 processor, and the BlackBerry Hub custom software felt dated. The highly-publicised privacy features, which the company says set it apart from the competition, failed to impress. “I got no indication that I was secure on the Priv than I would be by exercising everyday common sense on any other phone,” Aguilar said.

Mark Walton at Ars Technica was similarly negative. In what Walton describes as a “first review” (owing to the fact that the device only arrived two days ago), Walton pointed to the $700 price tag as simply too much to stomach for an Android phone that has its flaws. “Unfortunately for Blackberry, I don’t think the Priv is the saviour it so desperately needs,” he said.

Tim Moynihan, in a Wired review that largely captured the overall sentiment, gave the Priv a 6 out of 10. BlackBerry veterans will be pleased to have a physical keyboard in a modern ecosystem, but Android and iPhone users will care more about having the best camera and better integration with the operating system. “Ultimately, how you feel about the BlackBerry Priv likely has a lot to do with your last phone,” he said.

Time will tell if the Priv is a success. But as to whether it can turn the entire company around, BlackBerry may need more than a modest uptick in sales revenue to keep itself in the hardware game beyond the Priv.

Written by Mike Brown of International Business Times

(Source: International Business Times)

BlackBerry to Launch Android Smartphone

BlackBerry Priv

WATERLOO, Ontario— BlackBerry Ltd. maintained Friday that its turnaround strategy was on track, but sagging revenue and the company’s decision to launch an Android-powered phone to boost device sales told a different story.

After failing in its attempt to compete against Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. in the consumer smartphone market, BlackBerry in recent years has instead bet on BlackBerry-powered devices loaded with security and productivity tools, and sales of higher-margin mobile security offerings, to reignite growth.

Friday’s announcement of plans to launch a new device using a rival operating system, Google Inc.’s Android, suggests those efforts have struggled to gain traction. The new device, BlackBerry said, will offer the security of BlackBerry phones running on its own BB10 operating system along with Android’s greater number of apps.

BlackBerry tried a similar move in 2014, signing a deal with Amazon.com Inc. to preload the e-commerce giant’s app store on its devices. Today, Amazon’s app store offers about 400,000 applications, according to Statista, an Internet statistics firm. By offering an Android phone, BlackBerry adds about 1.6 million apps available on Google Play, according to Statista.

“This phone is the answer for former BlackBerry users who miss the physical keyboard but also need apps,” BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen said on a conference call.

BlackBerry is calling the new device Priv in a nod to the company’s longtime focus on customer privacy. The curve-sided phone will offer both a touch screen and slide-out keyboard. It expects to launch the phone ahead of Christmas, a key shopping time for smartphones, Mr. Chen told reporters here.

BlackBerry didn’t offer distribution details about the new device or expected pricing, but the move underscored the underwhelming performance of its existing phones. Since September 2014, BlackBerry has released a string of devices, including the square-shaped Passport; the Classic, which is modeled after BlackBerry’s once popular Bold device; and the Leap. All are powered by BlackBerry’s BB10 operating system and aimed at corporate and professional users.

The company said that, in the fiscal second quarter ended Aug. 29, it had recognized hardware revenue on “over 800,000 BlackBerry smartphones.” That was down from 1.1 million in the first quarter and 2.1 million devices in last year’s fiscal second quarter.

“I am not satisfied where we are in overall revenue and profitability, especially the performance of our handset business,” Mr. Chen said. Still, he forecast the company would continue to generate cash in each quarter and be profitable in the fiscal fourth quarter, citing continued cost-cutting, expected improvements in device revenue and gains in software sales.

BlackBerry now expects to make the device business profitable from the annual sale of 5 million phones, comprising existing devices and the new “high-end” Android phone, Mr. Chen said. That is down from the previous target of 10 million phones.

BlackBerry is aiming to lure customers and boost profits with an Android phone. Android phones had close to an 83% share of the global smartphone market in the calendar second quarter, according to research firm International Data Corp. That compared with less than 1% for BlackBerry.

Still, the new phone will face stiff competition from Android devices offered by Samsung and others. BlackBerry is betting Priv’s security and productivity tools will differentiate the product from rivals. But Samsung, the biggest seller of Android phones, also offers a device security platform, known as Knox, to appeal to security-conscious customers such as governments.

“If we [can] build more enterprise demand for Android phones…at the high end…that’s good for Samsung,” Mr. Chen told reporters.

BlackBerry also plans to maintain its BB10 operating system to appease customers that favor that smartphone technology. That decision adds potential costs to the handset business at a time when cost-cutting remains a priority for the company.

“The move has challenges in front of it, that’s for sure,” said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC.

Overall, BlackBerry posted a profit of $51 million in the second quarter, compared with a loss of $207 million a year earlier. Adjusted to exclude items, it lost 13 cents a share, worse than the nine-cent loss expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Revenue overall fell 47% to $490 million, well below the $611 million analysts had projected. Revenue from software and services came in at $74 million, up from $62 million a year earlier, but down 46% from $137 million in the fiscal first quarter. The sequential decline resulted from the company not booking any new patent licensing deal in the latest period, Mr. Chen said.

BlackBerry is still targeting $500 million in software and licensing revenue for fiscal 2016.

Mr. Chen defended the performance of the software business. He noted that sales of the company’s BES12 mobile-device-management software, introduced in November, and BlackBerry’s QNX software that is used to power in-car infotainment systems, contributed the most to the year-over-year growth in software revenue.

Overall, the second-quarter “numbers are lower than expected…[but] I am still on plan,” Mr. Chen said.

BlackBerry shares were down 5.0% in recent New York trading and had lost 39% year-to-date.

Written by Ben Dummett of The Wall Street Journal

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

BlackBerry to Buy Good Technology for $425 Million

© Beawiharta/Reuters
© Beawiharta/Reuters

BlackBerry said Friday it would buy closely held Good Technology Corp. for $425 million, in a move to further bolster the Canadian company’s efforts to sell mobile security software to government and corporate customers.

Stung by the dramatic drop in fortunes of its smartphone business since 2013, BlackBerry  is betting in part on device-management software to reignite growth.

Good Technology, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., competes with BlackBerry in offering software that allows companies to manage mobile devices used by employees on corporate networks. By acquiring Good, BlackBerry eliminates a competitor to help bolster its competitive advantage against Citrix Systems Inc. and other rivals.

“Like BlackBerry, Good has a very strong presence in enterprises and governments around the world and, with this transaction, BlackBerry will enhance its sales and distribution capabilities and further grow its enterprise software revenue stream,” Chief Executive John Chen said in a statement.

The deal also provides BlackBerry with additional revenue, which has been under pressure amid a slow takeup of the company’s latest version of its mobile device management software.

Written by Ben Dummett of MarketWatch

(Source: MarketWatch)

A Blackberry-Android Phone?

Evan Blass/Twitter
Evan Blass/Twitter

A series of Twitter posts just reignited rumors of an upcoming Blackberry  (BB-CA) that would run a version of Google’s  (GOOGL) Android operating system.

Writer Evan Blass took to Twitter with three leaked images early Wednesday, saying a new model of Blackberry phone, dubbed Venice, would be released by national carriers in November. Renderings showed a black device with a curved screen wrapping around the edges of the phone and the option to slide out Blackberry’s hallmark physical keyboard.

Perhaps more importantly, the device appeared to have an Android-like interface. If Venice runs on Android, it would be the first Blackberry to do so, although Blackberry 10 users can download Android apps from the Amazon (AMZN) App Store.

“We don’t comment on rumors or speculation, but we remain ‎committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched,” a Blackberry spokeswoman said. CNBC was unable to independently verify the veracity of the photos.

Blass is the latest to pile on to the summer’s speculation that Blackberry is reinventing itself with Venice.

A contributor to website Mashable, Blass is best known as his Twitter personality @evleaks, where he gained a following for revealing the latest smartphone models before they were publicly released. Blass’ tweets corroborate ongoing Blackberry buzz in publications like Reuters, after the Canadian wireless company gave a sneak peek of Venice in a March trade show.

The growing evidence of a potential departure from Blackberry 10 would come as the business’ market share is on the decline.

The once-mighty device maker held just 1.5 percent of the U.S. mobile phone platform market in April of this year, according to research firm comScore, compared to Android’s 53.2 percent and Apple’s 41.3 percent. North America accounts for the largest share—43.3 percent—of Blackberry’s sales.

About 40 percent Blackberry’s revenue comes from hardware, with 38 percent from services and 21 percent from software and technology licensing, according to their latest quarterly earnings report, released in June.

Written by Anita Balakrishnan of CNBC

(Source: CNBC)

Google+Blackberry: the Ultimate Android Tag Team

© Rob Bulmahn, Flickr
© Rob Bulmahn, Flickr

Apple better watch out, because two kids on the tech block are teaming up and forming an Android-clad alliance. And this time, it is no longer just a rumor! Sure, the leak of Google and Blackberry’s device may not actually be the product that they are launching together, but this partnership is stewing up something big.

Here are the ingredients in this “big” stew that Google and Blackberry are cooking up: BlackBerry’s enterprise device deployment service called BES12, the Android 5.0 Lollipop, and Google Play for Work.

Based on what they described on their site, this device will essentially provide a secure mobile experience with disk encryption that will prevent virus and malware from accessing your private information. So you won’t have to worry about your secrets getting into the wrong hands!

Additionally, there will be a consistent experience throughout all of these devices due to their Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) framework. So you will not need to learn a completely new system when you are switching Android gadgets. This will make their line of products user-friendly and easy to manage.

Also, with Google Play for Work and the Android backbone, you will be able to access the endless library of Android’s apps. You could even create your own app quickly and integrate your work to your mobile device efficiently through this feature. With all of these powerful specs, you will be able to do business through your phone while you are on the go!

The bottom line is that their goal is to create a more secure version of the Android, using BlackBerry’s BES12, combined with the Android 5.0 Lollipop, and Google Play for Work. Basically, not only will this device contain the enhanced security of a Blackberry, but it will also hold the accessibility tools and apps of an Android OS. With this unique blend of innovative features, the work-friendly gadget that every workaholic has always dreamed might actually become a reality!

However, this is not just a win for the working consumers, but it is also a win for these two tech companies. How? Well, Google will gain access to a stronger security framework for its own products, and Blackberry will finally be able to climb back up from its fall from the Tech Giants Hall of Fame.

So get ready! Blackberry and Google might actually be able to set new standards for the next level of technology of this decade.

Written by Lake Avenue Financial