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BlackBerry Ripening as CEO Brings a Return to Growth

By | Interview | One Comment

BlackBerry has spent the year returning to its roots. With CEO John Chen at the helm the turnabout bid seems to be a heavier bet in the future of this company. In an interview with Business Line, John highlights a refocused internal machine that can meet their objectives and execute on the route they’ve set fourth.

Those in the stock who know anything about real blackberries know they are ready to pick late summer. As September comes through; in the Q&A transposed below you’ll get a good sense of the solidity the company has moving forward. While they are expanding their reach with Project Ion and the Internet of Things, BlackBerry remains dedicated to their customers in need of secure mobile endpoints.

“BlackBerry devices are part of our unparalleled ability to provide the most secure end-to-end enterprise mobility solutions from the smartphone to the data centre. We’ll continue to sell devices as long as there are customers who value them.”

- I N T E R V I E W -

Q:You started a restructuring process to cut costs and bring the right focus. Is that process now over? How would you leverage the new organisation to turn around the company?

A: I’m happy to say that we have completed the restructuring and have started to hire in key areas of the business. Getting our costs and organisational structure right was a difficult, but crucial phase in our turnaround plan.

With our new structure we are now well-positioned to provide our enterprise customers with the best, most secure end-to-end enterprise mobility solutions. We are also well positioned to lead in the machine-to-machine space and the Internet of Things. BlackBerry is known for security — it’s in everything we do — so we will apply our learnings from enterprise mobility to address the emerging connectivity and security needs within the Internet of Things.

Q: Recently you said that the chances of BlackBerry survival have improved from 50 per cent to 80 per cent. How will you ensure that the 20 per cent risk associated is mitigated over the next six months?

A: I believe we have mitigated that risk already. With a new leadership team, a clear vision and a completed restructuring process, BlackBerry is set up to move forward in a positive direction.

We also have a strong cash and investment balance that allows us to do things like make strategic investments such as acquisitions that deliver new capabilities and increased value for our customers. Risk is always there, but I am confident we have taken the necessary steps to alleviate it to the degree that we can.

Q: Has your strategy to partner with Foxconn paid off? How are models like the Z3 doing in the market?

A: The BlackBerry Z3 has been extremely well received in both India and Indonesia, and we continue to see strong demand for the device. Initial inventory of the device nearly sold out in India within two weeks following launch. We hear from users that they like the price, screen size and battery life. We’re listening to what our customers are saying and plan to continue to deliver competitive devices.

We will continue to leverage the Foxconn partnership, as well as our partnerships with other key manufacturing partners, to deliver innovative products in a more timely and cost-effective manner.

Q:Despite the new BB10 operating system, BlackBerry market share has not improved. Do you think that the company needs to rethink the devices strategy?

A: BlackBerry devices are part of our unparalleled ability to provide the most secure end-to-end enterprise mobility solutions from the smartphone to the data centre. We’ll continue to sell devices as long as there are customers who value them.

Q: How do you see the threat from Chinese players like Xiaomi and Huawei, which are cornering a significant share of the new sales?

A: Frankly, we don’t see those Chinese players you mentioned as threats in our target market. We see them playing more at the low end. And it’s important to remember that BlackBerry is more than just a smartphone manufacturer. We are a mobile solutions company that takes a broader approach to servicing the needs of customers looking for secure technologies that drive productivity, communication and collaboration.

Q: How significant is the enterprise market in India for Blackberry?

A: The enterprise market continues to grow in India and holds immense untapped potential for BlackBerry, especially in sectors like retail, insurance, banking, healthcare, construction and professional services. We are seeing a great opportunity to grow our presence in India as the enterprise market here begins to embrace mobility as a vital part of doing business. BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES10) has more than 1,000 installations in India, which is significant considering we only launched it in the beginning of 2013.

Overall what are your targets for BlackBerry India when it comes to contribution to the company’s global growth game plan?

We don’t provide financial projections at the country level but our expectation is that BlackBerry will continue to thrive in India because our strategy is so well-aligned with India’s market needs. We see great opportunities ahead of us as we continue to make significant headway on our plan to return BlackBerry to growth and profitability both in India and globally.

Source – THBL

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BerryFlow Upstream #12

By | Podcast | 2 Comments

3 months strong! On our 12th BlackBerry focused podcast Upstream we’ll be discussing a 2014 Roadmap, new OS releases (official and unofficial), top native BB10 applications as well as extending a previous discussion about the P9983 device which got speced out recently. We might even talk Passport release date so tune in!

Join us, leave a comment and share in the discussion.

BERRYFLOW UPSTREAM ON AIR

@Bla1ze | CrackBerry EiC Bla1ze
Jubei Raziel – C00076AFA
@flip4bytes | Alex
@elbranduco | Brandon
@laurenkortbein | Lauren
@jmznvs | James

Watch & Listen:

Drop us a line let us know what you liked, and what you didn’t. Be sure to follow any or all of the lovely peeps listed above to track their musing on the twitter-sphere.

Want to see other Upstream sessions? Tap on over to Upstream archive to catch up on the flow.

TheBlackberryPlaybook

BlackBerry PlayBook Still A Viable Tablet in 2014

By | Editorial, Outlook | 10 Comments

In October of 2010, Mike Lazaridis unveiled RIM’s first tablet computer to rival the iPad. The device, dubbed the BlackBerry PlayBook, was seen as a smaller and far more capable competitor than Apple’s tablet offering. In April of 2011 the devuce was released globally. Sales were slow and the reception lukewarm. RIM had launched a device that would be a testbed for their next-gen platform, its fate rested in the hands of the developer ecosystem it hoped to foster.

Nearly, four years since the device’s introduction and years since the last update was pushed to the PlayBook, the device is no longer being manufactured or supported by BlackBerry. This look back in 2014 will explore key areas of the device to see how well it has aged and whether or not it’s still a viable tablet to be used in 2014 and beyond. I will be looking at the four most important aspects of the device to see how well it has aged; I will be looking at Software (Apps and Interface) Productivity, Accessory Ecosystem, and Hardware to accurately gauge whether the device still has staying power in this day and age.

The software that runs the the BlackBerry PlayBook (PlayBook OS) is the metaphorical glue that holds the experience together. The user interface of the PlayBook is hugely reminiscent of WebOS, from it’s combination of subtle notifications to the card-system of multitasking. The PlayBooks UI was simple and easy to pick up and diverse from a capabilities standpoint. The tiled interface was a taste of the future for the BB10 platform that would similarly run Active Frames, which allow applications to minimize to the background.

The UI as elegant as it was, could only push the device so far as the application support for the device would ultimately make or break the device in terms of usability. The application ecosystem is story of muddled experience. It has everything you could ask for in tablet. It has some games, it has some first party titles (Facebook, Pandora, etc), and it is a very capable-portable workhorse for those wanting to create documents or excel sheets with it or view local media.

It only has some of the things that a tablet user would find meaningful. The game selection is enough to keep your occupied, yet not engaged for any extreme length. The first party support, is very limited. What I can say for sure is the PlayBook’s biggest strength are is the web browser and editing capabilities. If writing documents is something you can and want to do with your tablet then the PlayBook can meet your needs. The email client and other productivity tools are basic but they do but the make the device feel far more suitable in an office or a classroom environment and far more capable than what you may expect. From a software perspective, the PlayBook is middle of the road. It has some games to keep people entertained, it has a capable browser and a very functional editing suite, but lacks a dedicated powerpoint creation tool (Like BlackBerry Express on BB10), which keeps it from aspiring to real productivity greatness in my eyes. I feel that the best aspect of the PlayBook is that it looks modern. To me  shows the beauty, power and modernity of both the QNX platform and the PlayBook OS that spill over to the BB10 platform in a fundamental way.

The wide array of accessories that the PlayBook supports are among the most diverse in the industry at the time of its extended release. Some of the best and most long lasting accessories were those that expanded on the devices usability and often times its ability to create content. The Charging Dock is arguably one the best accessories as it allows for the PlayBook to be held upright while charging and charges it twice as fast as normal. When combined with a Bluetooth Keyboard, you have a great way to create content. If your looking for a more portable yet equally powerful way to create material on the fly.

The PlayBook Case with a BlackBerry Mini Keyboard is the best way to create content. What’s special about this case is that it integrates a mousepad to allow your PlayBook to feel more like a conventional, yet far more portable laptop. Finally, both the BlackBerry Bluetooth Speaker and the Music Gate accessories are a great way to stream your music to your living room or social gathering. When it comes to the accessory ecosystem, the PlayBook has a very useful plethora of not only what I’ve listed, but tons of third party accessories that give needed life to the would-be “dead” tablet. When combined with its powerful software these add-ons make the BlackBerry PlayBook a workhorse even in 2014.

In terms of hardware, the device has aged incredibly well. With a duel core 1Ghz processor with 1GB of RAM (1.5GHZ in the 3G+ and LTE variants) the device has just the right amount of horse power to run all of its applications and gaming needs with no lag whatsoever, making the PlayBook one of the most fluid tablets from 2011′s year of the dual cores.

In 2014 however, when it comes to web pages and some more modern websites, the hardware’s age can shine through from time to time, making the PlayBook a lesson in patience on occasion. The cameras are capable of recording in 1080p and with an HDMI out, you can view media in HD with no problems in my experience. In terms of build quality the PlayBook is distinct.

In 2014 terms it’s not as elegant as an iPad but it is worlds better than anything Samsung has produced (The exception being the Galaxy Alpha) and it’s look holds some appeal even now. To me the device has a core that’s modern and beautiful, yet is wrapped in housing that screams it is a device of the present, which to me puts it at odds with its next generation operating system.

To conclude, in recommending the PlayBook several things need to be addressed before hand. Firstly, the device has aged very well thanks to it’s application support and it’s general usefulness in today’s environment. That being said, I have a rule of thumb to never recommend a device that is no longer supported officially. It’s an unsupported tablet given up to focus on BlackBerry 10 OS development, it will never see another update in the form of its core OS functionality. The PlayBook you get today will be the exact same in 5 years.

So I don’t recommend it if your the sort of person who likes having up to date software and applications. I do though recommend it for people who honestly just want a portable workhorse, who want some games and want to update Facebook or happen to have a BBOS device and want further functionality in a cool, more modern package.

The Playbook is cheap enough, has a strong accessory ecosystem and has the applications to keep people engaged with the device. The combination of the PlayBook while bridged to a legacy BBOS device is still unmatched in principle to this day. The BlackBerry Bridge functionality which spread your conversations across two devices was a huge step forward from a usability perspective and extended the longevity of the device even for BlackBerry 10 users.

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BlackBerry Passport To Support 4K Video Recording

By | News | 10 Comments

On the opposite side of the Passport’s impressive 1440×1440 screen is a solid 13MP camera. The camera which was detailed in a spec sheet last week is packed to the gills to offer an exceptional capture expereince with a high quality lens capable of shooting 720, 1080 and 4K video @ 30 FPS. This new information comes via @Dhabkirk – it’s suggested that on the initial release the Passport will not support 4K video recording but will support this capability with the latter release of 10.3.1.

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Here’s a breakdown of this very capable camera:

  • 13MP Auto-Focus
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
  • 5-element f2.0 lens
  • Back Side Illumination
  • LED Flash
  • 1080p HD video recording at 60fps
  • 6DOF video stabilization
  • 5x digital zoom
  • Continuous & touch to focus, image stabilization

Overall 4K shooting is totally useless. But as table stakes it’s great that BlackBerry is planning for the support. It shows they are market aware and working to keep their devices competitive against contenders like the larger iPhone and Note 4 slated for later this year.

What do you think – Does 4K video recording add value to the already impressive device?

BBRYFLOW_10DOT3w

Hands On With 10.3.0.1052 – The Finer Points

By | BlackBerry | 23 Comments

Loaded up the 10.3 OS on the Z30 although it’s hardly the 10.3.1 device optimized OS expected to hit in market devices later this year, it’s always nice to take a peek at the progress BlackBerry is making with their mobile platform built atop the rock solid QNX. The video glazes over some pro-tips for users on 10.3 and touches on the UI changes, increases Android support, BlackBerry assistant and refined user interface.

Enjoy the under 15min look at some of what this OS will be able to offer -

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Initial Impressions of Z10 Running 10.3.0.1052

By | BlackBerry 10, Overview | 7 Comments

After a few days with 10.3.0.1052 loaded on a Z10 STL 100-3 (coming from 10.2.2.1531) it’s a much better experience than I expected it to be. The OS is quick, the setup process was a breeze. Usually when adding accounts there’s a delay loading the content but with 10.3.0.1052 it loaded within seconds. Another key feature I noticed was how smooth transitioning from one app to another. Flawless and no hesitation.

With the new layout of the HUB it’s too white on the Z10. Knowing this build was not meant for current devices I’m looking forward to the ability to adjust when 10.3.1 arrives and if the ability to switch to dark theme will still be available. The new keyboard layout is amazing! I love the look and feeling of the design. There is some keyboard lag when swiping up on words but again it goes back to the fact that this OS is not optimized for in market devices.

After I loaded 10.3.0.1052 the battery life has not been amazing. Yes, I’m using a Z10 so the battery life wasn’t it’s strongest point from the get-go. With 10.2.1. I was averaging around 8-9 hours of moderate to heavy use. When I loaded 10.2.2 it increased to 9-10 hours. After loading 10.3.0.1052 with about the same usage I get about 3-4 hours and yes I know the OS is still settling but the amount of battery drainage is pretty harsh.

I’m loving the new camera! There is some lag when in Auto mode but it is manageable. Flipping to burst mode and capturing photos is a great fix to avoid the lag. The new layout of the settings and menu options I feel are better than 10.2. The panorama option is much better than my wife’s iPhone 5s. The one thing I do not like of the new camera is that we lost the ability to capture the photo by pressing anywhere on the screen. That was my one and only way of capturing photos. I’ve now adjusted to use the volume rockers instead of the dedicated photo button on the screen. I hope BlackBerry will bring that feature back. Even LG G3 has ripped off the innovative camera shutter…

Even though the Amazon App Store is pre-loaded in the OS my Android App Store of choice is Snap. Loading Android apps are quick and with BlackBerry Guardian it’s further secured. Most of my go to Android apps worked. The latest Instagram APK will load but once loaded the app would crash. I tried older builds but there is some lag so I ended up just downloading iGrann Pro to fill in the gap. plus there’s HUB integration through headless services.

I look forward to future builds and until then I’m patiently waiting for the OS to completely settle and hopefully the battery life will improve. Would I suggest loading the OS for those who haven’t jumped on 10.3 yet, YES!!! I do not however recommended loading it on a Z10 unless battery life is non issue i.e. you have backup batteries or use your phone lightly throughout the day.

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BlackBerry Talks Security Fundamentals In Latest Breakdown

By | BlackBerry | No Comments

The duality of mobile desire hinges on the implementation of security. This is a main point voiced by security wiz and longtime Manager of Security Services at BlackBerry in a recent blog posting on Inside BlackBerry Business Blog.

I’ve made bold below a small part I found especially important to remember, “today, security and privacy are hot topics for everyone who owns a mobile device. Governments and enterprises need to secure their data to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. High-profile corporate data leaks have caused tremendous damage and drawn attention to the need for secure Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM). Consumers, meanwhile, want the freedom to download apps, connect to social networks and interact with their friends anywhere and anytime while maintaining their right to private communication.”

This mentality is unique to this industry. While other vendors purport a similar focus and are clearly eager to tap into the lucrative enterprise niche, BlackBerry remains an independent giant in this arena with a flexible offering that tailors to the multifaceted nature of mobile communication in our day in age. They have the heritage to defend and recover their footprint by delivering on their core strengths.

The question is no longer whether security is important. The question is: What makes BlackBerry so secure?

To answer that, let’s step back and look at the fundamentals:

  • Security is extremely difficult. The defender needs to protect all of the entry points, while the attacker only needs one vulnerability.
  • Security is only as strong as its weakest link. Hackers, home intruders and electricity follow the path of least resistance. If you lock, deadbolt and chain the front door, make sure you don’t leave the window open.
  • Security is about economics. No system is impenetrable, so security needs to be implemented in the right places. The resources spent on security need to align with the value of what you’re protecting.
  • Secure systems need secure foundations. To be effective, security needs to be baked into the system from the very beginning. Security is not a feature or an enhancement; it’s a fundamental property of the system.
  • Security takes time and experience. You cannot build a secure product overnight, and you cannot compromise on security. The only true test is the test of time.

“We’re very happy to see the industry recognize the importance of mobile security and work to improve their products. But when it comes to true end-to-end security trusted by the world’s most powerful leaders, the choices are few and far between. BlackBerry is synonymous with mobile security, and we will continue to do everything we can to protect our valued customers and their data.”

Enjoy the full read over on Inside BlackBerry BIZ

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BerryFlow Upstream #11

By | Podcast | 6 Comments

Here to cover the week of the 18-25th we’re talking BlackBerry’s new business unit, top ten most powerfu Canadian business men, we discuss the finer points of the 10.3.0.1052 leak, the Porche design P9983, Passport Spec Sheet and more!

*Please put device into desktop mode if you are watching on BB10 mobile*

On Air:

@flip4bytes | Alex
@elbranduco | Brandon
@Risky_KillMoves |Trillington
@BerryInformed | Jeremy
@KevCollazo | Kevin
@jmznvs  | James
Jubei Raziel | C00076AFA

Drop us a line let us know what you liked, and what you didn’t. Be sure to follow any or all of the lovely peeps listed above to track their musing on the twitter-sphere.

Want to see other Upstream sessions? Tap on over to Upstream archive to catch up on the flow.

Passport_BBRYFLOW

BlackBerry Passport Purported Spec Sheet Emerges Online

By | News | 13 Comments

We’re well aware by now, the innovative BlackBerry Passport device aims to bring clarity to a market homogenized by the portrait styling of the iPhone. The Passport seeks to dissemble the preconceived notions that surround what makes a smartphone truly “smart”. With an integrated touch sensitive keyboard and the strongest specifications ever built into a BlackBerry, the Passport aims to redefine QWERTY.

Here is a purported spec sheet via the guys at N4BB

Size goals (LxWxD): 128 x 90.3 x 9.3mm (9.6mm at camera location)

Weight goals (w/battery): 194.4g (M2)

Processor:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with 2.2GHz Quad-Core CPUs (MSM8974-AA)
  • Adreno 330, 450MHz GPU

Memory:

  • 3GB LPDDR3 800MHz RAM
  • 32GB Flash
  • Hot-swappable MicroSD slot (up to 64GB)

Expandable Memory: MicroSD slot located under back cover

Display:

  • 4.5” diagonal
  • 1440 x 1440 resolution
  • LCD
  • 453 DPI
  • 24-bit color depth
  • 1:1 aspect ratio
  • RGB pixel arrangement
  • In-cell touch panel
  • 10-point multi-touch
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3

Rear Facing Camera:

  • 13MP Auto-Focus
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
  • 5-element f2.0 lens
  • Back Side Illumination
  • LED Flash
  • 1080p HD video recording at 60fps
  • 6DOF video stabilization
  • 5x digital zoom
  • Continuous & touch to focus, image stabilization

Front Facing Camera:

  • 2MP Fixed-Focus
  • Image & video stabilization
  • 3x digital zoom
  • 720p HD video recording

Dedicated Keys: Volume Up/Down, Mute, Lock(Power On/Off)

Notification: Tone, vibrate, on-screen or LED indicator; notification options are user configurable

Voice Input/Output: Integrated speaker and microphone, Hands-free headset capable, Bluetooth headset capable, Integrated Hands-Free Speakerphone, Stereo

Headset: 3.5 mm stereo “BlackBird”

Ports and Connectivity:

  • USB 2.0 fully supported with standard microUSB 2.0 cable (included inbox)
  • USB 3.0 client interface supported with custom BlackBerry cable (notincluded in box)
  • Cabled-Video Out supported with standard SlimPort adaptor (notincluded in box). SlimPort adaptor cables exist to support the followingvideo protocols: HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort 1.1, DisplayPort 1.2, DVI
  • NFC
  • Universal BlackBerry Connector with SlimPort enabled

Power Adapter: +5V DC / 1.3A AC power adapter, OMTP Complaint

Battery: 3450mAH integrated non-removable battery

Battery Life (target) BlackBerry Power User Profile: 19 hours usage + 8 hours standby
Network:
FD-LTE 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 20 (2100/1900/1800/1700/850/2600/900/700/700/800 MHz)
HSPA+ 1, 2, 4, 5/6, 8 (2100/1900/1700/850/900 MHz)
• Dual Carrier 42M support
• Quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)

Wi-Fi:

  • 802.11 b/g/n for 2.4GHz
  • 802.11 a/n for 5GHz
  • 802.11 ac for 5GHz
  • 4G Mobile Hotspot
  • Wi-Fi Direct
  • Miracast
  • IEEE 802.11r
  • IEEE 802.11k Neighbor Reports
  • Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) Server

Bluetooth:
Bluetooth Support

• Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (LE)

Bluetooth Profile

  • Hands free Profile 1.6 (HFP)
  • Object Push Profile 1.1 (OPP)
  • Phone Book Access Profile 1.1.1 (PBAP)
  • Bluetooth Stereo (A2DP 1.2 / AVRCP 1.5 support)
  • Serial Port Profile 1.1 (SPP)
  • Bluetooth Message Access Profile 1.1 (MAP)
  • Personal Area Network 1.0 (PAN)
  • Remote SIM Access Profile 1.1 (rSAP)
  • Human Interface Device Profile 1.0 (HID)
  • Device ID 1.3
  • Multi-Profile 1.0 (MPS) [Planned]Low Energy Services
  • Device Information Service
  • Immediate Alert Service
  • Link Loss Service
  • Tx Power Service
  • Battery Service
  • Current Time Service
  • Next DST Change Service
  • Low Energy Human Interface Device (HID) [Planned]Bluetooth Radio Specifications
  • Single band support: ISM 2.4 GHz
  • Power Class: Bluetooth Class 1
  • Transmitting and receiving frequency: 2402 to 2480 MHz

GPS:

  • Assisted, Autonomous and Simultaneous GPS
  • Enabled with preloaded BlackBerry Maps application and for e911capabilities
  • Both User Plane & Control Plane GPS is supported
  • GLONASS Support
  • OTDOA

Advanced Sensors:
Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Gyroscope, Time of Flight (ToF), Ambient light

SIM Interface:
Nano SIM card (4FF) Supports 1.8V and 3.0V cards

What are your thoughts on this? The first quad-core SOC BlackBerry, seems pretty impressive overall and optimized for a proficient, battle ready experience for business people around the world.

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