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New submitter Andrewkov writes: BlackBerry released its new Passport phone today. It has a square 4.5" screen and a physical keyboard, and it's aimed at corporate users. The company hopes the larger size, Siri-like voice recognition, 30-hour battery life, and improved security will buoy its market share. Early reviews are not terribly favorable — the Wall Street Journal says BlackBerry is still behind on the software, and "The bulky, awkward design and the unfamiliar keyboard make it hard to justify finding space for it in a pocket or bag." The Verge said, "[T]he Passport got in the way of getting work done more than it helped." Re/code calls it a phone only a BlackBerry user will love.
189 comments | about a week ago
First time accepted submitter BarbaraHudson (3785311) writes The CBC is reporting that Blackberry has made preparations to abandon the phone market by spinning pieces of the business off into Blackberry Technology Solutions. From the article: "The unit ... includes QNX, the company that BlackBerry acquired and used to develop the operating system that became the platform for its new smartphones, and Certicom, a former independent Toronto-area company with advanced security software. BTS will also include BlackBerry's Project Ion, which is an application platform focused on machine-to-machine Internet technology, Paratek antenna tuning technology and about 44,000 patents." When you have less market share than Windows Phone, it's time to throw in the towel ... or as they say in the new "lets not admit we screwed up" vernacular, "pivot to take advantage of new opportunities."
89 comments | about a month and a half ago
Def Con shows no mercy. As gleefully reported by sites several Blackberry-centric sites, researcher Justin Case yesterday demonstrated that he could root the much-heralded Blackphone in less than five minutes. From n4bb.com's linked report: "However, one of the vulnerabilities has already been patched and the other only exploitable with direct user consent. Nevertheless, this only further proves you cannot add layers of security on top of an underlying platform with security vulnerabilities." Case reacts via Twitter to the crowing: "Hey BlackBerry idiots, stop miss quoting me on your blogs. Your phone is only "secure" because it has few users and little value as a target."
46 comments | about 2 months ago
EthanV2 sends word that BlackBerry, having finally caught up to a world dominated by smartphones, is now trying to push the envelope by developing a smartphone with a square screen. The BlackBerry Passport has a 4.5-inch screen with a resolution of 1440x1440. The phone has a physical keyboard as well. In a blog post about the new phone, they show a picture with it side-by-side with an iPhone and a Galaxy S5 — the Passport is slightly taller than the iPhone, and significantly wider, as you'd expect. The Passport is a play for BlackBerry's "traditional" work-oriented user base, where the earlier BlackBerry Z10 and Z30 were efforts to break into the post-iPhone consumer smartphone space. Though the Passport may well be preferable for spreadsheets and word processing, that square screen will be much less useful for widescreen movies, and its wide, blocky design will entirely prohibit one-handed use. The Passport is expected to appear later this year, and it will launch with BlackBerry 10.3 (at least, according to early hands-on previews).
139 comments | about 3 months ago
An anonymous reader sends word that BlackBerry, hit hard over the past several years by the emergence of smart phones, has come back to profitability. BlackBerry has been fighting an uphill battle to stay relevant in the world of mobile devices. It has lost market share to Apple, companies like Samsung that offer gadgets running on Google's Android operating system, and Microsoft. But John Chen, who took over as CEO in November, has injected new life to the company. Chen, who says BlackBerry is getting close to breaking even on its hardware business, has steered the company's focus more towards software. He's made several product announcements that Wall Street has cheered. Last month, the company launched its Project Ion, an initiative to develop more connected devices ... a trend dubbed the Internet of Things. On Wednesday, BlackBerry reached a deal with Amazon that will let users of BlackBerry's newest operating system access Android apps in Amazon's appstore later this fall.
67 comments | about 3 months ago
New submitter Hammeh (2481572) writes "BlackBerry announced they have reached a licensing agreement with Amazon to provide the Amazon Android Appstore to be shipped with BlackBerry OS 10.3, which is due to be released this fall. The Amazon Appstore will exist alongside the current BlackBerry World, bringing more than 200,000 Android apps directly to BB 10.3 devices. As part of the announcement, BlackBerry also outlined how they will be closing the Music and Video sections of BlackBerry World, as they will be provided by the Amazon Appstore. The question: is it enough to save BlackBerry in the consumer market, or is it too little, too late?
76 comments | about 3 months ago
jfruh (300774) writes "BlackBerry broke its longstanding business model recently by announcing that its BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 management platform would be able to manage not just BlackBerry devices, but Android and iOS gadgets as well. Now, in a new announcement, the company is also exploring the flipside of that coin, allowing software from other companies to manage BlackBerry phones. The moves acknowledge a world in which fewer and fewer people are interested in a vertical BlackBerry solution — but also seem to kill the last things that make BlackBerry special."
43 comments | about 5 months ago
Freshly Exhumed (105597) writes "Tomi Ahonen's newly released 2014 Almanac reveals such current mobile phone industry data gems as: 'The mobile subscription rate is at or very very nearly at 100%. For 7.1 Billion people alive that means 7.1 Billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide.' Compared with other tech industries, he says: 'Take every type of PC, including desktops, laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs and add them together. What do we have? 1.5 Billion in use worldwide. Mobile is nearly 5 times larger. Televisions? Sure. We are now at 2 Billion TV sets in use globally. But mobile has 3.5 times users.' Which mobile phone OS is the leader? ''Android has now utterly won the smartphone platform war with over 80% of new sales. Apple's iPhone has peaked and is in gradual decline at about 15% with the remnant few percent split among Windows, Blackberry and miscellaneous others.'"
197 comments | about 5 months ago
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian reports on research (PDF) into the (alleged) wearable device trend: fully one third of customers who bought one stopped using it within six months. Activity trackers fared even worse: half of them are collecting dust. 'For comparison, you wouldn't find people from the early days of the smartphone saying that they'd abandoned their BlackBerry, Treo or Windows Mobile or Symbian phone. They were the early adopters, and they found utility in having email and (sometimes) web pages on the move. The idea of giving them up just wouldn't occur to them. ... So far, there aren't clear signs of quite what it is that smartwatches and fitness trackers are replacing, in the way that [early] music players did. Useful new technology has to replace or simplify some function, ideally; otherwise it has the challenge of persuading us that we need this entirely new thing. Smartphones are simpler ways to collect your email – and also make phone calls and surf the web (and so on). Fitness trackers... let you track your fitness. But given that 41% of people run with their smartphones, you might get by with a movement tracking app instead. The trouble with devices that claim to track your steps is they're so easily hoaxed by waving your arms around.'"
180 comments | about 6 months ago
time_lords_almanac (3527081) writes "BlackBerry is trying to put the kibosh on the Typo, a physical keyboard attachment for iPhone. And they've won the first round, in the form of a sales ban on the attachment. From the article: '"BlackBerry is pleased that its motion for a preliminary injunction against Typo Products LLC was granted. This ruling will help prevent further injury to BlackBerry from Typo's blatant theft of our patented keyboard technology," a spokeswoman for BlackBerry told the news agency in an email.'"
205 comments | about 6 months ago
yakatz writes "Microsoft announced that OneNote, including the full desktop program, will be free for anyone who wants to use the program. A version of the program for Mac also appeared in the app store yesterday. This means that a native edition of OneNote is available for most platforms (including iPad, iPhone and Android, but not Linux or Blackberry). Microsoft will continue to offer a paid version of OneNote with 'business-oriented' features (including SharePoint support, version history and Outlook integration). The partial rebranding of OneNote also includes some new tools like a program specifically designed to make it easier to take a picture of a whiteboard.
Is this a signal that Microsoft decided that they need to compete with Apple by making their productivity applications free?" (Over at WineHQ, they're looking for a maintainer for their page on OneNote. Anyone running it on a Free operating system? What are your favorite alternatives that are "libre" free, rather than only gratis?)
208 comments | about 6 months ago
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Kate Murphy reports at the NYT about a growing number of so-called agrihoods, residential developments where a working farm is the central feature, in the same way that other communities may cluster around a golf course, pool or fitness center. At least a dozen projects across the country are thriving, enlisting thousands of home buyers who crave access to open space, verdant fields and fresh food. 'I hear from developers all the time about this,' says Ed McMahon. 'They've figured out that unlike a golf course, which costs millions to build and millions to maintain, they can provide green space that actually earns a profit.'
Agritopia, outside Phoenix, has sixteen acres of certified organic farmland, with row crops (artichokes to zucchini), fruit trees (citrus, nectarine, peach, apple, olive and date) and livestock (chickens and sheep). Fences gripped by grapevines and blackberry bushes separate the farm from the community's 452 single-family homes, each with a wide front porch and sidewalks close enough to encourage conversation. The hub of neighborhood life is a small square overlooking the farm, with a coffeehouse, farm-to-table restaurant and honor-system farm stand. The square is also where residents line up on Wednesday evenings to claim their bulging boxes of just-harvested produce, eggs and honey, which come with a $100-a-month membership in the community-supported agriculture, or CSA, program.
'Wednesday is the highlight of my week,' says Ben Wyffels. 'To be able to walk down the street with my kids and get fresh, healthy food is amazing.' Because the Agritopia farm is self-sustaining, no fees are charged to support it, other than the cost of buying produce at the farm stand or joining the CSA. Agritopia was among the first agrihoods — like Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.; Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Ill.; South Village in South Burlington, Vt.; and Hidden Springs in Boise, Idaho. 'The interest is so great, we're kind of terrified trying to catch up with all the calls,' says Quint Redmond adding that in addition to developers, he hears from homeowners' associations and golf course operators who want to transform their costly-to-maintain green spaces into revenue-generating farms. Driving the demand, Redmond says, are the local-food movement and the aspirations of many Americans to be gentlemen (or gentlewomen) farmers. 'Everybody wants to be Thomas Jefferson these days.'" The city of Detroit is planning a 26.9-acre urban farm project on one of its vacant high school properties. Produce from the project will be included in meals for students in the district and later to the larger community.
116 comments | about 7 months ago
innocent_white_lamb writes "Ford has announced that their in-vehicle technology called Sync will be based on Blackberry's QNX operating system and will no longer use Microsoft Windows. My own 2013 Ford Escape has the Windows-based Sync system. I wonder if they will issue an update to change it to QNX." Anonymous sources inside Ford cited reliability problems with Windows and lower licensing costs for the switch to the classic realtime OS.
314 comments | about 7 months ago
New submitter TheP4st writes "A group of Swedish police officers thought it would be a good idea to use WhatsApp as a work tool for surveillance operations. The officer that set up their chat group mistyped one of the phone numbers to mistakenly include a civilian IT teacher. Once the teacher informed authorities about the mistake, it took more than 24 hours before he stopped receiving sensitive case information, which included criminal records, passport photos, and communications between surveillance teams tailing suspects. When confronted by Computer Sweden (Google translation of Swedish original), the officer responsible for setting up the group said, 'I know this server is not located in Sweden and that one cannot share every kind of information.' The only mobile chat medium approved for sensitive information is BlackBerry, and this initiative by a small group of officers happened because they do not have access to BlackBerry handsets."
37 comments | about 7 months ago
snydeq writes "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has some advice for Apple CEO Tim Cook: consider offering a phone based on the rival Google Android platform. Speaking at the Apps World conference in San Francisco, Wozniak made the suggestion of an Apple Android device when responding to a question about the fate of the faltering BlackBerry platform, saying that BlackBerry should have built an Android phone, and that Apple could do so, too. 'BlackBerry's very sad for me,' Wozniak lamented. 'I think it's probably too late now' for an Android-based BlackBerry phone. Apple, Woz said, has had some lucky victories in the marketplace in the past decade, and BlackBerry's demise may provide a cautionary tale: 'There's nothing to keep Apple out of the Android market as a secondary phone market.'"
249 comments | about 8 months ago
judgecorp writes "Typo Products, which makes a physical keyboard for the iPhone 5 and 5S is being sued by BlackBerry. The firm — co-founded by media personality Ryan Seacrest — provides an iPhone case which includes a physical keyboard, whose keys are sculpted very like those of a classic BlackBerry phone. 'From the beginning, BlackBerry has always focused on offering an exceptional typing experience that combines a great design with ergonomic excellence. We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations,' said Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer."
226 comments | about 9 months ago
harrymcc writes "Over at TIME.com, I rounded up the year's dumbest moments in technology. Yes, the launch of Healthcare.gov is included, as are Edward Snowden's revelations. But so are a bunch of people embarrassing themselves on Twitter, both BlackBerry and Lenovo hiring celebrities to (supposedly) design products, the release of glitchy products ranging from OS X 10.9 Mavericks to the new Yahoo Mail, and much more." I can't think of anything dumber than the NSA's claims that metadata isn't data.
96 comments | about 9 months ago
Nerval's Lobster writes "Some high-profile tech initiatives really crashed-and-burned this year. Did BlackBerry executives really think that BlackBerry 10 would spark a miraculous turnaround, or were they simply going through the motions of promoting it? That's the key question as BlackBerry 10 devices fail to sell. Then there's Facebook's misbegotten attempt at 'skinning' the Android OS with its Home app. Or maybe Healthcare.gov counts as 2013's biggest debacle, with its repeated crashes and glitches and inability to carry out core functions. What do you think was the biggest software or hardware (or both) mishap of the past twelve months?"
162 comments | about 9 months ago
An anonymous reader writes "A review of the top UX successes and failures of 2013 covers hot topics ranging from Snapchat to the Nest thermostat to David Pogue's departure from the New York Times. The author begins: 'In terms of UX milestones and missteps, 2013 failed to produce industry-altering innovations like 2007 with the introduction of the first iPhone or 2012 with the demise of Blackberry. Yet on another level, UX design in 2013 gave us a glimpse at the rapidly broadening definition of UX design as a structural concept and its role in the future of new media device design, content creation and even the status of product reviews created by leading tech journalists. In a critical way, I personally find this more interesting than blockbuster introductions that alter the technology landscape.'"
116 comments | about 9 months ago
A couple months ago, Rockstar, a patent-holding consortium backed by Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Blackberry, and others launched a barrage of infringement suits against Google and the makers of Android devices. Google has now launched a counteroffensive, seeking protection from Rockstar's patent trolling. The complaint (PDF) says, "Rockstar produces no products and practices no patents. Instead, Rockstar employs a staff of engineers in Ontario, Canada, who examine other companies’ successful products to find anything that Rockstar might use to demand and extract licenses to its patents under threat of litigation." Google's filing also accuses Rockstar of interfering with their business practices by contacting other companies and trying to convince them not to use Android. It asks for a declarative judgment of non-infringement.
150 comments | about 9 months ago