There’s a new Blackberry phone – the Blackberry Motion

BB-motion 2

Blackberry fans have had a rough go of it lately, but there are now a few options to choose from.  After announcing the Priv and KEYOne devices, there is now a 3rd Blackberry in the stable – the Blackberry Motion, advertised as Blackberry’s “all screen phone” which as you can probably tell from the photo, not exactly accurate, but this device still exists nonetheless.

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[News] Blackberry 10 announcements and recap *UPDATED*

Well folks – its finally here.  Its January 30th, and the new generation of Blackberry devices have been announced.  There’s a lot of news about everything, and I’m trying to bring as much as I can, as concise as I can, in a relatively short and easy to read article.  I’ll give it a whirl, but if you have specific questions, or are looking for live coverage of the event, give the folks over at BGR a click, as they are live at the event.  But for those of you that want a pretty solid overview of what’s happening with Blackberry, read on.

So…lot’s going on today!  Here are the highlights so far (to be updated as more info comes available):

So first and foremost, lets get the name thing out of the way.  The Canadian company that made the Blackberry handsets known as Research in Motion (RIM for short) will henceforth be known as just “Blackberry.”  A smart move for my money, since anyone not a “tech geek” or an industry insider probably didn’t even know RIM made Blackberry devices to begin with.  So cut out the middle man and the confusion and just settle in with the brand everyone already knows.  As for “knows and loves” well…we’ll have to see.

  • Blackberry will be releasing 2 new smartphones this year – the Z10 all touch device, and the Q10 device with a physical keyboard.  The Q10 is likely the device that will seem most familiar to Blackberry loyalists, and the Z10 is Blackberry’s idea of what the “prosumer” market is looking for.  An interesting gamble…but a gamble nonetheless
  • The Z10 will sport a 4.2″ HD display, at 1028×768 pixels, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm dual core processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and an 8MP rear camera.  Nice surely, but nothing to write home about when compared to other current smartphones on the market in terms of specs.  I think Blackberry is hedging their bets that long time Blackberry fans will be more enticed by the brand and how it works than the specs.
  • The Q10 will have a full QWERTY keyboard and a 3.1″ display.  This is the more traditional or “business” type Blackberry that the general public is most familiar with.
  • As for carriers – right now it is known for sure that Verizon will sell the Z10 device for $199.99 with a new 2 year agreement, and the device is scheduled for a US launch sometime in March.  All four carriers will be receiving the Z10 device, but pricing and launch dates for them is not currently available.
  • The Q10 is expected to launch sometime in April of this year.
  • The Blackberry App World is expected to roll out 70,000 apps to its new smartphones…but so far early reviews hint at a mixed bag of apps primarily designed for the Blackberry Playbook tablet and major apps from recognized app developers are missing or still in the works.  Notable apps not available as of today – Pandora, Netflix, Spotify, and Google Maps.
  • Blackberry’s new global creative director is – Alicia Keys!  That’s…cool, right?

Reviews of the Z10 from other sources:


BGR     Engadget     The Verge

    Photos:

    Blackberry Z10

    Z10 rear view
    Blackberry Q10
    Q10 rear view

    There’s the early dish – expect more details to be forthcoming as they are available throughout the day!

    [Rumor] Blackberry Z10 device specs leak out

    In more Blackberry 10 related news, slides of the training manual for the Z10 have presented more details of the specs of the device, including a 4.2 inch HD display (1280×768), Snapdragon processor, LTE & NFC, as well as 16GB of internal storage.  Other goodies include 2MB of RAM, a 2MP front facing camera, and 8MP rear camera with a whopping 5x optical zoom.  A reported 1800mAh battery powers it all, and (as any who used the old school Blackberry knows) it should easily get the average power user through a couple days of usage.

    The official RIM press conference is still scheduled for 01/30/2013.  A non-official photo of the all touch screen device is below.  Enjoy!

    BB Z10 – courtesy of BGR

    *Source:  BGR

    [Rumor] Canadian carrier reports strong BB10 pre-orders

    With the end of the month rapidly approaching, and with it the BB10 device and software announcement, early feedback from Rogers Wireless in Canada is encouraging for the embattled company from Waterloo.  According to the report from Rogers, reservations began in mid-December for folks interested in purchasing the new Blackberry handset – and the registration numbers appear to be “strong” in Rogers opinion.  And more registrations continue daily.  Since no specific numbers for these pre-orders were given, it doesn’t mean much.  But it should be encouraging to RIM fans.

    Early reviews of the new BB10 operating system have been mixed, with some positives and some disappointments.  But for my money, I’m pretty intrigued, and would very much like to see if Verizon gets a new BB device.  And if I’d consider purchasing one, I’m sure that lots more Blackberry fans would too.  January 30th is the scheduled date of the RIM announcement…it can’t get here fast enough!

    *Source:  BGR

    [News] New BB10 device shown and "reviewed"

    As we approach the end of the year, we are also approaching the beginning of 2013.  Duh.  But what this means for fans of Research in Motion (RIM) is that the next generation of Blackberry devices are actually coming soon.  The all touch screen device (with the code name of London) is set to debut in January 2013.   An Asian group has managed to lay hands on the device and offer up a walk through of the phone itself, as well as some of the new Blackberry 10 operating systems features.  Sadly, I don’t speak Vietnamese, so most of the info is lost on me…but its worth a watch nonetheless.  Check out the video below if you are interested in seeing what RIM has up its sleeve with its newest Blackberry smartphone.


    *Source:  BGR

    [Special Feature]Fearless Predictions for 2013

    Shawn and I thought it would be fun to do a predictions piece for 2013 so we would be able to come back and laugh at ourselves when none of it comes true.  These opinions are solely ours, and have not been put forth with any insider information from any OEM.  Most of these actually have no basis in fact whatsoever.  But with that in mind, here are our fearless 2013 predictions:

    Sean’s Predictions:

    1) Apple will release an iPhone 5S that looks virtually identical to the iPhone 5.  The internet will decry the  new phone and say Apple has lost its way.  Tech sites and blogs will write editorials expressing their disappointment.  Apple will sell as many as they can produce.

    Shawn’s Response:
    I’m probably on board with this one, considering the years and years of history we have of Apple to fall back on.  I’m really not sure where Apple takes their iPhone from here though…even thinnerer and lighterer?

    World Exclusive: the iPhone 5S will look exactly like this


    2) Google will release an updated Nexus 7 with a 1080p screen.  Pricing will be the same as the current Nexus 7

    Shawn’s Response:
    Not sure I agree here.  I think putting a 1080p viewpanel in a Nexus 7 drives the cost up past the point where Google is able to offer it at $249/$299.  I see the Nexus 7 as their “mid-grade” line of tablets, and the Nexus 10 as the high end tablets.  So I’m not sure I see this in Asus or Google’s future.

    3) Samsung will release the Galaxy S IV with a 5″ 1080p screen, a quad-core Exynos 5450 CPU, 3GB of RAM, a 2600MAH battery and a 13MP camera.  It will inexplicably still have a home button.

    Shawn’s Response:
    Samsung has a real hit on their hands with the Galaxy series.  I think these specs could be dead on…but I’m predicting not only a physical home button, but also a total of 4 capacitive buttons as well, 2 on either side of the home button.  Samsung’s official stance:  “People love buttons!”

    4) Microsoft will produce its own Surface Phone.  Nokia will continue to struggle until they are eventually bought.  Windows Phone 8 still won’t exceed 5% market share in the United States.

    Shawn’s Response:
    Microsoft does this only if they’re incredibly stupid.  The Surface (which may or may not be a great device) does nothing but put Microsoft squarely in the center of a war with their hardware partners which they can’t really win.  The phone space has enough dead or dying OEMs already (Nokia or RIM ring a bell?) for MS to really think they can jump in with a device that will move Samsung’s Galaxy S or Apple’s iPhone out from a top spot.  Also…Windows Phone 8 is not a good product.  Considering the amount of money that MS has spent on marketing for the Surface, they had better have a lot more cash reserves  if they want to make a move into the mobile phone space.  Then again..since Sean is predicting that Nokia will be bought – perhaps it will be Microsoft that buys them?

    Microsoft should definitely copy this

    5) Jony Ive will give iOS a major update which will include widgets and a new industrial look.  It’ll still be locked down and allow for little user customization.  Tech sites and blogs will give it rave reviews.

     Shawn’s Response:
    While I’d be shocked and amazed if this actually happened, I don’t see it.  Ive is a great hardware designer (if you like the Apple products) but there’s a lot of change that would have to come to software side of Apple’s iOS that would make widgets in particular possible.  It goes against so much of the tradition of Apple and the iOS platform…I don’t know if it could be done in a year and I don’t know that Ive has the software chops to do it.  Perhaps 2-3 years out…but not in 2013.  

    Shawn’s Predictions:


    1) Motorola will produce a Google Nexus branded phone, with cutting edge (for the time) specs in processor, screen (non-pentile), and have a gigantic battery – probably called the Nexus Maxx HD.  This device will be sold with LTE through the Google store, unlocked, and be heralded as the greatest Android phone ever.

    Sean’s Response:
    I would love this so much, but I’m not sure I see it happening.  Google doesn’t want to risk alienating its partners and releasing a Motorola Nexus might do just that.  

    This + 3300mah battery = win

    2) Google will do “something” to further chip away at Apple’s dominance in the 10 inch tablet space.  Not sure exactly…but something good.  Like a massive public awareness campaign that will culminate in the launching of a Nexus 10 with HSPA+ wireless for $499.

    Sean’s Response:
    The Nexus 10 won’t sell in huge numbers.  While I think an HSPA+ Nexus 10 will definitely come out in the next year, I don’t see it “chipping” away too much at Apple’s dominance in the 10 inch tablet space.  If Google really wants to compete in the tablet space, they need to get a better tablet app infrastructure in place.  

    3) Google will release the Key Lime Pie version of Android, version 5.0, which will at last unify the mobile device platforms of phone, small tablet, and large tablet.  App developers will flock to it and scaling apps will no longer be an issue for Android ever again.  Apple users will deadpan it as being too complicated and lacking polish, claiming it feels like an unfinished product.  It will launch on the Nexus Maxx HD, and be on someone’s Galaxy Nexus two days later.

    Sean’s Response:
    We’ll definitely see Key Lime Pie this year and I expect it to continue the refinement Android has undergone under Matias Duarte.  If Google can solve the smart phone/tablet apps issue they’ll finally be able to really compete with Apple.  KLP will definitely show up on the Galaxy Nexus in a day or two, but not on the Nexus Maxx HD because it won’t exist 😉

    4) RIM releases Blackberry 10 and their new hardware devices, to deafening silence.  Large corporations continue to shed Blackberries from their mobile device fleet, until in August of 2013, RIM files for the Canadian equivalent of bankruptcy protection.  This comes after months of trying to sell their portfolio to anyone who will buy them…with no takers.

    Sean’s Response:
    I think Blackberry 10 has a chance.  In fact, I think it will outsell Windows Phone 8 (WP8) in 2013.  Although Rim has been hemorrhaging customers, it still has a dedicated and loyal fan base.  The hardware looks nice and Blackberry 10 has some cool features.  The major carriers have thrown fairly large support behind WP8 trying desperately to establish a third mobile OS in addition to Android and iOS, but they’re backing the wrong horse.  Blackberry 10 will do better than WP8 and finish the year with greater than 7% market share

    Best looking Blackberry ever

    [News] Blackberry 10 debut officially scheduled

    According to The Next Web’s Daily Dose, RIM has officially announced a launch date for their Blackberry 10 operating system as associated devices:  January 10, 2013.  This falls in line with RIM’s own admissions that the debut of their new OS and hardware would come in Q1 of 2013.  Most Blackberry enthusiasts were probably hoping for sooner rather than later, but hey its on the books at least.

    Going into next year and missing the holiday rush is probably not going to do wonders for RIM’s sales numbers.  However, doing anything to right the ship could help RIM’s failing stock prices significantly.  I’m sure the whole world will be anxiously awaiting the end of January to see what Blackberry 10 has in store for us.

    *Source:  TNW’s Daily Dose

    [Op-Ed] Which Tablet Should You Buy?

    So guess what? Yes, it’s true Apple has announced the iPad mini propelling themselves into the small tablet market. Should you buy it? Well Let’s take a look at the most popular small tablets on the market right now and see if it is in fact a purchase worth making.


     
    Lets start with Apple. It starts out at a pretty steep price for a small tablet beginning at $329 for the 16GB. A lot of speculation was hoping that the price would be lower but you know it’s Apple they don’t follow the rules and do want they want. This does leave a lot of options available for the consumer out there that feels the need for a tablet but just doesn’t have the funds.

    Next, the Amazon Kindle Fire 7 HD. I personally don’t have any experience with this or most of these items for that matter but I would say that the Kindle Fire is more of a media application tablet. It starts out at a nice looking price of $199 for the 16GB and is still hugely competitive.

    The Nexus 7 which is transitioning from 8G/16GB to 32GB and likely getting cellular is rolling in at $199 for the 8GB. It runs more smartphone apps than tablet apps. Still, if that’s all you need or care about, it’s the best bigger iPod touch on the market right now. As much of an Apple fan that I am, I was considering getting my hands on one of these.

    Microsoft’s Surface with Windows RT isn’t really a small tablet but since no small Windows 8 tablets have been announced yet, let’s add it just for fun. Microsoft’s messaging is still confusing and poorly articulated, with that said it will be interesting to see how it holds up and makes sense in the real world. It starts at $499 for a 32 GB.

    RIM’s Blackberry Playbook is one of the original 7-inch tablets, is still one of the most interesting. I remember the original release from 2011 and wanting this device. It’s reportedly going to be upgraded to BlackBerry 10 next year, and if you look around you can find them for as little as $149.

    Well there you go. Plenty of options for your tablet fix right now. And with Apple’s iPad mini starting price over 50% more than most of the competitors the question is will it be enough to take control of the small tablet market? With those crazy fanboys out there you never know but I’m more than confident saying that it will be successful. 

    Source: iMore

    [Op-Ed] The benefits of owning an Android phone

    CDMA Blackberry Pearl 

    Once upon a time, I was the proud owner of a Blackberry Pearl.  (Don’t laugh)  I was in a position at a previous employer to recommend the products the company purchased.  Since at the time mobile e-mail was king, we ended up purchasing a fleet of Blackberry devices.  That first smartphone impressed me so much that when I left the company I decided to buy one for myself.  When I purchased the Pearl, I really thought I had found the perfect smartphone for me.  Some days, I miss the feeling I had when I first got it…there’s nothing like the thrill of buying your next tech toy.  This was right about the time the iPhone began to gain traction as an all touch screen smartphone that had a host of other features that a Blackberry couldn’t hope to match.

    As this inexorable shift in mobile technology began to take place (see my previous article here regarding the growth of the “prosumer” market segment) I heard about a new Android phone supposed to be coming to Verizon Wireless that had specs even better than the iPhone and comparable to those of a home PC from a few years ago – the HTC Incredible.  After seeing some of the commercials and reading the reviews online, I was hooked and gave up my beloved BB Pearl to pre-order the Incredible.  My first Android phone was a whole new experience…an all touch screen phone was something that made me truly realize where mobile phone tech was headed.  At the time, I knew nothing about the Android development community and was much too afraid to “hack” my phone and try some of the things I’d read about other folks doing to their phones.  But I always felt like there was something I was missing out on.

    HTC (Droid) Incredible
    So when the time came for the Incredible to go, and for a new phone choice to be made, I made a decision that would change much of the way I viewed my phone – I decided to hold out for a “developer phone” – the Galaxy Nexus from Samsung, also on Verizon Wireless.  I had read that Nexus phones were among the first to get new releases of the Android OS, as well as having an unlockable boot loader and was able to be rooted (both terms at the time that didn’t hold much meaning for me).  But it would allow me the option to learn and experiment and allow my knowledge of what Android could do to grow.  This was my first foray into the land of rooting and the Android developers community.  *Writers note: unlocking your phones boot loader will void your manufacturer’s warranty, so if you proceed, do so with caution and at your own risk.

    In its simplest terms, “rooting” an Android device is the ability to grant “Superuser” access to any application you choose.  This would be the equivalent in the PC world of having “admin” rights to the PC.  Install what you want!  And if your phone offers the option of an unlockable boot loader (meaning you have the ability to overwrite even the operating system if you choose), you can do even more.  You’re in complete control!  The downside is of course, you also have the ability to royally screw up your phone beyond recovery (this is usually called bricking your phone).  But I decided I wanted to learn as much as I could to make this process something that would work for me, and not against me.  I made the decision to get a Galaxy Nexus for my wife and myself, and I dove into learning all I needed to know to unlock and root them both.

    Galaxy Nexus LTE

    The result has been a very rewarding journey that sometimes borders on an unhealthy obsession.  Initially, learning the process of accomplishing both of these was challenging, but the more time I spent on it the easier it became.  And now, there are multiple tools available to allow even the novice Android user the ability to unlock and root their phone.  A few button clicks is all it takes and one has opened the door to a world of wonders.  Unlocking the boot loader combined with rooting the device has given me the flexibility to be able to control virtually every facet of my phone.  I have installed a tool to help back up my phone in the event of anything going wrong.  I have installed custom ROMs (basically a customized version of Android that has been modified by a developer group to do things that the stock Android doesn’t do) over and over again to gain access to new features.  I’ve also installed a custom kernel (the software governing battery usage) to improve battery life and overall performance.  Even small things like changing the icons of the phones applications and modifying the display to rotate the icons as if they were on a 3D cube are all made possible by being able to unlock and root the phone.

    What time I spent in learning how to do these things has resulted in my ability to make any changes I want to the software of my phone.  This knowledge has given me the satisfaction of making the phone do what I want it to do.  One of the developer groups making custom ROMs is known as “Team BAMF” and their motto is “Make It Your Phone.”  This can truly be done by any owner of an Android phone, with a little time and effort.  And it’s time and effort well spent.

    [Op-Ed] Can Blackberry 10 change the fate of RIM?

    RIM (Research in Motion) the company that makes the Blackberry line of products, is truly a giant who has fallen from grace.  The Canadian based company has faced a much changed smartphone landscape from a decade ago when Blackberry was king of the hill.  There was a time when the term “smartphone” was synonymous with a Blackberry.  You could hardly walk down the street or breeze into a business meeting without seeing someone on their Blackberry.  Now, Apple and Samsung are the giants of the smartphone industry and RIM is almost an afterthought in a field they used to dominate.  As of the 1st quarter 2012, RIM trailed Apple, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and LG in terms of market share by manufacturer.  Read that again…RIM is behind even LG!  How did such a drastic turn of events come about?  Many things can be said…complacency, reliance on the government/business model to support their sales revenue, poorer quality products, failed attempts at innovation (*cough-BB Storm-cough*), and even a shift in the paradigm of the smartphone market itself.  Companies like Apple made it “cool” to own a smartphone, as long that smartphone was their product.  Thus, the rise of the “prosumer” market segment was born, and the beginning of the decline of RIM.  Other companies playing catch-up for so long not only caught up, but surpassed what RIM was doing.
     
    This has resulted in a dramatic financial impact to the company – RIM posted a $235 million 2nd quarter 2012 loss, or about 45 cents a share.  If you exclude restructuring costs its actually only (only?) $142 million, representing about 27 cents a share…which was actually above what analysts had been predicting (about a 46 cents a share loss) *source: CNET.com.  Could the owners of a business really call this a victory?  Especially when the CEO also expects these losses to continue through the 3rd quarter as well.

    But earlier this week, RIM hosted an event for media outlets and developers alike to debut what they hope will be the product that pushes them back up to at or near the top of the smartphone heap – the Blackberry 10 OS.  A while ago, Blackberry acquired QNX Software Systems in order to help them further develop their GUI operating system, primarily for their tablet OS but with an end goal of having it on all their mobile devices.  This has culminated in the BB10 platform for their smartphones.  While only the BB Dev Alpha B hardware device was shown during the event, the rumor is there are plans to also have it running on a traditional Blackberry style device with a full QWERTY keyboard as well.  The mock ups pictured below could well be the devices that RIM are betting the farm on.

    (photo renders courtesy of Crackberry.com)

    Its going to be tough for buyers to get their hands on them though, since RIM also announced at the event that no BB 10 phones will be unveiled in 2012.  Perhaps they didn’t want to compete with other smartphones scheduled for a holiday launch or perhaps the BB10 product just isn’t ready for prime time yet, but either way, folks who are eager to see what RIM has cooked up will have to wait a little while longer for it.  What was shown was an end user experience that still caters largely to those in a corporate environment, but fleshes out the personal side of the product as well.  Some of the features that long time Blackberry users enjoy have made their way here (BB pin messaging, an integrated inbox for all messages, now including social media) as well as some new goodies that RIM is hoping will wow users looking for something other than an iOS or Android experience.  BB10 has some Windows 8 feel as well, but the overall experience is something truly unique.  Features like the appropriately titled “Peak” (the ability to access new incoming messages with a two stage swipe gesture) and the Blackberry Hub (the central location to access some or all of your incoming messages) are features that will no doubt draw some folks, likely former Blackberry users, in for a closer look.  Even the ability to have “work” and “home” sides of the device, governed by separate IT policies, will no doubt be a huge draw for some segments of the established IT workforce.  Will it be enough to bring back the thousands and thousands of defectors who left for iPhones or Galaxy S2s?  That remains to be seen…and is even harder to predict when the actual finished product (both in terms of software and hardware) are months away from being shown off again.

    Even so, its not all doom and gloom just yet for RIM.  The company did add 2 million subscribers in the second quarter, mostly in emerging markets however, which results in lower profit margins on their lower cost products.  The company reportedly shipped a little more than 7 million phones which isn’t a terrible number.  More bad news regarding their tablet segment though, which shipped a paltry 130,000 Playbook devices during the same time period.  So there is certainly room for growth here, if BB10 can morph into the finished version of itself sooner rather than later.  How much growth?  From where I’m sitting, and as a former Blackberry user myself, it seems a lot like too little-too late.