judgecorp writes "BlackBerry has launched BBM Channels, a rather Twitter-like social network that runs on its BBM messaging system. Meanwhile the company had good news in the developing world: it is the second most popular phone in South Africa. From the article: 'The update is available for BBM users on BlackBerry 10 and some older BlackBerry smartphones, but it is promised that support will be added for iPhone and Android soon, with users of those platforms able to access the web version if they have a confirmed BlackBerry ID email address.'"
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cagraham writes "In a pretty major executive shakeup, BlackBerry's Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chief Operating Officer have all left the company. It's unclear whether the changes were brought about by new interim-CEO John Chen in order to facilitate company change, or represent an abandon-ship style exit after BlackBerry's failed bid to go private. The company announced that the CFO position would be filled by current SVP James Yersch, but gave no word on the other vacancies."
cold fjord writes "Nextgov reports, 'The Defense Department, owner of 470,000 BlackBerrys, is distancing itself from the struggling vendor while moving ahead with construction of a department wide app store and a system for securing all mobile devices, including the latest iPhones, iPads, and Samsung smartphones and tablets. Just two months ago, when BlackBerry announced the company would radically curtail commercial sales, Pentagon officials said their business partnership remained unaffected. ... A 2012 strategy to transition personnel from PCs to smartphones and tablets did not favor any one device maker ... "This multi-vendor, device-agnostic approach minimizes the impact of [a] single vendor to our current operations," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said. Implementation of the strategy centers on a "mobile device management" system to track handhelds that touch military networks so that they do not compromise military information or corrupt Defense systems.'"
mattydread23 writes "Earlier this week in London, Box CEO Aaron Levie gave other enterprise software companies a warning: If they continue to ignore what users want and how they work, they could easily end up like BlackBerry. The shift to cloud computing makes easy for companies to abandon you: 'This shift means the onus more than ever is on the vendor. If we don't stay competitive, if we don't build whatever that that next thing is the user wants to do and build it in as simple a way as they expect from the consumer tools they are using, then we will get swapped out.'"
An anonymous reader writes "BlackBerry has abandoned plans to sell the company to Fairfax Holdings after the shareholder could not raise enough money. CEO Thorsten Heins is to leave the company. From the article: 'The company also said that Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax, will be appointed Lead Director and chair of the compensation, nomination and governance committee. Mr. Watsa had resigned from the BlackBerry board earlier this year to explore a bid for the company.'"
mrspoonsi writes "Engadget reports: Smartphone market share for the third quarter...as you'd imagine, the world is still Android's oyster. Strategy Analytics estimates that the OS has crossed the symbolic 80 percent mark, reaching 81.3 percent of smartphone shipments by the end of September. Not that Google was the only company doing well — Nokia's strong US sales helped Windows Phone grow to 4.1 percent of the market, or nearly double what it had a year ago."
sl4shd0rk writes "In what could be an act of desparation of a company in it's death throes, Blackberry has submitted their BBM messaging application to Google Play for download. While this may seem like a logical path for a company on life-support, what wasn't expected is the sheer number of identical 5-star reviews the application has received since being posted. In what appears to be review 'ballot stuffing,' it poses the questions of just how Google is going to handle the subject of manufactured reviews as well as how many other entities have engaged in the same behavior. The same problems have plagued Amazon's review system as well bringing into question the validity of 'crowd based review' and whether it's possible to legitimize this type of system." The linked article points out that the suspicious posts may be the result of ballot stuffing intended to hype one of the unofficial Blackberry apps, rather than RIM's own.
judgecorp writes "Hewlett-Packard wants to cash in a lot of mobile patents, as part of Meg Whitman's restructuring, according to reports. HP acquired the WebOS operating system, as seen on phones and tablets, when it bought Palm, but failed to build a business on it. It's since sold its WebOS business to LG for use in TVs and cars but hung onto the patents which are licensed to LG. Now, Bloomberg reports the patents themselves may be for sale — possibly to whoever fails to buy BlackBerry's tempting bundle of mobile technology."
New submitter Adamsobert sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "In a regulatory filing on Thursday, Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin said that they were considering a bid for the 92 percent of the company that they do not own. ... Their potential bid joins a growing list of expressions of interest in the company, which recently reported a $1 billion quarterly loss caused by the market's rejection of new smartphones that were supposed to revive BlackBerry's prominence. Fairfax Financial Holdings of Toronto has made a conditional, nonbinding offer to buy the 90 percent of BlackBerry shares it does not own for $9 each. That would value the company at about $4.7 billion."
schnell writes "The Globe and Mail is running a fascinating in-depth report on how BlackBerry went from the world leader in smartphones to a company on the brink of collapse. It paints a picture of a company with deep engineering talent but hamstrung by arrogance, indecision, slowness to embrace change, and a lack of internal accountability. From the story: '"The problem wasn't that we stopped listening to customers," said one former RIM insider. "We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did."'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "A consortium led by financial-holding company Fairfax Financial has agreed to acquire BlackBerry for $4.7 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Fairfax Financial will acquire every BlackBerry stock-share it doesn't already own. Further details are pending, including future management structure and whether BlackBerry will continue with its stated intent to lay off thousands of employees over the next few months. 'The Special Committee is seeking the best available outcome for the Company's constituents, including for shareholders,' Barbara Stymiest, chair of BlackBerry's Board of Directors, wrote in a statement. 'Importantly, the go-shop process provides an opportunity to determine if there are alternatives superior to the present proposal from the Fairfax consortium.' A special committee formed by BlackBerry's Board of Directors had spent the past few weeks looking for a potential acquirer. BlackBerry has seen its market-share crumble as businesses and consumers embrace rivals such as Apple's iPhone and Google Android devices."
USA Today reports: "BlackBerry on Saturday hit pause on the rollout of iPhone and Android apps for its popular BlackBerry Messenger mobile social messaging service after an unreleased version of the Android app was posted online. That version saw 1.1 million active users in the first 8 hours, the company said, but the unofficial version "caused issues," which the company continued to address throughout the day. The company did not specify what the issues were."
An anonymous reader writes "Today BlackBerry announced that it expects its quarterly net operating losses to be somewhere between $950 million and $995 million. It also confirmed earlier reports that it would be cutting 4,500 jobs, roughly 40% of its total workforce. 'The loss is mainly the result of a write-off of unsold BlackBerry phones, as well as $72 million in restructuring charges. The company said that it would discontinue two of the six phones it currently offers.' According to the press release, BlackBerry is going to 'refocus on enterprise and prosumer market.' 'The failure of the BlackBerry 10 line of phones quickly led to speculation that the company, like Palm before it, would be broken apart and perhaps gradually disappear, at best lingering as little more than a brand name.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "BlackBerry is preparing to slice up to 40 percent of its workforce by the end of 2013, according to anonymous sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal. The layoffs will reportedly shrink the company's overall operations and affect every department. A BlackBerry spokesperson refused to comment on the matter to the Journal. BlackBerry bet the company on the success of its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, but its first two 'hero' devices running the software — the Z10 and Q10 — failed to make much of an impact when they arrived on the market earlier this year. On Sept. 18, BlackBerry also unveiled the larger Z30, which runs an updated version of BlackBerry 10 and features a five-inch AMOLED touchscreen and larger battery. Once a dominant player in the mobile-device space, BlackBerry seemed helpless to respond as Google Android and Apple iOS slowly but surely chewed away its market-share over several quarters. As corporations adopted BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, a flood of personal iPhones and Android devices helped displace BlackBerry as a mainstay of executives and office workers."
iONiUM writes "Today the new Blackberry Z30 was announced today (release coming in the next 'few weeks'). It has a 4.97" 16:9 screen running at 720x1280. The CPU also got an upgrade, at 1.7Ghz. The news claims that the battery is a 2880maH with up to 25 hours of use. I'm not really convinced this is enough of a differentiation between the Z10 to save Blackberry, and as someone who owns a Z10 and Q10 (but uses an S3 instead), I don't see how this addresses any of the real issues Blackberry is facing, the biggest being a lack of apps."
wabrandsma writes "James Logan's patent company, Personal Audio, has closed a licensing agreement with SanDisk. The company says that now 'between a third and two thirds of all mp3 audio players' are made by companies to which its patents have been licensed, including LG, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Blackberry and Amazon. The Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to fight Personal Audio's podcasting patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office. About 30,000 dollars, was brought in earlier this year through crowdfunding to fight the case. Logan took part in a question-and-answer session here In June."
An anonymous reader writes with a report from Spiegel Online that the U.S. government "has the capability of tapping user data from the iPhone, [and] devices using Android as well as BlackBerry, a system previously believed to be highly secure. The United States' National Security Agency intelligence-gathering operation is capable of accessing user data from smart phones from all leading manufacturers. ... The documents state that it is possible for the NSA to tap most sensitive data held on these smart phones, including contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information about where a user has been." As a bonus, the same reader points out a Washington Post report according to which "The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency's use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans' communications in its massive databases ... In addition, the court extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years — and more under special circumstances, according to the documents, which include a recently released 2011 opinion by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."
hypnosec writes "If you are a BlackBerry owner, navigate to BlackBerry World (or just visit the website) and you will find that developer S4BB has developed over 47k apps for the BB platform. Unsurprisingly, most of them are just spammy apps that don't add any value. Apps like 'Restart Me Free,' 'Daily Quote,' 'Lock for SMS,' 'Search for Amazon,' 'Silent Foto Free' are just a few among the thousands of apps on BlackBerry World that actually have no utility whatsoever. BlackBerry announced back in May that developers were increasingly interested in making apps for the platform, and that BlackBerry World had more than 120,000 apps. This raises questions about the authenticity of the claims, and about the approval process that's been accepting these apps. S4BB may have a few useful apps for the platform, but that doesn't mean all of their apps are of 'A' quality. A statement from BlackBerry said, 'Developers in all app stores employ a number of different monetization tactics. BlackBerry World is an open market for developers and we let market forces dictate the success or failure of these tactics.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "BlackBerry is considering whether to sell itself off to the highest bidder. The company's Board of Directors has announced the founding of a Special Committee to explore so-called 'strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale,' which apparently includes 'possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions.' BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins added that, while the committee did its work, the company would continue to its recent overhead-reduction strategy. Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial—BlackBerry's largest shareholder—announced that he would resign from the company's board in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest. News that BlackBerry is considering a potential sale should surprise nobody. Faced with fierce competition from Google and Apple, the company's market-share has tumbled over the past several quarters. In a desperate bid to regain its former prominence in the mobile-device industry, BlackBerry developed and released BlackBerry 10, a next-generation operating system meant to compete toe-to-toe against Google Android and Apple iOS—despite a massive ad campaign, however, early sales of BlackBerry 10 devices have proven somewhat underwhelming."
holy_calamity writes "The two encryption systems used to secure the most important connections and digital files could become useless within years, reports MIT Technology Review, due to progress towards solving the discrete logarithm problem. Both RSA and Diffie-Hellman encryption rely on there being no efficient algorithm for that problem, but French math professor Antoine Joux has published two papers in the last six months that suggest one could soon be found. Security researchers that noticed Joux's work recommend companies large and small begin planning to move to elliptic curve cryptography, something the NSA has said is best practice for years. Unfortunately, key patents for implementing elliptic curve cryptography are controlled by BlackBerry."