Looks like Microsoft isn’t the only latecomer scrambling to add a voice-guided assistant to its mobile platform. A leaked test-build of the new BlackBerry firmware (version 10.3.0.140, if you’re curious) is rocking an app called “Intelligent…
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It was not too long ago that BlackBerry CEO John Chen announced a manufacturing agreement with long-time Apple supplier Foxconn; Foxconn has long been rumored to release their own handsets, and this opportunity could potentially be a fruitful one. The first Foxconn-made BlackBerry is now set to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress later this month sporting OS 10.2, which has just received certification (internally the device is known as Jakarta STJ100-1)–and we’ll have more on the handset when the device is officially revealed.
Something is up BlackBerry’s sleeve, because the company is looking to sell more than 3 million square feet of its real estate holdings; in fact, the report is raising a lot of questions as to whether the company will keep its roots firmly planted in Canada (most of the company’s real estate is held in Waterloo, although it also has offices in Toronto and other parts of Ontario). CEO John Chen said in a statement: “BlackBerry remains committed to being headquartered in Waterloo and having a strong presence in Canada along with other global hubs. This initiative will further enhance BlackBerry’s financial flexibility, and will provide additional resources to support our operations as our business continues to evolve.”
BlackBerry is aggressively working on the next update to their v10 Operating System–and the latest report says they will start accepting Android apps. This is a major milestone for the Canadian company; as we all know, the largest barrier to entry for devices other than those that run Android and iOS are the lack of apps–and with access to the Google Play marketplace, the BlackBerry ecosystem looks far more attractive overnight. Reportedly, all native Android apps will be listed in a new BB World section. We’ll have more on this story as it develops.
Now that was fast. John Chen is now Blackberry’s man in charge. Former CEO Thorsten Heins stepped aside, making room for new Chief Executive John Chen, who is now responsible for what is arguable one of the most challenging jobs in tech – rebuilding BlackBerry. Chen’s yearly salary of $1 million includes a performance bonus of $2 million to start, and has also been awarded 13 million restricted shares in the company for the work he has to do. This makes Chen’s stake nearly $85 million as the shares divest over the next five years. BlackBerry is undergoing a massive restructuring that will see some 4,500 employees out of work–but Chen has a history of turning around businesses in peril. When Chen joined Sybase in 1998 it was on death’s door; and 13 years later it sold to SAP for $5.8 billion–let’s hope he can do the same for Blackberry.
After its buggered official launch set back the actual launch about a month, BlackBerry Messenger is up and stable with over 20-million new users in one week. BlackBerry said Tuesday that BBM now has 80 million monthly active users; and though the company hasn’t yet said how they plan to make money from this (so we approach this news with tempered enthusiasm), it’s still some positive news the company can sorely use these days.
BlackBerry is up for sale, and the two men who founded the company are interested in taking it back. Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin co-founded RIM back in 1984; and though the company has a takeover bid on the table from Fairfax Financial, they are permitted to entertain other offers. Fairfax is reportedly struggling to meet the required financing to close their $4.7-billion takeover – so others like Lazaridis seem interested. We’ll have more as this story develops–so stay tuned.
It has not been a good week (or month) for BlackBerry. The plagued Canadian company just announced revenues of only $1.6 billion for their second quarter, which equates to a loss of $248 million. But the bigger number to pay attention to is their reported loss totaling $965 million, thanks to unsold BlackBerry Z10 units–the device the company hoped would revitalize their business. If things weren’t bad enough, T-Mobile in the U.S. has announced that it will no longer be stocking BlackBerry Products, and Jabil Circuit, who builds BlackBerry’s devices, is talking about winding down their relationship with the company as well. BlackBerry was set to hold an earnings call on Fridy to talk to investors, but that was cancelled due to a $4.7 billion takeover bid that BlackBerry received just a few days ago. Fairfax Financial has signed a letter of intent with the company that could see it sold to Fairfax; if all goes well, it means BlackBerry will be heading down the road to becoming a private company once more. News of that deal should land in about 6 weeks.
BlackBerry has agreed in a “letter of intent” to be acquired by Fairfax Financial–a potential deal worth $4.7 billion, or $9 per share. Fairfax currently owns 10% of BlackBerry shares. More as this develops…
BlackBerry teased the release in May, but now the official BBM app for iOS is available in the iTunes App Store; the once exclusive instant messaging service also launched on the Google Play Store this weekend, so Android users jonesing for some Blackberry action should be on the lookout. This marks the first time that company’s instant messaging service is being opened up to other platforms, and BlackBerry says that more than 2.5 million people have already pre-registered to download the app on their respective platforms. Already download BBM for iOS or Android? Let us know what you think!