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back to article If BlackBerry were a bunch of startups, would you invest?

Despite recording top-line growth and an increase in cash, BlackBerry took a pummelling on Friday. Short sellers cashed in, and even the most loyal enthusiasts took to fan sites this weekend, questioning their own commitment. The renewed concern is because uptake of the new OS, BB10, came in below estimates. The figure the …

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Not now I wouldn't

1st up I didn't do my homework. I did not ask the BES admin if the latest BB , the Q10 for example, was compatible with our BES server. I purchased said telephone for a colleague , from our telco, only to be a little pissed of with myself for not being able to connect it to our server. One call later and I was informed why, OK I felt like a prat for not doing my homework, such is life...

Due to the fact that we are a megacorp, the BES server will not be getting updated for quite some time.

That means that the latest and greatest BBs are off limits for quite some time to come. I presume that many of the larger companies will be pretty much in the same position. None of BBs new hardware will be compatible with their N-1 generation BES servers, ouch.

Therefore, no , I would not be prepared to invest in RIM Blackberry for quite some time.

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Expecting to fly

Everything about BB10 (solid hardware specification, QNX underpinnings, and robust software toolset) should have indicated a wild success for Blackberry's new handsets–but a recent go-round with the Z10 (whose user experience for non-Blackberry users is, to put it kindly, sub-par) illustrates the market disconnect the company has with its intended target audience (not feature-phone corporates, but the kids in the street).

But the decision to cancel the promised PlayBook update to BB10 (which effective runs atop the same TI OMAP4 hardware platform as used in the Z10 export model–and is largely the same, complete QNX-based platform used in countless in-vehicle entertainment offerings for Volkswagen, Ford and others) was a bigger mistake, largely because it is the tablet market space in which credibility with developers is earned, NOT the handset space. The PlayBook would have also made an excellent developer tool for the broader QNX initiative within the embedded space, especially as a first step towards an industrial HMI platform.

It is now time to fall upon the sword.

BBM may be a big deal on the other side of the pond, but is hardly a blip on the radar within the 18-to-25 demographic here in the States (and I'd guess China as well). QNX is the only valuable thing left, which would make an excellent acquisition for Sony (PlayStation, consumer electronics) or Samsung.

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Re: Expecting to fly

I agree cancellation of BB10 for tablet was huge mistake, since the ecosystem can't and won't develop if there is no "tablet leg" to it. Don't know about position of BBM in the US, but I'd assume majority of BB owners are using it, so it's basically a question of user base.

As for Z10 or Q10 , these are decent handsets but, as author nicely put it, they do not deserve premium price tags attached. If BB has money left to burn it could still "do a Nokia" i.e. replace these with similar handsets but without premium price tags, thus moving the fight to the lower parts of the market, where they will basically try to retain their user base (mostly in emerging markets).

However, for existing user base, a BB without trackpad or customizable side button is step back in ergonomics. If BB10 cannot handle these hardware additions, it would better to stick to OS7 devices. Also, BB10 seem to have lost parts of software functionality AND chunks of app market. Both were actually important for existing user base - this has to be fixed before BB10 devices have a fighting chance.

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Re: Expecting to fly

QNX might possess qualities which are useful in mission critical situations but I don't see anything in BB10 could not have been implemented over Linux or BSD or an NT kernel.

That said if they own QNX they may as well use it, but it's not necessarily an advantage. They probably have to write all the drivers and much of the toolchain themselves and have less scope for sharing that work around.

As far as the Playbook I haven't turned mine on for months now. It's a very nice tablet and as a browser / email client it's okay. But I used it most to port android apps and test them on real hardware. There's not much point porting or testing apps now for an obsolete OS and I'm certainly not going to rush out and buy a Z10. And upgrade to BB10 would have extended its life and kept the tablet relevant to existing owners. But I was always skeptical that the Playbook would ever get a BB10 upgrade even after hopes are raised that it might.

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Boffin

Re: Expecting to fly

The problem for RIM was that they released the Playbook two years ago, this would have been before they realised how much memory they needed to give BB10 adequate performance. All of the BB10 phones have 2GB of RAM, the PB has 1GB. Torsten Heins gave the reason for dropping BB10 in PB as "inadequate performance" and the RAM fitted is the reason for that.

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Re: Expecting to fly

I think the Z10 is equivalent to the iPhone and any Android phones. The security is better. The system doesn't crash. It has NFC, which iPhones still don't.

As far as the apps are concerned, there are a few that are missing but many people will not notice so they can easily buy the phones without concern. They can benefit from the better stability and security.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Expecting to fly

Some companies want to own the software fully that they utilise.

Just like Apple looked at Linux but Jobs wanted to use software Apple created.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Expecting to fly

iPhone and Android of 2011 perhaps.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Expecting to fly

"Torsten Heins gave the reason for dropping BB10 in PB as "inadequate performance" and the RAM fitted is the reason for that."

Maybe they should license the Windows Phone kernel from Microsoft? That runs fine in 256MB....

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I keep a blackberry as a second phone.

Because of the cheap BIS deals, and because of the keyboard. (Currently I have an ancient 7290, after my 9700 got smashed, the new system doesn't support BIS (or all BES according the the poster above).

The Z10 has neither, and a huge price tag.

Just like the Nokia situation where Windows was not a replacement for Symbian, it was a competitor to iOS, the new range does not replace the old range, it just competes with Android.

So, were I looking for an Android or similar phone, why would would I choose it rather than an HTC one, or Galaxy S3 for example?

Were I looking for a replacement for my N8, maybe, but not with that price tag. And I expect at least a couple more years from it.

I expect to stay with an old BB for a while, and then get an Android tablet phone as my 2nd device. Shame BB have given up on the tablet form with their OS.

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The problem with seeing BB as a bunch of separate companies

Is that they're not. When real startups succeed their agility, access to timely venture capital and ability to win big clients are key.

It's possible that Blackberry's management will be enlightened and act like arms length angel investors with the growing parts of the business, but bearing in mind that decaying parts are far bigger and will have a much higher day to day profile in the company its much more likely that they'll be mismanaged or ignored while execs try repeatedly to reinvent the main company until they either succeed (small chance) are fired (high chance) or get a bid that their tired investors see as a way to get out (medium chance).

It's also worth noting that startups are themselves high risk. The tech market is particularly brutal and even if Blackberry do manage the startupy parts of the business properly there's a better than evens chance that some new trend or startup will overtake them before they reach critical mass.

Blackberry's problems are all priced into the shares, so some people may see them as worth a punt, but in a depressed market the big concern is that their competitors will want to watch them collapse even further before bidding peanuts for the pieces.

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the car side of the story

In my opinion they missed the window. The QNX tablet or phone should have been talking to BMWs by now as TOCARIM bragged after the acquisition. The PlayBook, unlike its competitors was industrial grade hardware but it looks like they were not able to expand into that market. Unfortunately QNX has been lagging behind in driver updates and the car manufacturers are voicing concerns. I would say the future will be tough for them.

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Er....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23179522

Think I'll stick with my 'Berry thanks. Too many of these on Android for my liking.

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Re: Er....

<quote>Think I'll stick with my 'Berry thanks. Too many of these on Android for my liking.</quote>

The simple answer to stories like that is don't source your apps from warez sites and you will be fine.

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FWIW..

I like my z10 but my wife's old BB is far more configurable than mine. Surely that shouldn't be the case? And the fact I still can't sync to Outlook - and no, I'm NOT going to use outlook.com, I already have an email address or 3 thanks. It's not rocket science. And the BB10 desktop software is - shall we say - not good. At all. Especially for business. I want the old desktop sw back please.

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Facepalm

Re: FWIW..

BB10 is still quite immature, it isn't going to have many of the old BBOS features for a few months when 10.2 comes out (headless apps etc) and has a newer Android (4.2) runtime included.

As for the desktop sw, I would advise updating Blackberry Link fairly often, it gets revised every few weeks and sometimes the bundle version increments without the headline version incrementing so it's actually new but doesn't appear to be.

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Sammy?

I think the Samsung idea has legs.

Let's face it, Blackberry is doomed.

On the other hand, Samsung is making pots of cash from its Android sales, but is at the mercy of Google for much of that good fortune.

Differentiating Android has become a paper-thin exercise as the core OS has improved so there isn't much Samsung can do in this direction any more.

How much would it like to own not just the chips inside, the screen, the badge on the front and the consumer relationship, but the OS too?

Bada failed because it was too early in the smartphone maturity cycle and at that point Samsung had neither the brand or USP to impose it on the market in any significant way.

But it's now gotten to the point where people want 'an iPhone' (not iOS) or 'a Samsung' (not Android) and as long as the app ecosystem can support the majority of these users then who's to say that a large % of the people buying an S4 because it's a Samsung wouldn't continue to do so?

Chuck in some lock-in via messaging and...profit?

So Samsung buys Blackberry, spends a bit of cash tickling developers (much more than RIM) to up the quantity/quality of apps and premieres its latest hardware on a QNX-base OS with BBM built in.

It might opt to continue to offer Android/Windows but these would lack the latest and greatest features/hardware.

Crucially, to get the maximum value this would have to happen before BBM is opened up.

Must've been discussed at at least one Seoul boardroom meeting.

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Meh

Lack of loyalty

The problem with BB is their inability to keep promises and stick to timelines. These are basics of a good business, without them people grow frustrated, and angry.

If you promise an email client (a real basic requirement of a tablet) within weeks, dont take half a year to complete it. If you repeatedly announce a major OS upgrade (to help sell your left over stock), dont be surprised when people are pissed when it does not happen.

There are many users of the playbook who feel betrayed. They were essentially the beta testers to help iron out the bugs of BB10, without receiving the end benefit. Worst of all because everyone was misled about BB10 coming to the playbook, it has hastened the demise the tablet OS (as no one developed apps for what they perceived as OS going to change in the near future)

I liked the Playbook its an excellent device I was considering upgrading my phone to a Z10, in anticipation of keeping everything in the same environment and synced. But there is little point now. A lack of loyalty to customers like me, means I wont show any loyalty in the future when selecting my next phone.

This is what hurts BB in the long run.

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The BlackBerry phones are doing well in countries where they have good carrier support. In the US, the carrier support is said to be pathetic and that is why very few people are buying them.

Find some way to get carrier support in the US or advertise yourself and drive people to the stores asking for the phones or you won't sell many there.

The reason sales are less than expected is because carriers are driving people away from the phones by suggesting they buy iPhones or Android based phones rather than BB10 based phones.

They are fighting an uphill battle and doing relatively well, all things considered.

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Anonymous Coward

"The BlackBerry phones are doing well in countries where they have good carrier support"

They really are not. Windows Phone pushed them into 4th place a couple of months back and the gap is still growing...

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Anonymous Coward

Quality isn't there. Their phones cost around the same as other premium phones yet lack the power and features.

It's one of the big problems of an annual release cycle.

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A Redefined BlackBerry

Considering that BlackBerry launched the wrong model - the Z10 instead of the Q10 - when introducing the new BB10 operating system and an used a misguided marketing campaign (where are the features?) the company now finds itself in a deep hole. Becoming a "services only" provider will only accelerate its downfall. Instead BlackBerry should redefine its role as a the business person's best friend heavily promoting the Q10, Q5, and upcoming A10 models. It can't be all things to everyone. The completion is too far ahead.

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As the article says, BB needs a budget phone at £150 or less to compete with budget Android and Windows phones. i looked at the new BB10 phones but couldn't justify spending that much on a BB10 phone when you compare to what you get on premium Apple or Samsung phones for a similar price.

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1 GB?

What a joke. My 9700 had dreadful problems with memory. Seems they've not improved.

That has certainly dampened any residual desire I had left for the system.

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Blackberry's big mistake isn't that they misjudged the market. It's that they misjudged their own market.

The majority of BB users love their physical keyboard. Whether the future is touchscreen or not is irrelevant, BB should have pandered to the majority and released the Q10 first.

BB are strongest in the enterprise market. Probably the kind of corporate environment that doesn't have a BYOD policy, doesn't offer activesynch and is far from being an early adopter. Requiring those customers to upgrade to BES10 to support new devices was a bad idea.

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Anonymous Coward

BB10 OS is shockingly deficient

I foolishly chose to upgrade my 8510 (which was a wonderfully simple and reliable phone which did everything I needed to) to a Z10.

Shock No 1: The Z10 is not supported by the Blackberry Desktop Manager which I've been using flawlessly for years. Instead it turns out that a new app, Blackberry Link, has been created especially for the new OS ... Blackberry Link is STILL not cabable of syncing desktop contacts and calendar with the phone - only recently a one-off transfer to the phone has been added, but apart from that you are expected to rely on a cloud service to perform this sync. I don't have any cloud account, and I don't WANT one.

Shock No 2: The Z10 could not communicate with my mailserver on port 587. It only worked on port 25, lobbing my password across the network in clear text. [Note - has been fixed in the last couple of weeks]

Shock No 3: The Z10 cannot properly enumerate IMAP folders. Although it can see my mail inbox folder, it flatly refuses to see my spam and trash folders.

Shock No 4: The Blackberry Link app cannot download firmware updates. It notifies me about updates and then sits there saying its downloading the update but does nothing. It stays stuck like this until the computer itself is rebooted.

Shock No 5: There is no channel by which I can raise any of these with either Vodafone or Blackberry. There is only a 'community forum' on which nobody from Blackberry can be found, and issues raised get answered by snooty self appointed 'resident experts'.

These are all shocking because my trusty old 8510 has always been able to do all of the above. I am as a result very dissapointed. The new OS seems to have been rushed out the door half baked.

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Bad ideas.

As stated by others, requiring BES10 and not launching the Q10 first, were bad ideas. I'd venture that acquiring QNX, was yet another bad idea. BB could've done a fork of Android and called it BBA (Black Berry Android), and had complete compatibility with the entire Google Play ecosystem, eliminating the biggest hangup of BB10.

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Anonymous Coward

No blackberry should not be a fork of android.

What's historically been some of the biggest selling points of blackberry? Its great for business and very secure. What's probably the biggest concern with Google/Android? Privacy and security.

Quit with the every OEM should be a fork of android comments people not every company will solve every problem they have by simply switching to android...case and point how is HTC doing......

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