BlackBerry Wants to Be a Leader in the ‘Internet of Things’ |

BlackBerry Wants to Be a Leader in the ‘Internet of Things’ |


BlackBerry wants to push beyond communications into mobile computing, and eventually play a leading role in the “Internet of Things,” the term for a predicted revolution in which many ordinary objects will be given computing power.

That was chief executive Thorsten Heins’s message at the annual shareholders meeting in Ontario today, as he tried to defend the company’s trajectory after sales of the new BlackBerry 10 line of smartphones fell well below analyst expectations. A disappointing earnings report June 28 caused BlackBerry stock to fall to $10.46 per share that day, a 28 percent drop from its previous-day closing price of $14.48.

Today, Heins outlined a three-phase plan for BlackBerry’s future, the first of which happened earlier this year with the debut of the new BB10 mobile operating system and new phones. The second phase, he said, will focus on scaling. That means reaching new customers while also transitioning existing users from the BlackBerry 7 operating system to BB10.

Related: BlackBerry to Bring Popular ‘BBM’ App to Android and iOS Devices

In the third phase, BlackBerry will seek to become “the leading mobile enterprise services platform,” Heins said. As early evidence of this goal, he pointed to a new BlackBerry service for automakers that was unveiled in Detroit last month. The service makes it possible to update vehicle software remotely, get status updates on vehicle components and install apps to a car’s entertainment system.

As smart technology becomes an increasingly vital part of everyday life, Heins said, BlackBerry will use its global data network and create new partnerships to develop more mobile computing services for enterprise clients.

Asked whether he and the company board have seriously considered breaking up BlackBerry — perhaps splitting off the devices business from the enterprise services business — Heins demurred. “I’m here with my team to create jobs and not to destroy jobs,” he said. “We have to get through this.”

Related: Beyond Smartphones: Mobile Innovation That Could Change the Way You Do Business

“Whatever [Wall] Street expects from us, we are still early” in our product cycle, Heins told shareholders. The next 12 months, he said, will be a time of investment, with an eye toward achieving sustainable growth sometime in 2014.

At press time, BlackBerry’s stock value stands at $9.72.

Read more:

How the next billion smartphones will be sold – Quartz

How the next billion smartphones will be sold – Quartz.

You can bet on continued rapid growth in the smartphone market. But ongoing unbridled profitability for its biggest players such as Apple and Samsung? That’s less of a sure thing.

Korea’s Samsung last week reported a 76% increase in net profit year-on-year. But its forecast that “the furious growth spurt seen in the global smartphone market last year is expected to be pacified by intensifying price competition, compounded by a slew of new products” disappointed investors eager to continue bingeing on smartphone and tablet euphoria.

Shares of Apple, largely driven by its iPhone business these days, have fallen 36% from their peak at $703.99 per share in mid-September. And the company’s quarterly earnings call on Jan. 23 didn’t inspire faith that the company could continue its market dominance indefinitely.

This does not mean that the world is full of smartphones—or even cell phones. Sales of phones and penetration rates are increasing in countries around the world, although the rate at which sales are increasing in some of the early-adopter markets is slowing. In October, Strategy Analytics estimated that one billion cell phones were in use; it expects there will be two billion smartphones in use by 2015. Investors’ doubts are predicated on the idea that these companies and others won’t be able to live off the smaller margins generated by low-cost handsets.

smartphone penetration rate projections

The smartphone sales lines keep going up.

Valor of volume

Concerns about Apple have had a lot to do with declining margins, as high-end sales growth slows amid increased competition from the likes of Samsung and less urgency among consumers to upgrade to the latest models when their current smartphones are more than adequate. Apple has typically been the industry leader, pioneering new technology. It has not—to date—said it would make a cheaper iPhone, though that is expected and Apple already carries its old models at a discount. Samsung has swiftly expanded its market share in the last few years by offering a variety of options for consumers. It has even had success expanding into already crowded emerging markets; Samsung has spent billions of dollars on marketing campaigns and drawn in consumers at all price points.

The problem is that both companies have trouble capitalizing on mid- and low-cost cell phones. Because it builds almost all of the parts that go into any cell phone, Samsung is better positioned to make money on the difference between the cost of the phone’s manufacture and the cost the consumer pays for it. Apple so far has made the decision not to compete aggressively in the lower-end market.

But simply because there’s not as much profit in low-cost phones doesn’t mean there’s no profit; so long as there are some profit margins in selling to a new world of consumers, someone will do it. RIM’s BlackBerry is starting to focus on African consumers, Nokia has made a bet on Indian consumers, and a variety of other companies are competing heavily for a piece of the pie. Little-known manufacturers in China and Asia making extremely low-cost devices that run Google’s Android software will surely grab a slice of the low-end market.

Exchange rates

Although Samsung appears to be winning the volume game, it may be at a disadvantage in the near future, creating an opening for other players. The Korean won has been rising in value in relation to many other currencies. With loads of foreign currency flying into the growing South Korean economy, the won is becoming more expensive, even as the world’s major central banks duke it out in a race to devalue their currencies. For example, the won rose nearly 20% against the Japanese yen in 2012. But exchange rates are even more important in emerging markets, where the company is pressured to chop costs to the bare minimum in order to make their phones competitive; the won has risen against emerging market currencies, particularly the Indian rupee and, to a much lesser extent, the Chinese yuan. Robert Yi, the head of Samsung’s investor relations, explained the impact currency fluctuations had on the company last quarter:

Our fourth quarter earning operating profit was negatively impacted by the foreign currency exchange ratios of about KRW360 billion ($33 million) from the continued strong Korean won, which we expect to continue for the time being. To clarify a little bit further, the most of the impact came not from the US or euro in Q4, but from various local currencies, including Chinese yen, Brazil real and others.

This could turn out to be a bigger deal in the future, as Samsung expects that these conditions will continue through 2013. Indeed, sharp appreciation in the currency against the yuan could allow for the rise of Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, the third- and fifth-largest smartphone vendors in the world at 4.9% and 4.3% of global market share, respectively. Admittedly, their market share does not yet compare with the likes of Apple and Samsung—which have 21.3% and 29% of the market. Japan’s Sony could also benefit from a depreciating yen—the currency’s current trajectory.

Then again, the exchange rate game is one of chance. The Bank of Japan has so far disappointed those expecting it to embark on dramatic new monetary easing measures right away, while the Bank of Korea has already been hinting that it might cut rates. Meanwhile, an Apple incursion into the mid- and low-priced smartphone market could disrupt the game, and a cheap dollar might be there to help.

Clearly, there are wars ahead in the cell phone world, as manufacturers duke it out on price points and volume. What’s clear is that smartphone penetration is on an upward trajectory, and someone will be around to make a buck from that—even if it brings lower profit margins.

BlackBerry réussira-t-il à revenir à la mode?: L’Echo

BlackBerry réussira-t-il à revenir à la mode?: L’Echo.


Le groupe ca­na­dien va lan­cer en grande pompe mer­cre­di ses Black­Ber­ry 10. Avec trois ans de re­tard. Le lan­ce­ment de la der­nière chance pour l’ex-lea­der des smart­phones.

Jadis lea­der du mar­ché des smart­phones, dé­sor­mais joueur mi­neur face à Apple et Sam­sung, le ca­na­dien Re­search in Mo­tion joue son ave­nir en lan­çant ce mer­cre­di sa nou­velle gamme de té­lé­phones et son nou­veau sys­tème d’ex­ploi­ta­tion, Black­Ber­ry 10. La so­cié­té, qui a vécu ces cinq der­nières an­nées une des­cente aux en­fers, a convié mer­cre­di jour­na­listes et ana­lystes à un grand lan­ce­ment à New York dé­bu­tant à 15H00 GMT et re­trans­mis si­mul­ta­né­ment à To­ron­to, Londres, Paris, Jo­han­nes­bourg et Dubaï.

Un an après le dé­part des deux fon­da­teurs et co-di­ri­geants de RIM, Jim Bal­sillie et Mike La­za­ri­dis, ce sera l’épreuve de vé­ri­té pour le PDG Thors­ten Heins. Re­pre­nant le vo­ca­bu­laire cher au grand rival Apple, cet Al­le­mand passé par Sie­mens doit ani­mer une “Key­note”, une pré­sen­ta­tion ma­gis­trale des nou­veaux pro­duits Black­Ber­ry, lan­cés avec trois ans de re­tard par rap­port aux pré­vi­sions ini­tiales.

“Nous avons pris le temps de construire une pla­te­forme fiable pour les dix pro­chaines an­nées”

“La haute di­rec­tion sa­vait qu’ils n’avaient qu’une chance pour sor­tir ce pro­duit et qu’en termes de re­cherche et dé­ve­lop­pe­ment, ils n’étaient pas au point”, es­time Fran­çois Morin, pré­sident du ca­bi­net conseil ca­na­dien M2M Di­gi­tal.

Ce re­tard a coûté cher à l’en­tre­prise éta­blie au sud de To­ron­to: sa part de mar­ché a glis­sé de 10,3% à 6% entre 2011 et 2012, selon le ca­bi­net IDC, se fai­sant même dé­pas­ser par Nokia et HTC. A l’in­verse Sam­sung a conso­li­dé sa po­si­tion de lea­der des smart­phones, avec 39,6%, et Apple s’ad­juge dé­sor­mais un quart du mar­ché.

Un sys­tème d’ex­ploi­ta­tion très at­ten­du

“La par­tie n’est pas per­due, mais c’est la der­nière chance pour Re­search in Mo­tion”, juge Fran­çois Morin, qui a ré­cem­ment eu sous les yeux le nou­veau Black­Ber­ry.

Au faîte de sa puis­sance, en 2008, le titre RIM va­lait 144 dol­lars. Entre l’ar­ri­vée de l’i­Phone et des pannes mon­diales à ré­pé­ti­tion, il s’échange dé­sor­mais au­tour de 18 dol­lars, ce qui marque tou­te­fois une hausse de plus de 160% en six mois. Car pour frei­ner l’hé­mor­ra­gie et convaincre que RIM n’avait pas dit son der­nier mot, le groupe a dis­til­lé ces der­nières se­maines des in­for­ma­tions sur ses fu­turs té­lé­phones.

Néan­moins, le titre reste vo­la­til et de­vrait le res­ter jusqu’à ce que le mar­ché per­çoive si le consom­ma­teur ré­pond pré­sent aux in­no­va­tions du Black­Ber­ry10. Lundi en cours de séance, l’ac­tion cé­dait plus de 6,5%.

Le cla­vier phy­sique, qui fai­sait la force des Black­Ber­ry, est conser­vé, mais cer­tains ap­pa­reils au­ront à la place un cla­vier tac­tile.

Très at­ten­du, le nou­veau sys­tème d’ex­ploi­ta­tion doit no­tam­ment per­mettre d’uti­li­ser jusqu’à huit ap­pli­ca­tions à la fois, ce qui est im­pos­sible avec l’i­Phone. RIM a en outre in­di­qué cette se­maine que son nou­veau na­vi­ga­teur in­ter­net re­pose sur la tech­no­lo­gie HTML5, qui per­met une in­té­gra­tion pous­sée des conte­nus mul­ti­mé­dias et in­ter­ac­tifs.

Des blogs spé­cia­li­sés ont par ailleurs af­fir­mé qu’il se­rait pos­sible de lire du conte­nu Flash, ce que ne per­mettent pas l’i­Phone et l’iPad d’Apple, en bis­bille avec la so­cié­té Adobe qui a créé ce for­mat. Il de­vrait en outre être pos­sible de se ser­vir des Black­Ber­ry pour payer ses achats, grâce à une en­tente avec Visa.

Reste la ques­tion des ap­pli­ca­tions: Apple en pro­pose plus de 700.​000, soit 10 fois que ce qui est dis­po­nible sur Black­Ber­ry World, le nou­veau por­tail de RIM pour té­lé­char­ger ces mi­ni-lo­gi­ciels, mais aussi -c’est une nou­veau­té-, des vi­déos ou de la mu­sique.


Re­search In Mo­tion a ob­te­nu le sou­tien de géants des conte­nus mu­si­caux et vi­déos pour le lan­ce­ment mer­cre­di de son sys­tème d’ex­ploi­ta­tion Black­Ber­ry 10 et sa gamme de nou­veaux smart­phones.

Le fa­bri­cant ca­na­dien du Black­ber­ry cite comme par­te­naires les stu­dios Dis­ney de Walt Dis­ney Co, Sony Pic­tures de Sony Corp, Uni­ver­sal Music Group de Vi­ven­di et War­ner Music Group. 

D’après RIM, son ma­ga­sin en ligne Black­Ber­ry World sera doté d’un large ca­ta­logue de chan­sons, de vidéo et de pro­grammes té­lé­vi­sés. La plu­part des films se­ront dis­po­nibles le même jour que leur sor­tie en DVD et le len­de­main de leur dif­fu­sion pour les sé­ries TV.

L’offre de RIM com­prend éga­le­ment de la mu­sique issue des ca­ta­logues de Ma­ta­dor Re­cords, Rough Trade Re­cords et Sony Music En­ter­tain­ment. Leur dis­po­ni­bi­li­té sera dans un pre­mier temps li­mi­tée à 18 pays.

Les conte­nus vi­déos en té­lé­char­ge­ment dé­fi­ni­tif ou à la lo­ca­tion se­ront dis­po­nibles au début uni­que­ment aux Etats-Unis, en Grande-Bre­tagne et au Ca­na­da. Les sé­ries TV se­ront pro­po­sées par ABC Stu­dios, BBC World­wide et CBS Corp.

Pour com­bler ce re­tard, les di­ri­geants de RIM “ont même payé des pro­gram­meurs pour conver­tir leurs ap­pli­ca­tions pour Black­Ber­ry, je n’ai ja­mais vu ça”, note Fran­çois Morin.

Black­Ber­ry réus­si­ra-t-il à re­de­ve­nir à la mode? Il semble jouable de re­ga­gner le coeur des hommes af­faires car ces der­niers ont “tou­jours perçu l’i­Phone comme un outil de di­ver­tis­se­ment”, in­dique M. Morin. Pour le PDG de RIM, in­ter­ro­gée par Die Welt, “ce qui im­porte pour le mo­ment, c’est de lan­cer Black­Ber­ry 10 avec suc­cès. On verra pour la suite”.


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RIM va jouer sa survie avec Blackberry 10 –

RIM va jouer sa survie avec Blackberry 10 –

HIGH-TECH – Le fabricant canadien a dévoilé de nouvelles fonctions de son futur OS cette semaine, alors que ses premiers smartphones ne sont pas attendus avant le début 2013…

Pour Research in Motion, c’est quitte ou double. Après trois trimestres successifs dans le rouge, le constructeur mise tout sur son système Blackberry 10, qui doit sortir début 2013. Le point.

Blackberry 10, l’OS

L’idée, c’est de faire table rase du passée. RIM a racheté le système QNX et son équipe, en 2010, avec la mission de proposer un système moderne adapté au touch et au clavier. Initialement baptisé BBX, il s’appellera finalement Blackberry 10 (ou BB 10). Dévoilé en mai, il s’est davantage montré lors d’une conférence pour développeurs, mercredi.

Globalement, comme Windows Phone 8, le système fait le pari de proposer de l’information de manière dynamique. D’un double geste, on accède directement à huit «active frames», des miniatures –que l’on peut choisir– d’apps ouvertes (calendrier, etc). Ces données sont ainsi toujours à portée de doigts, sans qu’il soit nécessaire d’aller dans l’app. Le gestionnaire des notifications, lui, est totalement personnalisable. Enfin, l’écran peut se déverrouiller d’un simple geste vertical, sans avoir besoin d’appuyer sur le bouton on.

Les smartphones

Six téléphones devraient sortir en 2013, visant l’entrée, le milieu et le haut de gamme. RIM a précisé qu’il ne les présenterait qu’en début d’année. La fuite d’une vidéo officielle, jeudi, semble toutefois avoir levé le voile sur les deux vaisseaux amiraux de la flotte: les séries N et S. Avec son clavier, l’un est similaire au Bold 9900 tandis que l’autre mise sur un appareil 100% tactile, un secteur sur lequel RIM a jusqu’ici échoué.

Au-delà du design, RIM n’aura pas le droit de proposer du hardware au rabais et devra concurrencer la puissance graphique de l’iPhone 5 et l’appareil photo de Nokia.

Les apps

Le plus gros challenge de RIM sera de séduire les développeurs. Lors de la conférence Blackberry Jam, les dirigeants leur ont chanté Keep on loving you(On vous aime toujours), pour un grand moment kitsch

RIM semble avoir retenu la leçon de l’échec de la tablette Playbook. Blackberry 10 aura un client email, des apps Facebook et Twitter natives. L’accent est également mis sur le business, avec deux profils «travail» et «personnel» étanches (photos, mails, apps), afin de séparer vie pro et vie privée.

Avec une base mondiale d’utilisateurs qui a progressé de 2 millions au dernier trimestre, à 80 millions, RIM peut compter sur des fidèles. Les dernières pertes, moins importantes que prévues, ont rassuré le marché, avec un titre en hausse de 20% depuis mardi. L’entreprise dispose encore de 2 milliards de dollars de cash. Aucun cent ne sera de trop pour tenter un come-back des enfers.

 Philippe Berry


Think smartphones are ubiquitous now? Just wait a few years | Charles Arthur | Technology |

Think smartphones are ubiquitous now? Just wait a few years | Charles Arthur | Technology |

A South Korean boy uses an iPhone 4

Apple took 73% of mobile handset operating profits in the first quarter of 2012. Photograph: Park Ji-Hwan/AFP/Getty Images

Five years after the first iPhone went onsale, the sales of smartphones – loosely defined as phones that can run third-party “apps”, and access the internet directly – now make up nearly two-thirds of mobile phonessold in western Europe and north America, although only about half of mobile users in both regions own one. (The difference arises because some early smartphone adopters have upgraded a number of times, while many “featurephone” users have not.)

Analyists predict that in two years, 90% of mobile users will have no choice but to own smartphones – even if all they want to do is call and text.

Yet the revolution has had its casualties, with BlackBerry-maker RIM expected to announce a second quarter of losses this Thursday, and the sector’s former dominant player Nokia’s debts downgraded to junk status. Some analysts wonder whether both companies will see the sixth anniversary of the phone that undermined them.

“The iPhone had three big effects,” says Neil Mawston, executive director of the research company Strategy Analytics. “We moved from keyboards and keypads to finger-driven touchscreens; it meant a shift away from the painfully slow mobile phone browser to app stores; and it revolutionised the market by encouraging more use of data, beyond just text messaging.” The fact that the first iPhone contracts offered completely unlimited data use transformed a market where mobile internet connectivity had previously been parcelled in per-megabyte allocations, to screens with tiny displays.

But the real agent of change was the arrival in late 2008 of Google’s Android mobile software, which soon offered the same touch-driven experience, with multiple handset companies – including Korea’sSamsung – vying for the top spot. “Android democratised touchscreens and app stores,” says Mawston. “The iPhone was relatively expensive. Android brought smartphones in at low price points.”

That brought in all sorts of other transformations – particularly the ubiquitous “apps”, without which no company seems to be complete. Android phones now make up more than half of all smartphone sales globally (with Samsung’s making up half of those on its own, outpacingApple).

And Apple has grabbed a huge share of the profit in the mobile market:according to Horace Dediu, who runs the Asymco consultancy, in the first quarter of 2012 Apple grabbed 73% of the handset industry’s operating profits, Samsung 26%, and HTC 1%; meanwhile LG, Motorola, Sony, RIM and Nokia all posted losses.

Even so, the profit in the handset industry has grown enormously, from a total of $5.3bn (£3.4bn) in the first three months of 2009 to $14.4bn (£9.2bn) at the same time in 2012, Dediu points out. Apple has grown its profits hugely – in effect, sucking them out of mobile operators, which have seen their per-user profits diminish even as smartphone use has risen.

They’re not alone in feeling the pinch. Nokia has seen smartphone sales collapse as it struggles to reinvent itself after abandoning its own pre-2007 Symbian software. Some analysts worry it could run short of cash before Microsoft’s new Windows Phone software can revive it.

As for BlackBerry, Mawston says: “Arguably its new handsets in autumn are its last chance. If they’re a hit it will be back on an upward track. Otherwise it will continue downward.”

The economic crunch in many eurozone countries is already showing that the 50% of consumers yet to buy a smartphone will be very different from those who queued up five years ago. “In some countries such as Portugal, most iPhones are sold without a data plan,” says Francisco Jeronimo, smartphones analyst for the research company IDC. “They’re used at home or offices, where people connect to the internet via wifi, because in most European countries and the US – though not the UK – people have to pay extra to get internet data on their phone plan. But if you pay €50 per month for an iPhone, you don’t want to be paying another €20 for the data.”

Even so, Jeronimo sees the market becoming 90% smartphone-based by 2016 (Mawston puts it at 2015): There’s no price point where carriers can make any money with them,” he explains.

Now, Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei and ZTE have begun making smartphones for carriers using Google’s Android for just £100 – an indication of how commoditised the business has become. “They’ll just be used for voice and text,” says Jeronimo.

At the same time, carriers are also trying to inch away from subsidising phone sales, because they make almost no money from selling them, even at the top end.

Ironically, the models on which carriers make the most money are RIM’s BlackBerrys – and the prospects of an Apple-Android (or even Apple-Samsung) duopoly has them worried. What they are hoping is that Nokia will come back with a resilient showing – though it may be 2013 before that happens, on most analysts’ reckoning.

Mawston, meanwhile, is certain that smartphones will almost see off other models, whether users want them or not. “In Europe, all the young and rich segments have purchased one already,” he says. “The older and less wealthy won’t have a choice – they’ll have to buy them. But they’ll tend to go for simpler versions. They’ll use them for voice and text – and the app stores.”

[Infographic] How the App Stores “Really” Stack Up

[Infographic] How the App Stores “Really” Stack Up.


This post is part of our ReadWriteMobile channel, which is dedicated to helping its community understand the strategic business and technical implications of developing mobile applications. This channel is sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent.

If you liken app stores to race horses, Apple is the biggest, baddest thoroughbred in town. Google Play is a fine specimen with some distinct qualities but has a lot of work to do in the practice yard before catching up. Everything else is an also-ran. Windows Phone has been growing rapidly, increasing from 40,000 apps in Nov. 2011 to 70,000 at the most recent count. Then there is BlackBerry App World. For all of Research In Motion’s troubles, its app repository is tied with Windows Phone at 70,000, which includes 15,000 specifically designed for the BlackBerry PlayBook. There are no tablet apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, mostly because there is no Windows tablet (well, one worth anything).

German BlackBerry blog sent us over an infographic (through its content promotion specialist BlueGrass Interactive) breaking down the “reality” of the native app stores. It quotes RIM VP of developer relations Alec Saunders as saying 13% of BlackBerry developers have made $100,000 or more off their apps. We have heard this song and dance before. Take a look at the infographic below and let us know in the comments what you think of the BlackBerry App World, its quality of apps and whether or not it is a wise business decision to build any apps for the BlackBerry platform these days.