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Blackberry

Five reasons why we need BlackBerry on the Android team

The rumor is not new. In some shape or form, we’ve been expecting BlackBerry to reach to the dark Google side for salvation for several years now. It seems to be the Canadians’ only shot at a hardware business revival of sorts, and by extension, the company’s survival as a whole.

BlackBerry Android

Granted, John Chen could always try to stop the ship from sinking by throwing the archaic QWERTY keyboard phones overboard and saving merely the semi-profitable software department. But that would obviously imply cutting thousands of jobs and settling for subsistence instead of aspiring to greatness.

Not an option yet, at least not until they experiment a little with an outside OS, probably to mutually beneficial effects. Come on, Android geeks, admit it. There may be something of value for us all in a BB recruitment on Big G’s team. Multiple advantages, actually, which we’d like to detail as follows:

Physical keyboards

Remnants of a time long past, these non-detachable “accessories” have to make a comeback in the Android landscape. They just have to. Businessmen, perennially on-the-run students or simply folks who live through typing need a user experience and interaction on-screen keyboards won’t ever be able to provide.

BlackBerry Classic

Sorry, SwiftKey and Swype, no matter how versatile and productive you get, you’re not the “real” deal. Meanwhile, the BlackBerry Classic is, and the awkwardly designed Passport comes pretty close. Now shut your eyes, imagine for a moment BB joins forces with Samsung and they devise a high-end QWERTY/touch hybrid powered by a lightly forked Android iteration.

Something to borrow the robustness and professionalism of BlackBerries, and at least part of the Galaxy S-series glitz. Sounds too good to be true? Unfortunately, we’re dreaming here and grasping at straws, really, when likely the best QWERTY Android around is the two year-old Jelly Bean-running LG Enact.

Security

Waterloo’s CEO may have wanted to exhibit tact when invoking the reason his outfit can’t dive into shark-infested Android waters yet, but he sure struck a nerve among malware-concerned mobile enthusiasts.

Android security holes

Let’s not beat it around the bush, stock Android has a security problem. And so far, Samsung, LG, Sony or HTC’s proprietary skins haven’t managed to deal with it in a universally satisfactory manner. Could BlackBerry perhaps reduce the typical risks associated with Google-powered devices?

Definitely, but of course, they need to modify code, customize features and even remove certain Google services, replacing them with their own. Do we want that? Not all of us, yet some would love, love, love the alternative.

Competition

Speaking of alternatives, wouldn’t it also be nice to find a balance between Eastern and Western tech forces? Clearly, gadget reliability doesn’t depend on geography, but stubborn, patriotic, slightly prejudiced North Americans will always show reservations to Chinese brands, favoring local companies… if they get the choice.

Android BlackBerry

If they don’t, they’ll go the Apple route and we obviously don’t want that. Call us haters, but Cupertino needs to lose a few market share points to once and for all align prices with real iPhone value. So, we’d like to see BB regain its lost touch, especially since they know how it feels at the peak of the totem pole and we trust they won’t allow themselves to tumble a second time.

Software diversification

Unpopular opinion – Android skins aren’t inherently bad or counterproductive. Samsung is this close to making TouchWiz not only prettier than its vanilla kin, but also smoother, faster and easier to master for novice users. Don’t shoot the messenger!

TouchWiz vs Stock Android

Now, HTC’s Sense UI is all that’s wrong with third-party “optimization”, and Amazon’s Fire OS is a fiasco of closed-mindedness, rival envy and ego. Narrowly behind Samsung, we’d probably list LG as the designer of a convenient, minimally intrusive interface that’s greatly evolved over the years.

If BlackBerry decides to follow the path of Android adoption and alteration, you have to figure they’ll tweak a number of things, particularly in the privacy department, but as long as they offer full access to Google Play, we’re game.

BlackBerry Passport

There’s also the question of updates, handled by the Canadians themselves when it comes to BlackBerry OS (duh), but likely contingent on multiple factors if our dream scenario pans out. Ideally, Google would understand the perks of collaborating with a security specialist of this magnitude, and who knows, maybe they’ll unite forces to make stock Android the best it can be.

A touch of safety renovation never killed an open OS, did it?

Great brands live forever

Consider this – if Nokia were to return next year (which is more than likely, by the by) with a super-sturdy handheld sporting a phenomenal camera and cutting-edge internals all in all, would you be interested? Intrigued, at least?

Of course you would, regardless of their lengthy struggles, Microsoft dumping and the eternity passed from their last hit. It’s the same with BlackBerry, whose esteemed name will stick to people’s brains until long after the Prague debuts, no matter if it strikes gold or flops as hard as the Z10.

BlackBerry building logo

This isn’t an ephemeral champ we’re talking about, with its 15 minutes of fame over and done. It’s an enterprise destined for enduring success going through a lousy phase. It’d be a shame for this to be the end, and it’d be too bad if Google and Samsung didn’t realize the comeback potential.

Go on, give them a hand for the sake of the entire industry, future developments, breakthroughs and progress. They’ll be always in your debt, even when if back on top.

BlackBerry CEO says the company will embrace Android if they can make it secure

BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry has been rumored to be considering Android as an alternative platform for its mobile devices. And today for the first time since those rumors surfaced, the CEO of the company, John Chen has mentioned in an interview that the company won’t shy away from using Android as long as they can find a way to make it ‘secure’.

We’re not sure if he was hinting that Android is not secure in its current form, but the gist we get is that the company wants to ensure that users get the same standard of security that they’re currently accustomed to with BlackBerry services. While Google might not be open to the idea of BlackBerry tweaking with stock Android, we don’t think BlackBerry has much to worry about with regards to Android.

BlackBerry’s enterprise solutions are regarded as world’s best and are used by all the top government agencies in the world for security reasons. However, an everyday user won’t find the same feature set with a BlackBerry that he/she would on an Android smartphone or an iPhone. This has been nagging BlackBerry for quite some time now and might finally force them to take radical steps in order to survive in the mobile segment.

Source: Fierce Wireless

Via: Techno Buffalo

On February 11, All Four Major Carriers Will Allow Phones To Be Unlocked

major us carriers

Typically when you purchase a smartphone or tablet from a specific carrier, it is locked to that network for the lifetime of your contract, or possibly for the life of the device. Certain carriers had policies, but there was no one standard. Last year Congress and the President made it illegal for carriers to lock devices to their network. In the wake of that decision, the CTIA (the interest group for the carriers) called for a meeting of the carriers to discuss unlocking and starting February 11th, unlocking will be far easier. The FCC has outlined every single change in their own document, but this is a condensed version of that document to make it easier to understand.

What does this version of “unlocked” truly mean.

  • The CTIA is implying that the type of unlock is a true SIM card unlocking, so you will be able to take your unlocked device and stick any SIM card into it and it should work on the other networks. While Verizon sold devices unlocked and AT&T and T-Mobile let you unlock your device and the end of your 2-year contract or payment plan, Sprint only was able to unlock devices for overseas use. Now they are required to also fully unlock devices domestically, albeit with one catch. If a phone was launched on Sprint before February 11th, it will still only be able to be unlocked for international use. No domestic lock will be available for phones from before February 11th onto any carrier.

Where are the individual carriers’ unlocking policies?

Will I be able to unlock my phone immediately on February 11th?

  • In a short answer, no. For a long answer, your contract term will have to be completed or your installment plan (this includes AT&T Next, Verizon Edge, T-Mobile JUMP, Sprint Easy Pay) will have to be paid off. If the phone was bought for a subsidized price, your 2-year agreement will either have to be completed or you terminate the contract and pay an early termination fee (ETF). If you are eligible, you will have to wait 48 hours for the carriers to complete your request.

When will I know when I can unlock my phone?

  • The new policy states that carriers will have to provide notice to consumer when a phone is eligible to be unlocked in a “clear” way. The language is unclear and some carriers dislike having to provide notice to their customers that they do not have to be with them anymore, but once this policy is in effect we should start seeing what that means from customers either emerging from their contract or paying it off. If you are a prepaid subscriber, a carrier only is required to tell you when the phone can be unlocked when you purchase it, with no further notices required. So if you are a prepaid customer, maybe mark it in your calendar with a reminder at the time of sale.

Can I unlock my phone before the required commitment without paying an ETF?

  • It depends on the situation, but a carrier might unlock your device if you are in good standing, are a business customer, or any other reason, such as being a veteran. But if the carrier will not unlock your device, there are numerous services online that will do that for you, for GSM (AT&T and T-Mobile) carrier-branded phones. Costs can range anywhere from $10 to north of $100 per the device and carrier. Sprint and Verizon services are available, but they are much harder to find. And before you purchase an unlock from one of these vendors, make sure they are reliable first.

If I do nothing until my phone is eligible, will it unlock automatically?

  • So far, only Sprint has said that they will automatically unlock phones once the contract or installment plan has been fulfilled (if the phone was sold after February 2015). All other major carriers require customers to request their device being unlocked. Some Verizon devices are SIM unlocked when purchased, but those that aren’t will need to be unlocked by the carrier. All AT&T, T-Mobile, and US Cellular devices require a request from the carrier to be unlocked, but T-Mobile ships an app on their newer phones to request an unlock. This is by far the easiest method, as it requires just the push of a button, instead of AT&T, who requires a form to be submitted.

If I unlock my phone, will I be charged?

  • If you are not a customer of the carrier that the phone is unlocked to, then yes. A carrier may charge a “reasonable” fee to unlock the device. The carriers haven’t revealed prices for that yet, nor have they confirmed that they will charge at all, so we’ll have to wait and see. But no matter if you are charged or not charged, all eligible devices are required to be unlocked. So if you purchased an AT&T phone for use on T-Mobile, as long as the payments were fulfilled and the device has a good IMEI, it will be unlocked.

What is the policy for prepaid customers?

  • All of the major prepaid carriers are part of this policy as well. This includes AT&T GoPhone, T-Mobile Prepaid, MetroPCS, Verizon Prepaid,  Mobile, Boost Mobile, and Sprint Prepaid. The requirements are different however. Phones bought on prepaid must be unlockable after 1 year from purchase date, but carriers can add requirements that the phone was used with a paid account during the duration. The requirements must be “reasonable,” but that’s as detailed as they get.

What carrier should I go with if I want the best unlocking policy?

  • Verizon, actually. Almost all of the modern smartphones are unlocked out of the box and work with various GSM carriers around the world, even with AT&T and T-Mobile (though due to any band differences, the phone might not work as well on other networks).

What carrier has the worst unlocking policy?

  • The offender here is AT&T. You must submit an online request to unlock your device with a phone number, IMEI number, the account holder’s first and last name, the last 4 digits of your social security number, your AT&T account password, your email, home address, and fill out a captcha.

Can I use [A phone] on [B network]?

  • For 3G and possibly HSPA+, yes. With LTE it gets trickier. With 3G, almost every phone sold on the carriers is interoperable with each other, even with Sprint. If you are taking an off-network phone from one carrier to another, the highest likely answer is “no”, except for the recent iPhones and the Nexus 6. Though those still won’t work on Sprint however. For LTE, very little of the carriers share the same LTE bands, so cross-compatibility might not be possible. All four of the big carriers share 1900MHz PCS (Band 2), but this all depends on your geographic area. T-Mobile and Verizon share the 1700f Band 4 network, so that should work too, if it’s in your area. Another issue is that AT&T and T-Mobile phones don’t generally work on Verizon or Sprint (aside from the Nexus 6 and recent iPhones) because those carriers still require CDMA support on their devices.

What is the best phone for switching between carriers domestically or internationally?

  • If you are switching domestically, the Nexus 6 is by far the best device. It will work on all of the carriers’ different networks out of the box, which the iPhone 6 still can’t do. For international travelers, there isn’t a great selection if you’re using a domestic device internationally. There are almost no LTE roaming agreements on any carriers except AT&T. However, most Android smartphones have the capability of using the most popular frequencies around the world. But if you want the best LTE, you’re going to have to use AT&T. So once again, the Nexus 6 is still your best bet.

That is the majority of the changes that are coming with this new unlocking policy. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and ask. Again, the new rules for unlocking go into effect starting February 11th.

Source: FCC via Android Police

Verizon XLTE Officially Announced

verizon-xlte

 

After rumors of Verizon introducing XLTE popped up last week, it’s now official. XLTE is actually Verizon’s AWS spectrum, which allows them to have more bandwidth available for customers to get faster data speeds on their devices.

Of course, you need a compatible device to take advantage of the new network. It looks like you’ll need a device from either 2013 or 2014, so if you’ve upgraded in the last year you are probably set:

Phones:

  • Moto X
  • DROID ULTRA
  • DROID MAXX
  • DROID MINI
  • HTC One (M8)
  • HTC One Max
  • LG G2
  • LG Lucid 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Galaxy S5
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
  • Samsung ATIV SE
  • Nokia Lumia Icon
  • Blackberry Q10
  • Blackberry Z30
  • iPhone 5C
  • iPhone 5S

Tablets

  • iPad Air
  • iPad Mini Retina
  • LG G Pad
  • Samsung Note 10.1
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Pro

Hotspots/Modems/Jetpacks

  • UML295 USB Modem
  • Jetpack MHS291L
  • Jetpack Mifi5510L

As you can see, there are a lot of devices that can take advantage of the new network. XLTE is in many different states across the country, covering mostly metro areas:

Alabama

  • Birmingham
  • Decatur
  • Florence
  • Mobile
  • Montgomery
  • Tuscaloosa

Arizona

  • Flagstaff
  • Phoenix
  • Prescott
  • Tucson

Arkansas

  • El Dorado-Magnolia
  • Fayetteville-Springdale
  • Fort Smith
  • Hot Springs
  • Jonesboro
  • Little Rock
  • Russellville

California

  • Bakersfield
  • Chico-Oroville
  • Fresno
  • Los Angeles
  • Merced
  • Modesto
  • Redding
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco – Oakland – San Jose
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Stockton
  • Visalia-Porterville
  • Yuba City-Marysville

Colorado

  • Colorado Springs
  • Denver
  • Fort Collins
  • Greeley
  • Pueblo

Connecticut

  • Greater Fairfield and New Haven
  • Hartford
  • New London County

Delaware

  • Dover
  • Fort Myers
  • Fort Pierce-Vero Beach

District of Columbia

  • Washington DC

Florida

  • Beach
  • Gainesville
  • Lakeland-Winter Haven
  • Melbourne-Titusville
  • Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
  • Orlando
  • Pensacola
  • Sarasota-Bradenton
  • Tallahassee
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg
  • West Palm Beach

Georgia

  • Athens
  • Atlanta
  • Augusta
  • Columbus

Hawaii

  • Honolulu
  • Kahului-Wailuku

Illinois

  • Bloomington
  • Carbondale
  • Champaign-Urbana
  • Chicago
  • Danville
  • Decatur-Effingham
  • Kankakee
  • La Salle-Peru-Ottawa
  • Mattoon
  • Peoria
  • Rockford
  • Springfield

Indiana

  • Anderson
  • Bloomington-Bedford
  • Columbus
  • Elkhart
  • Evansville
  • Indianapolis
  • Kokomo-Logansport
  • Lafayette
  • Marion
  • Richmond
  • South Bend-Mishawaka
  • Terre Haute
  • Vincennes-Washington

Iowa

  • Cedar Rapids
  • Des Moines
  • Sioux City
  • Blackfoot
  • Burley
  • Pocatello

Kansas

  • Dodge City
  • Garden City
  • Hays
  • Manhattan-Junction City
  • McPherson
  • Salina
  • Topeka
  • Wichita

Kentucky

  • Lexington
  • Louisville
  • Louisiana
  • Baton Rouge
  • Lake Charles
  • Monroe
  • New Orleans
  • Shreveport

Maryland

  • Baltimore
  • Salisbury

Massachusetts

  • Boston
  • Hyannis-Mid-Cape
  • Pittsfield
  • Springfield
  • Worcester-Fitchburg

Michigan

  • Benton Harbor
  • Detroit
  • Flint
  • Grand Rapids
  • Houghton
  • Lansing

Minnesota

  • Bemidji
  • Brainerd
  • Duluth
  • Fergus Falls-Alexandria
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Rochester
  • St. Cloud

Missouri

  • Jefferson City
  • Kansas City
  • St. Joseph

Montana

  • Billings

Nebraska

  • Grand Island-Kearney
  • Lincoln
  • North Platte
  • Omaha
  • Scottsbluff

Nevada

  • Las Vegas
  • Reno

New Hampshire

  • Manchester-Nashua

New Jersey

  • Atlantic City

New Mexico

  • Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe

New York

  • Albany
  • Binghamton
  • Buffalo
  • Elmira-Corning-Hornell
  • Ithaca
  • New York
  • Rochester
  • Syracuse
  • Utica

North Carolina

  • Asheville
  • Charlotte-Gastonia
  • Fayetteville-Lumberton
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • Wilmington

North Dakota

  • Bismarck
  • Dickinson
  • Fargo
  • Grand Forks
  • Minot
  • Williston

Ohio

  • Canton
  • Cincinnati
  • Cleveland-Akron
  • Columbus
  • Dayton-Springfield
  • Findlay-Tiffin
  • Lima
  • Mansfield
  • Marion
  • Portsmouth
  • Toledo

Oklahoma

  • Bartlesville
  • Lawton
  • Liberal
  • Oklahoma City
  • Tulsa

Oregon

  • Eugene-Springfield
  • Portland
  • Salem-Albany-Corvallis

Pennsylvania

  • Allentown-Bethlehem
  • Altoona
  • Erie
  • Harrisburg

Indiana

  • Lancaster
  • Pittsburgh
  • Reading
  • Scranton-Wilkes Barre
  • Shamokin
  • Sharon
  • State College
  • Stroudsburg
  • Williamsport
  • York

Rhode Island

  • Greater Providence

South Carolina

  • Charleston
  • Columbia
  • Florence
  • Greenville-Spartanburg
  • Greenwood
  • Myrtle Beach

South Dakota

  • Aberdeen
  • Rapid City
  • Sioux Falls

Tennessee

  • Chattanooga
  • Cleveland
  • Cookeville
  • Dyersburg
  • Jackson
  • Knoxville
  • Memphis
  • Nashville

Texas

  • Amarillo
  • Austin
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur
  • Bryan-College Station
  • Corpus Christi
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth
  • Houston
  • Laredo
  • Longview-Marshall
  • Paris
  • San Antonio
  • Sherman-Denison
  • Temple-Killeen
  • Tyler
  • Waco
  • Wichita Falls

Utah

  • Logan
  • Provo
  • Salt Lake City-Ogden

Virginia

  • Charlottesville
  • Fredericksburg
  • Greater Hampton Roads
  • Harrisonburg
  • Richmond
  • Roanoke
  • Winchester

Washington

  • Longview
  • Olympia
  • Seattle-Tacoma
  • Spokane

Wisconsin

  • Appleton-Oshkosh
  • Eau Claire
  • Fond du Lac
  • Green Bay

Verizon has also released an ad about the new XLTE network.

If you have a compatible device and live in one of these areas, enjoy your new peak data speeds. Hopefully your data plan allows you to take advantage of them.

Sources: Verizon (Devices), Verizon (Cities), Verizon (Ad)

BBM for Android now compatible with Android 2.3 Gingerbread devices

BBM for Android now compatible with Android 2.3 Gingerbread devices

While Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean might have taken over more than 50 percent of all devices running Android, the hard and cold truth is that there are still a considerable amount of phones running on Gingerbread. For BlackBerry, not having the BBM app support that old-but-still-active version of Android has allowed competing apps like WhatsApp and Line to continue to lead, but now, it’s a lead that could be noticeably shortened.  (more…)

Windows Phone is dead, Tizen is dead, long live Android!

Look, there’s nothing wrong with competition. In fact, we all welcome it, regardless of personal preferences. Android geeks, Apple fanatics, Windows Phone aficionados, surviving BlackBerry supporters, we may argue all the time and each feel like we’re in possession of the universal truth, which we want bestowed on our clueless “enemies”.

android_king

But when all is said and done, you need little more than common sense to realize Android would be nothing without iOS. And vice versa. Windows Phone, BlackBerry? They look pretty pointless right now, but one dominated the mobile world for years in a row, forcing Android and iOS to evolve, progress and thrive, while the other seemed a big threat back in the day, also keeping the two top dogs on their toes.

Only today’s nearly saturated smartphone market appears incapable of at least sustaining the idea of competition. Three years and a half after debuting in the form of Windows Phone 7, the platform is still, well, a baby. BlackBerry? They’re on the verge of kicking off yet another comeback, albeit their market share circles invisibility.

iOS-vs-Android-vs-Windows-Phone

Tizen? A stillborn project, according to many. Firefox OS, Sailfish? Let’s face it, aside from people whose job is to keep tabs even on obvious tech flops, no one’s ever heard of them. Bottom line, like it or not, it’s a two-way fight for supremacy, and so it shall remain for years to come. Need more proof? Well, let’s see

Why we think Windows Phone is dead

The report that actually sparked the idea in my mind to do the piece you’re reading, and that also confirmed to me once and for all WP has no future, is this Recode story. Yes, I realize it’s unsubstantiated gossip… for now.

There’s a silver lining for Microsoft as well, since rumor has it no Windows Phones will be on display at next week’s Mobile World Congress because they’ll be saved for intros during April’s MS Build Developer Conference.

Android vs Windows

Yeah, right. Also, HTC’s M8 (or “All New One”) is to trump Samsung’s Galaxy S5 once it goes official at last. And unicorns poop rainbows. Jokes aside, no, MS did not put off fresh hardware announcements due to a grander “scheme”. They simply have nothing to showcase. At least not at the same event as the GS5.

Think about it, who of their partners is still supporting Windows Phone? Samsung? They weren’t committed in the first place, and the ATIV S was just something to test the waters for possible further investments. Needless to say it bombed at the box-office, so don’t expect any sequels.

HTC? They’re fully focused on Android, according to their own claims, not affording to gamble one penny on something other than the M8, mid-range Desires, and maybe wearables. Huawei? Puh-lease, they’re insignificant on the Western hemisphere.

Nokia X

Which only leaves Nokia, the OEM that actually unveiled a new WP8-based handheld last week. Clearly, whether the Finns want it or not, Windows Phone is their focal point.

But don’t you find it fitting, not to mention ironic, the past few weeks were probably the best in Nokia’s recent history in regards to media exposure? And no, it wasn’t due to the Lumia Icon, but a smaller, less technically impressive gizmo backed by a certain green robot.

Why we think Tizen is dead

In short, we think, nay we know Tizen is dead because everyone says so. Sure, all our mothers taught us not to trust strangers, yet in this business, there’s rarely smoke without fire. And boy, has there been a lot of smoke concerning Tizen’s precocious demise.

Samsung Tizen

What’s interesting is, at one point, Samsung stopped trying to convince us there was something to Tizen. And yes, some advanced prototypes, maybe even a “Zeke” handheld ready to see daylight, will probably visit Barcelona next week.

There’s also some rumble as to a Tizen-running Galaxy Gear smartwatch, though I personally doubt Samsung is that crazy and clueless. Unless they want to bury their wearables too.

tizen device

Either way, with or without Zeke, with or without Tizen Gear, this is going nowhere. Several hardware makers and carriers pulled the plug already, whereas Sammy likely used the platform to strong-arm Google into selling Motorola and nixing the Nexus family as we know it. Don’t believe they have that power? Oh, you are so naïve.

Who else could matter?

Short answer: nobody. Long answer: nobody in the BlackBerry – Firefox OS – Sailfish group. Not today, not tomorrow, not one or two years from now. Maybe in five or ten years, if Android or iOS drop the ball. But at that point, BB will no longer exist, Mozilla will have gone back to developing decent browsers people use when Chrome crashes, and Jolla… who the heck is Jolla anyway?

BlackBerry

Now, we could argue and debate whether the duopoly is good or bad for the mobile industry’s forward movement in the “post-PC era”. But let’s throw objectivity and gravity aside for a moment, and enjoy our favorite operating system’s moments of glory.

It’s a great time to be an Android aficionado, isn’t it? I mean, just look at Kantar’s Q4 2013 stats, or Gartner’s Q3 numbers. Now let me hear you all shout “viva Android”.

BlackBerry Z30: The newest flagship Android device in town?

z30-blackberry

Android news has been interesting this week. First, there’s the surprising announcement that Google has sold its Motorola Mobility division to Lenovo. Prior to that, there’s the news that BlackBerry’s latest OS update now allows users to install Android apps straight from the .APK file, or through application marketplaces, without having to convert to a BlackBerry app installer, as previously necessary.

The Droid Guy has discussed the motivations behind the Motorola Mobility sale in a recent editorial. In gist, this enables Google to focus on developing the Android platform without necessarily having to be bogged down by hardware devleopment initiatives. And the bigger benefit is that Google will no longer be seen as competing with own customers. Selling its own hardware might be seen as a conflict of interest, especially if big clients like Samsung feel Motorola is being given an undue advantage.

Meanwhile, Lenovo, the second-biggest desktop computer maker in the world, now has a better chance of competing against Samsung and Apple in the smartphone market. Make no mistake, Lenovo is already a big name in mobile, especially in China. With its Motorola acquisition, the company is now at the number three spot, behind Samsung and Apple, which makes for an interesting three-way competition for mobile dominance, particularly in important established markets like the US.

Now for another interesting pieces of news, BlackBerry has released its latest BB10 update, 10.2.1, which enables users to install Android apps straight from the .APK. No more conversions into .BAR. This has interesting implications, of course. It further cements Android as a dominant mobile platform, with Android apps becoming a standard across different platforms.

The compatibility is not just skin-deep, however. Even more interesting than simply being able to run Android apps, the 10.2.1 BlackBerry OS update is found to be actually running a slimmed-down version of Android 4.2.2. A video by Youtube user Tomtechish shows how users can even get a fuller Android experience by installing Nova Launcher.

Some functionalities are limited, however. For instance, Google Play does not work. Some official Google apps like YouTube will be slow and buggy — perhaps due to the absense of the Google Play Services framework.

With the latest BB update even lets users install Android apps more easily through app marketplaces like the Amazon Appstore, or a native APK downloading tool called Snap, which pulls the APK files from the Google Play Store itself.

The question here now is what BlackBerry has planned for its own software platform. The company has already addressed the need to expand its audience, and released BlackBerry Messenger as a cross-platform application for iOS and Android. Interest in BlackBerry devices has waned, though, except for some holdout organizations like certain US government agencies, which are continuing to order BlackBerrys in bulk due to enterprise needs.

This more open approach to Android apps is a gamble for BlackBerry, as some observers put it. This would be interesting to the consumer market, and might give BlackBerry a better mass-market appeal. Enterprise managers might not be as receptive to this move, however.

If BlackBerry were to launch a device that ran Android — either dual-booting Android and BlackBerry OS, or actually running Android out of the box — would that be an interesting idea to Android users? Would it attract smartphone users into switching from an iPhone or another flagship device when BlackBerry launches new phones?

Image credit: Bloomberg

BBM pre-installed: Will Android partnerships help get BlackBerry back in the game?

BBM-for-iPhone-and-Android

BlackBerry (formerly Research-in-Motion) seems to be serious in its efforts to relive its glory days at the top of the smartphone ecosystem. Newly-appointed CEO John Chen expects the company to be profitable again by 2016, and the new management is aggressive at pursuing partnerships with device makers in bundling its instant messaging app and network, BlackBerry Messenger.

Chen says the work will not be easy, but BlackBerry is taking things a step at a time. “My step one was to have the company financially out of harm’s way,” he told media earlier this week. “I can’t say I’ve done it today, but we are on a good path.”

A few weeks after BBM for iOS and Android officially launched, the company announced an install base of 20 million, which brought up the total BBM install base to 80 million. This December, BlackBerry said the total install base has been brought up to 40 million, bringing the total to about 100 million, including devices running iOS, Android and BlackBerry’s own operating systems.

Recently, BlackBerry also entered into a partnership with LG, which will bundle BBM with its Android smartphones, starting with the G Pro Lite and other models thereafter. This is seen as a big boon to the Canadian company, which is banking on its enterprise services and communications platform as a means to extend its reach across other platforms like iOS and Android.

Downloads vs. Active users

Speaking of numbers, however, while 100 million is a good figure for a company supposedly on the decline, some service providers have criticized the use of supposedly inflated figures in counting a user base. In particular, WhatsApp has lashed out at rivals (including, but not limited to, BBM), which usually cite their number of downloads as their primary metric when releasing numbers to the press. As of this week, WhatsApp says it has surpassed 400 million monthly active users, an increase of 100 million in just four months. It’s worth stressing here that this figure involves people who actually use WhatsApp to communicate at least once a month.

In contrast, WhatsApp says competitors usually use raw downloads as their main metric — some service providers would rather focus on how many people have downloaded the application, without necessarily considering if the app is being regularly used. It’s tantamount to padding their figures, and the metric would include apps that are bundled in with devices, but never get used anyway.

One step at a time

For BlackBerry, therefore, having BBM pre-installed on LG devices is just the first step. The company would also have to ensure that users actually activate BBM by signing up for a new account and regularly using the app to communicate. Perhaps LG and BlackBerry should offer incentives to users to actually activate and use BBM.

And then, of course, BlackBerry will need to get BBM prominently marketed across other brands, too. Samsung is probably the best target here, being the leading Android brand in terms of sales. But since Sammy has its own ChatON platform, it may not be likely that it will give that spot to BBM (although various chat apps could co-exist, of course).

Still, partnerships with Android device manufacturers are a good step — this gets BlackBerry’s foot in the door. What happens next will be important, however, in ensuring BBM remains an active chat platform and ecosystem.

BlackBerry Messenger Will Be Preloaded On LG Phones

BBM

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is about get more users, if people use the app. BlackBerry has announced a deal with LG that BBM will come pre-installed on LG smartphones. The LG Pro Lite will be the first phone to have BBM built-in.

It seems that emerging markets are being targeted by both companies, as the Pro Lite is an entry-level 5.5″ handset sold in Russia, China, India, and the Middle East. That’s an interesting market to target, but it will hopefully help BlackBerry in the long run. In some emerging markets, BlackBerry is still the most popular brand, because of the relatively cheap price.

This announcement follows BlackBerry’s hints that they secured deals with “leading OEMs” to have BBM come pre-installed on their handsets. The app will continue to be available as a separate download from both Google Play and the iOS App Store. So if you get an LG phone and it comes with BBM, will you use it?

Via: CrackBerry

Samsung Market Share in US Shows Continuous Growth

Samsung Market Share in US
Samsung Market Share in US
This table shows Samsung market share in the US as of October 2013 as well as the individual shares of other major players in the US Smartphone industry. (Source: comScore)

comScore, an Internet technology company dedicated in studying the current trends in the digital world, recently released the key trends in the US Smartphone industry based on their study conducted last October. The report revealed a continuous growth in Samsung market share which increased to 1.3 percent in contrast to comScore’s previous survey in July.

The Samsung market share, in comparison to the shares of its major competitors in the US, is the only one that gained more than one-point growth as Apple only displayed a 0.2 percent growth while Motorola only had 0.1.

Currently, the giant Korean tech firm holds 25.4 percent in terms of market share in the US. So far, it has the second biggest slice in the US market as Apple still dominates it with a 40.6 percent share. Others such as Motorola, HTC and LG only have a single-digit shares in the market based on the source (7 percent, 6.7 percent and 6.6 percent respectively).

The data further showed that HTC lost 1.3 percent of its market while LG lost 0.2 percent.

Samsung is expected to show significant growth especially in 2014 when it releases its new Smartphone and tablet variants as well as other new devices. So far, news have been going around lately that the company is preparing to launch the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite, Galaxy Grand Lite, Galaxy Note 3 Lite and others.

Android Still Rules

It is also worth noting that Android is still the top Smartphone platform in the US. Data from the research showed that its share in the US market has grown 0.4 percent from July to October this year with a present share of 52.2 percent. Apple’s IOS share tails behind with 46 percent while BlackBerry, Microsoft and Symbian only have single-digit shares (3.6 percent, 3.2 percent and 0.2 percent respectively).

Source: comScore

Phablet shipments are on the rise: IDC

Phablet shipments are on the rise: IDC

The popularity of supersized smartphones is increasing, according to the figures of the phablet shipments recorded in IDC’s research which covers the third quarter of 2013. These phablets, which measure between 5 inches and above, accounted for 21 percent of the 261.1 million total smartphone sales during the aforementioned quarter. The number marks a 3 percent increase when compared to the figures recorded in same quarter last year.

Phablet shipments are on the rise: IDC
Phablet shipments are on the rise: IDC

IDC says that the fact that many of the popular Android smartphone makers have released the supersized handsets contributed to the increase. Even Nokia has announced two new large-sized smartphones, the Lumia 1320 and the Lumia 1520, which further expand the growing category. Meanwhile, Apple continues to have no large-screen device that can compete with the demand for these phablets. This could have been a factor why Apple’s shares did not register a significant growth during the same quarter.

Average selling prices (ASP)

The same study notes that the average selling price of smartphones (ASP) is falling. In Q3 2013, the average price was $317, marking a 12% decline. This price trend was observed in Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and other operating systems save for Blackberry OS, which showed an increase in its ASP. Android smartphones have an ASP of $268; Windows Phone has $287; Blackberry has $386; and iOS has $635. The cheapest devices, however, are those whose operating systems do not fall into any of the aforementioned categories. Their ASP is only $125.

Operating Systems wars

The study also provides insights into the heated competition among the operating systems. Android, for the first time in such quarter, surpassed the 80% mark in terms of its market share. Samsung is responsible for 39.9% of this figure, while the rest is divided among the other Android smartphone manufacturers. Coming in second place is iOS, with a 12.9% market share, Windows Phone with 3.6%, BlackBerry with and others with 0.6%.

Earlier this month, research firm Strategy Analytics posted the results of their study covering the same quarter. Per Strategy Analytics, Android’s market share is 81.3%, Apple’s is 13.4%, Windows Phone is 4.1%, BlackBerry is 1%, and others, 0.2%. These figures are similar with the results that IDC got.

via pocket-lint

source idc

BlackBerry 10 not getting the Google Play Store after all

BlackBerry Z10 Play Store

BlackBerry Z10 Play Store

Earlier this week, we saw a BlackBerry Z10 smartphone featuring the Google Play Store, indicating at future compatibility with the Android app hub. However, the folks at BlackBerry have rejected these claims and reiterated that the BlackBerry World remains the platform’s sole source of applications. Below is the full statement issued by the company –

There is no planned support for Google Play on BlackBerry. BlackBerry World remains the primary source for trusted and curated BlackBerry applications and we continue to support open standards and open source tools so BlackBerry developers can continue to create great apps on any of the development platforms we support.

This is a little disappointing for BlackBerry users as the platform could really help from a boost like this. But it seems like what we saw earlier this week was merely Photoshop trickery or an unofficial port. It was originally rumored that BlackBerry was bringing the Play Store to BB devices with the BlackBerry 10.2.1 update, but this official statement has pretty much put a rest to all those rumors.

Source: CrackBerry

Via: Android Central

Android’s market share hits 81%

Here is the latest update on Android’s market share. As of the third quarter of 2013, our favorite operating system already controls 81% of the smartphone market, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. This is an improvement over the 75% market share that Android garnered during the same quarter in last year.

androidsmarketshare

Coming in at second place is Apple, which now has a market share of 13.4%. This figure is slightly below what it received during the third quarter of 2012, which is 15.6%.

Next on the list is Microsoft, which has 4.1%, an increase over the 2.1% share in Q3 2012. Then comes BlackBerry, which has 1.0%, which is lower than the 4.3% it snagged in the past.

Other operating systems currently have 0.2% of the market, a decrease compared to the 3.0% market share that they enjoyed last year.

Strategy Analytics also provides data on the number of shipments that each operating system registered for the third quarter of 2013.

Android was able to reach 204.4 million shipments, a considerable increase compared to the 129.6 million units it shipped in Q3 2012.

Apple, for its part, shipped 33.8 million units, which is likewise higher than the 26.9 million units that were recorded previously.

Microsoft’s shipments jumped from 3.7 to 10.2 million units, whereas Blackberry’s slid down from 7.4 to 2.5 million units.

Other operating systems only had 0.5 million units shipped, which is much lower than the 5.2 million units that were recorded in Q3 2012.

Analysis

Strategy Analytics surmises that Android is showing better performance than Apple in the market because of the relative lack of Apple products targeted at the low-end market segment. There may be some changes during the present quarter, however, because of the demand for the Apple iPhone 5s. This means that Android would need to be more competitive to snatch back the increased market share that Apple will likely get during the fourth quarter of 2013.

The research firm also underscored the rate at which Microsoft Windows Phone is growing, saying that currently, it is the fastest growing smartphone mobile operating system. Microsoft owes this largely to Nokia, which is propelling its market share upward in the United States, Europe, as well as Asia. However, it needs to step up its game in other markets, particularly in Africa, Japan, and South Korea.

As for BlackBerry, Strategy Analytics says that the plunge of its market share is because of the weakness of the BB10 devices.

Click here for our previous report on Android’s market share in the United States.

via cnet

BBM Claims To Have 20 Million Active Users on Android and iOS

BBM

BlackBerry Messenger is quickly gaining more users after being out for only a week. After getting downloaded 10 million times in the first 24 hours and dropping the wait list this weekend, BlackBerry has announced that BBM now has 20 million active users on Android and iOS.

That’s a lot of active users for an app that is only a week old. Before releasing a standalone BBM app for Android and iOS, there were 55 million BBM users just on BlackBerry devices. Now that number has jumped to 80 million users. That’s a lot of people to chat with, if you want to.

Personally, I’ve been using BBM very much in the last week. I have 17 people in my contacts and about a little less than half of them still use BBM. That’s pretty good that some users still use BBM. I’ve been using it as an alternative to Direct Messages on Twitter since BBM doesn’t have a character limit.

Besides announcing that BBM has 20 million new active users, BlackBerry also says they will continue bringing new features to BBM for Android and iOS. Currently on a BlackBerry device you can use BBM Voice and BBM Video for audio and video chats and Android and iOS users will soon be able to use those features.

Android and iOS users will also be able to use BBM Channels, a feature that will let users communicate with brands and other people. From this, it sounds a lot like Twitter, FaceBook, and other social networks. That should also help people continue to use BBM over the coming months.

The Vice President of BBM for BlackBerry, Andrew Bocking, has also said that BBM will remain a free service for the foreseeable future. That’s good, as people would probably leave the service if it became a paid service. However, BlackBerry may start to include ads in the service as a result. But if the ads aren’t interfering with the service, then I’m fine with that.

So, here’s a big congrats to the folks at BlackBerry. They finally launched BBM and people actually want to use it. So did you download the app and do you still use the service?

Sources: BlackBerry via CrackBerry, CBC News