Over the past few months, BlackBerry has been putting a lot of effort into building some buzz around its newest, oddly-shaped smartphone, the Passport. Today, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, company CEO John Chen revealed one of the most important aspects of the device: the cost. Chen told the publication that the BlackBerry Passport will be hitting shelves in the US this Wednesday for $599, contract free, adding that such price tag is expected to vary from country to country — depending on sales tax and the like. Chen also said that BlackBerry’s new Passport is betting on reaching and appealing to people who need to be productive, pointing to the wider screen as an example of how the device could help users. “You really are seeing a more entire picture than seeing a sliver [of screen],” Chen stated to WSJ, likely in reference to some of the most popular phones out there at the moment, such as the iPhone 6, Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Well folks, the rumors and leaks were true (as usual): the heated BlackBerry/Porsche Design love affair has once again borne fruit, this in time in the form of the new Porsche Design P’9983. At its core, we’re looking at a device running BlackBerry 10.3 along with a few Porsche-produced bits like a custom wallpaper and watchface, but you’re not going to buy this thing just for BBMing your dearest pals (did we mention you get a specific BBM PIN perfect for remote flaunting?). No, if anything, you’d buy this thing for its peculiar (some would say silly and overwrought) sense of style.
Unlike, say, the BlackBerry Q10, this new Porsche Design model looks angular, brutish and almost jubilant in its rejection of the the effete curved aesthetic most smartphone makers are running wild with. “This is a phone for getting crap done,” those harsh lines seem to say. “No time for Candy Crush here, no sir.” Combine those looks with a “glass-like” physical QWERTY keyboard, a 3.1-inch touchscreen and 64GB of internal storage and you’ve got yourself… well, let’s just say this thing’ll turn some heads. Alas, BlackBerry hasn’t said how much the P’9983 will run you, though its ancestors went for north of $2,000 when they first launched. Now, we don’t mind a little weird here at Engadget, but here’s a question for BlackBerry: Can we just have the Passport now, please?
Filed under: Mobile
WikiLeaks’ all-or-nothing approach to revealing shady government activity just took a new (if decidedly risky) turn. Julian Assange and crew have posted FinFisher and FinSpy PC, the intrusion software that Australia, Italy, Pakistan and other countries use to break into and spy on people’s devices, no matter what platform they’re running. The leak site hopes that privacy-minded developers will use the code to improve security and prevent governments from easily cracking down on dissidents; it also puts pressure on Germany to clamp down on FinFisher and live up to its anti-surveillance principles. The strategy may pay off, although there is a worry that unscrupulous downloaders may use the code for more sinister purposes, such as keylogging or webcam monitoring. Let’s hope the tools don’t fall into the wrong hands.
[Image credit: Scott Beale, Flickr]
Filed under: Internet
Today, we mull over expectations for Apple’s iPhone event, investigate the trade-offs of cordless virtual reality, learn about the benefits of having a dash cam, ogle at TiVo’s 24TB DVR and more! Read on for Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours.
Filed under: Misc
BlackBerry had no part in the torrent of mobile news that erupted at last week’s IFA tradeshow, but new leaked images remind us the company’s got a fresh batch of smartphones in its pipeline, too. Originating from the Weibo account of a reseller who occasionally gets hold of prototype devices, the pictures reportedly show the upcoming BlackBerry Classic (aka Q20), due to launch sometime in November. Announced at Mobile World Congress earlier this year but kept away from the cameras, the Classic appears to be significantly bigger and squarer than its predecessor, and brings back the physical navigation keys and trackpad of handsets past.
From a hardware perspective, the images show stereo speakers and external nano-SIM/microSD card drawers, in addition to the overall design. The leaker also reports the Classic’s camera has more realistic color reproduction than the Q10, it’s thinner than the old-school Bold 9900, and that their handset is running the unreleased 10.3 OS update (build 10.3.1.209, to be exact). Apparently, the keyboard also feels a little better to use than those of the Q10 or Bold 9900, which should please BlackBerry loyalists if true. It certainly looks like it’ll offer a better typing experience than the strange BlackBerry Passport recent leaks suggest will also arrive before year’s end, anyway.
BlackBerry has been more than willing to tell you about most of the smartphones coming down its pipeline, but it hasn’t been very clear about when they’ll show up. There aren’t many mysteries left now, though: N4BB has posted a roadmap (below) revealing most of what’s happening in the remainder of 2014, as well as how the devices are positioned. Both the wacky, squarish Passport (“Windermere”) and the luxurious Porsche Design P’9983 (“Khan”) are tentatively slated to arrive near the end of the third quarter, or around September. They’ll represent the “innovation” and “prestige” models, respectively. There’s no mention of the Classic or a leaked Z3 with LTE, although the timetable has the Classic launching with a BlackBerry 10.3 update (10.3.1) due in the fourth quarter. You’ll have to be patient if you prefer that old-school BlackBerry feel, in other words.
The roadmap is also notable for what’s not making the cut. While we knew that many existing BlackBerry devices weren’t long for this world, it now looks like all but the Z3 and legacy 9720 will be gone by the end of this year. If you’ve been jonesing for a Z30 or Q10, you’d better act quickly — they’ll be museum pieces within a few months.
Since 2012, Porsche Design and BlackBerry have worked together on two high-end handsets that offer a retooled exterior and… not much else. That didn’t stop the duo from selling the tweaked aesthetic for over $2,000, though. It seems that the pair is up to its old tricks once more, as the P’9983 (code named “Khan”) phone has unofficially broke from cover. According to N4BB, the second QWERTY device from the two companies will sport BlackBerry 10 on its 3.5-inch touchscreen with 3GB RAM, a dual-core 1.7 GHz processor and 64GB of storage inside. BlackBerry is also set to debut its rather unique 4.5-inch square Passport device soon, complete with its own personal assistant. But this leak begs the question: Why?
If you’ll recall, there was the QWERTY P’9981 two years ago, and then in 2013, the tandem unveiled a pricier version of the touchscreen Z10. Why continue to crank out limited-edition devices with expensive price tags when the company has been on the ropes for quite a while? I reached out to both Porsche Design and BlackBerry on the matter, and while the Canadian handset maker provided the ol’ “we don’t comment on rumors” business, I’ve yet to hear back from the former. One possible explanation is that the high-end retailer wants to keep its shelves stocked with fresh devices, and BlackBerry was happy to continue to help do just that.
Porsche Design only offers one brand of luxury smartphone on its site.
But why would Porsche Design, a luxury brand that appears doing just fine on its own, would still want to associate itself with an outfit that’s having its fair share of troubles? Is there a partnership agreement that has to be fulfilled? Was this device in the works before BlackBerry hit the skids? Well, when the partnership began, the design outfit’s CEO and a few other of its executives fancied BlackBerry devices as their daily communication tools, so the affinity for those handsets is firmly rooted. Also, Porsche Design only offers one brand of luxury smartphone on its site. It’s also worth noting that previous releases were only available in select markets — like the UK and the Middle East — which certainly seems to target a specific customer base.
Take Vertu for example. If it weren’t for the premium materials and design details, those phones sport a rather modest spec sheet. And that’s exactly what you have here with the rumored P’9983: a highly polished exterior with run of the mill internals. We’ve yet to find out any concrete details, but we’d surmise a select few are going to buy this thing when it eventually arrives with a $2,000+ price tag. Unless of course, you really like BlackBerry gear.
Via: The Verge
BlackBerry is taking advantage of reports of iMessage’s vulnerability to spam messages to tout its BlackBerry Messenger app. In a blog post, the company highlights a report from earlier this week that said iMessage users see quite a bit of spam, with accounts run by spammers responsible for more than 30 percent of all spam messages on mobile devices.
BlackBerry suggests that iMessage users switch to BBM to avoid spam and lists five reasons why BBM is superior to iMessage. According to the company, BBM is safer primarily because it does not utilize a phone number or email address and it only accepts messages from contacts.
1) BBM is architected in a way that protects our 85 million users against spammers. iMessage works off of phone number or Apple ID. Anyone who has your number or Apple ID can send you messages whether you want them to or not. With BBM, users have a lot more control due to our “invite and accept” paradigm. In other words, both parties need to be mutually committed to being contacts in order to send and receive messages.
2) BBM gives you control. There’s no spam on BBM due to its self-policing system. Users are in control of their contact list and there is no way to send a message without being contacts. You can’t control someone showing up to your house, but you don’t have to open the door. With BBM someone can request to be added to your list, but you don’t have to accept their invite.
BlackBerry also uses its list to highlight BBM’s encryption that protects messages from “spying or hacking,” its ability to block contacts, and its cross-platform availability.
Despite all of BBM’s apparent perks, BlackBerry has had trouble convincing users to adopt the app due to competition from iMessage and other messaging apps like WhatsApp, Kik, WeChat, and more. In late 2013, BlackBerry users on Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry phones sent and received approximately 10 billion messages per day, while WhatsApp processed upwards 50 billion messages per day.
Listed as number 56 in the social networking section of the App Store, BBM is ranked far below competing messaging apps. BlackBerry itself has also been struggling in recent months as iOS and Android make gains in the enterprise market.
The initial report on iMessage spam pointed towards Apple’s deep integration of mobile and desktop as the reason for iMessage’s popularity with scammers. While the uptick in iMessage spam has been recent, Apple does have some measures in place to combat spammers. There’s rate-limiting on the iMessage network to stop users from sending hundreds of messages and there is a spam reporting protocol in place, but Apple will likely need adopt more aggressive measures in the future to limit spam messages due to the platform’s growing popularity with spammers.
Want to know a big reason why Android smartphones are virtually ubiquitous these days? Because many of them are very affordable, that’s why. IDC’s latest market share estimates show that 58.6 percent of Android phones shipped in the second quarter cost less than $200, many of them from surging Chinese manufacturers like Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi. Simply speaking, many in China and other developing countries can’t (or won’t) justify buying the expensive phones that thrive in regions like Europe and North America. It’s no wonder that Samsung is losing the battle at the moment, then — while the company has budget handsets, it’s heavily invested in high-end hardware like the Galaxy S line.
The influx of low-cost devices also helps to explain year-over-year dips in market share for both iOS (11.7 percent) and Windows Phone (2.5 percent), which pale next to Android’s 84.7 percent slice of the pie. Apple doesn’t participate in the sub-$200 realm to start with, so it won’t compete in terms of sheer units; it’s doing fine profit-wise. Windows Phone, meanwhile, has few bona fide hits in this space outside of the aging Lumia 520. There are new iPhones and more budget-friendly Windows Phone makers right around the corner, though, so it won’t be shocking if there’s a different story in the months ahead.
BlackBerry has stopped bleeding — officially, at least. In a memo leaked to Reuters, CEO John Chen tells staff that three years of job cuts are over, and that the former mobile legend can start building itself back up rather than salvaging what’s left of its smartphone empire. But how did it get to this point? And more importantly, how does it plan to bounce back in an era when even many of its corporate customers have moved on to Android and iOS? As you’ll see in our gallery below, BlackBerry is only getting to this point after some grave errors and painful decisions — but it last appears to have a strategy that, while imperfect, at least acknowledges a difficult reality.
[Lead image credit: AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim]