You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.
Google has been alerting users when downloading apps of questionable origin for some time. But now the company’s taking its security a step further by checking up on your apps after you’ve already installed them.
There’s a new sheriff in Xbox town, and his name is Phil Spencer. While most of us know him as the E3 guy who speaks about games during Microsoft’s keynote, Spencer is a longtime Redmond employee who worked his way up from the bottom.
In an effort to keep you on top of your privacy settings, Facebook’s giving its existing controls more visibility. By rolling out a new “Privacy Checkup” box in the near future, the company hopes people will become more aware of their sharing habits.
Back in the 90s, Nintendo released 90 copies of a three-part, competitive play cartridge called Nintendo World Championships. In the spirit of nostalgia, the company’s adding said game into its next iteration of NES Remix for the Wii U.
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Filed under: Misc
BlackBerry’s future as a phonemaker came into question yesterday when Reuters reported that CEO John Chen would consider selling its handset division. Naturally, the company sought to set the record straight… with a blog post from Chen himself published earlier today.
“I want to assure you that I have no intention of selling off or abandoning this business any time soon,” he wrote, noting that his comments were taken out of context. So what exactly did he mean? Chen quietly crashed a reporter’s roundtable with BlackBerry enterprise chief John Sims this morning (apparently in search of a cup of coffee) — here’s what he told us about the Reuters interview and the future of BlackBerry’s phones.
“I’m working very hard to find a way to make money in the handset business. Then the question is ‘if you don’t make money in the handset business, what are you going to do?’ I said, well, being a businessperson, if you try long enough and you can’t make money, I mean, I’m in the business of making money. If I can’t make money in the handset business, of course I can’t do the handset business. That’s kind of like an obvious thing.
But they — some people at Reuters loved that last statement. That became the big news. There was no news here. The only news is that we’re committed to the handset business, and we’re going to make it work.”
Here’s the thing about Chen: He’s a pragmatist. He’s confident that the company can make money while making phones, but he admits that he’d have to rethink that stance if BlackBerry can’t turn its handset fortunes around. That’s it. Sort of a no-brainer, right? Sims added that there isn’t really a point of no return in this situation, either — BlackBerry will keep monitoring the situation and cranking out phones until it’s clear it doesn’t make any more sense to. That milestone could take months, maybe years to hit. Maybe BlackBerry won’t hit it at all, if they get sales up and unit costs down.
There’s something a little troubling about the fact that plenty of people took the headline at face value and just ran with it. To many, BlackBerry has already died; its fight already lost. That’s not entirely fair — there are still at least a few handsets barreling down the pipeline, and there’s still over $2.5 billion tucked away in Waterloo’s coffers. But it is possible that the nature of the relationship consumers have built with BlackBerry — one based on having a physical thing in their pockets — may eventually have to change, not that anyone particularly wants it to. And that’s the truth.
Filed under: Mobile
Source: Inside BlackBerry
T-Mobile head honcho John Legere’s assuring its BlackBerry-toting subscribers they’ve got nothing to worry about despite the companies’ falling out. But, just in case they are worried (or just want to try other platforms), he’s also offering them a $100 credit toward any device. Legere made the announcement in an open letter posted on T-Mo’s blog, where he also reminded folks they can stay with the carrier and still use BlackBerrys if they bring their own unlocked devices.
While the $100 credit gives subscribers the chance to give other phones or platforms a try, they can also use the money to get a Q10 or a Z10, assuming they didn’t take advantage of that controversial $250 trade-in promo last time. The offer’s good until the end of the year, but those who prefer upgrading from an older BB phone to one of the Canadian company’s newer offerings might want to decide soon. T-Mobile’s license to sell BlackBerry devices in the US will expire on April 25th, and it doesn’t look like BB CEO John Chen is changing his tune.
PS: Legere also mentioned that T-Mobile has more in store for BlackBerry subscribers: “Stay tuned for another Un-carrier offer that gives you more value and even more reasons to stay with America’s fastest growing wireless company.”
- John Legere (@JohnLegere) April 3, 2014
By the looks of it, BlackBerry chief John Chen wasn’t appeased by T-Mobile’s attempt to make peace — in fact, things have only escalated: T-Mobile will no longer carry any BlackBerry device. In a press release today, the company formerly known as RIM announced that it has chosen not to renew T-Mobile’s license to sell its products when it expires on April 25th, 2014. If you’re wondering what exactly happened between the two companies, it all started when T-Mobile offered customers discounts on other phones if they trade in a BlackBerry. Obviously, that didn’t sit well with Chen, so the magenta network launched a similar promo for existing BB owners, giving them $200 to $250 if they’re upgrading to another BlackBerry device. Those who decided to do so need not worry, though: the two promise not to let this nasty divorce get in the way of supporting their current customers.
Admit it: Sometimes what you need to say is best expressed through the image of a WWE character. Now you can send that wrestler, or a picture of Shaun the Sheep (if you’re feeling a little less hostile) to friends via BBM. Following rumors we heard a few weeks ago, today BlackBerry launched stickers for the messaging app, similar to what
all some other messaging apps have been doing for a while now. The company is opening a new BBM Shop where you can pick up a variety of sticker packs (with 20-25 icons each) now for $1.99 or less a pop, with more expected to come on a regular basis. If the addition of stickers isn’t quite enough for you, today’s update also brings the ability to share photos with friends in multi-person chats, so you can make sure the whole crew gets that #groupie at the same time.
It’s been a tough week for Ryan Seacrest: first, American Idol ratings hit an all-time low, and now, a judge has ruled against his iPhone accessory company in court. BlackBerry has won a court order that bars Typo from selling its very familiar physical keyboards after convincing a judge that the products might’ve infringed on its patents. As Bloomberg reports, the presiding judge said that the Canadian smartphone manufacturer is “likely to prevail” on the infringement claims, and that Typo hasn’t done much to prove that BlackBerry’s patents were invalid. The judge continued to show no quarter by out-and-out dismissing Typo’s worries that a temporary sales ban could put the company under. If you were on the fence before, maybe this will be the push to grab a Typo while you still can.
- BlackBerry News (@BlackBerryNews) March 29, 2014
Remember when BlackBerry was hesitant to let BBM wander to other platforms? So do we, but now that the company has committed to cross-platform support by pushing its messaging service to ecosystems like iOS and Android (including the Nokia X series), it isn’t stopping there. Recently we’ve heard that it’s heading to Windows Phone in the coming months, and in an interview with Reuters BlackBerry CEO John Chen mentioned that his team is “taking a very serious look” at bringing the service to the desktop as well. Such a move would make it possible to start a conversation on your PC and finish it on your mobile — or vice versa. It’s a logical strategy for BBM, which enjoyed an uptick of 20 million new users when the service launched on iOS and Android, but has stayed stagnant at 85 million monthly active users in the past month. It’s hard to say if the addition of desktop support will trigger new growth, but given the breadth of platform availability, it will at the very least give users more incentive to stick around.
In commercial terms, BlackBerry’s much-hyped BB10 phones barely made a dent. The manufacturer’s financial health has actually been propped up this whole time by sales of its older classics, Bolds and Curves running on BB7. It’s pretty incredible how long those models have lasted, but BlackBerry’s latest earnings report reminds us that nothing lasts forever: BB7 sales have fallen 50 percent year-over-year to 2.3 million units, which is double BlackBerry 10 sales but not nearly enough to help the company stay in profit. Of course, the collapse of legacy hardware isn’t news to the CEO, John Chen, who has promised to support BB7 devices “for as long as there’s demand” but who has also set about rebuilding BlackBerry as fast as he possibly can.
Fortunately, the earnings report also gives us a glimmer of hope for Chen’s efforts. 54 percent of revenue is now coming from selling services rather than phones, and Chen also claims that BlackBerry has achieved its “expense reduction target” a whole quarter ahead of schedule. The CEO says he expects the company to be profitable by 2016 if it can succeed in providing secure communications for large corporations and government agencies. He also said there are plans for further smartphones, going back to BlackBerry’s business-focused and QWERTY-equipped roots, but right now that still seems like a long shot.
Leaks are par for the course when you’re a huge company working on a new product, but one BlackBerry leaker seems to have gone too far. At least, CEO John Chen thinks so: today he penned a post on the official Inside BlackBerry blog promising legal action against a leaker who “falsely posed as an employee of one of [BlackBerry's] carrier partners to obtain access to secured networks.”
Chen didn’t say exactly what has the organization so hot and bothered, but the timing of a recently leaked BlackBerry 10.3 build makes it a likely suspect. Among other things, that early version of Waterloo’s new OS revealed codenames for future devices and the existence of an Intelligent Assistant app that may be meant to rival Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana. (Naturally, BlackBerry declined to comment on the matter.) Chen concedes at least some leaks are driven by fan curiosity, but for now he intends to take “strong action” against those whose zeal for the company ultimately winds up hurting it. BlackBerry is far from the only device maker that’s been burned by leaks lately — HTC’s shiny new One popped up in loads of photos and starred in two in-depth video leaks ahead of its launch yesterday. Surprise, surprise: HTC was not at all pleased with that pre-launch leakfest, but will it have a deleterious effect on sales? That’s the question these companies really need to mull.
Source: Inside BlackBerry
Looks like Microsoft isn’t the only latecomer scrambling to add a voice-guided assistant to its mobile platform. A leaked test-build of the new BlackBerry firmware (version 10.3.0.140, if you’re curious) is rocking an app called “Intelligent Assistant,” but as both N4BB and a ZonaBlackBerry forum poster have noticed, it doesn’t quite work yet. The application sports a somewhat familiar circular icon for the primary UI, but, at the moment, it’s hard to tell how deep the implementation runs and what its capabilities are. Should this feature actually make it into a future update, it could be the struggling Canadian company’s answer to Android’s Google Now and iOS’ Siri. Let’s just hope the beleaguered outfit can come up with a catchier name if and when that happens. Check out the sources and video below for a look at the rest of what the flatter BB 10.3 might offer.