Tag: rim

Blackberry still King of Nigeria

While Blackberry sales all of the world are tanking, it seems that the Canadian outfit has won the hearts and minds of the people of Nigeria.

According to CNBC Nigeria is one place in the world where Blackberry has not cocked up and it still has nearly half the market.

In fact BlackBerry remains the most popular smartphone on the African continent. A recent survey by South African research firm World Wide Worx showed that BlackBerry now owns 23 percent of the cell phone market in South Africa, up from 18 percent last year. The company also owns 40 percent of the smartphone market in Nigeria, where the company recently announced its first “official” branded retail store on the African continent. More than a third of Africans saying they plan to buy a BlackBerry next year.

The young want them. According to another study of the South African market by World Wide Worx, 57 percent of college students own BlackBerrys. This is probably because of the company’s low-cost data packages and free messaging service, which make the smartphone an affordable status symbol for that age group and potentially a transition market for BlackBerry device growth as their spending power grows and BlackBerry continues to expand its upgraded devices.

Analysts are also expecting the smartphone market in Africa will grow driven by improved international connectivity, rollout of mobile broadband networks and greater availability of smartphones.

The average smartphone user in Nigeria today spends 2.5 hours a week browsing the Internet on their smartphone and a similar amount of time using social media. That same consumer will carry out three e-commerce transactions a week on their smartphone.

But much of it depends how much Blackberry can do to hold down its prices. BlackBerry sales in Africa have dropped about 50 percent from 18 months ago and that was due to price. Blackberry has had to deals with Foxconn and take a margin cut to make sure that the situation does not get worse.

The company’s strategy in Africa has been to collaborate with regional carriers, offering flat-rate unlimited data plans through BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS) that include push email and messaging. This, coupled with BlackBerry’s position as the platform of choice for enterprise mobile devices in Africa, means the company will continue to enjoy top position in the region in the short-to-medium term, at least according to IDC. 

Pentagon saves Blackberry

While the rest of the world is walking away from the mobile outfit Blackberry, it appears that the US government sees a major advantage in using its ultra-secure network and it has just bought 80,000 handsets.

The reason is to do with a new high-security network about to be launched by the Pentagon which will focus on ‘mobility’ devices – and of the smartphones and tablets it’s agreed to buy.

While this is not a huge contract in comparison to what Blackberry used to sell it is a vote of confidence for the ailing Canadian firm.

BlackBerrys have ultra-secure encryption systems which mean they are perfect for those in the business of hiding data. More than 90 percent of the 600,000 commercial devices already used by the US military are BlackBerrys.

BlackBerry has to make 80,000 devices in time, to order, and has just signed a deal to outsource manufacturing to Foxconn.

The move also means that Blackberry can suddenly market itself to businesses as providing military grade security. There are many company executives who do not want their emails and sexting to fall into the wrong hands and it will give Blackberry an edge when trying to flog corporate devices. Suddenly analysts are starting to feel more optimistic about the firm, which has not had much in the way of good news for years. 

Blackberry hands in its Keys

Popular beat combo artist Alicia Keys has given up on hawking Blackberry just a year after starting as the outfit’s “global creative director”.

Blackberry has confirmed the singer’s upcoming departure which is being touted as the firms exit from consumer toys to focus on businesses, governments and other large organisations.

The PR spinner described the move as “completing our year-long collaboration” and said the company enjoyed the opportunity to work with such an incredibly talented and passionate individual.

It seems a long time ago but Keys was hired when the company launched its long-delayed BlackBerry 10 devices in January of last year. The Blackberry 10 was supposed to be the company’s last chance to save itself.

It did not work. Sales flopped, triggering billions of dollars in losses and forcing BlackBerry to slash its staff. Recently the company has tried and failed to sell itself. The chief executive who hired Keys has left, along with many of his senior executives.

Keys contributed to a collaborative project encouraging fans to submit photographs that later appeared in music videos tied to her tour.

Blackberry guts senior stuff

It seems that the top executives of Blackberry are fleeing the doomed outfit before it sinks.

Three top executives have been seen emptying their desks and putting the photographs of their family into old photocopy boxes as recently appointed Chief Executive John Chen embarks on his promised a shakeup at the struggling smartphone maker.

Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear, Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben have collected their pink slips and P45s and CFO Brian Bidulka has been promoted to a “special advisor” until he goes in March.

Tear played a key role in BlackBerry’s latest restructuring, while Boulben was instrumental in the company changing its branding and name to BlackBerry from Research In Motion.

Chen said he aims to make the company a top provider for companies and governments of mobile devices and device-management tools.

It looks like he is there to stay. Certainly, he is not keeping the company on an even keel until a new boss is appointed, like most interim CEOs. In fact he is making many hands on changes of his own.

Chen is by nature a turnaround artist and sorted out software maker Sybase in the late 1990s so he probably can’t resist the challenge.

BlackBerry did not name replacements for the other two executives exiting the company, but signalled more changes could be coming. It said Roger Martin, a board member since 2007, has also resigned. 

Blackberry can't sell its way out of jam

Troubled mobile phone seller Blackberry has worked out that it can’t sell its way out of its jam.

The phone maker, formerly known as RIM, abandoned its plan to sell itself and said its CEO Thorsten Heins is stepping down.

On the back of the news, shares fell 16 percent as investors feared that the outfit was running out of ideas.

BlackBerry said it will abandon a sale and will raise $1 billion by issuing convertible notes to a group of long-term investors including its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings.

Fairfax was the only one who seriously wanted to buy the company, for $4.7 billion.

Analysts told Reuters that the company was back to its downward spiral. The company has $1 billion more cash that buys them time but the drumbeat of negativity is likely to continue.

BlackBerry named John Chen, credited with turning around Sybase Inc in the late 1990s, as its interim CEO and executive chairman. Sybase, an enterprise software company, was eventually acquired by SAP AG in 2010.

No one has explained why Heins had to go. Chen said that he has no interest in shutting BlackBerry’s loss-making handset business and believed he could turn it around.

Queue forms to squeeze Blackberry

Now the word is out, there’s apparently a queue to buy troubled Canadian mobile outfit Blackberry.

Cisco, Google and SAP have been seen snuffling around corporate HQ looking for bargains and measuring the curtains.

Reuters’ deepthroats have said that the three are interested in buying all or parts of Blackberry.

Until now it had been assumed that a group, led by BlackBerry’s biggest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, would get the nod to take the company private for $4.7 billion.

That bid which has faced some skepticism because analysts can’t work out where the money is coming from and suspect that Fairfax is out on the street busking with a dog on a string.

Other interest has come from Intel, LG and Samsung. It is expected that, while the phones themselves have been written off as lemons, BlackBerry’s secure server network and patent portfolio is worth a fair bit.

There will not be much left of Blackberry’s $2 billion cash pile in the coming years, analysts warn.

Another financial group which has shown interest is Cerberus Capital Management. This would be appropriate, as Blackberry is half way to the underworld already.  

Blackberry sells its soul for $4.7 billion

* UPDATE – the Crackberry monster announced today it had made a deal with major Canadian investor Fairfax and others to sell itself off for $4.7 billion and to go private. Its shares initially fell on the news but have now been suspended. We guess it could be worse – it could have been bought by possibly the most incompetent mobile player on the globe, the Vole of Nokia.

What do you do if your company’s going down the pan? Fruity Blackberry, it has emerged, decided to buy itself a bigger executive jet.

Just as the ailing pioneer announced it expected to post a $1 billion loss for the latest quarter, it turns out the company had a large corporate jet delivered as recently as July.

Looking through Canadian aircraft registry records, the Wall Street Journal found Blackberry had bought a 2006 Bombardier BBD.B.T in July. The price isn’t public but they generally go for around $30 million.

In a statement, spokesperson Adam Emery said: “Earlier this year the company decided to sell both Dassault planes and replace them with one longer range aircraft. The company considered several options and selected a used Bombardier aircraft, which was eventually delivered in July”.

Although the plane was delivered in July, Blackberry has been in trouble for quite some time.

Since Thorsten Heins took over from Lazaridis and Balsillie he has failed to turn the company around. Admittedly, a larger ship takes longer to steer, but substantial hype generated for the Z10 didn’t manage to persuade the public it wasn’t an also-ran that was a bit like the iPhone. The range was a $1 billion write-off.

In spite of the bad times, Heins has been remarkably vocal about his vision for the future of a sector Blackberry is no longer really shaping at all. He declared tablets as bad for business and had the prescience to boast his company will be on top of the market – soon. 

The company recently announced it intends to cut 40 percent of its entire workforce. 

Whispers are increasingly suggesting Blackberry will have to carve itself into a fruit salad, despatch the rotten bits and sell off the best of its services to the highest bidder if it’s to save itself from turning to mulch.

On top of all the bad news, its BlackBerry Messenger app for Android and Apple devices has been delayed because of a leak, and the BBC describes the Android version “problematic” where it has been released.

Some businesses still like the iconic Blackberry for its security but increasingly CIOs are adoption Bring Your Own Device policies that do away with having to kit out your entire workforce with the smartphones.

Blackberry will now have to give up its Bombardier as it seeks to cut unnecessary costs.

“In light of the company’s current business condition, the company has decided to sell that aircraft along with the two legacy aircraft and will no longer own any planes,” the spokesperson added.

Thorsten Heins declares tablets bad for biz

Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins blew a huge raspberry at the future of tablets, again.

Many would have expected Heins to be laying low with his opinions considering his strategy of pinning every hope on a much delayed Blackberry 10 appears to be floundering.

Heins wanted to say a few things about the future of tablets at the Milken Institute Conference in Los Angeles.

He claimed that in five years there will not be a reason to have a tablet. While you might want a big screen in your workspace, it will not be a tablet. Tablets themselves are not a good business model, he said.

Earlier this year Heins made a similar claim, while also boasting Blackberry will undoubtedly be at the top of its market in the near future.

Current views are that the PC will be replaced by mobile phones and tablets. A recent forecast from Gartner expects the tablet market to more than double by 2017. That’s a growth from 116.1 million units shipped last year, to 197.2 million this year, and 468 million units projected to ship in 2017.

But Heins is talking about the business market, which he thinks will still be dominated by smartphones. While tablets are increasingly used in the workplace, the platform is not overtaking PCs and large display monitors.

Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, told Red Orbit that tablets will still be around in five years.

However, he was expecting to see a proliferation of form factors to emerge in more finely targeted markets. That means an increase in specialisation will increase, with tablets possibly becoming a larger category with a number of sub-categories like hybrids and others, at varying cost.. 

Blackberry steals Apple and Google customers

It is starting to look like the new Blackberry Z10 is clawing back customers that RIM lost to Apple and Samsung.

A recent note by RBC Capital markets shows 45 percent of those buying Z10s converted from the iPhone and Android handsets.

Blackberry had managed to reach beyond its “loyalists” with 45 percent of Z10 users coming from iPhone or Android, the report said.

This is despite BlackBerry still playing catch up in terms of its app store.

The large number of ‘coming soon’ apps such as Skype is a lingering annoyance for users but hopefully will be short-lived and resolved before full availability in the US, the report said.

Netflix does not have plans to develop an app for BlackBerry 10 and other developers seem “too busy” with Android and Apple, the report warned.

However it does look like BlackBerry’s fourth quarter sell-through rate will come in stronger than expected.

This does not take much, given that most analysts had a low expectation of Blackberry’s chances, but taking customers away from Apple and Samsung will have caught a few observers by surprise.

Many thought that RIM was daft putting all its eggs in one basket for a last roll of the dice, but it appears to have paid off, at least in the short term.

RBC’s research team thinks BlackBerry will deliver 500,000 units in the February quarter, up from their previous estimate of 350,000. For the May quarter, it has maintained the two million-unit estimate. BlackBerry indicated sell-through was 40 percent above its low projections.

There were some concerns that the company might suffer from supply chain constraints, but BlackBerry has managed a substantially wider breadth of launch than Wall Street had expected, covering approximately 35 percent of its subscriber base.

In India, the new Z10s sold out in two days, while in the UK, it ranks fifth on large European retailer Carphone Warehouse’s top 10 monthly phones.

Much depends on its take up in the US market, but there seems to be a solid enterprise demand for the phone, RBC said.

Also positive for the company is that demand for its legacy devices hasn’t eroded. RBC expects the company to ship 6.3 million legacy units in the February quarter.

RBC says it’s still too early to gauge US demand – indeed, it might have a job in Canada and the UK keeping up the momentum.  The launch of Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 could be problematic for BlackBerry unless users look at that chip. 

Blackberry rises from its grave

It is starting to look like Blackberry might have pulled itself from the brink of ruin after all.

The company’s share price has surged after an established partner had placed an order for 1 million BlackBerry 10 smartphones, with shipments set to begin immediately.

The smartphone maker, formally known as RIM, said it is the largest ever single purchase order in its history. It is the sort of news the company needed after a couple of years of failing to do anything positive in a market it once owned completely.

In a last roll of the dice, Blackberry rolled out a a new line of smartphones powered by its BlackBerry 10 operating system.

BlackBerry did not say where its “established partner” was based or the time frame for the device sales. It also did not say if the order is for just Z10 devices or both Z10 and Q10 devices.

According to Reuters, analysts view the announcement as a positive, especially since it comes close on the heels of announcements from Verizon Communications and AT&T confirming that they will be selling the Z10 device later this month.

Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um said that the three announcements provide comfort in the May quarter forecast.

Um hit the headlines when he claimed that the stock will outperform as Blackberry sells 2.5 million Blackberry 10 devices in the quarter ending 1 June.

Blackberry’s stock ended the day up 8.2 percent and you can pick up a second hand share for $15.65 on the Nasdaq. Its value went up further and was trading at $16.07 in the US last night.

Other analysts were less optimistic, saying that it was too early to read too much into the single sales order.

Last week, Blackberry chief executive Thorsten Heins said the company was very encouraged by the traction that the Z10 was gaining.