BlackBerry is on the public relations offensive, launching a new web portal promising to debunk myths about the brand and its devices lobbed by competitors.
The BlackBerry Fact Check portal went live earlier this week. In a blog post, Mark Wilson, senior vice president of marketing, said the site will expose the “smoke and mirrors” marketing tactics of its competitors.
“This Portal will be your one-stop reference for all things #BBFactCheck. We’ll also bring you content that you can’t find anywhere else and highlight the news, insights and stats that you can’t miss,” Wilson wrote. “From mobility management to messaging, devices to security, we will make sure that you get the real story.
“The BlackBerry Fact Check Portal is a two-way platform – so if you see a work of fiction from one of our competitors, we want to hear about it. Tell us about it here and make sure you frequent the Portal for the latest in our fight for the facts.”
The news comes on the heels of BlackBerry’s surprise first-quarter profit that saw the Canadian tech giant rake in $23 million for the period.
One of the definite downfalls for BlackBerry users is the lack of applications available for their devices when compared with Apple and Android products. It was one of the main reasons many consumers, especially young users, have jumped shipped to different brands. However, that’s all about to change as BlackBerry has signed a licensing deal with Amazon giving users access to the Amazon Appstore.
With this deal, BlackBerry users will be able to access over a quarter million Android apps. This includes two services users have petitioned for in the past – Pinterest and Netflix.
“Making the Amazon Appstore available on BlackBerry 10 devices will help BlackBerry continue to meet two essential needs: greater app availability for our smartphone users and enhanced productivity solutions for enterprises,” BlackBerry CEO John Chen was quoted as saying. “We’ve listened to our customers and have taken this important step to deliver on their needs, while executing on our strategy.”
Now, BlackBerry users will be able to discover Minecraft or Candy Crush for the first time … It will only take them a short while to catch up.
For what many people consider a dying platform, there sure is a lot of BlackBerry news this week. First, BB CEO John Chen admitted his company may consider manufacturing a phablet if it dares to delve into another round of device creation.
“If we will do another thing, we will probably go to phablet. I think if you look at our strategy and if you look at where the market goes, there is definitely a good market for something between a phone and tablet,” Chen told the Jakarta Post.
“I think the phablet could be early, the tablet is already late. That is not a bad thing, because you can bring new technology. But, if I have the opportunity I will go to phablet … we will build what the market wants.”
And if they do, it might be a big hit in Toronto, where BlackBerry devices continue to outsell iPhones, according to sales data obtained by retail management software firm iQmetrix. While BlackBerry only held a six percent market share across North America as a whole in the last six months, iQmetrix findings indicate it accounted for 23 percent of sales in Canada’s largest city, beating out Apple which sat at 20 percent. Samsung reigned supreme, topping the list at 33 percent.
BlackBerry Ltd. stands to earn $278 million in a deal that will see the tech company sell the majority of its Canadian real estate to California-based Spear Street Capital.
Spear will take on over three million square feet of space, with plans for BlackBerry to lease some it including its existing headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario.
“The parties expect to complete the sale of properties worth roughly 80 percent of the total deal value later this month, with the sale of the remaining properties being completed during the third calendar quarter of 2014,” states a Reuters story.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen is warning analysts not to twist his words after a comment attributed to him made waves this week.
Chen found himself in the headlines after an interview – in which he was quoted as saying if the company’s handset business was no longer profitable, it would cease production – went viral. However, he spoke out again Thursday, stating his previous quote had been taken out of context.
Such a move isn’t going to happen in the near future, he wrote on the BlackBerry blog yesterday. In fact, he said the company will continue to fight..
“I want to assure you that I have no intention of selling off or abandoning this business any time soon,” Chen wrote. “I know you still love your BlackBerry devices. I love them too and I know they created the foundation of this company. Our focus today is on finding a way to make this business profitable.”
While some misinterpreted the statement as Chen throwing in the towel, others were quick to point out he’s being smart, and doing exactly what BlackBerry hired him to do – revive the business using any means necessary.
With its licensing deal set to expire April 25, BlackBerry has announced it will not be renewing the agreement. It seems the decision stems from the targeted promotion T-Mobile offered just weeks ago, offering BlackBerry users a chance to trade in their device for a new iPhone 5s for $0 down.
At the time, incensed BlackBerry users attacked T-Mobile CEO John Legere on Twitter and BlackBerry CEO John Chen shared his disappointment online, stating his company had not been informed of the promotion and was angered by it. (See screen cap above)
Existing BlackBerry users on the T-Mobile network shouldn’t experience any disruptions or changes to their service, and T-Mobile will continue to offer BlackBerry handsets until its current stock is depleted.
“BlackBerry has had a positive relationship with T-Mobile for many years. Regretfully, at this time, our strategies are not complementary and we must act in the best interest of our BlackBerry customers. We hope to work with T-Mobile again in the future when our business strategies are aligned,” said Chen, in a statement.
“We are deeply grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers and will do everything in our power to provide continued support with your existing carrier or ensure a smooth transition to our other carrier partners.
Looks like BlackBerry fans may be quick to complain, but they’re also quick to jump ship. As we reported a few weeks ago, BB fans went crazy when T-Mobile sent a targeted promotion to its clients still using one of the Canadian smartphone maker’s devices.
The promo offered BlackBerry users a trade-in for a new iPhone 5s for $0 down. What was meant to be enticing offer backfired, with the BlackBerry army attacking T-Mobile CEO John Legere on social media. Even BlackBerry CEO John Chen threw in his two cents.
But did it backfire? After retooling the promotion – offering BB users a chance to trade-in for $250 towards another BlackBerry device or $200 to any other phone – it seems 94 percent of those who participated opted not to get another BlackBerry after all. Overall, BlackBerry trade-ins increased 15 percent during the promotion.
Were the people complaining online the vocal minority? Or do BB fans just need the right offer to ditch their device?
After Facebook’s monumental $19 billion deal to purchase WhatsApp messaging service, BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirms he would sell BlackBerry Messenger for that much money in an instant.
“I work for the shareholder. Standard answer. If somebody comes to me with $19 billion, I would definitely sell it. I would recommend to the board to take it,” Chen told CNBC.
As we all well know, BlackBerry has been struggling and $19 billion probably sounds like a miracle. However, the valuation of WhatsApp greatly exceeds that of BBM. Where WhatsApp attracted Facebook with its 450 million monthly active users, BBM has around 85 million.
BBM is now available for iOS and Android devices, and will soon come pre-installed with selected Nokia smartphones. Even then, its worth will not be $19 billion.
“I know there’s a lot of value in messaging businesses,” Chen said. “I think the right thing to do is to expand that and market as big as possible and then I (will) worry about the valuation later.”
Can BlackBerry redeem itself? There has been much speculation over that issue, but one thing is clear – it’s trying. The struggling Canadian company is hyping its newest operating system update for select BlackBerry models.
The BB10 update was rolled out earlier this week with hundreds of enhancements and new features, including some not available for iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S4.
The BlackBerry update includes a boost to battery efficient, and a management tool to identify apps that drain battery life. Users can save web pages for offline use, but the new addition that’s getting the most buzz is the FM radio.
Any user with a BlackBerry Z30, BlackBerry Q10 or BlackBerry Q5 will be able to tune into local FM radio stations without a data connection. The iPhone doesn’t have this ability, and it was discontinued from Samsung phones.
BlackBerry is protective of its physical keyboard. The Canadian smartphone maker is suing American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, and his company Typo, for creating a slip-on QWERTY keyboard for the iPhone.
The patent infringement lawsuit was filed in a San Francisco federal court last week. BlackBerry alleges that Typo – co-founded by Seacrest and entrepreneur Laurence Hallier – copied its technology used in BB devices. Seems BlackBerry is OK with the keyboard being produced, but wants a licensing agreement in place so the company gets a cut.
“We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations,” Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s general counsel, was quoted as saying.
Typo’s keyboard has not yet hit the market and looks like it will appear in court before it does on shelves.