Police In Canada Used BlackBerry’s Key To Read Encrypted BBM Messages

When it comes to mobile phones Blackberry pride themselves on their security, with many companies taking up the device as their go-to model thanks to its support and security features. It now appears that those security features may not have been so secure after all with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) gaining the ability to read encrypted BBM messages.

When it comes to encryption, companies are having to be careful with the likes of Apple going to congress to discuss just how much they can be expected to help and support law enforcement without oversight or detailed rulings on how and when they can access private data. In this case, the RCMP gained access to BlackBerry’s BBM (BlackBerry messenger) services by using the encryption that came with your everyday BlackBerry, meaning the only ones that were safe from this interception are those connected to enterprise servers.

If you weren’t connected to an enterprise server, your BlackBerry would have used a peer-to-peer key that is loaded into your phone when it’s built, something that the RCMP managed to gain access to and in turn granted them access to people’s encrypted BBM messages and conversations.

As part of an operating, titled Project Clemenza, the RCMP intercepted and decrypted roughly one million messages as reported by Vice news in a joint investigation with Motherboard, who in turn revealed that the RCMP actually had a server in Ottawa that acted like a mobile phone by simulating “a mobile device that receives a message intended for [the rightful recipient]”.

With BlackBerry looking to step away from mobile devices and into security consulting, this news couldn’t come at any worse of a time given that if the server is still operational (key and all) then without a large update to its phones, the RCMP could still be reading people’s messages to this day even after the operation ended in 2012.

BlackBerry Planning Two Mid-Range Android Phones

BlackBerry has been stumbling around the smartphone market for a couple of profitable years. After the lacklustre BB 10 series failed to garner many customers, the Canadian firmed tried again with an Android-based solution. After that release, the Priv, has arguably failed to gain traction, the firm is hoping to appeal to a more mainstream audience. According to the latest earnings call, BlackBerry will launch two $400ish smartphones within the year.

Unlike the Priv that cost a stately $700, the new phones will be targeted more towards consumers instead of the enterprise. While that Priv hasn’t sold that badly, sales haven’t been enough to make a profit. With a $400 phone, BlackBerry may still be able to keep the same margins, but significantly increase sales and drive revenue. If the new phone doesn’t pan out, CEO John Chen is considering selling the handset division.

BlackBerry faced an uphill struggle with BB10 but with Android, they won’t have to worry as much about the software side of things. While the Priv wasn’t bad hardware, it wasn’t up to the level you would expect of a $700 device. Hopefully with the upcoming phones, BlackBerry can get it right. After all, there are many well selling and very nice $400 Android phones like the Motorola lineup or the Nexus 5/5X.

Facebook No Longer Supports BlackBerry’s Social Media Apps

If you look at the numbers, BlackBerry smartphones currently account for just 0.1 percent of sales in the US, while Android and Apple account for 58 percent and 39 percent respectively. Therefore, it doesn’t take much to realize that the company is in trouble, and it looks like things won’t improve in the near future, as social media giant Facebook has recently pulled support for BlackBerry social media apps. Furthermore, WhatsApp will pretty much do the same thing by the end of the year, which means that some BlackBerry users will have no choice but to switch over to other devices in order to be able to access basic social media apps. However, it’s worth noting that the BlackBerry Priv is based on Android v5.1.1 Lollipop, which means that they don’t necessarily have to move over to a new brand, just to newer smartphones.

During a recent blog post, BlackBerry’s representatives tried to remain positive, but they did express their disappointment in Facebook’s and WhatsApp’s decision. BlackBerry Senior Marketing Manager Lou Gazzola has stated the following:

“The app landscape continues to evolve, and in ways that are not always within our control. We are extremely disappointed in their decision as we know so many users love these apps. We fought back to work with WhatsApp and Facebook to change their minds, but at this time, their decision stands (but let them know how you feel on social media, using the hashtag #ILoveBB10Apps).”

Do you think that BlackBerry has a chance to make a comeback as long as it adopts Android on a wider scale?

Image courtesy of Abcnews.

Blackberry to Launch Cyber-Security Consulting Service

BlackBerry used to be a major name in the mobile phone industry. They used to be one of the go to companies if you were a business looking for smartphones but with recent reports that BlackBerry is looking to exit the smartphone industry and reports of layoffs looking to confirm this it has come as a surprise that the company has now made a move in a new direction, cybersecurity consulting.

BlackBerry’s were known as secure phones, offering business security and peace of mind when it came to their employees communications and John Chen, the executive chairman and CEO of BlackBerry saying in a statement that:

“We recognize that security vulnerabilities are a top risk concern for public and private sector organizations alike. The creation of our Professional Cybersecurity Services practice and acquisition of Encription reinforces our commitment to providing customers the industry’s most secure mobility solutions and helping them to assess and mitigate risks”

To start the process, which will go by the name of Professional Cybersecurity Services (PCS), the U.K. based cyber security consulting firm Encryption Limited is currently being acquired by the company.

With cyber security being raised by everyone from the agencies and companies like FBI and Apple to children tracking software uKnowKids, the market is screaming out for security specialists and with their history in the industry, this could be the move that puts BlackBerry back into the public eye.

BlackBerry Lays Off 200 Employees in Restructuring Programme

BlackBerry’s position in the global smartphone market has been extremely fragile due to the rise of iOS and Android devices. Additionally, the BlackBerry 10 operating system was a commercial failure and struggled to entice app developers to the platform. Personally, I quite like Blackberry 10 but it’s difficult to make users migrate if their favourite apps are missing. This is a similar problem faced on Windows mobile handsets. Thankfully, Blackberry’s management finally realized the operating system was limiting the appeal of their devices, and decided to create a brand new model using Android. The Blackberry Priv has a sliding keyboard, gorgeous touch screen, and premium feel backing. It’s quite uncommon for modern handsets to include a keyboard, which makes it a great choice for business users writing long e-mails.

Whether or not the move to Android will reinvigorate Blackberry’s mobile sales is unknown. I don’t think the Priv name did them any favours because it doesn’t evoke any kind of enthusiasm for the product. This is a shame because the Priv is a fantastic device and well worth checking out! Sadly, BlackBerry’s turbulent financial situation means they have to make some pretty tough decisions. Recently, the company laid off around 200 employees in Canada and Florida. The official statement reads:

“As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce,”  

“As a result, approximately 200 employees have been impacted in Canada and Florida.”

BlackBerry also laid off 75 manufacturing workers at its Sunrise, Florida office between February 4th and February 26th according to a notice filed with the State of Florida. In theory, BlackBerry is working on two new handsets sporting the Android operating system. Although, it’s unclear if a BlackBerry 10 powered device will ever be released again. At the current time, BlackBerry could exit the smart phone sector unless efficiencies are made or there’s an upturn in profit margins.

Image courtesy of CrackBerry.com

BlackBerry Priv Android Phone Ships Soon

BlackBerry have started taking preorders for the all new BlackBerry Priv, the company’s first phone that runs the popular Android OS.

The device is being sold in the US, UK, and Canada, with pricing at £559.lackberry say that in the US and Canada, the device will start shipping November 6th, and in the UK the Priv will ship “starting the week of November 9.”

Blackberry, according to Ars Technica, have included some of the much loved android functions that are not used on many devices these days. There is a hardware keyboard that slides out from the bottom, a physical camera shutter button on the side. It also has a Micro SD card slot and a hardware convenience key.

The CEO of blackberry stated that he was willing to leave the hardware market if he feels that the profits are non-existent. The Priv will probably become the make or break device for Blackberry. However, the approach that blackberry has taken is slightly different to other manufacturers. The price may make it harder to sell, especially when other flagship devices are selling for £200 less than the Priv. However, the unique features may draw some users in.

I can see a lot of businesses adopting the Priv, if Blackberry makes it work with their mobile device management solution (BES12) as well as their Blackberry OS devices do, then a lot of corporate environments will probably use the device. They will, however, have to catch up on the software front as the Priv ships with 5.1 instead of the newer 6.0 (Marshmallow).

BlackBerry Could Exit The SmartPhone Market

BlackBerry’s position as a leading smartphone manufacturer has been in jeopardy for the last couple of years. The BlackBerry 10 operating system failed to entice app developers and still doesn’t officially support many popular pieces of software such as SnapChat. Sadly, the company is facing the same woes as Windows handsets and cannot compete with the resounding success of iOS and Android. Although, BlackBerry has finally admitted defeat and decided to launch an Android-powered smartphone to try to save their smartphone business.

However, BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen, told The Verge that the company had set a target of 5 million smartphone sales within a year. If this doesn’t come to fruition, BlackBerry’s smartphone business will not be a profitable endeavor. As a result, Chen hinted about folding the smartphone business if the sales targets are not met. Historically, the future doesn’t look promising for BlackBerry as a mere 800,000 handsets were sold during the most recent financial quarter. Clearly, the management is hoping their slide-based Android smartphone can reinvigorate sales with a hardware launch. However, with so many alternatives out there from Apple, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Hauwei, OnePlus and more, I can only see the inevitable happening.

When is the last time you purchased a BlackBerry device?

Thank You The Verge for providing us with this information.

Blackberry’s Android Phone Dubbed ‘The Priv’

Blackberry’s upcoming Android-powered slider phone was originally codenamed, ‘Venice’ and featured a rather nifty tactile keyboard. However, a new post from Evan Blass could provide an early indication of the handset’s retail naming scheme. Apparently, the device will be called ‘The Priv’ and designed to emphasize the handset’s privacy features. Blackberry’s ethos also revolves around security, and ‘The Priv’ appears to fall in with this theme.

While the handset adopts a fairly expected name, I honestly think it’s pretty laughable. ‘The Priv’ sounds like a shoddy knock-off, or an unconvincing alien from a 1980s science-fiction B-movie. Blackberry’s financial position is fragile at best and they really needed to make an impact with their first Android handset. The device looks impressive, but I feel the name will become ridiculed and overshadow the handset’s capabilities.

It will be fascinating to see reception of ‘The Priv’ across a wide range of markets with varying languages. Perhaps, many consumers don’t care about the naming scheme as long as the phone features a high resolution screen, captious battery and top of the line specification.

I would like to see a resurgence from Blackberry as many of their previous phones were excellent but fell behind in the software department. Now this has been addressed with Android, it’s possible for ‘The Priv’ to become quite popular among the business clientele.

Thank you Crackberry for providing us with this information.

Bacteria Free BlackBerry Arriving At Hospital?

Before Apple and Samsung became kings of the smartphone market, BlackBerry used to be ubiquitous for businesses who desired a convenient way of communicating. But over recent times Blackberry has fallen somewhat from the tree? Bush possibly? Anyway from plummeting sales to whatever the hell Alicia Keys role was, it’s been a turbulent trading period for the smartphone maker.

But BlackBerry is not quite out of ideas with Chief Executive Officer John Chen stating that they may design a bacteria-free smartphone, Yes not quite the showstopper you were all thinking. The concept behind this is BlackBerry envisages a world where Health care professionals will adopt this innovation as a secure device with which to communicate with.

This does not sound important, but a bacteria free smartphone will be of significant benefit once a study by the Journal of Applied Microbiology is taken into account. This study found that about 20 – 30 percent of germs are transferred between a phone and a fingertip. This is a sizeable proportion which could lead to an infection being transported to a patient which in turn could be life threatening

Although this is nothing more than a concept at this stage, BlackBerry is teaming up with ThoughtWire and Cisco Systems to provide nurses and doctors at a Canadian hospital with a portable alerts and messaging system.

This concept does have real world applications if developed, but it remains to be seen if BlackBerry are able to reach former glories in an ever-evolving market.

Thank You to BNN for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of Daily Mobile

Latest BlackBerry Rumour Points to Android

One of the few remaining mobile OS’s may finally be caving in. A report from Reuters suggests that BlackBerry may be releasing an Android OS phone with the classic BlackBerry physical keyboard. This marks a major shift in strategy which had previously been focused around their own BlackBerry 10 OS. The phone may be the one briefly shown back at MWC in March with a slider keyboard.

According to Reuter’s four sources, the new phone would leverage BlackBerry’s BES 12 enterprise management environment. BES 12 is able to work across different operating systems and a BlackBerry Android smartphone would be a great demonstrator. This would be a logical move in BlackBerry’s pivot to services, software and device management, showing that BES12 can secure devices based on rival OS’s.

Android is open enough that BlackBerry can come up their own custom solution and along with the keyboard, differentiate themselves. Moving to Android will also cut down costs so more focus can be made to improving the experience and software integration. BB 10 also suffered from a lack of apps which can largely be addressed by being on Android and tying into Google Play Store. Nokia chose a somewhat similar path in ditching the in-house Symbian for Windows Phone which still did not really help as Windows Phone was still burgeoning.

Thank you Reuters for the information

Android Trade-in Program Launches Today at Apple Retail Stores

Today Apple is launching a trade-in program for select non-iPhone smartphones at its Apple Retail Store locations. The program will allow credit towards an immediate purchase of a new iPhone model for users who trade in their select Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry phones.

Apple is aiming to drive more business from people who will trade in their current working devices to get something better. The standard Apple iPhone trade-in program was first started in 2013 and last year opened up to include iPads. Now the program is accepting select Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry devices for in-store credit to users immediately buying an iPhone. The program is so far only available in the US, France, Italy, and the UK.  You can check if your store has the program on its individual store page. The online Apple Reuse and Recycling Program is now open for users to trade in a Windows notebook or desktop for an Apple Store gift card.

Source: 9to5 Mac

Limited Edition Black and Gold BlackBerry Passport Revealed

BlackBerry’s flagship Passport smartphone is getting a limited edition black and gold model – featuring real gold trim and black leather case – to join the conventional black, white, and red models already on the market.

The handset, limited to 50 numbered units, will cost $899 which, BlackBerry stresses, is a bargain compared to the customised BlackBerry of Canadian rapper Drake, who reportedly paid $3,000 to have his phone plated with 24-carat gold.

Its aesthetic is all this limited edition BlackBerry has to offer over a standard Passport model – strip away the gold and leather facade, and it’s just a bog-standard BlackBerry passport.

The exclusive handset was released on Wednesday but, according to the BlackBerry blog, has already sold out as of 12:45 ET.

Source: The Verge

Samsung Purchase of BlackBerry Rumoured

Canadian smartphone giant BlackBerry is set to be bought by rival Samsung for a massive £4.9 billion ($7.9 billion), if rumours are to be believed.

News outlet Reuters reports that the news comes from someone “familiar with the matter”, and that Samsung value BlackBerry at somewhere between $13.35 and $15.49 per share, greater than the share price of $10, as it was at the time. Since the rumour broke, shares rose to $12.60 before dipping back to just below $11.

According to Reuters’ source, negotiations are at an advanced stage, with both parties involved in discussions last week. BlackBerry has denied the reports, stating that it is “not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry.”

Any takeover of BlackBerry would need to be approved by the Canadian government, as the move would be considered a foreign takeover of one of the county’s most prestigious companies.

Source: KitGuru

BlackBerry Tweet Promoting Twitter for BlackBerry Sent Via iPhone

BlackBerry has been involved in a now common social media faux pas. The company sent out a tweet promoting Twitter for BlackBerry… on an iPhone.

Yes, the company has made that mistake seemingly made by many celebrities and social media managers these days, by promoting a product via a rival device. I say celebrities, as this has become a very common thing for ‘brand ambassadors’ to do – they get paid to tweet “I love my Samsung Galaxy” while they end up sending it from an iPhone.

That particular occurrence happened to BlackBerry itself – the company’s former ‘Creative Director’ Alicia Keys sent out tweets from an iPhone in 2013, just after she received the job at BlackBerry. She somehow blamed that on “hackers”.

The latest offending tweet was discovered via Twitter’s TweetDeck service by The Verge, but has since been deleted. We imagine all of BlackBerry’s social media managers will now be issued with new, more appropriate phones.

Source: The Verge

Wireless Qi Charging Coming to 50 UK McDonald’s Restaurants

A new deal between fast food chain McDonald’s and wireless charging solutions company Aircharge means that 50 McDonald’s restaurants in the UK will be offering free Qi (proncounced ‘Chee’) wireless charging.

The Qi charging system allows devices to be charged by merely being within close proximity to a power transmission pad – no need to plug in any cables.  Asus, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, BlackBerry, and Sony are already working to adopt the standard for its mobile devices, with 70 Qi-compatible smartphones already on the market.

600 Qi charger will be available over 50 sites, many of which are expected to be in London. There has been no announcement yet as to which restaurants will be offering the service.

The Qi charging service has already been successfully trialled in a handful of McDonald’s restaurants. A post by the Wireless Power Consortium suggests that customers taking advantage of the trial tended to wait in the restaurant upwards of half-an-hour just to use the service.

Source: The Next Web

Sony Resorted to Using Old BlackBerrys Post-Hack

After Sony Pictures was hacked by the group known as Guardians of Peace back in November, its staff was forced to resort to older technology to maintain it communications. Employees were given old BlackBerry phones since, with Sony’s servers severely compromised, e-mails through the devices are handled by BlackBerry’s own servers. A large quantity of BlackBerry handsets were purposefully shipped in to accommodate Sony’s staff.

The same report, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, sheds further light on how Sony reacted during the early hours of the attack. Though the hack was reported to the FBI immediately, it was considered a minor incident that could be repaired within weeks.

According to Michael Lynton, Chief Executive of Sony Entertainment, it took over a day for the company “to fully understand this was not something [they] were going to be able to recover from in the next week or two.”

Source: Engadget

BlackBerry Working With Boeing on ‘Black Phone’ That Runs Android

BlackBerry has said that it is supporting Boeing with the development of its Boeing Black Phone – a highly secure smartphone intended to be used by government and security service officials.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen said that the company would be working with Boeing during their Friday earnings call, saying that “Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform.” He added “That, by the way, is all they allow me to say” alluding to the device’s intended high securty.

Details concerning the device are limited, with Boeing’s website offering only that it runs on Android and a number of encryption features.

  • Android Operating System: Convenient smartphone for Android usage

  • Disk Encryption: Encrypted storage for sensitive data

  • Hardware Root of Trust: Ensures software authenticity

  • Hardware Crypto Engine: Protects stored and transmitted data

  • Embedded Secure Components: Enables trusted operations

  • Trusted Platform Modules: Provides secure key storage

  • Secure Boot: Maintains device image integrity

  • Hardware Modularity: Endless modularity capabilities

Source: Gizmodo

BlackBerry Classic Officially Released

BlackBerry has finally released the Classic – a device the company has been talking about for a long, long time. Well now we finally have everything we need to know about this little blast from the past.

The device comes with a 720 x 720 pixel, 3.5-inch touchscreen, with 2GB of RAM and a rather dated 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor. Above its full qwerty keyboard and its display, there is a 2-megapixel camera, with an 8-megapixel camera on the rear. There’s also 16GB of expandable storage onboard. It also runs the BlackBerry 10 OS, with support for native Android apps.

The device, which is available now for $449, has been targeted at business users whom a number still rely on old BlackBerrys (including the Commander in Chief) to plough through those millions of e-mails with that beloved physical keyboard.

We shall have to see whether this explosion of smartphone nostalgia is enough of a fix for BlackBerry’s troubles.

Source: The Verge

BlackBerry Offering $550 for Your Old iPhone

In an example of apparent desperation, BlackBerry has started to offer up to $550 towards a new BlackBerry Passport when you trade in an iPhone. They’ll give you $240 for an iPhone 4s and up to $550 for an iPhone 6.

BlackBerry has been in decline for some time, losing money, customers and good ideas. The device they’ll give you the discount on in return for the trade-in, is the new BlackBerry Passport – a phone with a giant square display and keyboard. We haven’t yet heard about how many of these “worst designed thing, ever” devices have sold yet, so it’ll be interesting to see what effect this trade-in offer has on BlackBerry’s fortunes.

Source: 9to5Mac


President Obama Still Uses a BlackBerry

CNN reports that US President Barack Obama still uses his trusty old BlackBerry.

Surprising, considering he’s probably one of the few people left who actually does use a BlackBerry these days. Supposedly, the Secret Service and the NSA spent a great deal of time working on Obama’s BlackBerry, to make it secure enough for the president to be able to get his email fix without worrying about his communications being intercepted. The news that he still has one came after he yelled to reporters outside the White House that he forgot something before boarding Marine One, the Presidential helicopter.

“Do you guys ever forget something?” the President asked the group.

With a grin on his face Obama reached under his jacket to reveal the forgotten item. “Blackberry!”

Looking at BlackBerry’s financial situation, even having the leader of the free world as a a proud user probably isn’t enough to make things better.

Source: CNN

Blackberry Hasn’t Given Up

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said today that the Asian market is critical to the recovery of his company, but he will not be pushing hard into the Chinese sector just yet.

Chen commented that for BlackBerry, the Chinese market isn’t currently on the top of this to-do list. This is reportedly due to China being very concerned about data security issues making Blackberry do some extra yards to work around this fact. However, Blackberry have confirmed that they will be focusing on markets in India and Southeast Asia – in particular Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

An ex-coworker told me once that some nightclubs in Singapore require you to own a Blackberry device for you to be allowed into their premises, so you’d think that BlackBerry would have that market on a leash. Now whether this is true or not is another story, but either way it proves that BlackBerry as a company is though of very highly in that region.

In regards to the Chinese issue, Chen told today’s APEC forum:

“If we choose to expand our business in the Chinese market, it takes too long to win a reasonable market share, even if we have this time and money, I might choose our business for a region that has been reflected in the market, such as India and Southeast Asia.”

In 2012, there were reports claiming that the Indian government had allowed Blackberry to view some of its encrypted data, further rendering the Chinese government suspicions of any possible plans of company expansion in their region. Even given this information, Chen commented that this will not stop their research into increasing share in the Chinese market, stating: “Although the data is very sensitive issue, we still have a chance.”

BlackBerry is something that we haven’t really heard much of recently, especially due to the iPhone 6 release and many Samsung heavy-hitting marketing campaigns. Is the ‘business phone’ market something you still find relevant? Let us know your thoughts.

Image courtesy of IT home

BlackBerry Classic Launch Date Announced

BlackBerry’s forthcoming Classic handset is set for release on 17th December, according to CEO John Chen. Chen made the announcement at Thursday’s BlackBerry Conference, during his keynote speech.

The release of the BlackBerry Classic has been teased for months, and was initially slated for a November release. The Classic revives the company’s signature physical keyboard – the third in its history – following a series of touchscreen smartphone releases. The new model is reminiscent of the BlackBerry Bold, but with the BlackBerry 10 OS.

This more traditional BlackBerry handset will be preceded by the BlackBerry Passport, which will be available in stores on Black Friday.

Source: TNW

Up to 90% of the Worlds Smartphones at Risk

Not one, but two new security threats have been revealed by researchers this week putting as many as 90 percent of the worlds smartphones at the risk of data and password theft. In some cases the hackers could even take full control of your device.

The first flaw was found by Accuvant, a Denver-based company, and said to affects Apple, Android and Blackberry devices, among others. By having implemented what they call “an obscure industry standard” that controls how everything from network connections to user identities are managed, everything is at risk.

The threat could enable attackers to remotely wipe devices, install malicious software, access data and run applications on smartphones, Mathew Solnik, a mobile researcher with Denver-based cyber security firm Accuvant, said in a phone interview with Reuters.

The second threat was found by researchers at Bluebox Security of San Francisco. It specifically affects devices running older Android software, up to three-quarters of them. The researchers have dubbed it the “Fake ID” vulnerability because it allows malicious applications to play a trick on trusted software signatures without any user notification.

“Essentially anything that relies on verified signature chains of an Android application is undermined by this vulnerability,” Bluebox said in a statement referring to devices built before Google updated its core software late last year.

Both research groups will present their findings during next week’s Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas. Accuvant stressed in a comment that the flaw they had discovered in the management software remained remote to most people. Only a few experts world wide would know how to do it.

An Apple spokesmen declined immediate comment while a Blackberry representative said they were already working closely with Accuvant and were seeking more details.

Google declined to comment on the vulnerability discovered by Accuvant, but they had quickly distributed a patch to Android phone makers on learning of the issue from Bluebox. They also said they scanned the entire Android Marketplace and found no risk to users.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of XL-comms

Windows Phone Store Gets BBM Beta After Reaching 10,000 User Sign-Ups in 24 Hours

BlackBerry’s popular messaging app, BBM, is stated to have reached the 10,000 sign-up number for Microsoft’s Windows Phone Beta in about 24 hours. This means that Windows Phone users running on Windows Phone 8 or above operating systems are now able to download the app from the Windows Phone Store.

The company has stated that it will release the app in beta form at first, but this does not mean it will lack features present on other platforms, such as the iOS or Android. It is said that BBM Chat, BBM Groups, Find Friends, BBM Feeds and even Pin to Start are available in the Windows Phone app.

Due to its lack of funds, BlackBerry has extended its service to other platform in order to monetize its products. We have previously seen Microsoft do the same with its mobile version of Microsoft Office, having it released for both iOS and Android ahead of its own Windows Phone operating system.

Also, BlackBerry has stated that BBM users decide on which platform they would like to see the service. Since most demand was previously for iOS and Android, Windows Phone fell short and did not receive the app. However, its addition to the Windows Phone Store will also benefit both users and the company, having users talk on their preferred messaging app and BlackBerry making a lot of money out of it.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Ubergizmo

BlackBerry Shows its Answer to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana

Personal assistants have been around for some time now, having people demanding a more complex and interactive approach from their voice-enabled personal assistants. Apple’s Siri has been the first to arrive, followed by Android and Google Now, and Microsoft’s recent Cortana addition in the WP 8.1. All of the latter provide users with some great features, coming with their own pros and cons. However, it seems that BlackBerry is gaining some ground in the personal assistant sphere with its new BlackBerry Assistant.

“The BlackBerry Assistant is in lockstep with what I need to do on my Passport, without being distracting or costly (resource-wise)” said Donny Halliwell, BlackBerry’s social media marketing executive.

It is said that the company will release the new feature to its BlackBerry 10 devices this Wednesday in the BlackBerry 10.3 update. This is said to be a welcomed development for BlackBerry users, as well as developers, since a voice-enabled personal assistant will boost the BlackBerry handset brand. In addition, BlackBerry could also draw some developers into making some productivity applications featuring the personal assistant, thus helping users “manage simple tasks” on their devices.

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of BGR

Blackberry Announce ‘Square is The New Rectangle’ With The Passport Smartphone

Since the early days of the modern smartphone, the focus has been on creating a screen which is the ‘optimum’ shape and size for the user to reach with just one thumb and this has led us to a series of devices that have rectangular screens in a portrait orientation. In more recent time, less has been more when it comes to connections and buttons. Where we once had full mechanical keyboards and home buttons, everything has now been replaced by on-screen icons and touch sensitive areas on the front face of the handset with a couple of buttons on the sides for volume control and screen lock.

It seems though that Blackberry are tired of this ‘generic blueprint’ stating that the sense of innovation is dead – designers are stuck in their ways and this is what has led to most smartphones looking roughly the same with components all in roughly the same positions. This however is not good enough for Blackberry as they announce square as the new rectangle with the Passport smartphone.

“We’ve been living in a rectangular world for quite some time and know it’s a great ergonomic design that drives content, media consumption and quick communications. However, the rectangle has become a de facto approach to smartphone design, perhaps limiting innovations.”

Built around a 4.5″ square display with a 1440 x 1440 resolution, Blackberry claim that this design is comparable to a typical smartphone that features a 5″ display, but due to the screens wider aspect, the viewing experience is improved considerably.

“Consider how IMAX movies begin with the screens set to a more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio projection for conventional movie trailers, before expanding to their true dimensions (and the audience goes, “ooh”). The Passport is like the IMAX of productivity, and you don’t have to sacrifice screen real estate, vertically or horizontally.”

Designed mainly for the business market the Passport will feature a physical keyboard as seen on a number of other business orientated handsets from Blackberry and the intention is that spreadsheets and word processing should be a lot easier as well as the reading and composition of emails due to the space to fill in an extra 20 characters per line on the display.

A launch date could around later this year is expected (to coincide with the launch of Blackberry’s 10.3 OS) and although there is no word on pricing at this moment, I expect we will see an attractive price being pitched in order to draw people in as we know Blackberry are not in the best of financial positions at this moment as it is.

Whether the Passport will be a popular handset or not is something that I can’t quite decide at this moment in time to be honest. I can understand where they are coming from with the wider aspect display, but when we look at how far display technology has come in the last couple of years, I don’t think it will be long before we see rectangular displays packing a typical resolution of 1440 x 2560, meaning they will be able to display more than the Passport is projected to offer – something to mull over there I think.

Source and image courtesy: Ars Technica

BlackBerry CEO John Chen Takes a Jab at Samsung Android Mobile Security

BlackBerry CEO John Chen applauded Google for its efforts to increase Android mobile operating system security, but also took the time to throw a few jabs at Samsung.

Android, which is the most popular mobile phone OS, has struggled to defend against malware and other security problems.  Samsung created Knox, a hardware and software security platform for its Android-powered smartphones, designed for enterprise users.

In addition to saying less than 2 million Samsung phones are running Knox, Chen said its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) security software is widely deployed – and battle-tested for enterprise users.

Here is what Chen said:

“Tens of millions of BlackBerry devices are trusted every day by Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.  Our BES software dominates the enterprise mobility management space, with more business customers than our top three competitors combined.  And while Knox tries to build a fortress upon an insecure foundation, BlackBerry’s entire infrastructure is constructed upon a multi-decade bedrock of mobile management and security expertise.”

Despite the Apple iPhone, and then Samsung Galaxy S line of smartphones completely stealing the smartphone market from BlackBerry, the company remains popular among enterprise users.  However, both Android and iOS are developing enhanced security measures to allow their respective smartphones to be securely used in the workplace.

Thank you to Information Week for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Yahoo Financial