BlackBerry eyes future beyond its new line of smartphones

05 Feb 2013 12:49 ET

* CEO sees BlackBerry as a leader in mobile computing

* CEO says new BB10 software opens a range of options

* BlackBerry committed to tablets; new device in the works

* Shares rise on reports of strong Z10 sales in UK, Canada

By Euan Rocha

TORONTO, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Barely a week after the launch of an all-new, make-or-break smartphone, BlackBerry is already looking at a future in which it is a leader in "mobile computing," Chief Executive Thorsten Heins says.

He says BlackBerry's aim is to reclaim its spot as an innovator in world where smartphones will have the processing power to replace tablets and laptops.

The company, which changed its name from Research In Motion when it launched the BlackBerry 10 smartphone last week, pioneered on-the-go email before losing ground to nimbler competitors. It's now out to explore new territory.

"This isn't just about smartphones and tablets," Heins, who took over as CEO just over a year ago, said in an interview at the time of the BlackBerry 10 launch.

"The architecture we have built is true mobile computing architecture. It's not a downgraded PC operating system. It is a whole new innovation built from scratch. It's built for mobile."

Despite a number of glowing reviews for the BB10 and reports of strong initial sales, some analysts and technology pundits are skeptical about BlackBerry's chances of mounting a comeback, doubting its ability to sell either enough smartphones or manage to transform the way people work.

"The Street cares about how many units of these (devices) they're going to sell and that is the balancing act," said John Jackson, an industry analyst at consulting firm IDC.

Jackson said he can see a future in which the BB10's new operating system will allow users to control a vast array of devices, but added: "They need to sell devices to keep the lights on while they transform themselves into a next-generation computing platform."

BlackBerry's marketing head, Frank Boulben, said the company is moving quickly enough to do just that.

"The vision is going to start to materialize this year," he said. "You will be able to plug the (Z10) device into a docking station at the office and then all you need is a keyboard, a mouse and a screen - combined with cloud services this would mean you don't need a laptop or a desktop."

BlackBerry last week unveiled two versions of the BB10 smartphone, a touchscreen model dubbed Z10 and one with a physical keyboard called the Q10, betting they will help it win back some of the market share it has bled to the likes of Apple and Samsung Electronics.

IT'S ABOUT THE PLATFORM

Heins spent the first 20 minutes of the BB10 launch event talking about BlackBerry's new platform rather than about the new smartphone models themselves.

"Over the short term, yes, we have to be successful with the devices, we have got to win back the enterprises, we've got win back consumers," he said. "But in the longer term, we have to understand where this company is going."

Initial checks from analysts point to strong sales for the Z10 in its early launch countries of Canada and Britain. The Q10 device will not be on sale until April.

"We spoke to a range of U.K. vendors over the weekend who indicated BlackBerry's Z10 sales were strong," Barclays analyst Jeff Kvaal said in a note. "Some store locations were completely sold out of the Z10 device, while others had limited stock."

Two of Canada's largest wireless carriers, Rogers and Bell, say demand for the new devices is strong. Rogers said pre-orders for the Z10 device are already in the thousands, while Bell said customer pre-registration numbers for the new smartphone are unprecedented for a new BlackBerry device.

Analyst upgrades, coupled with the Z10 sales reports, have sparked a surge in BlackBerry's shares this week. The stock is up more than 24 percent from Friday's close of $13.03 on the Nasdaq.

The stock, which remains some 90 percent below its 2008 peak, fell more than 20 percent in the two days following the BlackBerry launch, partly on disappointment that the new devices will not hit the crucial U.S. market until next month.

ALL OPTIONS OPEN

At the launch, BlackBerry did not address its so far unsuccessful foray into the tablet market, but Heins said the company remains committed to this segment.

"I'm not getting out of the tablet business, I've asked my teams to build another one, but I need to make money from it. If the hardware doesn't provide the margins I need, then it makes no sense in doing it," he said.

BlackBerry's PlayBook tablets debuted in 2011, but never gained traction against Apple's iPad and other devices. The company was forced to write down the value of the devices and it has since sold them at sharply reduced prices.

Heins said BlackBerry will remain focused on expanding its business in mobile computing over the next two to four years.

BlackBerry's QNX operating system, which forms the basis of its new BlackBerry 10 OS, already powers cars, nuclear reactors and manufacturing plants, and Heins said this opens new vistas for the company, although he gave no clear description of what they are.

"What we need to decide is where do we play? It could be a software play, a licensing play, an end-to-end horizontal play, we'll figure that out," he said. "In five years, yes we might still be in hardware, but we may not be in hardware ... I'm not ruling anything out."

"Mobile computing is not going to be decided in the next quarter ... We have got to figure out as an industry how we get there. All I know is that I want us to be a leader there." (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Janet Guttsman; and Peter Galloway)

 

Full article at Reuters and below link as per interview of BB CEO Heins this morning on BNN with Tony Keller and Amber Kanwar.

 

http://www.bnn.ca/News/2013/2/5/Strong-demand-for-new-BlackBerrys-CEO.aspx

 

News out of Europe.....full article at Stockwatch.

 

 

Research in Motion hypes up BlackBerry Jam Europe

2013-02-05 05:28 ET - News Release

 

Mr. Alec Saunders reports

BLACKBERRY PROVIDES UPDATES TO DEVELOPERS AT BLACKBERRY JAM EUROPE

At its second annual BlackBerry Jam Europe developer event, Research in Motion Ltd., doing business as BlackBerry, today provided updates to the BlackBerry developer community, including updates to the BlackBerry 10 developer tool kit, new benefits of the reward programs and the opening of app submissions in the BlackBerry World storefront vendor portal for the BlackBerry Q10 smart phone.

BlackBerry Jam Europe, fully booked for the second year, follows closely on the heels of the extremely successful global launch of the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smart phones on Jan. 30, which highlighted the support and commitment by developers for the BlackBerry 10 platform with 70,000 apps at launch -- more apps than any first-generation mobile platform. In addition, a recent study by Vision Mobile found that 38 per cent of developers identified BlackBerry as their lead platform.

"I have never seen as much excitement and enthusiasm for a platform that compares to what we are seeing with BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry Jam Europe is a great time for us to thank the developer community for their continued loyalty, support and amazing enthusiasm," said Alec Saunders, vice-president of ecosystem and developer relations. "We want to keep that momentum going and are today announcing updates to the tool kit, our reward and incentive programs, and more. We are listening to our community and are evolving our programs to help them achieve success on BlackBerry 10 and be recognized for their efforts and accomplishments."

BlackBerry 10.1 SDK

The updated tools for building or tweaking applications for the BlackBerry 10 smart phone, which features a physical QWERTY keyboard, are now available. The tools will allow developers to optimize their apps to run on the smart phone's 720 by 720 display. The tool kit also contains a new BlackBerry Q10 simulator. Apps built natively for BlackBerry 10 using the Cascades framework have built-in functionality that automatically adjusts to various screen specifications.

Built for BlackBerry app program

BlackBerry continues to support its developer community and reward the effort and work for building quality applications through the Built for BlackBerry app program. At BlackBerry Jam Europe, BlackBerry announced updates to the Built for BlackBerry program, including a top Built for BlackBerry list on BlackBerry World to increase discoverability and marketability of Built for BlackBerry apps. Eventually, the only apps that will be featured on the BlackBerry World carousel will be Built for BlackBerry apps.

Limited edition BlackBerry 10 smart phones

BlackBerry also announced that 12,000 limited edition smart phones are being built exclusively for developers who created apps in time for launch. Developers who had previously qualified to receive a BlackBerry Dev Alpha A or B testing device, and who have an application submitted on BlackBerry World, may apply to swap the testing device unit for the red, limited edition model of the BlackBerry Z10.

BlackBerry World vendor portal open for BlackBerry Q10 app submissions

Developers can now add the BlackBerry Q10 smart phone as a targeted device in the BlackBerry World vendor portal. This will allow developers to have their apps published at the outset, when the BlackBerry Q10 is expected to launch in April this year.

 

Sales off to good start too in UK and Canada....so what is their benchmark vs its competitots...

 

http://www.therecord.com/news/business/article/881309--blackberry-z10-gets-record-orders-in-canada

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-05/blackberry-z10-attracts-record-orders-at-bce-corporate-canada.html?cmpid=yhoo

 

PS.  Wish I took a chance at summer 2012 lows but, now in recently just to have some skin in game to see if RIM now BB can really get their act together and become more profitable and leading edge in technology, in all likelihood more market share but jury is still out,, so far so good....now now Pollitt dont get too euphoric about what happens to shorts of stock if BB can get $4-$5 a share in earnings.  Go for postive earnings first then take it from there in baby steps as their products do better and better.  Unreal how bullish and bearish analysts can get at the top or low respectively and then turn on a dime months later.  Mmmmmmmmm.  Take in BB shares and the rest of your portfolio(s).

 

PSS.  A pause for thought....can any user of new BB10 Iphones dont use the personal side while at work besides during lunch and coffee breaks??  What about any outages??  Now let see how momentum builds towards next few Qs of financial reporting especially when the qwerty version comes out and when the phones are available elsewhere around the world especially the US.

 

Cheers,

Dave.

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