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  (Source: Lucasfilm)
Is this the beginning of the end for the smartphone marker formerly known as RIM?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that even as struggling Canadian phonemaker BlackBerry Ltd. (TSE:BB) creeps ever closer to death, the company is reportedly looking to strengthen and spin off one of its few products that remains popular.

With BlackBerry sales hitting fresh lows and BlackBerry's OS overhaul experiment being greeted by customer apathy, BlackBerry executives are reportedly pondering spinning off BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), -- the company's instant messaging service.  Eight years after the service's 2005 launch, BBM has evolved to sport a visual appealing messaging UI and secure communication based on the service's tried-and-true PIN messaging underpinnings.  BBM has around 60 million customers at last count.

In May BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins -- under pressure to resign -- signaled a change announcing the coming availability of BBM for Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android and Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL).  The apps have been floating around both in an HTML5 based browser demo and a full-blown beta test form since the June, and rumor has it that Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) will be the first Android phonemaker to bundle the popular messaging client into its devices.

BlackBerry Adieu
BBM may be jumping off the BB wreck. [Image Source:]

In his May announcement, Mr. Heins remarked, "We will make BBM available as the premiere multi-platform IM solution all around the globe.  Why are we doing this now? It’s a statement of confidence.  The BlackBerry 10 platform is so strong and support has been so good that the time is right for BBM to become an independent messaging solution."

In retrospect the latter sentence and emphasis on BBM becoming "independent" may have hinted that rather than a bold -- and much needed -- survivalist transition to a service provider, BlackBerry was instead merely looking to prepare the escape pod for BBM.  The WSJ report claims that BlackBerry has shuffled some executives into the BBM team to enhance its management capabilities, and is adding video chat features to BBM to further enhance its cross platform appeal.

If indeed BB jettisons the successful unit, it will mark yet another fateful loss in the company's quixotic campaign to continue as a smartphone operating system developer, a campaign that pits BB against deep pocket rivals like Apple, Google, and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

BB Android
Parts of BlackBerry may live on in Android and other platforms.
[Image Source: Despuesdegoogle]

The company's Board of Directors earlier this month announced it was pursuing "strategic alternatives".  That could involve a sale or a breakup of the company's business units.  Outside of BBM, BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is another part of BB that still is clinging to a strong chunk of business, even if it's less than beloved at times by enterprise clientele.  Outside of that, BB's primary value appears to be confined to its intellectual property portfolio (which it's already partially sold off) and its manufacturing expertise surrounding its industry-leading physical smartphone keyboards.

If BB does split up its unlikely that BB10's software or devices will survive.  While BB10 is in many ways an impressive mobile operating system, it fails to regain ground against Apple and Google's mature efforts.  It even was recently passed by Microsoft's Windows Phone.  

Customers appear to have more or less decided that BB10 is worthless amidst superior competitive offerings; likewise potential buyers will likely do the same as they look to scavenge the treasures amidst the BB scrap pile. 

Source: WSJ

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Unfortunate downward spiral
By jingle10 on 8/28/2013 12:50:48 AM , Rating: 3
Despite the Blackberry's stupid mistakes, and there are some monumental ones, the continuing downward spiral has more to do with the perception generated by people who have never tried the current offering than anything else. Rumors of Blackberry's eventual demise has a huge impact. Who wants to buy a phone from a company that won't be around for long.

In actual fact their current product is a great product, if only people would put aside the rumours and the negative reviews by people who have never touched one.

I have just rolled out a fleet of Z10's and the positive feedback has been rolling in. I am yet to get a negative one, although there are a few that don't really have an opinion either way. The surprising thing was the number of people I got commenting that it was an improvement on their iPhone. I wasn't expecting that one. But there you go.

Sure the app coverage isn't as good but how many apps do you need to do your job. Regardless, if the platform is supported this will improve as there is incentive for it to.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By Makaveli on 8/28/2013 10:48:55 AM , Rating: 3
Totally agree i've been using a Z10 since feb its been a great phone and improves with every software update.

There is some kinda misguided hate for Blackberry in the US market they all seem to be happy with their Iphone's and S4's.

Most of the people hating have never used or owned a blackberry and the rest are just sheepish and will use what they are told to.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By melgross on 8/28/2013 2:27:00 PM , Rating: 2
That actually sounds like what most Blackberry users have had to do—use what they were told to use by their employers. That's why most are going away from Blackberry. They want to use what they want to use, not what they were told to use. And most of those employers have agreed, not only allowing it, but by also dropping support for Blackberry.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 10:53:38 AM , Rating: 3
"I have just rolled out a fleet of Z10's and the positive feedback has been rolling in. I am yet to get a negative one, although there are a few that don't really have an opinion either way."

IT is a good OS... It just doesn't do anything that the market leaders IOS and Android already do and do well. There just arent any reasons for people to switch to BB. They are too late to market, simple as that. It took them 6 years to release a decent touch screen phone from the point where Apple announced the iPhone in 2007. 6 years. 3 years in denial and 3 years to release a product once they finally decided. Too slow on top of too slow - thus the situation they are in. Self destruction all the way, there are no other point of blame but on upper management. Even the board took too long to remove the ex CEO's that drove it into the dirt.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By WalterB on 8/28/2013 11:22:58 AM , Rating: 2
Actually they new BB10 line does do some things Android and Apple don't plus they do comparable things better! Upper management to blame, could not agree more! Its going to be a long road back but I am confident BlackBerry will be back because of one simple fact, it is the best phone on the market for MANY reasons and its just a matter of time before public perception starts to change.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By Rukkian on 8/28/2013 1:13:21 PM , Rating: 2
Just curious - can you tell us what those reasons are for the user? I used to be into BB, but have found no reason from a user perspective to want to use it.

I understand from the enterprise being able to lock them down more and do so more easily, but that is not a good thing for user perspective.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By WalterB on 8/29/2013 10:25:38 AM , Rating: 3
Great question! I will give you a "few" examples without trying to be too wordy.
1) HUB ; one gesture to all my emails, tests, BBM, Facebook, Twitter, etc in ONE location. Also within the hub I can view each of these separably. Yes I can choose what I want and don't want in the HUB.
2) PEEK ; one gesture to quickly see ALL of my new HUB notification
3) FLOW ; all the applications is the NEW BlackBerry 10 phone are integrated. I do not have to go out of one app that refers to another app to open the second app. A very nice experience and very efficient to use!
4) REMEMBER ; I can mark any picture, email, text, etc as a reminder WHILE using it! I set a date and an notification reminds me about it.
5) ACTIVE FRAMES ; absolutely love this feature! When you have a APP opened, you simply swipe it up and it becomes a large ICON that is the APP running, but still active. An example is the calendar, while its an active frame, it shows me next events on my calender. The same is true with Reminder, weather, etc. This is my home screen always!
6) PHONE/SEARCH/CAMERA ; every screen has these a quick launch to these 3 main APPS.
7) BALANCE ; I have had many work phones, this is an amazing ability!! It allows you to use ONE phone for WORK and HOME by separating them through BALANCE. That include calender, emails, etc. Many people either have 2 phones or one phone with WORK and PERSONAL stuff mixed together. This allows your WORK IT department to lock-down the work stuff but they can't touch your personal or HOME stuff!!! Can't say enough about this excellent feature.
8) EFFICIENCY ; if you compare many things you do on a daily basis between phones, the BlackBerry 10 phones are more efficient at doing many of them! All anyone has to do is simply compare for themselves. It take less gestures and keystrokes to accomplish the same task on a BB10 phone, PERIOD!
9) QNX ; The new BB10 phones are built on QNX core software. QNX software powers millions of things such as cars, banks, etc. Think about what the future integration holds for the BB10 phones with many other QNX products!! Also its a TRUE multitasking core operating system anther reason it stands out for many reasons compared to the "other" phones.

Need any other reasons? There are many reasons a user would find the NEW BlackBerry 10 phones are the best on the market today. The issue is public poor perception about BlackBerry resulting is them simply not trying the phone and seeing for themselves?

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/29/2013 5:18:40 PM , Rating: 2
Those are some nice things, but most very trivial and wouldnt necessarily be used by many... Also not all unique.

1) Android notifications does this as do some apps with added functionality.
2) same as 1
3) Nice
4) Nice
5) To me this is the best. It's the most "webOS" ish implementation. It pisses me off that the 2 that did this (Palm and BB) by far the best way to go. Palm is gone and BB's aren't catching on.
6) All modern OS's have that.
7) Android has that via multiple logins.
8) Highly debatable. Depends on your usage.
9) That isnt a feature, its a history and a wishful look to the future. IOS and Android can say the same thing.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 1:23:54 PM , Rating: 1
"Actually they new BB10 line does do some things Android and Apple don't" ... " it is the best phone on the market for MANY reasons"

He says without mentioning any.

"its just a matter of time before public perception starts to change."

It's out of time. BB10 came out and instead of sales spiking, they tanked even worse. There is no time and there isnt anything that it does to make people care enough to switch.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By ClownPuncher on 8/28/2013 2:39:47 PM , Rating: 2
Z10 call reception has been far better than S3/S4 for our guys out in the field.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 3:49:01 PM , Rating: 2
OK... Call reception is better at one particular company in one particular area when compared to 2 other models according to a couple "guys in the field" ?

That isnt really a spec, more of an anecdote. Not quite scientific, and nothing you could put on a spec-sheet unless you can prove it comes in better than many other models in many areas under many circumstances.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By ClownPuncher on 8/28/2013 5:58:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, it's not scientific. Most people don't buy phones based on spec sheets, though. Owning a phone is about social status, unless you're a tech guy (like us). People aren't going to buy a BB phone because it doesn't carry any positive social reinforcement. Even if their BB10 offerings had the best specs on the market, they never would have gained back any significant marketshare.

For me, the nice thing is we have so many hardware, software and OS choices these days.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 6:15:31 PM , Rating: 2
True... Probably not so much social status, as seeing a phone of their friend of co-workers with whatever features they like and they get it out of familiarity... But that has always been the issue, its not a new thing. BBOS10 is a good OS, and Blackberry totally failed to sell it. They are using last years hardware specs and have done nothing to differentiate themselves and zero marketing effort (I know there are commercials and all the standard stuff, but I mean zero that makes people want to switch) A total fail, made worse by the fact that it is a decent product with a once super strong brand name.

By ClownPuncher on 8/28/2013 7:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, you need a hook. There was no hook with the BB release. It's a solid product, but nothing stands out as being better. I like the OS better than Android (slightly), but it's not different enough to sell itself.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By WalterB on 8/29/2013 10:29:27 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry it took so lon to reply - look above for my QUICK answers.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By GTVic on 8/28/2013 3:42:29 PM , Rating: 2
But that is no reason to bash BB as is the case with the blog author that wrote this piece, he bashes BB every chance he gets.

Direct evidence from customers also shows that sales people are actively pushing customers away from a good product or not promoting it at the very least.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 11:27:47 PM , Rating: 2
Well, blackberry is very bashable. It's fair game... when you go from first to worst, expect a bashing. You have messed up bad if you're in that situation and that is what blackberry is in.

And why should any carrier push blackberry at this point? No 1 has come up with a single useful thing that it can do that the others don't do that users care about. Every platform has a few in's and outs that are better then the others. IOS, android, WP8 and blackberry all have their good points but there arent any compelling reasons to choose blackberry over the others , there just arent. When you are a distant fourth in a four man race, catching up to where everyone else was last year just isn't good enough.... It's that simple

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By Zingam on 9/3/2013 11:15:50 AM , Rating: 1
The iPhone is utter crap.

By retrospooty on 8/27/2013 7:40:14 PM , Rating: 2
What does BBM do for you that you can't already get on Skype or Google Talk (or several others) for free?

By greenchinesepuck on 8/27/2013 8:56:51 PM , Rating: 2
With BBM you know whether your recipient read your message or not, with other messengers like Skype or Google you don't :P

By Guspaz on 8/27/2013 11:15:22 PM , Rating: 3
Other mobile IM solutions, like Apple's iMessage, support read receipts... BBM doesn't really have anything special going for it anymore.

By Samus on 8/28/2013 3:56:00 AM , Rating: 2
I'd argue that BBM is encrypted on "foreign" servers that even Blackberry can't read information from, where as Apple turns over record amounts of information to the NSA.

By othercents on 8/28/2013 8:07:59 AM , Rating: 2
That and Apple iMessage doesn't work on non-iOS devices. BBM is working on most platforms and could easily replace text messaging.

By BillyBatson on 8/28/2013 9:59:10 AM , Rating: 2
You are able to turn this feature off in iMessage and I would say that nearly every single person has turned it off.' I have never known anyone to not turn this feature off right out of the box. BBM never provided a way for you to turn the feature off so it was an even playing field for everyone to stalk on BBM.

By Breakfast Susej on 8/28/2013 9:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think that's the case any longer at least with google talk (hangouts). I'm pretty certain it shows if your message has been read now as long as you actually go into the app and read it.

If you pull down the tray on the lock screen to read it like I often do, they still can't tell though.

By boeush on 8/27/2013 10:09:15 PM , Rating: 2
What does BBM do for you that you can't already get on Skype or Google Talk (or several others) for free?
It doesn't "feature" your friendly neighborhood NSA spying "experience", for one... (all transmissions on BB are encrypted, AFAIK.)

You also don't wind up getting "free" services in exchange for signing over all your information and activities in unlimited detail and in perpetuity to Google (or to Apple, or to Microsoft, etc.), for another...

I'd say the security and privacy aspects of BB10 as an OS (and by extension all apps that run on it) are bar-none head-and-shoulders above any other contestant, it's not even close. (And that's before even going into the realtime capabilities and resource utilization and management efficiency of BB10, which is built on QNX. And oh by the way, BB10 is also capable of running most Android apps with only minimal, if any at all, porting effort...)

Only problem is, BB seems utterly incapable of pointing these things out to consumers. Marketing FAIL, big time. Maybe they'll wake up one of these days, then again maybe they're in a permanent coma...

By Suspicious on 8/28/2013 3:53:51 AM , Rating: 2
RIM has setup special servers in india so it's government can listen in on conversations between its people. Do you seriously think the US-government can't listen into, at the very least, blackberry traffic flowing through the US?

By boeush on 8/28/2013 8:16:34 PM , Rating: 2
US government cannot legally request BB to give it access to conversations between people inside US (because US government is constitutionally barred from doing so.) It may violate the constitution in secret (within its own agencies, such as NSA, at least until some whistle-blower leaks the violations), but it can't do so openly in demands/agreements with international third parties.

Also, BB is a Canadian company, so the US government has no authority to impose any rules or backdoors on it. It could threaten to ban BB products from US, but such a ban threat would be a very public affair, and you would've heard about it for sure.

BB's security and privacy features inherent to its services are one of the main and ongoing reasons why it is so ubiquitous among corporate IT users. They may not love its services or customer service, but they basically don't have a choice. When it comes to safeguarding corporate secrets and business transactions, BB is the only game in town.

And if the security provided is good enough for mega-corps and Wall Street mega-banks, it's probably good enough for you and me...
Do you seriously think the US-government can't listen into, at the very least, blackberry traffic flowing through the US?
Oh it can "listen" until its ears bleed, but the only thing it'll "hear" is heavily encrypted gobbledygook.

By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 8:40:49 AM , Rating: 2
If they are looking at you, they got you, regardless of what messaging service you use...

So basically, it offers nothing that you cant get for free elsewhere on any # of services? Sounds just like thier BES server.

By boeush on 8/28/2013 8:22:42 PM , Rating: 2
it offers nothing that you cant get for free elsewhere on any # of services?
Nothing is truly free.

Those "free" services you get come at the cost of those companies productizing you and everything you have done (on record) and will do in the future.

IF total loss of privacy and personal security is a price you're willing to pay in exchange for "free" services, that's your prerogative. But at least you should be aware that you are indeed paying that price, starting now and in perpetuity (because whatever data you've already handed over to them "for free", you can never claw back, and they'll keep and continue to use all such data to take advantage of you and/or against you, even if you stop using their services at any point.)

By melgross on 8/28/2013 2:23:29 PM , Rating: 2
Nobody really knows what deals Blackberry has with governments. We can't go by what they say, as many of these agreements state the that they can't say that they are in place. We've read about this already earlier this year.

And we should remember an interview with Lazarious a couple of years ago after the dispute with India and Saudi Arabia, when both threatened to ban the Blackberry if RIM didn't give them a back door. When Lazarious was asked if RIM bowed down to them, he refused to answer the question and walked out of the interview. He could have just said no if that were the truth, but he didn't. A bit suspicious.

Do not forget guys
By greenchinesepuck on 8/27/2013 8:54:19 PM , Rating: 1
This is the same Micktroll who was lying about RIM sale before the end of 2012. Take his words with a big grain of salt, he clearly has an agenda here.

RE: Do not forget guys
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 8:46:46 AM , Rating: 2
An idiot by any other name is still the same.

Pirks, give us a call when you graduate jr. high. Adulthood holds so much promise.

By GTVic on 8/28/2013 3:43:04 PM , Rating: 2
Spin off is not the same as jettison but I'm sure this author could care less about being accurate where BlackBerry is concerned.

Crap Journalism!
By WalterB on 8/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: Crap Journalism!
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 10:47:25 AM , Rating: 2
"This is a great example of why BlackBerry's public perception is at an all time low, crap journalism. Here we have pieces of the whole Blackberry story twisted by this writer to appear all negative! "

LOL... BS.

BB's problem is NOT the big bad media. Their problem is they waited 3 years too long to even decide to get involved with a multitouch enabled OS (QNX) and once they did, it took them 3 years to release a product. Too slow to react and too slow to produce. By the time they came out with a phone in 2013, it only matched what the competition had in 2012. It's not good enough to lose all your marketshare and expect to gain it back by releasing products equal to your competitions offerings 1 year ago.

THAT is Blackberry's problem and that alone. If there is any "public perception" issue, it is that Blackberry can't make good choices and can't execute fast enough once a choice is made. And that is a very realistic perception.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By WalterB on 8/28/2013 10:54:59 AM , Rating: 2
Totally agree on your comments about developing the new OS (yes QNX) and executing, definitely part of the issue. My point, that you missed is an article NOT comparing the phones as part of the article in a TECH journal is wrong!

RE: Crap Journalism!
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 11:00:53 AM , Rating: 2
??? Its not a phone review. It's an article about a once dominant player that is now a failing company.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By WalterB on 8/28/2013 11:30:31 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, its not a phone review. Its a poorly written article about BlackBerry and missing many important points.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 12:54:20 PM , Rating: 2
So, you think this article, about a troubled tech leader and it's potential choice to spin-of it's BBM messaging service should mention "The FACTS are the new BlackBerry 10 phones are the superior phones on the market. "

First off, its not a phone related article. IT has nothing to do with phones.

Secondly, that "fact" is an opinion and an extreme minority one at that.

Sounds like you just want tech articles to boast up BB10 devices. That isn't journalism, it's marketing... Or propaganda depending on your outlook.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By Rukkian on 8/28/2013 1:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
I love it when fanboys decide their opinion is Fact, and get on everybody else for not acknowledging that "fact".

You are completely correct, this article is about potentially spinning off one of their most popular pieces, not about devices. The article even seemed to say that the phones were not necessarily bad, but that the perception from people was there was no reason to switch (or buy a new one if they already had one), as can be shown from the sales figures that are still dwindling even after the best phone ever made being released.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By WalterB on 8/29/2013 10:40:50 AM , Rating: 2
I am a "fanboy" because BlackBerry has produced a second generation phone that is a great product! My opinion is that this article is missing many key points and feel its slanted as a result. I will concede this is a difference in opinions, one we can't agree upon?

RE: Crap Journalism!
By retrospooty on 8/29/2013 12:06:21 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously something like that is opinion, and I think anyone that objectively looks at a BB10 device should agree its a good OS, but this is still not a phone article. It's an article about the troubled company and it's floundering business and a potential spinoff of a service product.

As far as phones, there just isnt a compelling reason for anyone to switch. BB just caught up to 2012. In order to win customers back, they need to be where the others will be next year, not last year.

In reality, here is whats going on... More bad news for BB.

BB is going to meet Palm and its awesome WebOS on the "Great OS that no-one cares about" train. It's not enough to just have a great OS. You have to have a great OS, and a great platform, great apps , great hardware and strong consumer focus. BB has only 2 of those 5. They needs the last 3 and its simply too late for them to get it.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By WalterB on 8/29/2013 1:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
The sale may be bad, or they may be good? We will find out when the numbers are released soon. The article you quoted is one persons guess based on some thing from one person with a few stores. I do believe BlackBerry has a long road ahead.

"retrospooty"; your comments are simply always negative when anyone talks positive about BlackBerry, why? You throw out negative garbage constantly attacking anyone such as myself who is hoping Blackberry remains a player due to their great BB10 products. Try dialog instead of attacks for a change? Thanks for the dialog??

RE: Crap Journalism!
By retrospooty on 8/29/2013 5:02:30 PM , Rating: 2
I thought this was a dialog? It was to me... I dont see any attacks. You kind of called out Jason and I kind of called out you.

I am negative on Blackberry, but I dont think undeservedly so. Nothing I said here was incorrect, nor based out of malice. I want Blackberry to succeed. WP8 too. Android and Apple being the only players only benefits Google and Apple. 2 more viable players benefits consumers and keeps Google and Apple on their games.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By melgross on 8/28/2013 2:42:12 PM , Rating: 2
Look, RIM blew it. And they blew it badly. Unfortunately, the leaders of the company lied consistently about their blowing it, and still are. This is what bothers me most. Look at the Heins quote he has here from May. Heins is telling us that BB10 is so strong and well supported that they can do this. The truth is that it's neither strong or well supported. This is a desperation move, as have been all of their other moves the past few years.

None of those moves have helped. This won't help either. It's hard to understand what they can do to keep this company afloat. And this is why they have reiterated what Heins stated last year about being willing to find a suitor for the company. They are so far down the rabbit hole, that soon they won't be able to see any sunlight from the entrance.

It's a shame this has happened, but it often does, to leaders that are so convinced that what they are doing is so much better, and that nothing else a competitor can do will change that. RIM waited too long. If they had this a year earlier, they would have had a chance. But that year was critical, as during it, many government agencies went from the Blackberry to the iPhone (mostly), and it's hardly likely that they will move back. The same thing is true of business.

A problem that Blackberry has now, is that companies and government don't want to rely, long term, on something that they feel uncomfortable about, because of the doubt that it will be around much longer. It's really a downward spiral, and I can't see a way out of it.

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