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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: Forrester.com]

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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BBM?
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?




RE: BBM?
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


RE: BBM?
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.


RE: BBM?
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.


RE: BBM?
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.


RE: BBM?
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.


RE: 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.


RE: BBM?
By boeush on 8/27/2013 10:09:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
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...


RE: BBM?
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?


RE: BBM?
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...
quote:
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.


RE: BBM?
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.


RE: BBM?
By boeush on 8/28/2013 8:22:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
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.)


RE: BBM?
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.


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