BlackBerry has cut an unspecified number of employees at two facilities. The company confirmed that it let employees go at its Waterloo headquarters, as well as at a plant in Sunrise, Fla. "As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce," said the company in a statement. "This means finding new ways to enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities, while driving toward sustainable profitability across all parts of our business. As a result, a small number of employees have been impacted. It also means that BlackBerry is actively recruiting in those areas of our business that will drive growth." BlackBerry CEO John Chen has focused on BlackBerry's core BES communications and device management business while winding down its phone business. Chen recently said BlackBerry will release as few as one or two new handsets per year if it stays in the hardware game. Chen has been vocal about killing off its smartphone business entirely if it can't turn a profit. BlackBerry didn't say what areas of the company were affected by today's job cuts.
T-Mobile today rolled out a new promotion that will give families of four unlimited talk, text, and data each for a total of $150 per month. Other options include four lines with 10 GB each for $120 per month, or two lines with 10 GB each for $100 per month. The promotion, which T-Mobile said will be available for a limited time, is open to new and existing customers and does not require port-ins, trade-ins, or handset purchases. T-Mobile said the new Family Match plan can be combined with the buy-one, get-one half-off offer currently available for certain phones.
Google is now delivering a security patch to Nexus smartphones and tablets. The patch resolves 10 issues, of which five are considered to be critical. The two most severe problems could allow for remote code execution through a WiFi driver and a media server. Google found the vulnerabilities in January and alerted its hardware partners to the problems. The security patch is available via factory images from Google's developer web site, but the company will push the update out over the air in the days ahead. Google plans to provide a new version of Android 6 Marshmallow to the Android Open Source Project in a day or two. Google says to the best of its knowledge that the security holes were not exploited. BlackBerry, too, is pushing the February security patch to the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. Other phone makers are expected to deliver the patch in the weeks ahead.
T-Mobile is running a limited promotion for customers on Simple Choice plans that can help them save some cash on hardware purchases. Beginning today, new and existing customers can buy one phone at full price and get a second phone of equal or lesser value from the same manufacturer for half price. T-Mobile says the deal can be used for some of its flagship phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG V10. T-Mobile believes the promotion is idea for families or small businesses looking to upgrade their phones. It will allow customers to purchase up to six handsets at half price. No trade-in is required. T-Mobile didn't say how long the promo will be available.
Cricket Wireless is looking to entice people to switch to its network by offering discounts on a number of smartphones. Beginning January 22, consumers who port their number to Cricket can buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 for $399.99, a savings of $100 over the normal retail price. Cricket is making similar discounts, ranging from $20 to $50, available to a dozen other devices, including the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 ($109.99), ZTE Grand X Max ($99.99), HTC Desire 626s ($89.99), and Microsoft Lumia 640 ($79.99). The promotion runs for a limited time. Cricket's service plans start at $40 per month. Wireless carriers are competing for customers fiercely. With most Americans already carrying a smartphone, the only way for carriers to score new customers is to steal them from rivals.
T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS is targeting Sprint customers with new service and handset discounts. Starting January 21, Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile customers who switch to MetroPCS can save up to 50% off Sprint's Family Share Pack pricing. For example, a single ported line can save between 22% and 48%, while two or more lines can save between 23% and 50%, depending on a number of variables such as existing plan cost, new plan pricing, and local taxes. Customers who switch can keep the low rate plans as long as they remain with MetroPCS. The promotion includes unlimited talk and text, Music Unlimited, Data Maximizer and mobile hotspot. MetroPCS is offering switchers a free LG Leon LTE, Kyocera Hydro Wave, Samsung Core Prime, LG K7, or $50 rebate that can be applied to any phone sold by MetroPCS. Last, MetroPCS is offering its existing customers a $20 discount when adding an extra 5GB line. T-Mobile said the promotion will be available for a limited time, but didn't provide an end date.
T-Mobile today said the BlackBerry Priv smartphone will reach company stores on January 26. Customers who choose T-Mobile's Jump On Demand leasing program can score the Priv for $0 down and monthly payments of $34. People interested in taking a more traditional purchasing route can finance the phone for $30 per month for 24 months, or pay the full retail price of $719. T-Mobile says the Priv is privy to all of the Uncarrier benefits, such as Music Freedom and Binge On. The BlackBerry Priv runs Android and has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The phone is already being sold by AT&T and will soon be sold by Sprint and Verizon Wireless.
AT&T today said new and existing customers can once again select an unlimited data mobile plan — as long as they are also a customer of AT&T-owned DirecTV or U-Verse. The unlimited plan includes unlimited LTE 4G, unlimited voice, and unlimited messaging. The first line costs $100 per month, with the second and third lines costing $40 each. Adding a fourth line would be free. Other devices may be added to the unlimited plan as well, such as tablets ($40), watches ($10), and feature phones ($25). AT&T says the unlimited plan is "the first of many integrated video and mobility offers the company plans to announce in 2016." AT&T's television customers who aren't yet wireless customers are eligible to receive up to $500 in credits when switching to AT&T with a trade-in. On the flip side, AT&T wireless customers who aren't already television customers can receive discounted service for the first year. AT&T and Verizon Wireless haven't offered unlimited data plans for several years, preferring instead to sell customers buckets of data access. T-Mobile and Sprint still offer unlimited data packages, but have raised prices in recent months. AT&T didn't say if the new unlimited plan is a permanent addition to its offering, or a limited promotion.
BlackBerry today said Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all agreed to sell the Priv smartphone. T-Mobile's variant launches January 26. Sprint and Verizon haven't yet set sales dates. The Priv is already available from AT&T. The carrier deals are a major win for BlackBerry, which claims demand for the Android-powered device is robust.
BlackBerry today said it has come to an agreement with the government of Pakistan that will allow it to remain in the country. Last month, BlackBerry said it would leave Pakistan in order to protect the privacy of its users. The Pakistani government had demanded access to BlackBerry's servers and the company refused. Pakistan then issued a shutdown order. "We are grateful to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and the Pakistani government for accepting BlackBerry's position that we cannot provide the content of our customers' BES traffic, nor will we provide any so-called backdoors to our BES servers," said BlackBerry in a statement. "BlackBerry has decided to remain in the Pakistan market." The company thanked its customers in the country for their support. BlackBerry's business now focuses chiefly on providing secure communication services to businesses and governments. Providing a backdoor to its servers would have undermined its position.
BlackBerry today said Priv owners can download and install a system update that improves the performance and security of the Android-based slider. BlackBerry says the refreshed OS should deliver smoother performance across the board with greater stability and fewer app crashes. The camera should now be faster and better able to capture images in low light. Further, the update includes the most recent security patch from Google. BlackBerry says the update, which comes in at 475MB, is available to download over the air to handsets purchased directly from BlackBerry.com. Consumers who've purchased the Priv through carriers will have to wait until Dec. 7 for the update. Last, BlackBerry plans to update its camera, keyboard, Hub, and DTEK by BlackBerry Android apps in the days ahead. New versions of these apps will be available in the Google Play Store starting Dec. 14.
BlackBerry today said it plans to leave Pakistan by Dec. 30 due to disagreements with the Pakistani government over privacy. BlackBerry says Pakistan wants to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including emails and BBM messages. "BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive," said COO Marty Beard. "As we have said many times, we do not support 'back doors' granting open access to our customers' information, and have never done this anywhere in the world." BlackBerry said it has no issue assisting law enforcement agencies with investigations, but it cannot sanction wide-scale spying on its customers. "The privacy of our customers is paramount to BlackBerry, and we will not compromise that principle," said Beard. Customers should be able to use their BES-backed devices without issue through Dec. 30. The company regrets leaving Pakistan, but said protecting its customers is more important.
BlackBerry confirmed that Eric Johnson, the executive in charge of sales for business and government customers, has departed the company. BlackBerry's core business is providing device management software to exactly these types of customers. BlackBerry did not elaborate on the terms of Johnson's departure, but he filled a vital role in the company. BlackBerry has spent years attempting to rebuild its business. BlackBerry's handset division may have recently released the Android-based Priv smartphone, but sales of handsets have dwindled to fewer than one million devices per quarter. The bulk of BlackBerry's revenue comes from its BES product suite.
Cricket Wireless today kicked off a promotions to entice consumers to port their number to Cricket. People who switch to Cricket between today and Dec. 6 will earn a $100 Cricket Shopping Card. The card can be used for monthly service, handsets, and accessories at Cricket stores. Cricket said it will let new customers combine this deal with existing mail-in rebate promos on select phones to save even more money. For example, Cricket is offering the LG Risio, Motorola Moto E, Nokia Lumia 635, and the ZTE Overture 2 for free after rebates. The rebates are available to all customers through Jan. 7. The $100 gift card is only available to new customers.
Verizon Wireless customers can snag an extra 1GB of mobile data this month from Big Red. The promotional data offer can be redeemed online and will be added to the account holder's existing data allotment for the current billing period. Verizon said customers can get another free 1GB of data for their next billing period, too. Verizon is offering a range of other freebies to its customers in what it calls its "Thanksgetting" promotion. For example, people who shop online Nov. 25 can get a $5 iTunes gift card or a 30-day trial of Pandora One. Other freebies come from Lyft, Boingo, Gogo, and Amazon.
The Priv is BlackBerry's new flagship phone, but it's also much more than that. As the company's first phone to use Google's Android instead of a BlackBerry OS, it represents a major new strategic direction. It also comes as the company is considering whether or not to continue making phones at all, so its success is crucial. The Priv has a premium design with a slide-out keyboard, curved-edge screen, and high-end camera. How is it in person? Read on to find out.
Sprint said beginning November 20, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon customers who switch their number to Sprint will save 50% off their old rate plan. The 50% savings will be available to switchers through Jan. 8, 2018. Sprint is also offering up to $650 in reimbursement for ETFs and other fees, but requires new customers to trade in their old smartphone. The promotion is limited to a maximum of 10 lines per account. Subsidized devices require an extra $25 per month fee. The half-rate plan does not extend to unlimited music/video streaming, data carryover, tethering, or cloud services. Mobile hotspot consumption is pulled from the shared data plan. The discount does not apply to taxes, surcharges, add-ons, apps, premium content, or international services. Discounts vary based on the rates charged by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Not all competitor rate plans apply. Sprint offered a similar promotion last year.
Verizon Wireless took to its Twitter account to tease the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. "Priv by BlackBerry. The first-ever BlackBerry powered by Android. Coming soon," said the company. A link in the Tweet leads to a landing page on Verizon's web site where people can register for updates concerning the Priv. The Priv went on sale in the U.S. this week. It is a vertical slider with a 5.4-inch screen, physical QWERTY keyboard, and an 18-megapixel camera. It costs $699.
Sprint today unfurled a promotion that will award customers a year of Amazon Prime for free with the purchase of a new Samsung smartphone. Customers need to purchase or lease one of the newer Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, or Note 5. Sprint will then send a text message with a link to Amazon Prime, which customers may redeem for free. Amazon Prime normally carries a price of $99 per year. Prime includes free two-day shipping, unlimited access to streaming Prime Videos and Prime Music, as well as unlimited storage in Prime Photos. Sprint is also offering to lease the Galaxy S6 for $10 per month with a qualifying trade-in. This offer will be available for a limited time.
BlackBerry laid out its plans to secure the Priv in a blog post today. The company has devised a three-pronged approach to keeping the Priv secure in the face of outside threats. First, BlackBerry will issue the monthly security patches offered by Google. It will do so directly to handsets as well as through carriers and other reseller partners. Second, BlackBerry will force feed hotfixes directly to devices — circumventing carriers — when critical flaws need immediate resolution. Third, BlackBerry will give IT admins the ability to control which devices receive security updates and when those updates are delivered. Blackberry said it is committed to maintaining the security of its first Android handset, which is available for order online.
AT&T today revealed its launch plans for the BlackBerry Priv smartphone, which reaches stores Nov. 6. Customers will have several purchasing options for the phone. The Priv will cost $24.67 per month with a Next 24 plan, $30.84 with a Next 18 plan, or $37 with a Next 12 plan. Alternately, customers can pay $249.99 with a two-year contract, or the full retail price of $699. The Priv is BlackBerry's first Android smartphone. It is a vertical slider that has a 5.4-inch curved display, 18-mnegapixel camera, and 3,410mAh battery.
BlackBerry today said it has completed its $425 million purchase of Good Technology. Good Technology provides mobile email products as well as mobile device management tools to businesses. BlackBerry said the acquisition "is aligned with BlackBerry's strategy to offer [businesses] the most complete, end-to-end solution that secures the entire mobile enterprise, across all platforms." Good's Technology is available to iPhones and Android handsets, which BlackBerry now also manages under its BlackBerry Enterprise Server. BlackBerry recently debuted its first Android handset, which it is pitching as a highly-secure smartphone for business customers.
BlackBerry today made the Priv, its first Android smartphone, available for preorder. The device is a vertical slider that includes a touchscreen and a physical QWERTY keyboard. Like the BlackBerry Passport, the Priv's keyboard can be used to move the cursor around and scroll through web sites, emails, and documents. The Android operating system includes exclusive BlackBerry apps and DTEK for managing privacy. DTEK gives owners granular control over device permissions and what personal data is shared with third parties. The phone includes BlackBerry Hub for managing email, BBM, text messages, and other communications. The Priv has a 5.4-inch quad HD screen with curved edges. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor with two cores at 1.8GHz and four cores at 1.2GHz. The processor is accompanied by an Adreno 418 GPU, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. The camera has an 18-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.2, optical image stabilization, two-tone LED flash, and HDR, panorama, and burst modes. It can capture 4K video. The user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel camera with wide-angle selfie mode. The Priv packs an integrated 3,410mAh battery, which supports rapid charging and provides more than 22 hours of mixed user. Wireless radios include Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC, WiFi, and LTE (AT&T/T-Mobile). The phone costs $699 and will begin shipping Nov. 6.
A Wisconsin jury said Apple owes $234 million for using the university's patented technology without permission. Apple was found to violate the patents, owned by the Wisconsin Academic Research Fund (WARF), earlier this week. The technology helps improve the efficiency of chips and is found in Apple's A7, A8, and A8X processors. WARF claimed Apple willfully violated the patents and sought more than $800 million. Apple argued it should pay less than the $110 million amount Intel paid to settle a similar lawsuit in 2009. Apple plans to appeal the verdict.
BlackBerry CEO John S. Chen today said its smartphone business needs to generate a profit in 2016, "Otherwise, I have to think twice about what I do there." Chen's comments offer more insight into BlackBerry's frame of mind regarding smartphones. Just last week, the company announced the Priv, a vertical slider that will run Android rather than BlackBerry's own platform. Chen said if the company can port all of BlackBerry's security features to the Android platform, then it may drop BlackBerry OS completely. Chen has previously warned the company might cease making smartphones. "If I can't make money on the phone, I will be out of that telephone handset business," remarked Chen in August. In July, the company said it would make no more than one or two smartphones per year. The Priv is expected to arrive before the end of 2015.
BlackBerry today added a handful of new features to its cross-platform messaging service. All versions of BBM (Android, BlackBerry, iOS) earn the ability to send money to BBM contacts using PayPal. This feature had been in testing on BlackBerries, but is now available to all three smartphone platforms. All versions of the app also allow users to subscribe to the BBM Sticker Club, which BlackBerry says is a great way to build sticker collections. Android users, in particular, can re-order sticker packs and place their favorites in easy-to-reach positions. Android users can also customize the font size within the app, and make use of pinch-to-zoom. iOS devices have been given access to the Quick Reply function (iOS 9 only); the ability to send videos as attachments; and the ability to view, like, and comment on group pictures/events. Last, BBM now works on the Apple Watch, where it can be used to read messages as well as fire off quick replies. BBM is free to download from the Google Play Store, BlackBerry World, and iTunes App Store.
The CTIA today announced that a number of member companies have agreed to take on additional measures to help prevent cellphone thefts. Following recommendations made by the FCC, wireless companies will make anti-theft tools available to all consumers that also respect consumer choice and privacy. All new phones made after July 2016 will "make readily available to the authorized user an option that allows the authorized user to enable or disable the anti-theft solution at any time that the smartphone is connected and is in the authorized user's possession." Beyond this baseline tool, consumers will have the option to use other, third-party solutions to locate, wipe, or reinstate their devices if they so wish. Companies that have agreed to this include Apple, Asurion; AT&T; BlackBerry; Google; HTC; Huawei; LG; Microsoft; Motorola; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile USA; U.S. Cellular; Verizon, and ZTE. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "CTIA members' ... enhanced voluntary commitment to adopt anti-theft features and educate consumers demonstrates their resolve in combatting it. I am hopeful that this new voluntary commitment will make a meaningful difference for consumer safety. As the enhanced commitment recognizes, these solutions work only if they are adopted widely. The FCC will remain vigilant in this area by pushing for further improvements to the theft-prevention toolbox, and also by monitoring closely whether the efforts of industry and others are producing meaningful results." Apple's iOS and Google's Android already contain features that let device owners find and protect their mobile devices. The FCC hopes allowing people to download and use the protective measure of their choice will help encourage consumers to make broader use of the tool.
BlackBerry today posted some official images of the forthcoming Priv smartphone. The Priv is a vertical slider that runs Android. It offers a full QWERTY keyboard and can be managed by BlackBerry's enterprise software, making it a secure handset for business users. The images shared by BlackBerry clearly reveal a curved display, similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. BlackBerry will share more details about the phone in the weeks ahead.
BlackBerry today said it will make a handset based on Google's Android operating system that also offers business users enterprise-class security features. "We are focused on making faster progress to achieve profitability in our handset business," said CEO John S. Chen. "I am confirming our plans to launch Priv, an Android device named after BlackBerry's heritage and core mission of protecting our customers' privacy. Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform." BlackBerry said the phone will go on sale in stores and online by the end of the calendar year, and that more details will be made available in the coming weeks. At the same time, BlackBerry said it will continue to develop security and privacy updates for its own BlackBerry 10 platform, and expects to release 10.3.3 in March 2016. The news was shared as part of BlackBerry's quarterly earnings report, which showed the company lost $66 million on revenue of $490 million.
BlackBerry today said it has agreed to purchase Good Technology for $425 million. Good Technology makes and sells mobile email products as well as mobile device management tools. The company said the acquisition "is aligned with BlackBerry's strategy to offer [businesses] the most complete, end-to-end solution that secures the entire mobile enterprise, across all platforms." Good Technology was purchased by Visto in 2009. Prior to that, it was owned by Motorola. At one time, Visto successfully sued BlackBerry (then Research In Motion) for patent infringement. BlackBerry said it expects to close the acquisition during its 2016 fiscal their quarter.
John S. Chen, CEO of BlackBerry, admitted that its recent handsets have not sold as well as he hoped. "By any definition it is not a runaway success," said Chen to Re/Code of BlackBerry's smartphone business. Chen put some of the blame on the lack of apps. The Blackberry World app store "[is] not competitive to Google Play or the iTunes store," said Chen. "We're working hard at that." BlackBerry handsets are able to run Android apps, but even that doesn't help. Recent reports have suggested the company is preparing a BlackBerry handset with Android on board, but Chen said, "It is a little more complex [than that], which is why it is not done." BlackBerry has already made significant cuts to its hardware business this year and plans to release just one or two handsets per year. Even so, the company may consider exiting smartphones altogether. "If I can't make money on the phone, I will be out of that telephone handset business. There is a timeline; I won't tell you when."
Qualcomm today shared more information about the Hexagon 680 digital signal processor, a component that will be part of the forthcoming Snapdragon 820 application processor. Qualcomm says it relies on DSPs to offload some tasks from the main CPU in order to save power. The Hexagon 680 introduces a separate DSP for sensors, such as pedometers, gyroscopes, and accelerometers, so motion and other activities can be tracked without draining the battery. The other improvement over earlier DSPs is what Qualcomm calls the Hexagon Vector eXtensions, which are reserved for imaging and computer vision. The HVXs are paired with the Qualcomm Spectra image signal processor, for example, to adaptively improve low light areas in real time without sucking down energy. Qualcomm says devices with the Snapdragon 820 — and Hexagon 680 — are expected to reach consumers during the first half of 2016.
Samsung has unfurled the "ultimate test drive" in order to tempt iPhone owners to switch to a new Samsung handset. The company is letting iPhone users test drive a Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, or Galaxy S6 Edge for 30 days for just $1. Samsung will send a handset and an active SIM card to those who register for the promotion from an iPhone. The rental must be returned at the end of a month and borrowers will be on the hook for any damage incurred during the trial (cracked screens, etc.). People who don't return the handset will be charged the full retail amount. The test drive promotion is only available to U.S. residents.
WhatsApp has extended its WhatsApp Web functionality to iOS devices. It previously only supported Android, BlackBerry, and Windows handsets. With WhatsApp Web, users are able to send messages from their desktop browser in addition to their mobile device. Setting it up requires users to scan a QR code from within the WhatsApp application on their handset. They are then able to unlock the browser-based desktop client, where they'll be able to message their WhatsApp contacts. In addition to expanding WhatsApp Web to iOS, WhatsApp also updated its Windows Phone app. The app adds quite a handful of new features. For example, users can mark chats read or unread, as well as set custom notifications, vibrate alerts, and ringtones for individual conversations. Contact Cards are now easier to integrate into WhatsApp's contacts database for quicker replies. The app adds a significant number of new emoji and the ability to adjust the emojis' colors. Last, the app makes it possible to set limits on the app's mobile data usage. WhatsApp is free to download from the Windows Store.
BlackBerry today expanded BBM's money-sending feature by adding support for PayPal. Users need only connect their PayPal account to their BBM account to send and receive money. Both the sender and the recipient will need to have PayPal accounts in order to transfers to go through. The feature is being offered as a beta service to the Android, BlackBerry, and iOS versions of the BBM app in Canada. BlackBerry expects to expand the feature to other regions in the coming weeks.
DirecTV today rolled out a new promotion that will reward customers who switch wireless carriers to AT&T with $500. The deal is available to existing DirecTV and AT&T U-verse television customers. Any customer that changes carriers will receive a $300 bill credit for each line ported to AT&T. Further, customers who also trade in an eligible smartphone will receive an additional $200 in credits. For example, DirecTV said a family of four that switches to AT&T and trades in four smartphones can receive up to $2,000 in bill credits. This promotion is available on top of the existing deal that reduces the bill of customers who combine DirecTV/U-verse television service with AT&T wireless service by $10 per month. The $500 bill credit promotion will only be available for a limited time.
BlackBerry today showed off the Passport Silver Edition, a refined version of its wide-screen smartphone. The Silver Edition has a reinforced stainless steel frame to improve strength and help with antenna performance. The design was updated with rounded corners, a slimmer profile, and a diamond pattern soft-touch back plate to improve its appeal and usability. Most other features of the phone remain unchanged. The phone has a 1440 by 1440 pixel 4.5-inch screen, 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 13-megapixel camera, and a massive 3,450mAh battery. The device runs BlackBerry OS 10.3.2. BlackBerry is selling the Passport Silver Edition in North America beginning today via its web site. The phone costs $549.
LG and Verizon Wireless today announced a short promotion that will reward buyers of the LG G4 with a $100 Visa Gift card. Verizon customers must buy the G4 between Aug. 1 and Aug. 12, and register for the gift card by Aug. 31.
BlackBerry CEO John S. Chen said the company plans to reduce the number of handsets it makes each year to one or two. Chen said the company will make a couple of flagship-class devices and ignore the low-end of the market. "We make four phones a year. We are not going to do that anymore," said BlackBerry CEO John Chen to Fox Business. "We are going to at least cut it down to maybe two, maybe one and [shift] those resources [to] the security and software side" of the business. BlackBerry has spent the last few years cutting costs and refocusing its business on providing mobile device management and security services to its business customers. Just this week, BlackBerry announced plans to buy AtHoc, a crisis messaging product. Earlier this year, BlackBerry revealed plans to further trim back its hardware team. The one or two devices BlackBerry brings to market will "be a high-end phone that you can walk into AT&T and get it, as a professional," said Chen to Bloomberg. "The low-end phone is not BlackBerry's sweet spot." Several of BlackBerry's most recent handsets have targeted the low end of the market, such as the Leap and the Classic. Chen did not say when the company might next release a handset.
BlackBerry today said it has agreed to acquire AtHoc for an undisclosed sum. AtHoc provides secure crisis communications for businesses so they can push critical data in real-time during business- or life-threatening events. The AtHoc service can send alerts to any device, including iOS, Android, Windows, and Macs, as well as radios, IP phones, digital displays, and even sirens or speakers. Homeland Security and the Department of Defense are among AtHoc's customers. BlackBerry said it will integrate AtHoc's offering into its own portfolio of enterprise communications services. The deal gives AtHoc global reach to expand its business and helps round out BlackBerry's business offerings. BlackBerry said it expects to complete the deal during its fiscal third quarter.