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printed April 26, 2015
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BlackBerry May Close Swedish Design Lab

Friday, 4:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry is considering whether or not to shutter its operations in Sweden. About 100 people work at the facility, which helped develop some BlackBerry smartphones such as the Z10. The company has initiated conversations with the employee unions at the facility in question and will make a final decision in the weeks ahead. BlackBerry has been on a course of aggressive cost-cutting as it seeks to trim operations that it sees as non-vital to its enterprise device management business. Earlier this week it announced plans to acquire a secure file management company called WatchDox.


BlackBerry Buys WatchDox, Brings Games to BBM for Android

Apr 21, 2015, 9:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said it has agreed to acquire a company called WatchDox. WatchDox helps companies securely manage file syncing and sharing services across their business. BlackBerry says the acquisition will help it provide best-in-class security, and give its enterprise customers a higher degree of control over their data. BlackBerry also announced BBM Connect Games for the Android platform. With the latest version of BBM installed, Android device owners will be able to play games with their BBM contacts through the messaging service. According to BlackBerry, BBM Connect Games lets users interact, post achievements, and share game currency with others. The company launched three games alongside the updated BBM app to get Android users into the action. The games are free to download and are available in the BBM Shop.


BlackBerry to Kill Off Advertising Business

Apr 16, 2015, 1:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said its BlackBerry Advertising Service will reach its end of life on June 16, 2015, after which the servers will be disabled and the APIs will no longer work. BlackBerry launched the service to help developers generate ad-based revenue via mobile applications. The company said, based on its continued efforts to realign its focus on enterprise customers, the BlackBerry Advertising Service is no longer a core offering. BlackBerry suggests developers remove their API calls from the service and explore other advertising options.


BlackBerry Begins Global Rollout of Leap Smartphone

Apr 15, 2015, 7:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said its Leap smartphone is now available in the U.K., with other countries to follow shortly. The Leap is similar to the Z10 and has a 5-inch, 720p HD display and an older Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor clocked at 1.5GHz. Other features include LTE 4G, an 8-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, memory card slot, and a 2,800mAh battery. The device runs BlackBerry 10.3.1 and includes the Amazon Appstore for compatible Android apps. According to BlackBerry, the phone will reach Germany, France, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India, and the U.S. within the next few weeks. The U.S. price will be approximately $275.


Nokia to Buy Alcatel-Lucent, Mulling Options for HERE Maps

Apr 15, 2015, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today said it has agreed to acquire Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion. The combined companies would be a giant in the telecom equipment space with more than 100,000 employees. The terms of the deal will see Nokia acquire all of Alcatel-Lucent's stock, as traded in both France and the U.S. The companies' boards of directors have approved the deal, though shareholders have yet to vote on the acquisition. The deal will also require regulatory approval. The companies expect the deal to close during the first half of 2016. Once combined, the companies will streamline redundant operations, but believe the 40,000 research and development at its disposal employees will be able to make the company a world leader in the connected IP space. Nokia-Alcatel-Lucent will specifically target the development of 5G wireless networks. The largest competitors remaining are Ericsson and Huawei, though ZTE, Samsung, and others make telecommunications equipment, too. In addition to announcing the Alcatel-Lucent deal, Nokia said it has begun a review of strategic options for its HERE Maps business. Nokia acquired Navteq's mapping business in 2007 and turned it into a competitive global company. Nokia's HERE Maps are available to the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms, as well as online, and provide robust driving, walking, and transit directions. Nokia said its review of HERE Maps may or may not result in a transaction.


Nokia Confirms Talks to Acquire Alcatel-Lucent

Apr 14, 2015, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent today said they are in advanced talks concerning a merger or acquisition between the two. Such a deal would would produce a massive competitor to Sweden's Ericsson and China's Huawei in the telecommunications market. Nokia said the deal currently being considered would entail a "full combination" of the two companies, though the deal could still fall apart. Alcatel-Lucent is valued at about $11.63 billion while Nokia is valued at about $29.59 billion. France, where Alcatel-Lucent is based, is wary of the deal. "The government will be very vigilant regarding the possible consequences on employment and activity at the French sites of Alcatel-Lucent, notably in research and development, as well as the effects on the entire telecoms sector in France," said the French economy ministry. The combined entities could employ more than 100,000 workers, but Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent have on their own slashed thousands of jobs over the years. Nokia bought out its networking partner Siemens in 2014 to abolish Nokia Siemens Networks and form the current Nokia Corp. Alcatel-Lucent was formed in 2006 when France's Alcatel merger with the US's Lucent. A Nokia-Alcatel-Lucent merger could face significant hurdles attempting to gain regulatory approval.


Apple Offering Credit for Some Android, Windows Phones

Mar 30, 2015, 9:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has expanded the scope of its Reuse and Recycling Program to include smartphones, tablets, and PCs not made by Apple. Customers can take their old smartphones directly to Apple Stores and receive credit towards new Apple gear for turning them in. Customers who don't have access to Apple Stores can mail in their devices for credit. Apple will recycle just about any old phone, tablet, or computer for free. Apple says not all devices are eligible for credit and suggests customers check eligibility (online) before heading to Apple Stores. According to Apple's web site, it is accepting handsets from Sony, Samsung, Nokia, LG, and BlackBerry. Apple has partnered with Brightstar and DataServ to handle the actual device recycling processes. The expanded Apple Reuse and Recycling Program is available in the U.S., the U.K., and select European countries.


Sprint Offering Galaxy S6 and Service For $80 Per Month

Mar 26, 2015, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is hoping to attract customers to its network with a combined promotion that includes the Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Sprint Unlimited Plus service plan for $80 per month. The plan includes the 32GB GS6 for "free" after a $20-per-month credit with a 24-month lease; unlimited talk, text, and data; international value roaming; and annual upgrades. Customers who want the 64GB or 128GB models can get them for $85 and $90 per month, respectively, with the same service plan. Families interested in the Galaxy S6 can score four of them with unlimited talk and text, and 20GB of shared data for a total monthly price of $200 per month. Annual upgrades would cost another $10 per line per month. Customers looking for the Galaxy S6 Edge can snag one for $85 per month ($5 per month after $20-per-month lease credit) with the Sprint Unlimited plan. Customers not interested in contracts or leases can pay full price for the Galaxy S6 ($649.99) and pair it with a Boost Mobile plan. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge go on sale in Sprint stores April 10, with pre-orders beginning March 27.


Apple Announces ResearchKit for Medical Data Gathering

Mar 9, 2015, 12:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 9, 2015, 12:29 PM

Apple today announced ResearchKit, a tool for developers for collecting and gathering health-related data. The company demonstrated how apps can be used to track the symptoms and progression of major diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, Parkinson's, breast cancer, and others. The data can be collected from iPhones, and can contain GPS data, air quality and data covering other environmental conditions, and much more. ResearchKit also contains strict privacy controls, such as what research users choose to participate in, and what data is shared to third parties. Apple says it will not see any of the associated data generated by ResearchKit. Medical professionals hope to use iPhone owners to supply data at a grand scale in order to better understand diseases and the medical conditions and eventually learn how to better treat or cure them. Apple said it will release ResearchKit in April and the tools will be open source.

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Hands On with the BlackBerry Leap

Mar 3, 2015, 4:30 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 3, 2015, 10:10 AM

BlackBerry’s strategy under its new CEO John Chen has been to dramatically cut down the number of phones the company pumps out. So a new all-touch phone like the Z10 is a big deal. That describes the Leap, although not completely. It’s very much like the Z10, but also much much lower-end. We spent some time with it. Read on for our impressions.

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BlackBerry Teases 2015 Lineup

Mar 3, 2015, 3:51 AM   by Rich Brome

BlackBerry today discussed its hardware roadmap for 2015 at an event in Barcelona. The company promised an "innovative" new design with a dual-curve display, large touch screen, and slide-out keyboard. The company is also planning a new standard keyboard phone, presumably to replace the Q10. Finally, the company is working on a new Porche-designed phone, in line with its existing Porche versions of its flagship phones. The company did not discuss timing for any of the new phones. The company also announced its Leap phone at the same event.

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BlackBerry Leap Is The New Z10

Mar 3, 2015, 3:46 AM   by Rich Brome

BlackBerry today announced the Leap, a new smartphone with standard slab touch screen form factor. It's much like the Z10 that launched BlackBerry 10, but with a larger 5-inch, 720p HD display. It includes LTE, an 8-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, memory card slot, and a 2,800 mAh sealed battery. It's powered by an older Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 processor, running at 1.5 GHz. It will include the Amazon Appstore for compatible Android apps. It's running BlackBerry 10.3.1 and will cost $275. It will come to Europe, initially.


Samsung's Knox Platform Adds More BlackBerry Tools

Mar 1, 2015, 5:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and BlackBerry today announced that Samsung's Knox enterprise security service will adopt BlackBerry's WorkLife and SecuSUITE services. The WorkLife tool will let Samsung device owners keep their work and personal data separate on the device. Businesses will be able to access, control, and secure work data stored on smartphones, but won't be able to access personal files, photos, and so on. The SecuSUITE service offers encrypted and protected voice and SMS communications for those who work in high-security settings. Samsung believes offering these two BlackBerry services will entice more businesses to equip employees with its smartphones and tablets. The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will be the first two smartphones compatible with these new business tools.


BlackBerry Repackaging Device Management Suite

Mar 1, 2015, 5:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced the BlackBerry Experience Suite, a package of software that will help businesses manage their Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones and tablets. The suite will take form in three distinct services: Productivity, Communications and Collaboration, and Security. "We want to empower all mobile professionals in order to supercharge their productivity and allow them to work across all their devices in an effortless and secure way," said BlackBerry. BlackBerry plans to sell these three products separately or together to corporations. BlackBerry plans to ship the BlackBerry Experience Suite later this year.


BBM Gains Custom PINs, Android Wear, and TouchID

Mar 1, 2015, 5:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced updates to the Android and iOS versions of BBM. Both versions gain access to two new services: no ads and custom PINs. People who'd like to use BBM with no ads can do so for $0.99 per month. People who'd like to generate their own, personal PIN code can do so for $1.99 per month. Android and iOS users will also be able to share photos within BBM group chats. The Android version of BBM adds support for Android Wear, so smartwatch wearers can receive BBM notifications on their wrists. The iOS version of BBM gains support for TouchID, which will allow users to secure their BBM chats with their fingerprint. BBM is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.


Verizon to Sell BlackBerry Classic Feb. 26

Feb 24, 2015, 10:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 24, 2015, 11:08 AM

Verizon Wireless today said it will sell the BlackBerry Classic smartphone beginning Feb. 26. It will be available online first, and is expected to reach stores on March 5. Verizon is charging $100 for the Classic with a two-year contract, and is also offering the Classic through its Edge monthly payment program. The BlackBerry Classic has a touch screen and physical QWERTY keyboard. It supports Verizon's XLTE 4G service and has a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. The Classic runs BlackBerry OS 10.3.


Yahoo Debuts New App Developer Suite

Feb 19, 2015, 3:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Yahoo today announced the Yahoo Mobile Developer Suite, a collection of five products meant to help developers get the most out of their mobile apps. The suite contains Flurry Analytics with Explorer, Flurry Pulse, Yahoo App Publishing, Yahoo Search in Apps, and Yahoo App Marketing. Flurry, which Yahoo bought last year, lets developers research the performance of their own apps. Pulse can be used to share app data with third parties. The App Publishing tool lets developers monetize their apps with video or display ads. Yahoo Search allows app writers to put Yahoo Search directly into their own app. Last, App Marketing lets developers find new users and grow their installed base. The company believes the new suite will encourage developers to use its platform rather than those offered by competitors. Yahoo has spent the last few years refocusing its company on mobile products.


BlackBerry Pushing 10.3.1 System Update to Most Phones

Feb 19, 2015, 9:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said BlackBerry OS 10.3.1 is available for device owners to download. The latest version of BlackBerry's operating system includes the Amazon Appstore for Android apps and brings back keyboard shortcuts to devices with physical keyboards. The OS also improves BlackBerry Blend (desktop messaging client), BlackBerry Assistant (voice commands), BlackBerry Hub (adds instant actions), and the Calendar app (adds Meeting Mode). The update also improves battery life and camera performance. BlackBerry 10.3.1 is available to the BlackBerry Q5, Q10, Z3, Z10, Z30, BlackBerry Porsche Design P'9983, and the Passport.


AT&T to Sell BlackBerry Passport and Classic Feb. 20

Feb 16, 2015, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it will begin to sell the BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic smartphones on Feb. 20. Both handsets will be available with contract and monthly payment options. The Passport will cost $21.67 per month with AT&T Next 24; $27.09 with AT&T Next 18; or $32.50 per month with AT&T Next 12. Customers can choose to sign a two-year contract, which will allow them to purchase the phone for $199. Last, customers may also choose to buy the phone at full price for $649.99. The Classic will cost $14, $17.50, or $21 per month with AT&T's Next 24, Next 18, and Next 12 plans, respectively. The Classic's two-year price is $49.99 and the full retail price is $419.99. The Passport and Classic both run BlackBerry OS 10.3 and include touch screens and QWERTY keyboards for typing.


Senators Question Verizon's Use of Supercookies

Feb 6, 2015, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 6, 2015, 3:40 PM

Democratic senators have sent letters to the FTC and FCC asking them to investigate Verizon's use of supercookies, particularly how they pertain to consumer privacy. The supercookies allow Verizon to track customer behavior, including web browsing history, for advertising purposes and cannot be turned off. Security researchers recently discovered that the supercookies, unique codes assigned to subscribers, could be used by third parties to track consumers and were in fact used to that end by a company called Turn. Once Verizon learned of Turn's use of the supercookies it quickly reversed course and said it will allow consumers to opt out. The senators aren't happy with Verizon's actions and wonder if it violated its customers' privacy. Verizon said it takes its customers' privacy seriously and will respond to the letters.


SEC Investigating Suspicious BlackBerry Trades

Feb 6, 2015, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 6, 2015, 5:05 PM

The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into trades of BlackBerry stock around the time a report suggested Samsung might buy the company. On January 14, Reuters reported that Samsung planned to buy BlackBerry for as much as $7.5 billion. Just ahead of that report, someone purchased options for 200,000 shares of BlackBerry stock at $10. After the report was published, BlackBerry's stock surged by 30% reaching highs of $12.60. According to Reuters, if the purchaser was able to sell the shares he or she could have profited as much as $490,000. BlackBerry and Samsung later denied the report and BlackBerry's stock tumbled back down to below $10 per share. The SEC is looking into whether or not Reuters' source deliberately planted the story in order to manipulate BlackBerry's share price, which would be illegal. BlackBerry and Samsung have partnered together to encourage businesses to buy Samsung's handsets and use BlackBerry's device management software. At the moment, that's the extent of their relationship.


Typo Keyboard Maker Hit with Fine for Violating Injunction

Feb 4, 2015, 5:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A judge has ordered Typo, maker of an attachable iPhone keyboard, to pay BlackBerry $860,000 for violating a sales injunction regarding its original product. Typo debuted a physical QWERTY keyboard for the iPhone in early 2014. BlackBerry sued the company swiftly for patent infringement. Typo was eventually hit with an injunction barring it from selling the infringing keyboard in the U.S. Apparently it continued to sell them anyway, which resulted in today's fine. After the fallout of the lawsuit, Typo was forced to redesign the Typo keyboard. It released the second device, Typo 2, in January of this year. Like the original, the Typo 2 fits onto the bottom of an iPhone 6 and uses Bluetooth to connect. The idea is to give iPhone users a physical keyboard on which to type rather than the glass screen. Ryan Seacrest, of American Idol fame, invested heavily in the company.


BlackBerry CEO Weighs In On Net and App Neutrality

Jan 22, 2015, 8:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry CEO John S. Chen penned a blog post concerning net neutrality. Chen does not think the FCC should reclassify broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. He believes the FCC can come up with other ways to ensure an open, competitive market. Perhaps more interesting, however, are Chen's thoughts on "application neutrality." Chen believes application developers and content providers should be required to make their apps and services available to all mobile devices, including BlackBerries. "Not all content and applications providers have embraced openness and neutrality," wrote Chen. "Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple's iMessage messaging service. Netflix, which has forcefully advocated for carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. This dynamic has created a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem, in which iPhone and Android users are able to access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems. Therefore, neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer's mobile operating system." Both the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store are home to more than one million apps each. The number of apps available to BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices is much, much less.


WhatsApp Expands to the Web

Jan 21, 2015, 2:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

WhatsApp today made it possible for people to send messages from their Chrome browser in addition to their mobile device. The Chrome-based service is compatible with Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices, but not iOS due to "platform limitations." In order to launch the web-based functionality, users need to scan a QR code from within the WhatsApp application on their handset. They are then able to unlock the Chrome-based desktop client, where they'll be able to message their WhatsApp contacts.


T-Mobile Parent Still Wants To Offload the Uncarrier

Jan 19, 2015, 8:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Deutsche Telekom, majority owner of T-Mobile, believes the Uncarrier's best chances of success are to merge with or be acquired by another large carrier. Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges, speaking to Re/code, said T-Mobile lacks the scale enjoyed by rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Without that scale, it will be hard for T-Mobile to compete in the long run. "I was intrigued by the idea of having a combination with Sprint and being the 'super-maverick' in the market," said Hoettges, "I hope that the political environment will change at one point in time." Sprint's parent, SoftBank, abandoned the idea of acquiring T-Mobile last year after regulators said the deal would face major hurdles in scoring approval. While Hoettges praised T-Mobile CEO John Legere for enacting change and turning the company around with aggressive promotions, he said T-Mobile cannot hold its current course indefinitely. "The question is always the economics in the long term," said Hoettges. "You have to earn your money back at one point in time."


Samsung Weighing BlackBerry Acquisition

Jan 14, 2015, 4:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 14, 2015, 6:01 PM

Samsung has approached BlackBerry about a potential acquisition, according to a report published by Reuters. Citing people familiar with Samsung's plans, Reuters suggests Samsung would be willing to pay up to $7.5 billion for the one-time smartphone king. Samsung is most interested in BlackBerry's patent portfolio, and executives of the companies met last week regarding a potential deal, says Reuters. BlackBerry still makes smartphones, but the bulk of its current business is based on selling mobile device management software to business and government customers. At the same time, Samsung is anxious to build up a strong base of enterprise customers and sells its own Knox security platform to that effect. BlackBerry later denied it was in talks with Samsung.


PayPal Reaches BlackBerry 10 Devices

Jan 9, 2015, 1:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

PayPal has made a version of its mobile application available in the BlackBerry World app store for devices running BlackBerry OS 10.x. With this new app, PayPal is available to Android, BlackBerry, Fire OS, iOS, and Windows smartphones. PayPal for BlackBerry allows owners to send/request money, check balances, see activity, redeem offers, and even check-in to pay at select retailers that accept PayPal. The app works with the Z10 and Q10, as well as newer phones including the BlackBerry Passport and Classic. PayPal for BlackBerry is free to download from BlackBerry World.


BlackBerry Bringing BBM to Android Wear

Jan 7, 2015, 12:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today showed off BBM for Android Wear. With BBM on your wrist, Android Wear owners will be able to read incoming BBM messages, review and accept BBM invites, scan through the BBM inbox, and respond with either canned messages or dictated messages via Google Now. BlackBerry said BBM for Android Wear will be available soon -- and that the company has other cross-platform wearable apps in the pipeline.


AT&T Reveals BlackBerry Classic and Passport Pricing

Jan 7, 2015, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today published pricing details for the BlackBerry Classic and its unique model of the BlackBerry Passport. The Classic will cost $50 with a two-year contract or $420 with no commitment. Customers may also choose AT&T's Next plans, which will cost $14 per month, $17.50 per month, or $21 per month with the Next 24, Next 18, or Next 12 plans, respectively. AT&T also showed off a new version of the Passport with rounded edges and a slightly changed back surface. The Passport will cost $200 with a two-year contract or $650 with no commitment. Customers may also buy the Passport via AT&T's Next plans, which will cost $21.67 per month, $27.03 per month, or $32.50 per month with the Next 24, Next 18, or Next 12 plans, respectively. AT&T said both devices will be available soon.


HTC to Support Under Armour's UA Record App

Jan 6, 2015, 12:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 6, 2015, 12:30 PM

Under Armour today announced UA Record, a health and fitness app for Android and iOS devices that allows users to monitor and share their fitness data and goals. Smartphone owners can track motion and GPS activity, view analysis from individual workouts (steps, sleep, weight), as well as see a snapshot of overall progress towards specific goals. UA Record lets people invite up to 20 friends to health and fitness challenges, and even allows people to share videos, photos, workout stories, and nutrition guides. As part of the announcement, Under Armour mentioned that third-party hardware makers can support UA Record through the Under Armour Connected Fitness API/SDK platform. HTC is among the first smartphone vendors to voice support for the platform and it said it has a series of UA Record-compatible products in the pipeline, which will debut later this year. Samsung has worked with Under Armour in the past (notably with the Galaxy S5 Sport), but it has yet to say it will adopt UA's Connected Fitness platform. The Android and iOS apps are free to download from the Play Store and App Store, respectively, beginning today.


Apple's Patent Consortium to Sell 4,000 Patents for $900M

Dec 23, 2014, 10:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Rockstar Consortium, a patent-holding company headed by Apple, has agreed to sell more than 4,000 mobile patents for about $900 million. Apple and partners Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony paid $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents from Nortel four years ago in order to help protect against litigation. The companies are selling two-thirds of the patents to RPX Corp., which is another patent-focused company that protects companies from lawsuits. RPX plans to license the patent portfolio to a syndicate of 30 technology companies, including Google and Cisco, according to the Wall Street Journal. The syndicate members contributed the bulk of the $900 million in order to purchase the patents. In addition to the patent sale, Rockstar will settle patent-related lawsuits it has filed against Android device makers, including Samsung, Huawei, HTC, and LG. Terms of those settlements were not disclosed. Rockstar Consortium will hold onto about 2,000 of the old Nortel patents, which the Journal described as the "most valuable" of the bunch.


BlackBerry Finalizes Secusmart Acquisition

Dec 19, 2014, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said it has closed its acquisition of Secusmart, a security company based in Germany. Secusmart specializes in voice and data encryption. BlackBerry plans to use Secusmart's technology to further shore up its own enterprise and government offerings. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. BlackBerry also reported its third-quarter earnings today. Revenue declined from $1.19 billion in the year-ago period to $739 million in the period ending Nov. 29. Excluding one-time charges, the company posted a small profit and generated positive cash cash flow. Earlier this week the company launched a new phone, the BlackBerry Classic. BlackBerry believes the phone will appeal to its core business customers thanks to its physical QWERTY keyboard.


Hands-On: BlackBerry Classic

Dec 17, 2014, 2:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 18, 2014, 2:45 PM

BlackBerry's Classic smartphone harkens back to the devices of yesteryear. Its defining feature is a physical QWERTY keyboard, something phone makers have left in the past for good reason. Here are our first impressions of the Classic.

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AT&T Says It Will Sell the BlackBerry Classic

Dec 17, 2014, 11:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it will support the BlackBerry Classic, though pricing and availability aren't yet available. BlackBerry is already selling the phone directly to consumers for $449.


BlackBerry Shows Off the QWERTY-Equipped Classic

Dec 17, 2014, 10:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 17, 2014, 3:39 PM

BlackBerry today officially launched the BlackBerry Classic smartphone. BlackBerry has been talking about the phone for the better part of six months, but fully revealed its feature set during an event in New York. The phone has a 3.5-inch touch screen with a 1:1 aspect ratio and 720 by 720 pixels. BackBerry made this device to appeal to its legacy customers, such as the finance sector, and brought back the physical QWERTY keyboard for composing messages. BlackBerry also resurrected its legacy control buttons, including an optical trackpad, and capacitive send/end and back/menu keys. The phone has an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture and a 2-megaixel user-facing camera. The phone has a 1.5GHz Qualcomm processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage with support for microSD cards up to 128GB. The phone runs BlackBerry OS 10.3.1, which features the BlackBerry Hub. The BlackBerry Classic boasts 22 hours of battery life. Connectivity options include LTE, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, FM radio, NFC, as well as geo-location services. Blackberry is selling the Classic directly to consumers through Amazon.com and its web site for $449.


BlackBerry Adds Message Retraction to Windows Phone App

Dec 15, 2014, 9:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today made BBM 2.0 available to the Windows Phone platform. The updated app is now more in line with the Android, BlackBerry, and iOS versions of BBM thanks to several new features. For example BBM for Windows Phone now includes timed messages (which expire after they're seen/read) and message retraction (for recalling unread messages). BBM for Windows Phone also added a wide number of stickers for enlivening conversations. BBM 2.0 for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.


BlackBerry Improves BBM with Support for Lollipop and iOS 8

Dec 12, 2014, 12:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today pushed out BBM 2.6 to the Android and iOS platforms, as well as its own BlackBerry platform. All three versions of the app gain new features, including support for stickers within group chats and a 60-second option for time chats. The Android version of BBM tackles Android 5.0 Lollipop and adds landscape mode. BBM for iOS 8 adds compatibility with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus screens. BBM for BlackBerry OS now lets users share multiple pictures and attachments at the same time. BBM 2.6 is free to download from the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, and BlackBerry World.


Cricket Fishing for Prepaid Customers with $100 Lure

Dec 12, 2014, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless is hoping a $100 bill credit will convince customers of Cincinnati Bell, MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Sprint, and T-Mobile to hop on over to Cricket. New customers must switch from the aforementioned carriers, purchase a new device, and activate a new line of service on a qualifying rate plan in order to receive the credit. The credit will be applied at the end of the first billing cycle. Cricket's service plans cost $40-$60 per month, depending on options. Cricket offered a similar promotion over the summer months, but only targeted Sprint and T-Mobile. The current promotion runs through Dec. 31.


Sprint to Woo AT&T and Verizon Customers with Halved Rates

Dec 2, 2014, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 2, 2014, 10:15 AM

Sprint plans to go after AT&T and Verizon customers with an aggressive and enticing campaign. Beginning Friday, Sprint will offer rate plans to AT&T and Verizon customers that are half what they're already paying. For example, an AT&T customer who pays $300 per month will be offered a comparable Sprint plan that costs only $150 per month. The offer only extends to the service costs, including minutes, messaging, and data. It does not include subsidies for device payments. Sprint will waive activation fees and pay up to $350 to cover the ETFs of those who switch, though the new customers will need to turn in their old devices. In order to score the half-price plan, new Sprint customers will need to buy a device from Sprint at full retail price or finance it through Sprint Easy Pay. They'll also have to provide a copy of their most recent wireless bill for verification of the monthly cost. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure hinted via Twitter that the company intends to "launch one of our most exciting promotions ever, especially designed for Verizon and att customers who love to save money." The promotion does not apply to T-Mobile or current Sprint customers.


T-Mobile Improves International Calling Plans

Nov 19, 2014, 9:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today made it less expensive for customers to make calls from the U.S. to select countries abroad. T-Mobile's Stateside International Talk plan allows Simple Choice subscribers to make unlimited calls to landlines in 70 countries for $5 per account (not per line). Alternately, $10 per month buys unlimited calling to mobile phones in more than 30 countries and 1,000 minutes to mobile phones in Mexico, which is in addition to the unlimited landline calling. The promotional pricing is available starting today and runs through the end of the year.


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