Created by BlackBerry (the company) the BlackBerry 10 OS is used exclusively on BlackBerry phones. Version 10 is a completely new OS compared to BlackBerry 7 and earlier.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
H5OS is a new mobile operating system that intends to challenge Google's Android. H5OS was developed by Acadine Technologies, a Hong Kong-based startup founded by former Mozilla President Li Gong. The operating system is based on HTML5, a standardized web programming language that can support light-weight apps. Acadine Technologies was formed in May and has raised $100 million in seed funding from Chinese supporters. Acadine's Gong doesn't expect H5OS to reach the market until 2016, but he believes it can supplant Android in certain device segments. "Our web-based mobile software is lighter and consumes less power and memory compared to Google's Android," said Gong in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "It requires lower hardware specifications to deliver the same user experience so it can bring down the smartphone cost. Another advantage is that H5OS is a truly open mobile ecosystem without default services like Google Maps and Google Search. We can work with any content and service providers, offering more customization options to device makers." Android is the global leader in mobile operating systems and Apple's iOS is a distant second. Windows Phone and BlackBerry hardly register, and other competitors, such as Jolla's Sailfish OS and Canonical's Ubuntu, have struggled to gain any significant traction. Gong believes H5OS can succeed in the ultra-low-cost smartphone and feature phone segments.
BlackBerry today made BES 12.2 available to its business customers. The improved mobile device management platform adds a handful of features, especially those aimed at platforms other than BlackBerry. For example, BES 12.2 adds support for Samsung KNOX Workplace and Google's Android for Work, both of which are now integrated with BlackBerry Secure Connect Plus. BES 12.2 also adds support for the Apple Device Enrollment Program, which makes it easier for IT admins to add iPhones to BES. BlackBerry is focusing efforts on its software services businesses. The company recently reduced the number of employees designing smartphones.
Beginning today, most smartphones sold in the U.S. will include anti-theft security tools. July 1 marks the day by which phone makers and network operators agreed to implement free theft deterrents on smartphones. According to the CTIA, most of the industry has responded by placing remote lock/wipe capabilities on consumer devices. The addition of an activation lock on the Apple iPhone, for example, has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in major cities. The activation lock prevents a stolen device from being activated by another person, thus making it useless to thieves. Remote wipe features allow people to erase the personal data from their handset if lost/stolen to protect their identity. The major participants in today's action include Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and ZTE. "Today's fulfillment of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is another example of the wireless industry proactively working together with policymakers and law enforcement to help protect consumers' smartphones in the event they are ever lost or stolen. We will continue to work with all interested parties to continue to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft-deterrence tools. We remind consumers to take a few minutes to use PINs, passwords, apps and other device features to protect their mobile devices and personal information." The industry was coerced into acting "voluntarily" when the FCC threatened to make such protective measures mandatory.
BlackBerry today pushed out an update to the Android, BlackBerry, and iOS versions of its BBM app and added several new features. The main new addition is a private chatting mode that strips conversations of names and profile pictures. Private conversations are also ephemeral and will disappear after a short while. The Private Chat tool is in the new Privacy and Control Subscription, which costs $0.99 per month. It also includes timed messages and timed pictures, and the ability to retract and edit messages and pictures. The Privacy and Control Subscription replaces the Timed and Retracted Messages Subscription. BlackBerry says existing subscribers will be transitioned over to the new service automatically. Other new functions include a new way to organize sticker collections and a "quote messages" tool for referencing previous messages. Last, the iOS version of BBM has updated font rendering. BBM is free to download from the Play Store, BlackBerry Store, and iTunes App Store.
BlackBerry and Cisco today announced that they have signed a long-term patent cross-licensing agreement. The agreement applies to a number of products and technologies, though the companies didn't specify which ones. BlackBerry will receive royalty payments from Cisco as part of the deal, which is being kept confidential. Companies often strike patent agreements, and BlackBerry and Cisco have a history of sharing information with one another. BlackBerry also reported its first-quarter financial results today. The company said it shipped about 1.1 million smartphones during the period. During the company's call with press and analysts, CEO John S. Chen said he's pulled resources from the handset team and moved them to software and internet-of-things efforts. His goal is to make the handset team profitable, which is why the company recently reduced its headcount in that business unit. The company has added to its list of ODMs and signed agreements with Wistron and Compal Electronics, which will manufacture its phones along with Foxconn. BlackBerry posted a loss of $28 million on revenues of $658 million.
BlackBerry is considering whether or not to make a smartphone based on Google's Android platform rather than its own operating system, reports Reuters. Citing sources familiar with BlackBerry's plans, Reuters says the company is working on a slider handset that would have a touch screen and a slide-out physical keyboard for typing. It would arrive in the fall. One possible impetus behind the idea is to convince businesses that BlackBerry's BES12 device management software can effectively control Android handsets in addition to iPhones and BlackBerries. BlackBerry has focused efforts on becoming a software services company rather than a hardware company, but it still sells a line of BlackBerry smartphones. The devices have not sshipped in significant numbers. "We don't comment on rumors and speculation," said BlackBerry to Reuters, "but we remain committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched." The Android handset would be sold alongside BlackBerry's existing lineup. Reuters sources said if BlackBerry chooses to make an Android handset it would probably include patented BlackBerry features, such as security software. BlackBerry already works with Android. It created a version of its BBM messaging application for Android, and BlackBerry 10 handsets can run select Android applications.
BlackBerry today said it is prepared to update most devices running BlackBerry OS 10 to version 10.3.2. The update also installs BlackBerry Blend version 1.2. The 10.3.2 update adds BlackBerry Protect for remote device wiping; improved low-light performance and face detection to the camera; and improvements to the calendar, such as customizable Meeting Mode and larger numbers on the busiest days. Blend 1.2 makes significant changes to the user interface, which BlackBerry said were based on customer feedback. Blend also gains the ability to reply from notifications and improved animations for file transfers. Specific to the U.S., the BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic will gain new icons, BlackBerry Assist, battery life tweaks, and better performance of the BlackBerry Hub. BlackBerry said users can expect to see BBOS 10.3.2 and Blend 1.2 reach their devices over the next few weeks.
BlackBerry today announced it has settled its legal disputes with Typo, the maker of keyboard accessories for the iPhone. As part of the settlement, Typo agreed it will cease selling keyboards for all devices with screen sizes smaller than 7.9 inches — which effectively puts the company out of business. Typo specifically sought to bring the physical keyboard experience to the Apple iPhone. BlackBerry charged in two lawsuits that the original and second-generation Typo keyboards copied its hardware designs. Other terms of the settlement were kept confidential. Typo has not said if it will regroup and make larger keyboards for other devices.
BlackBerry announced another round of job cuts on Friday, this time affecting those behind making the company's smartphones and mobile applications. BlackBerry did not say how many employees will lose their jobs, nor in which facilities, but said the cuts will reach its operations across the globe. In April BlackBerry said it might close a facility in Sweden, which was responsible for designing BlackBerry's handsets. It's not clear if this new round of layoffs includes that facility, or if those cuts already took place. The company has cut costs aggressively over the last 18 months as it focuses on improving the margins of its mobile device management business. "Our intention is to reallocate resources in ways that will best enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities while driving toward sustainable profitability across all facets of our business," said BlackBerry in a statement. Despite the cuts, BlackBerry said it is still committed to its device business. The company most recently released the BlackBerry Leap, a low-cost touchscreen smartphone.
T-Mobile today said it would make the BlackBerry Classic smartphone available to customers beginning May 13. The Classic has been sold by other carriers for months. T-Mobile's decision to offer the phone marks a change of heart for the Uncarrier, which in the past actively campaigned to have its customers trade in their BlackBerries in favor of other smartphones. The Classic runs BlackBerry 10 and is a traditional bar-style phone with a square touch screen and physical QWERTY keyboard below it. It brings back the classic BlackBerry buttons, which means send/end buttons, a back button, menu button, and optical trackpad. The device supports both BB10 and Android apps. T-Mobile customers can pick up the Classic for $0 down followed by 24 payments of $18.33 per month. The full retail price is $439.92.
Microsoft today said Windows 10 devices will be able to run Android applications. According to Microsoft, developers will be able to reuse Java and C++ code to run Android apps in an Android subsystem on Windows 10 devices. Further, Microsoft said Windows 10 will support iOS and Objective C, so developers can port iOS apps to Windows 10 easily thanks to new tools in Visual Studio. Adding support for Android apps and making it possible for developers to port iOS apps to the Windows 10 platform will help Microsoft close the app gap it faces with competing platforms. BlackBerry has a similar idea in place on its BlackBerry 10 devices, which can run Android apps. Windows 10 isn't expected to arrive until later this year.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.