All Articles Tagged "BlackBerry"
Looks like the fire between Alicia Keys and BlackBerry has gone out. The ailing mobile company has reported to the Canadian news outlet CBC (remember, BlackBerry is a Canadian company) that Alicia Keys will no longer be the company’s global creative director come January 30. That will be one year to the day from when it was announced that she would be filling the post.
From the beginning, it was clear that her role with the company was really meant to be a way to bring in a big-name celebrity endorsement. But after the hype around the announcement died down, it was hard to pinpoint what exactly Keys was doing for the company, besides some Powerpoint presentations. Though CBC says she showed up at some promotional events and appeared on some marketing materials.
The company is now focused on the “enterprise market” and corporate users after a year pockmarked with bad news. BlackBerry had sought a buyer, but that didn’t come through. Just a couple of weeks ago, the company announced another dismal quarterly report, with sales falling 56 percent and a $4.4 billion loss for the period ending in November. Interim CEO John Chen maintains that the foundation is there for a comeback.
The blog Motley Fool agrees that the company could experience a turnaround because of things like a restructuring and a partnership with Chinese manufacturer Foxconn, which is best known for making Apple devices. (And employee suicides, but that’s another story.)
Back to the topic of Alicia Keys, the partnership always seemed to be a little off. We don’t really know Keys to be particularly tech savvy or a notable social media player. Which isn’t a shortcoming for her, just a reminder that when you pick a spokesperson, it should be someone who has a connection with the product or the brand they’ll be representing. On the other hand, her music (“Girl on Fire” still haunts our dreams) and her philanthropic work is well known. So perhaps she’ll move on to things more closely tied to the interests that she’s more known for.
Either way, she’s got a soundtrack for her departure.
Your smartphone just might be a lot cooler than our President’s mobile device. While everyone is flocking to Apple to purchase the new iPhone 5S, Barack Obama must tote around a once-popular phone that has grown obsolete — the dreaded BlackBerry, LA Times reports.
During an event promoting the Affordable Care Act at the White House, Obama admitted that he’s forbidden from owning an Apple mobile device. “I’m not allowed for security reasons to have an iPhone,” he told the crowd. The Secret Service, according to The Week, is less wary of the Blackberry due to its “superior encryption standards.”
It’s important to note that back when Obama was sworn into office in 2009, the Secret Service didn’t even want him to own a BlackBerry either. But Obama begged to keep the business-oriented device; he told the agency that the phone could be programmed so that only 10 people can have access to his personal email. The secret service conceded. (The President does have an Apple iPad.)
If Obama did own an iPhone, his e-mail, GPS coordinates, personal photos, texts, and countless other classified material could easily be hacked by gadget-savvy troublemakers. So although the BlackBerry is seemingly doomed for failure among its rivals, the antiquated smartphone finds loyal customers within the political atmosphere.
Apple has been working on tightening its security measures “like encryption, forced PIN entry, and the ability to wipe your phone remotely if it’s stolen,” said Slate, but White House members just aren’t ready to risk using an iPhone.
Now as Obama’s comments imply that the iPhone compromises privacy, it brings up questions about the NSA and its data gathering practices, used for spying on Americans. It has been revealed that the NSA collects five billion geolocation records daily!
Slate writes, “Apple was one of several major tech companies identified in leaked NSA documents as being part of the agency’s PRISM surveillance program. And while Apple has insisted that its users’ iMessages are secure, hackers have called those claims into question.”
As for Malia and Sasha, they are totally allowed to own Apple smartphones. Obama’s points out that his phone bill consistently reminds him of his daughters’ iPhone obsession. Those shots of the First Daughters snapping selfies at dad’s inauguration speak to that.
The struggle continues for BlackBerry, which has decided that it’s not going to sell the business, but rather will raise $1 billion in financing.
Fairfax Financial Holdings, the company’s biggest shareholder, announced today that a deal to take over the troubled mobile company for $4.7 billion has been scrapped after money for the transaction became hard to come by. Instead, Fairfax says it’s now going to kick in $250 million towards the $1 billion fundraising goal.
In addition, the company is also replacing Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry’s CEO, and installing John Chen, the former head of tech company Sybase, in his place. Heins had only been head of the company since last year.
Just last month, BlackBerry announced a second quarter loss of $965 million. And in September, the company laid off 40 percent of its employees (about 4,500 people). The company says that poor sales of the new Z10 device caused the losses.
The Wall Street Journal reports that efforts to speak with companies like LinkedIn about a sale yielded no results. And many of the Z10 phones went unsold.
USA Today predicts that this is the last gasp for BlackBerry, which saw its stock drop 16 percent this morning on the news. Citing a lack of excitement from investors, customers, and even tech reviewers, the paper says that it’s just a bad situation for everyone.
Does it sound like the end of the line to you?
Don’t worry, says BlackBerry. The struggling Canadian company has written an open letter to customers saying it will not go out of business, reports The Los Angeles Times.
BlackBerry published an open letter as part of an all-out media campaign designed to ease nervous customers’ worries that the company will go under.
“These are no doubt challenging times for us and we don’t underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges,” the company wrote in the letter, which it posted on its website Monday. “We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry.”
The letter was also published in 30 newspapers around the world. In it, BlackBerry says users have “no doubt seen the headlines” about the company. “And speaking of those dramatic headlines, it’s important that we set the record straight on a few things,” it said.
Customers have reason to wonder about the state of the company. There was recent news that BlackBerry had struck a tentative deal to be bought by a Canadian insurance company for $4.7 billion. “That led to a separate filing by BlackBerry’s co-founders, Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, that said the duo might finance their own takeover,” reports The Times.
And last month BlackBerry disclosed it planned to lay off about 4,500 employees, or about 40 percent of its workforce. It has been reeling over the loss of nearly $1 billion in its most recent quarter.
On top of this, Apple reportedly has been recruiting BlackBerry’s employees.
“Despite all that bad news, BlackBerry said in its letter that it has substantial cash on hand and a balance sheet that is debt free. It plans to restructure, with a goal to cut expenses 50%,” reports The Times. (Bit of a sidebar: See how important it is to be debt free! When the going gets tough, having no debt will keep you going.)
BlackBerry added that customers “can continue to trust us to keep your communication safe and private” and noted that it recognized iOS and Android devices have become more popular in the workplace. The company announced it was working on a solution to help businesses manage all the different platforms “seamlessly and securely.”
But the company knows it can’t please everybody.
“Yes, there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone,” the letter said. “That’s OK.”
During a recent screening of Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” in NYC, audiences were most surprised to see megastar Madonna in attendance but some people quickly grew upset with the pop icon.
Page Six reports that a woman sitting in theater grew angry at “a mysterious blonde in black lace gloves who wouldn’t stop texting on her Blackberry throughout the first half of the movie.”
The woman apparently didn’t realize that the blonde was Madonna herself when she grew tired and asked her to put her phone away. Madonna reportedly responded, “It’s for business…enslaver!” The statement was referencing the film’s darkly intense slave narrative.
Read more at EurWeb.com
Just three days after Blackberry’s announcement that it will cut 40 percent of its employees (4,500 people) due to a $1 billion quarterly loss, Fairfax Financial Holdings—Blackberry’s largest shareholder—has offered to buy the smartphone-maker for $4.7 billion or $9 a share.
Blackberry has been drowning in America’s infatuation with iPhones and Androids, watching its market share nosedive over the past few years. So that leaves one question: Why would anyone want to buy Blackberry? According to Bloomberg Newsweek, between short-term investments, cash, and accounts and notes receivable, Blackberry says it has about $5.2 billion sitting around. “Fairfax, for its part, seems to have run the numbers and decided that there is still some value to be squeezed out of the company,” the magazine reports. “This doesn’t seem illogical at first glance, [but] BlackBerry has an arsenal of patents, which have been valued between $2 billion and $5 billion. ”
Moreover, the company has managed to hang on to corporate customers, who still value the business uses of the devices and the QWERTY keyboard. That’s an area that the company has already said it will continue to focus on.
“We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world,” Prem Watsa, chief executive of Fairfax, said in a statement.
“It’s likely that BlackBerry will be out of the devices business entirely by the middle of next year,” said Jan Dawson, a chief telecoms analyst. Taking Blackberry private doesn’t solve its fundamental issues, she said, and “the company lacked a long-term strategy.”
The privatization of Blackberry, however, is not yet set in stone. The company has until Nov. 4 to find a better proposal than Fairfax before sealing the deal. “If BlackBerry does receive multiple offers, a bidding war could break out,” CNN Money reported. However, that is highly unlikely. On Monday, the company’s share was trading at $8.82—just under Fairfax’s sale price of $9, which suggests that Blackberry is not anticipating higher bids anytime soon, Forbes said.
As CNN Money concludes, “if the Fairfax deal goes through, it will likely be a big relief for BlackBerry — and a big challenge for Fairfax.”
Also via The New York Times
BlackBerry tried to add a little star power to its marketing by enlisting Alicia Keys as global creative director back in January. And they’ve tried to make a splash with big events to launch new devices. But the hoped-for comeback just isn’t happening, and now the company is seeking a buyer either for the entire business or some of its assets.
“The struggling smartphone maker carries valuable assets that could entice potential buyers, including a broad suite of services aimed at businesses and several key mobile patents. [Edward Jones analyst] Kreher says smartphone companies that don’t develop their own operating system, like Samsung or HTC, might show interest,” reports USA Today. The article proposes that any sale will most likely go to a private person or organization. That would give the purchaser the chance to work with the company without having to report quarterly earnings or answer to the markets and shareholders.
The company’s slide from the top happened so swiftly, you can almost remember when BlackBerry was riding high like it was yesterday.
“Four years ago, BlackBerry had 51 percent of the North American smartphone market, according to the research firm Gartner. And Mike Lazaridis, BlackBerry’s co-founder who was then its co-chief executive and co-chairman, was promising an even brighter future,” says The New York Times‘ Dealbook blog. “But then the company responded slowly to new iPhone and Android devices and the company’s sales evaporated. Now, the company has 3.4 percent of the market and Mr. Lazaridis is gone from BlackBerry.”
The path back (if there is one) is made more difficult by the saturation in the market. There are so many phones to choose from and so many apps that aren’t available to BlackBerry users, that the road wouldn’t be an easy one. And we haven’t heard too much about that partnership with Alicia Keys lately.
Not too long ago, we were wondering what exactly happened to the whole BlackBerry/Alicia Keys relationship. After a big splashy announcement that she would be serving as global creative director, it seemed like Keys kind of disappeared.
Not true, said Frank Boulben, BlackBerry’s chief marketing officer. “Ms. Keys has sat in on five marketing meetings with the company, even presenting her own PowerPoint slides at one, he said. She is also expected to give a presentation at the company’s upcoming BlackBerry Live event,” reports Ad Age. Boulben spoke yesterday at the Ad Age Digital Conference. Ad Age says that bringing Keys’ input into the company’s marketing is a way for the company to appear both professional and “cool.”
Business Insider notes that these celebrity partnerships are usually just for show. “But a ‘global creative director’ actually contributing their own input to a brand’s marketing strategy is relatively unheard of. Brand ambassadors usually get by just flashing a logo every now and then — Keys’ PowerPoint presentation takes the role to a new level,” they say.
Of course the big question is whether Keys’ contribution is valuable. Sales will tell.