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Tuesday
Jan292013

Can RIM Come Back with BlackBerry 10?

Denis Doyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Is a comeback possible for Research in Motion (RIM) and its iconic BlackBerry?

The early buzz among investors is positive.  RIM's share price has nearly tripled since hitting a low point in September. 

The Canadian-based company will show off its new BlackBerry 10 Wednesday in New York.  An expensive marketing campaign will follow.

Once the dominant smartphone, BlackBerry sales collapsed as consumers opted for Android and iPhones.  According to the research firm Strategy Analytics, Android and iPhone devices now account for 92 percent of all global smartphone shipments.

The corporate market for BlackBerry devices has collapsed.

"RIM used to depend on lucrative deals with corporations and government agencies for the bulk of its business," says the Wall Street Journal

But that percentage has shrunk to as low as 20 percent.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun282012

Google Design Chief Would Love to Collaborate with RIM

Joanna Stern / ABC New(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Take a look at the myriad Android phones on the market today and you’ll notice that most of them no longer have actual keypads -- only virtual keyboards on their screens. But Google’s director of Android User Experience, Matias Duarte, said he still hopes there will be Android phones with hardware keyboards.

“I am still a huge fan of hardware keyboards,” Duarte told ABC News in an interview. “Many of the products I have worked on in the past  have had them. I think there is a place for them -- it’s all about choice and different types of devices. I would love, personally, to have a portrait oriented device, like we made at Palm.”

Before joining Google, Duarte headed up software design at Palm and worked on the company’s Palm Pre device, which had a physical keyboard and touchscreen.

On the heels of RIM’s major loss and struggles to put out a new operating system and phones, Duarte said he would love to work with the BlackBerry maker. “If RIM wanted to work on Android devices, I would really welcome that. They clearly make great physical keyboards.”

Duarte is one of the leads on Google’s Android Nexus program, in which Google works closely with hardware partners to make phones or tablets to highlight the software. Google and Asus released the Nexus 7 tablet Wednesday with the new version of Android called Jelly Bean.

Just Thursday RIM announced plans to cut 5,000 employees after reporting lackluster earnings. The company does allow for Android applications to run on its own software, but has continued with its plans to develop BlackBerry 10, the next version of its BlackBerry software for its phones.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun282012

RIM Cuts 5,000 Jobs, Delays Next Version of BlackBerry

Research In Motion(NEW YORK) -- It’s not looking good for BlackBerry-maker RIM. The company has just reported its first quarter results, which saw a significant drop, and has announced that it will be delaying the next versions of its phones.

According to the official release from the company, it brought in $2.8 billion in revenue during the first quarter of the 2012 fiscal year, down 33 percent from $4.2 billion in the previous quarter.

Sales of BlackBerry handhelds were at an all time low of 7.8 million units. And even though the company cut the price of its Playbook tablet, it only sold 260,000 of them. RIM has lost significant smartphone market share to Apple and Android device makers over the last few years.

To that end, RIM announced that it will be cutting 5,000 employees, which should amount to over $1 billion in cost savings.

RIM said it continues to fight, but while it still plans to release its next version of its BlackBerry software -- BlackBerry 10 -- it also announced that it is putting off the release. BlackBerry 10 was due out this fall; the company now says it will not be out until the first quarter of 2013.

“Over the past several weeks, RIM’s software development teams have made major progress in the development of key features for the BlackBerry 10 platform; however, the integration of these features and the associated large volume of code into the platform has proven to be more time consuming than anticipated,” RIM said in a statement.

In January, RIM announced that its longtime co-CEOs, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, were stepping down. Thorsten Heins took over as the CEO of the struggling Canadian company.

“Our first quarter results reflect the market challenges I have outlined since my appointment as CEO at the end of January,” Heins said in a statement Thursday. “I am not satisfied with these results and continue to work aggressively with all areas of the organization and the Board to implement meaningful changes to address the challenges.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May012012

BlackBerry OS 10 Released for Developers

RIM/Blackberry(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- It hasn’t been an easy couple of months for RIM,  makers of the BlackBerry. The Waterloo, Canada-based company has lost key board members as well as significant smartphone market share to Apple and Android phone makers. But on Tuesday the smartphone maker is announcing more details on the next version of its phones, which it hopes will help it regain momentum.

BlackBerry OS 10 is the next version of its operating system, and Tuesday the company released the software to developers and app makers at its BlackBerry World 2012 conference in Orlando.

“There is tremendous interest, anticipation and momentum building toward the launch of BlackBerry 10 devices, and today we’re extremely excited to release the BlackBerry 10 developer beta tools for general use,” Christopher Smith, RIM’s vice president for handheld application platform and tools, said in a statement.

RIM is giving those developers at the conference a BlackBerry 10 phone — called the Dev Alpha developer testing device – to use to develop apps for the new software. BlackBerry 10 is said to have a drastically different interface and design. It is built on different software code than previous versions of BlackBerry software.

“We’re making incredible progress on BlackBerry 10,” RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said in his keynote at the conference.

While consumers won’t be able to buy this phone, the device gives an idea of what future BlackBerry devices might look like. Straying from the traditional BlackBerry form factor, the phone doesn’t have a hardware keyboard, but instead a big 4.2-inch, 1280×768-resolution touch screen.

Heins also announced that the first BlackBerry 10 devices will be out later this year. He didn’t provide a concrete date, but it has been rumored for an October launch.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar302012

BlackBerry Maker RIM Shifts Focus to Corporate Customers

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Do you have a BlackBerry?  If so, you may soon have no choice but to switch to another phone.

Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of the smartphone, says it plans to focus on its corporate customers after failing to compete with Apple’s iPhone and handhelds that run Google’s Android software.

The move comes after the company reported a net loss of $125 million, or 24 cents a share, in the quarter that ended March 3.  The deficit is partly due to write downs for the declining value of its brand and its PlayBook tablet inventory.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan232012

Co-CEOs of BlackBerry Maker RIM Step Down

Denis Doyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images(TORONTO) -- Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, announced on Sunday that its two co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, have stepped down from their positions.

Explaining the decision, Lazaridis said in a statement, "There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership. Jim and I went to the Board and told them that we thought that time was now.  With BlackBerry 7 now out, PlayBook 2.0 shipping in February and BlackBerry 10 expected to ship later this year, the company is entering a new phase, and we felt it was time for a new leader to take it through that phase and beyond."

That new leader is Thorsten Heins, the company's chief operating officer for product and sales, who was unanimously named the new president and CEO by RIM's board of directors.

Although Lazaridis and Balsillie have relinquished their leadership roles, the two will continue to remain a part of RIM. Lazaridis is now the vice chair of RIM’s board and chair of the board’s new innovation committee, and Balsillie remains a member of the company's board.

The moves come as RIM has been struggling to keep sales up amid stiff competition from Apple's iPhone and other devices that run Google's Android software.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec302011

ABC News Lists Top 10 Business Blunders of 2011

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Businesses make mistakes all the time. Unfortunately, when they blunder, the repercussions can be wide, from customer data being compromised to employees losing their jobs and shareholders getting wiped out.

Here's a look at 10 foul-ups of 2011:

1. Bank of America: The $5 Fiasco

When Bank of America announced plans in late September to charge customers for using their debit card for purchases, customers expressed their outrage in dramatic fashion.

Over 150,000 people signed a petition asking the bank to cancel the $5 monthly fee and over 650,000 people joined Bank Transfer Day, shifting funds to credit unions.

The bank, still reeling from the mortgage meltdown, relented and announced on Nov. 1 the fee's cancellation.

2. Netflix: Red Envelope Company Sees Red

DVD-rental company Netflix lost 800,000 of its 20 million members after it announced a new pricing plan and streaming service, Qwikster, in October. CEO Reed Hastings soon after canceled plans to split the service and apologized to customers, but the damage was done. Netflix's stock price, which was near $300 a share in mid-July and has a 52-week high of $304.79, recently traded at $70.

3. Family Radio: Doomsday Averted, But Not for Radio Station

Companies frequently miss forecasts but when Harold Camping, president of radio station Family Radio, predicted the end of the world twice this year, some may have breathed a sigh of relief.

Camping first predicted the end of the world for May 21, 2011 investing heavily with millions of dollars in a national advertising campaign. After the world pressed on, Camping then changed his forecast to Oct. 21. Camping reportedly apologized for his failed predictions.

"I should not have said that, and I apologize," Camping said, according to San Francisco's KGO-TV. "God is merciful."

4. RIM's Blackberry: Worldwide Outage

Outages for Canadian company Research in Motion's (RIM) Blackberry mobile device caused a stir after service in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia was knocked out Oct. 12.

David Yach, chief technology officer for software, said the problem originated in Europe and spread because there was a massive backlog of emails. CEO Mike Lazaridis apologized in a Youtube video.

The company's shares fell more than 75 percent in 2011, with growing domination from smartphones with Google's Android software and the iPhone. The Wall Street Journal called 2011 a "disastrous" year for RIM and investors and analysts have called for the board to take stronger control of the company.

5. Goldman Sachs: Occupy Losses

In October, venerated investment bank Goldman Sachs reported its second loss since its IPO in May 1999, missing estimates for the second consecutive quarter. The company reported a loss of $393 million in the third quarter compared with a $1.9 billion profit one year ago. Worries in both debt and equity markets caused softness in the bank's revenue, according to Janney Capital Markets.

Goldman Sachs and other large banks attracted the ire of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which launched on Sept. 17, for their role in risky bets in the subprime mortgage market that contributed to the country's near financial collapse.

6. Sony PlayStation: The Year of the Hack?

In April, Sony Corp. said the credit card data of PlayStation users may have been stolen in a hack that forced it to shut down its PlayStation Network for a week, disconnecting around 77 million user accounts around the world.

The company said there was no evidence that credit card information was compromised, but said it could not rule out that possibility, leading PlayStation users -- and their parents -- to take precautions with their data.

Several other companies confessed to data breaches, such as investment bank Morgan Stanley and online marketing firm Epsilon.

7. Borders: Bankruptcy, Liquidation

After bookseller Borders filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, the chain began liquidating bookstores and closed over 500 bookstores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico that it owned at the beginning of the year. Borders Group, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., announced 6,000 layoffs February 17 and 10,700 layoffs July 19.

8. American Airlines: Friendly Skies of Bankruptcy

American Airlines' parent company, AMR, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 29, faced with rising fuel prices and high labor costs. While operations continued for customers, the airline said its employees would be the most affected.

The company, based in Fort Worth, Texas, was the only major U.S. airline that did not seek bankruptcy protection after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Unlike other carriers, American did not merge with a competitor, and it was the only major airline to lose money last year.

CEO Gerard Arpey stepped down and was replaced by Thomas Horton, formerly the company's president, to run the nation's third-largest airline. AMR shares plunged 85 percent to just 25 cents a share in trading that day. Thursday the New York Stock Exchange announced that the company's shares would be delisted.

9. U.S. Postal Service: Shuttering Post Offices

The U.S. Postal Service had a dramatic last few years as post offices have closed in rural towns, and in 2011 the organization was near a default and faced a $9 billion deficit.

With the prevalence of e-mail and delivery competitors FedEx and UPS, the future of the postal service is very much in doubt.

On Sep. 15, the Postal Service announced it would begin studying 252 out of 487 mail processing facilities for possible closure but it has not yet confirmed closures of those facilities.

The Postal Service announced on Dec. 5 that it wants to cut an estimated $3 billion in costs to avoid a bankruptcy. The proposal includes the elimination of one-day delivery and closing half of its processing centers.

10. MF Global

The bankruptcy of the commodities trading firm MF Global on Oct. 31 was the eighth largest in U.S. history. About $1.2 billion in client money went missing as the company shut its doors. Jon Corzine, former senator and governor of New Jersey who resigned as CEO on Nov. 3, said he does not know where the money is.

After making risky bets on the European debt crisis, the company's bankruptcy has "devastated thousands of customers -- including farmers, ranchers, grain elevators, small business owners and others," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. A Senate hearing about the missing money took place on Dec. 13, describing outrage from lawmakers and clients.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov132011

BlackBerry Phones to Get New Operating System  

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- BlackBerry phones are getting an upgrade.

Bloomberg News reports that Research In Motion (RIM) will launch a new Blackberry operating system that will help it recover from the declining sales it’s suffered from rival competitor Apple.

Under the recent acquisition of hedge-fund manager Leon Cooperman, RIM is hoping to recover the 68 percent of sales it’s lost this year.

“People think it’s a melting ice cube,” Cooperman said. “We think the new operating system is going to surprise people” and that RIM is going to meet its projections.

According to Cooperman, the company—which has ample stake in the smartphone market upon the launch of its first phone to feature email 10 years ago—would be worth more if it merges with another company.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct132011

BlackBerry Outage: RIM Apologizes, Says Service Is Returning

Research In Motion Limited(ONTARIO, Canada) -- BlackBerry is sorry.  Very, very sorry.

At a conference call Thursday morning, the company announced it had all services "back up globally."  But amid slipping market shares and an uncertain future, saying "sorry" may not be enough to solve the public relation problems caused by this week's worldwide service interruptions and win over disgruntled customers.

The company says there is still a backlog of wireless emails that may delay some messages.  It could not say how quickly it would be over.

Mike Lazaridis, founder of BlackBerry's Canadian parent company, Research In Motion, appeared Thursday morning in a YouTube video to say, "Since launching BlackBerry in 1999, it's been my goal to provide reliable, real-time communications around the world.  We did not deliver on that goal this week.  Not even close."

"I apologize for the service outages this week," he said.  "We've let many of you down."

Looking tired and stressed in a black shirt with a BlackBerry logo, Lazaridis said service was approaching normal levels in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.  He promised that the company would work around the clock to get the problems solved.

But they surfaced on Monday, and Lazaridis did not appear until Thursday.  Public relations executives who specialize in what is known as crisis management say the slow public response was almost as disastrous for RIM as the technical breakdowns in BlackBerry service.

Ronn Torossian, the CEO of 5W Public Relations, said RIM had failed to show a human face in the early days of the problem.  Instead, it responded slowly -- with gibberish.

"Blackberry spokespersons are communicating with messages like 'Message delays were caused by a core switch failure in RIM's infrastructure,'" Torossian said in an email.  "That's not consumer-friendly English which resonates with people, and few of us know -- or care -- what a 'core switch' is.  We just want our damn BlackBerries to work."

Lazaridis told reporters RIM has had a reliability record this year -- at least until this week -- of 99.97 percent.  And he said Monday's outage, which happened without warning, was the largest the company had ever experienced.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug032011

RIM Unveils New Smartphones in Effort to Keep Up with Competition

Research In Motion(WATERLOO, Ontario) -- BlackBerry, whose handheld smartphones revolutionized the way people stay in touch with the world, unveiled a new line of phones Wednesday -- just days after it announced 2,000 job cuts, revamped top management, and saw its stock hit a five-year low.

The new models, with touch screens, slide-out keyboards, and a faster, more versatile operating system, are designed to appeal to BlackBerry's core audience of business users, while keeping up with increasingly some stiff competition: Apple's iPhone and phones that run on Google's Android operating system.

Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that sells BlackBerrys, is profitable and its sales are rising -- but it has lost significant ground in a market dominated by Apple and Android. Smartphone consumers who expect the Web at their fingertips have turned away from Blackberry toward its more Internet-friendly counterparts.

Now some analysts see RIM as a has-been, a company that gave the world constant access to email on the go, but couldn't turn it into mass-market dominance.

"They were very late to make a major transition," said Alkesh Shah, an analyst at Evercore Partners in New York. "They made great phones that focus around email, but not around the Internet. And that's where Apple and Android are way ahead of them."

The new RIM lineup includes three versions of the BlackBerry Torch (models 9810, 9850, and 9860), a multimedia handheld whose large touch screen makes it look much like an iPhone with extra buttons.

Most companies and government agencies still issue BlackBerrys, not iPhones, to their employees for business use, and BlackBerrys are still wildly popular in other parts of the world -- much more widespread than Apple's iPhones in the Middle East and parts of Asia and Europe.

RIM promises a new operating system next year, called QNX, designed to compete directly with Apple, Google, and other companies such as Motorola and Samsung.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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