October 17, 2017

BlackBerry Maker Unveils Its New Line, and a New Name

In an event on Wednesday in New York to unveil a line of new smartphones and new software to operate them, Thorsten Heins, the company’s chief executive, synchronized the names as BlackBerry. But because the new name is now tied to the company’s hopes of restoring its main product’s status as a symbol of executive cool, the change carries some risk.

Frank Boulben, chief marketing officer of BlackBerry, said that Research in Motion had become more confusing than inspired. “We thought this was time to symbolize a real change with a name change,” Mr. Boulben said. “We wanted to have one brand, one premise, to focus all of our marketing efforts.”

Those efforts will reach new heights on Sunday, when BlackBerry will run an ad during the Super Bowl promoting the BlackBerry Z10, a touch-screen phone, and the BlackBerry Q10, a phone that combines a traditional BlackBerry physical keyboard with a smaller touch screen.

The new name was the biggest surprise in Mr. Heins’s presentation. The company began demonstrating the touch-screen phone and operating system in May and also made prototypes available to app developers at that time.

But Mr. Heins kept the focus on the phones. “Today represents a new day in the history of BlackBerry,” he said. “These BlackBerry 10 devices are absolutely the best typing experiences in the industry.”

Analysts, technology reviewers and app developers with advance access to the BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry 10 operating system liked the phone, calling it the company’s first competitive touch-screen phone.

But the new products arrive long after Apple’s iPhone and phones using Google’s Android operating system have come to dominate the smartphone market, so their success is anything but assured. According to IDC, BlackBerry now holds just 4.6 percent of that market, about one-tenth of its peak market share.

Analysts are concerned about how long it will take for the phones to go on sale in the United States. BlackBerry said the Z10 would be available in Canada on Feb. 5 and in the United States in March. Verizon Wireless announced that it would sell the Z10 for $200 with a two-year contract. BlackBerry 10 phones will also be carried by ATT, Sprint and T-Mobile, but those companies said they would announce prices later.

Mr. Heins, who took over as chief executive a year ago, said the company would release the second keyboard model, the Q10, in April. “I think the longer the time between announcement and availability these days, the worse it is,” said Jan Dawson, an analyst with Ovum. “It’s especially sad that it’ll likely be a month from that big Super Bowl spend to when it launches.”

Physically, the Z10 resembles an iPhone 5 with its corners snipped off. Unlike its competitors, the Z10 lacks a button to take users back to a home page and relies entirely on users swiping their fingers across the 4.2-inch screen from different directions to summon features or menus.

While the Z10 lacks a physical keyboard, the main attraction of BlackBerrys for many current users, the company said it had developed software that should alleviate some of the inadequacies of on-screen typing. For instance, it will offer word suggestions that can be selected with a flick of a finger.

BlackBerry said Wednesday that more than 70,000 BlackBerry 10 apps are now available.

BlackBerry 10 server software will allow corporate and government users to divide employees’ BlackBerry 10 phones into separate work and personal spheres and to give I.T. managers complete control over the former.

The company’s former name came to co-founder Mike Lazaridis in 1984 while he was watching a television program about football players using ballet lessons to improve their speed. He saw the words “poetry in motion” on the TV screen and, according to Rod McQueen, author of “BlackBerry: The Inside Story of Research in Motion,” Mr. Lazaridis said, “I knew what to do.”

BlackBerry joins a long list of companies that have changed their names to reflect a new beginning. Some of the changes, such as Apple’s decision to drop “Computer” from its name in 2007, have been subtle. Apple made that move to reflect its expansion into hand-held devices.

Other changes have been more dramatic. In 2003 Philip Morris, the cigarette and food giant, became the Altria Group to distance itself from the negative aura surrounding smoking. Interstate Bakeries adopted the name of its main cupcake product, Hostess Brands.

In 1998, Research in Motion sought professional advice and hired Lexicon Branding — which created Pentium for Intel and PowerBook for Apple — to create the BlackBerry name.

BlackBerry’s old name isn’t the only thing disappearing. Nick Manning, a spokesman for the company, said that BrickBreaker, a BlackBerry game with a cult following on Wall Street, would not be included on the new phones.

William Alden contributed reporting.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 30, 2013

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the plans of major American carriers to offer the two new BlackBerry models. While Verizon Wireless, ATT, Sprint and T-Mobile will all carry new BlackBerrys, not all will offer the Z10; Sprint has so far announced plans only to offer the other model, the Q10.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/technology/blackberry-maker-unveils-its-new-line.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: BlackBerry Wants to ‘Keep Moving’ With Big New Campaign

The much-discussed arrival on Wednesday of the all-new BlackBerry smartphone and operating system,  which have been deemed crucial to the future of its parent company, will be accompanied by a huge marketing campaign that is being described as the largest in the company’s history.

The campaign, with a budget estimated at more than $200 million, will include work from six agencies and the first-ever Super Bowl commercial for the BlackBerry brand, which is to appear during Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday.

In addition to the Super Bowl spot, there will be other television commercials, print and online ads, promotions, public relations efforts, events, a partnership with arts and cultural figures like Alicia Keys, a presence in social media and elaborate digital demonstrations in real time of the new offerings.

The spending will be the most ever for the company “by a long shot,” said Frank Boulben, chief marketing officer at the parent company, which on Wednesday changed its name from Research In Motion to BlackBerry, part of a corporate-wide re-branding.

Although “marketing success is not measured by how much you put into it,” Mr. Boulben said during an interview in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, referring to the size of a budget, the goal in this instance is for “a hugely impactful campaign.”

The campaign for the new BlackBerry Z10, formerly known as the BlackBerry 10, will carry the theme “Keep moving,” in a hat-tip to the psychographics of the target audience. Some ads will use the phrase “Built to keep you moving.”

People who use BlackBerry devices are “doers, achievers, people of action,” Mr. Boulben said. “They are about getting things done, success-oriented, multitasking and hyperconnected.”

(Three decades ago, such consumers were described as “the coffee achievers” in a campaign for the National Coffee Association.)

Mr. Boulben shared a quotation from Conrad Hilton, the lodging mogul who, coincidentally, figured in the plotline of episodes of “Mad Men,” the television series about the ad business.  In the quotation, Mr. Hilton linked success and action and described how those who are successful “keep moving” and “don’t quit” despite any mistakes they may make.

Throughout the campaign, “the hero will be the product,” Mr. Boulben said, and “each piece of marketing will showcase a feature of the user experience.”

For instance, one commercial depicts how a user can “jump backward and forward in time to capture the perfect shot” of a child who is hard to photograph. The user takes advantage of a feature called Time Shift to replace an unsmiling face of the boy with a smiling one.

Ads for the Time Shift feature describe it with headlines like “Turn missed moments into magic ones.”

Another commercial tells how a user can “peek in and out of messages in the BlackBerry Hub from any app.” In a vignette, a young man prone on a float in a pool notices on his BlackBerry Z10 that “free gig tickets” are being offered online by his favorite band. He is seen next prone again, this time as he gleefully bodysurfs amid a crowd of concertgoers.

In a banner ad online, a computer user can take a typing challenge that is meant to show off the new BlackBerry keyboard. “Go thumb-to-thumb against the BlackBerry Z10 in a real-time text-off,” the ad declares.

A message at the end of a demonstration that was successful for BlackBerry would read something like this: “The Z10 was 2.5 seconds faster and needed 12 fewer keystrokes.”

The decision to advertise BlackBerry on the Super Bowl for the first time was inspired by the fact the introductory campaign would start four days before the game, Mr. Boulben said.

“The Super Bowl for us is an opportunity to mark our comeback,” he said, “and intrigue them to find out for themselves what BlackBerry Z10 is all about.”

“There is no better platform,” he added.

Another smartphone brand, Samsung Mobile, will also advertise during Super Bowl XVLII. Samsung Mobile, which also advertised during the Super Bowl last year, plans to run a commercial during the fourth quarter with the comedians Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen.

The Samsung Mobile spot is to last two minutes; the BlackBerry Z10 spot is to run 30 seconds.

The agencies working on the BlackBerry campaign are: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, part of the BBDO Worldwide division of the Omnicom Group, for creative and brand efforts; a digital team within the Publicis Groupe, for the digital efforts; Proximity, also part of BBDO, for customer relationship marketing; Phonevalley, part of Publicis, for mobile initiatives; Brodeur Partners, for public relations; and Edelman, part of Daniel J. Edelman Inc., for social media.

According to the Kantar Media unit of WPP, Research in Motion spent $148.2 million to advertise BlackBerry in major media in 2011, $169.5 million in 2010 and $109.7 million in 2009.

Ad spending in the first nine months of last year totaled $58.7 million, Kantar Media reported, a slowdown that reflected the plans to promote the new products in 2013.12:19 p.m. | Updated


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 30, 2013

An earlier version of this post misstated the title of Frank Boulben. He is chief marketing officer for Blackberry, formerly Research In Motion, not chief executive.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/blackberry-wants-to-keep-moving-with-massive-new-campaign/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bits Blog: RIM Shows Off New BlackBerry Phones, but Gives No Release Date

Thorsten Heins, the president and chief executive of RIM, did not offer a specific date for the coming line of BlackBerry 10 phones.Eric Risberg/Associated Press Thorsten Heins, the president and chief executive of RIM, did not offer a specific date for the coming line of BlackBerry 10 phones.

OTTAWA — Research in Motion said on Tuesday that its coming line of BlackBerry 10 phones would include the company’s popular BlackBerry Messenger service, a feature still absent on its tablet computers.

But during his presentation to software developers in San Jose, Calf., Thorsten Heins, the president and chief executive of RIM, still did not offer a specific date for what he called “our most important launch ever.” Mr. Heins said, however, that the new phones, which have been delayed twice, will be on sale at some point early next year.

At the meeting, the company displayed the second version of a prototype BlackBerry 10 phone. Outwardly, it appeared little different from a prototype given to developers in May. But the software on the phone demonstrated on Thursday looked much more refined and advanced. In addition to BlackBerry Messenger, it included apps for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Foursquare, which were integrated with the phone’s calendar, datebook and e-mail apps.

RIM also showed how corporations and governments would be able to segregate their data and app from users’ personal selections and information.

The software linking all the features, Mr. Heins said, will allow users to perform a variety of tasks from a single screen without switching applications.

Although creating new phones and a new operating system has clearly been a struggle for the company, Mr. Heins made no effort to temper expectations.

“We are convinced that the BlackBerry 10 platform will shape the next 10 years as profoundly and significantly as BlackBerry shaped the last 10 years,” he said. Recent demonstrations of the prototype to people at telephone companies and elsewhere, he said, have made “believers out of those who had previously written BlackBerry off.”

Still, the success of the new phones remains to be seen. On Thursday, Mr. Heins will have to face a much less cheery group, RIM’s investors, when he announces the company’s second-quarter results. A Bloomberg survey of 35 analysts found that they expected the company to report that earnings fell 41 percent from the same period last year.

Leading up to Tuesday, some analysts speculated that the total number of BlackBerry users had not grown or had even declined during the quarter, which would have been a first for the company. But Mr. Heins said RIM had counted 80 million BlackBerry users during the quarter, up from 78 million the last time the company reported.

Article source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/rim-shows-off-new-blackberry-10-phones-but-gives-no-firm-release-date/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bits Blog: HTC’s Decline Is Samsung’s Gain

The Samsung Galaxy Note mini tablet.Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesThe Samsung Galaxy Note mini-tablet.

Samsung Electronics on Friday posted record fourth-quarter profits, citing high sales of its Android devices, while HTC, another major Android player, reported a drop in profits, its first decline in two years.

Samsung, based in Seoul, South Korea, said its profits increased 73 percent compared to 2010’s fourth quarter. It cited record-breaking sales of its smartphones, as well as the sale of its hard drive business to Seagate.

HTC, based in Taiwan, said profits decreased 26 percent compared to the year-ago fourth quarter, citing slower sales of its handsets.

Both companies have been aggressive advocates of Google’s Android operating system, and their differing performances illustrate the vast effort it takes to remain successful in the highly competitive mobile industry.

“I think what’s wicked cool about this is this is a perfect example of the velocity of mobile, of what’s happening in the mobile space,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner, the technology research company. “It just goes to show how quickly things change in the market, how fast people need to innovate and how hard it is to innovate.”

HTC was the first company to make a big bet on Android. It released the G1, the first smartphone running Google’s operating system, in 2007. In the ensuing years, HTC continued to ride Google’s momentum, pumping out some of the most popular Android smartphones, like the Nexus One. The bet paid off: By 2009, HTC became the world’s fourth-largest maker of smartphones, after Nokia, Research in Motion and Apple.

Samsung waited until 2010 to make an aggressive play with Android, when it released its Galaxy S smartphone, which sold 10 million units in 10 months. Samsung rolled out more products under the Galaxy portfolio, including the Galaxy S II phone and the Galaxy Tab tablet. It threw as much as it could against the wall until some things stuck. And if some products were flops, Samsung could afford losses, given its size. For HTC, a smaller manufacturer, failures would be less forgiving.

While a dramatic change, HTC’s setback is probably related to the company’s lack of interesting innovation in the last year, said Will Stofega, an analyst at the International Data Corporation.

“It’s almost like a fashion market,” he said. “They’ve had some great devices, but they didn’t have that little sparkle or pizazz.”

Mr. Stofega added that Horace Luke, HTC’s chief innovation officer, resigned in April 2011 for personal reasons. That was a tremendous loss for the company because he had overseen some of the most successful designs, Mr. Stofega said.

Victory for Samsung, now the largest smartphone maker in the world, is hardly permanent in a market that changes so quickly, Mr. Gartenberg said. “Is it a long-term strategy, and will it pay off long term for them?” he said. “What do they need to keep up the current momentum in a market that can be very very fickle, and where fortunes literally change overnight?”

If you have thoughts on how to answer that question, post them in the comments section below.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=8f8ff794bf460f8c118a8a64c3e87cda

Stocks & Bonds: Commodities Companies Help Lift Market

Stock indexes were mixed on Friday as gains among commodity producers helped overcome debt-crisis concerns prompted by Fitch Ratings’ warning that it might cut ratings of European nations.

Halliburton and Chevron paced the gains among energy companies. Banking shares in the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index rose 1.2 percent as a group, trimming an earlier rally. Research in Motion fell 11 percent after the company delayed the release of a new generation of BlackBerry devices. Zynga, the largest maker of games for Facebook, declined 5 percent in its first day of trading.

“We’re seeing a market in which there’s very little long-term investor interest,” said David Kelly, chief market strategist for J. P. Morgan Funds in New York. “Europe is still dodging all the major decisions it needs to make in order to fix the problem and I think that the disappointment in that is still dogging the markets right now.”

The S. P. 500 rose 0.3 percent to 1,219.66, after jumping as much as 1.3 percent earlier. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 2.42 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 11,866.39. The Nasdaq composite index rose 14.32 points, to 2,555.33.

The S. P. 500 lost 2.8 percent this week. It slumped Dec. 13 after the Federal Reserve refrained from taking new actions to bolster growth, saying the American economy was maintaining its expansion even as the global economy slowed.

The Treasury’s 10-year note rose 17/32, to 101 11/32. The yield fell to 1.85 percent, from 1.91 percent late Thursday.

Stocks trimmed an early rally after Fitch Ratings lowered France’s rating outlook to negative and put the grades of Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Italy, Ireland and Cyprus on review for a downgrade, citing Europe’s failure to find a “comprehensive solution” to the debt crisis. It also said all investment-grade countries in the euro region rated below AAA were subject to a review, which Fitch expects to complete by the end of January.

Moody’s Investors Service said on Dec. 12 that it would review the ratings of all European Union countries after a summit meeting of leaders last week did little to ease pressure on the governments in Europe. S. P. placed the ratings of 15 nations, including France and Germany, on review for possible downgrade on Dec. 5.

Energy and raw material companies advanced among groups in the S. P. 500. Chevron added 1.2 percent to $100.86. Halliburton jumped 1.6 percent to $31.76.

Banks climbed, as Wells Fargo jumped 1.4 percent to $25.98 and JPMorgan Chase rose 0.4 percent to $31.89. Bank of America lost 1.14 percent to $5.20.

Friday was the expiration of futures and options contracts on indexes and individual stocks, an event known as quadruple witching, which occurs once every three months.

Adobe Systems, the largest maker of graphic-design software, rose the most in the S. P. 500 after saying first-quarter sales forecast beat some estimates, lifted by demand for tools that design Web pages and create online video. The stock advanced 6.6 percent to $28.20.

Research in Motion dropped 11 percent to $13.44 after saying a new generation of BlackBerrys designed to fuel a comeback would not be out until the latter part of 2012. The smartphone maker, which originally planned to release the new devices in the first quarter of next year, also gave sales and profit forecasts that missed analysts’ estimates.

Cablevision Systems, the cable television provider, tumbled 8.5 percent to $12.75. Its chief operating officer, Tom Rutledge, will step down this month for undisclosed reasons. Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, called it a “staggering loss” for the company.

The Consumer Price Index last month was unchanged, after a 0.1 percent decline the previous month, a report from the Labor Department showed. That supported the Federal Reserve’s view that inflation remains in check.

The November figure compares with a 0.1 percent increase forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 82 economists.

So-called core prices, which exclude food and energy costs, rose 0.2 percent, more than forecast, reflecting higher medical care and clothing costs.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/17/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Research in Motion’s Earnings Fall 71%

It was the latest, and perhaps most significant, setback in a string of product delays and missteps from the company.

The phones, which the company had been expected to start selling early next year, will replace RIM’s aging operating system with a new one known as BlackBerry 10. The company said the change would give them performance and capabilities more like Apple’s iPhone or phones using the Android operating system from Google. Mike Lazaridis, a co-chief executive of the company, said the delay in the new phones came from the company’s decision to use a more compact and power efficient microprocessor that would not be available from its manufacturer until the middle of 2012.

The phones are widely seen as RIM’s last hope for reversing the drastic decline of the BlackBerry in the United States. BlackBerrys accounted for just 9 percent of the United States’ smartphone market in the third quarter of this year, compared with 24 percent during the same period a year ago, according to market research firm Canalys.

The delay was announced during a conference call for the company’s third quarter results. Research in Motion’s third quarter net income fell 71 percent, hurt by giveaway pricing for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and costs related to a global service interruption in October. The company said Thursday that its net income was $265 million, or 51 cents a share, plunging from $911 million, or $1.74 a share, in the same time period last year. The smartphone maker, which is based in Waterloo, Ontario, also said that its revenue during the quarter was $5.2 billion, a 6 percent drop from the year before.

RIM signaled that the current quarter would bring further financial disappointment. Growing inventories of unsold BlackBerrys at wholesalers and retailers led the company to forecast that it would ship only 11 million to 12 million phones in the current period, compared with 14.1 million phones in the third quarter. The holiday buying season has historically provided an improvement in RIM’s sales.

Last week, RIM was forced to change the name of the new phone’s operating system from BBX after losing an early round of a trademark battle.

Jim Balsillie, the company’s other chief executive, said that until the BlackBerry 10 phones arrive, RIM would start spending heavily on advertising and other promotions in the United States to attract buyers for the BlackBerry 7 phones, which were introduced during the last quarter.

“RIM’s U.S. business is particularly weak,” Mr. Balsillie said during a conference call for analysts. The company reported that the United States accounted for 20 percent of its sales during the third quarter, down from 27 percent in the previous quarter.

Both executives continued to praise the BlackBerry 7 phones, which use an updated version of the company’s aging operating system. At least one analyst on the call openly expressed skepticism about RIM’s ability to increase sales of those phones in the United States with advertising, given their poor sales so far. RIM declined to offer specific sales figures for BlackBerry 7 models.

The continued bad financial news was expected. Early this month, RIM announced that it would not meet its expected targets.

Much of RIM’s problems stem from its efforts to spark lackluster PlayBook sales by selling the units at well below the cost of manufacture. The company has dropped the price of a basic model to $200 from $500, and it took a $485 million write down during the last quarter to account for the shortfall. It said on Thursday it would continue to discount the PlayBook and anticipated a gross profit margin of only 1 percent on the devices in this quarter.

Both chief executives acknowledged growing shareholder anger about the company’s performance and their management, and said they were cutting their salaries to $1 a year.

“Mike and I, as two of RIM’s largest shareholders, understand investor sentiment,” Mr. Balsillie said.

Adnaan Ahmad, an analyst with Berenberg Bank in London, said that the two executives needed to be even more candid about their company’s situation. “Every quarter it gets more painful to hear from these guys,” he said. “They’ve kept their heads in the sand.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=49f894305ab8efa4c1babe94576ee34f

Dropbox Aims to Solidify Its Place With Businesses

SAN FRANCISCO — Perhaps it should not have surprised corporate information technology departments that employees would use Dropbox, a service for easily sharing files among different devices by storing them in “the cloud.” But that did not mean they loved the idea of confidential files on a service they could not control.

Now Dropbox is trying to appease them by selling a service for businesses, Dropbox for Teams, introduced Thursday.

Add Dropbox to the list of consumer technologies that have infiltrated the workplace, like iPhones, Gmail and Skype.

“With the ability of people to get what they want to get done with stuff they pay for themselves, the whole role of I.T. changes,” said Ted Schadler, a workplace analyst at Forrester Research. “Dropbox is just the latest example.”

Still, the service has a ways to go before large companies adopt it, Mr. Schadler said, “because it doesn’t have as much security and administration as they want.”

For Dropbox, one of the darlings of Silicon Valley with a reported $4 billion valuation from venture capitalists, its new service is a bid to buy paying customers and solidify its foothold in the burgeoning file-sharing business..

It is competing with big companies like Google, Apple and Amazon.com, which offer increasingly sophisticated ways to store, share and sync files, and smaller ones like Box.net, YouSendIt and SugarSync. This month, Citrix Systems bought ShareFile and Research in Motion bought NewBay, both cloud storage services.

Dropbox allows people access files, like documents, photos and music, on any device wherever they are, without pesky zip files or hulking e-mail attachments. As people edit files, Dropbox updates them so a single file is available on all devices. Most people use it for free and can pay for additional storage.

Dropbox, which started in 2007, has 45 million users who save more than 2 billion files each week. But it has scared some people, too. In June, a security breach left Dropbox accounts accessible for several hours, and a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission says Dropbox misled users about privacy.

Dropbox says it uses the same security measures as banks. Files are encrypted and Dropbox restricts its employees’ access to files. But security is only as good as a user’s password. Dropbox said it is working on two-step authentication, so people would enter a second password sent to their phone, for instance.

“These are all things we take very, very seriously because our reputation and the confidence and trust people have in Dropbox is what we’ll succeed by,” said ChenLi Wang, team leader for business and sales.

Millions already sign up with their work e-mail addresses and the company estimates that at least a million businesses use the service.

Dropbox for Teams, which starts at $795 annually for five users, has 1,000 gigabytes of storage, phone customer support and gives I.T. departments control to add or remove users.

SusieCakes, a California bakery chain, has been testing Dropbox for Teams to share petty cash reports in real time and exchange documents with outside lawyers. The service is easier to use than options like Microsoft’s file-sharing service, called Windows Live SkyDrive, said Houston Striggow, SusieCakes’ co-founder.

“It’s really proven for us to be a powerful business tool that’s made us a lot more efficient and productive,” he said.

But Mr. Schadler, the analyst, said that before it has widespread business adoption, Dropbox needed features like security controls to automatically stop people from sharing confidential documents or to put files on home computers on legal hold. Dropbox says it is working on new features, including extra security measures and collaboration tools.

Of Dropbox’s competitors, Box.net has made the most headway in businesses, Mr. Schadler said.

Google is also going after businesses with tools like Google Docs, which lets employees collaborate on the same version of a document, and Chromebooks, laptops that store everything online so people can access it from any computer. The company is rumored to be introducing a file-sharing service.

Sujay Jaswa, Dropbox’s vice president of business development and sales, said its service has an advantage over big companies because it enabled iPads, Android phones and P.C.s to work together.

“You need a company like us that doesn’t have a horse in the race to be there for consumers,” he said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=c27857dc5b74c64a469154f4f711a2c1

RIM Offers Free Apps as Apology for Shutdown

BlackBerry users will soon be able to find out at no cost if there are $100 worth of apps that interest them.

By way of apology for a service collapse that left millions of BlackBerry users around the world without service for up to three days last week, the device’s maker, Research in Motion, said Monday it would offer a $100 credit for select apps in its online store.

Whether that will placate users, however, is unclear.

“RIM’s challenges are bigger picture,” said Mike Abramsky, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. “It would mainly be of interest to some people who see value in apps.”

One major problem for both RIM’s apology and the company’s general fortunes is the relative lack of appealing apps for the BlackBerry, particularly compared with Apple’s iPhone or phones that use Google’s Android operating system.

In its announcement, RIM listed only 12 apps that would be available at no cost, although it said that more would become available before the downloading period began on Wednesday.

While the offer could conceivably prompt BlackBerry users who previously had not visited the BlackBerry App World to take a look, it might also remind them about the limited extent of the company’s software offerings.

Indeed, if users opt for the less expensive, professional version of DriveSafe.ly, which sells for $19.99, rather than the $79.99 “enterprise” version, and then buy all of the other apps on the list released on Monday, they will have spent only $76. Even that seems unlikely as some of those apps perform similar functions.

The free downloads will be available until the end of the year.

Instead of free apps, RIM is offering corporate and government users technical support at no cost for one month.

The financial impact of the offer on RIM, which has failed to reach recent financial targets, is unclear. There are about 70 million BlackBerry users worldwide, both consumer and corporate. While RIM will have to reimburse the developers of the apps it gives away, Mr. Abramsky said that it was impossible at this point to estimate that cost.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/technology/rim-offers-free-apps-as-apology-for-outages.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Glitches in BlackBerry Service Continue

The service interruptions that began on Monday and initially affected BlackBerry owners in Europe, Africa and the Middle East had, by Tuesday migrated to Brazil, India, Chile and Argentina. By Wednesday, users in North America began complaining of the same disruptions.

Earlier this week, Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, attributed the problems to equipment failures and backup systems, blaming a faulty switch that links its internal network to the Internet as a whole. The failures have left subscribers in the affected regions without access to BlackBerry’s instant messaging service and the Web.

Marisa Conway, a spokeswoman for RIM, a Waterloo, Ontario company, said that the company was aware of the problems and delays with the service.

“We are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience,” she said. “We will provide a further update as soon as more information is available.”

Frustration erupted on social media sites like Twitter and online forums that cater to the owners of BlackBerry devices. “Uugh. If i don’t get back to you today, this is why. BlackBerry outage appears to be spreading,” a user named Diana_Knight posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

Such failures are not rare occurrences for RIM. Last month, BlackBerry’s popular messaging service, which works like phone text messaging but doesn’t incur carrier fees, crashed for several hours in parts of Latin America and Canada.

The latest blackout comes at a precarious time for the company, which is struggling to battle against sluggish sales and a tablet that landed with a thud. Dozens of sleek new Android devices are arriving on store shelves in time for the holiday season and Apple is releasing the latest version of the iPhone this Friday.

On CrackBerry.com, a popular online forum that caters to BlackBerry owners, a thread called “Enough is Enough” had attracted thousands of views and hundreds of comments by Wednesday afternoon. “This is it. This is the boiling point. Someone has to go over to Waterloo and slap those in charge at RIM,” wrote a user going by the name BlackLion15.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/technology/hiccups-in-blackberry-service-continue.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

RIM Reported to Be in Talks for Music Deal

Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, is in the process of signing deals with the major record companies to develop a limited digital music service for its subscribers, according to several people briefed on the talks.

The new service, which is expected to be introduced to the market in coming weeks, would allow users of the phones’ instant-message service, BlackBerry Messenger, to send songs to other subscribers, according to these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are private and the deals have not all been signed.

Unlike Spotify, Rhapsody and other so-called cloud music services, which let their users stream millions of songs, the new BlackBerry program would allow users to share only about 50 songs with other users, through playlists and other features.

It is expected to cost less than $10 a month, and the charge would be added to the subscriber’s monthly phone bill. Record companies will share some of the revenue.

The service is expected to be available to BlackBerry Messenger’s 45 million users around the world, the majority of whom are in North America.

Tenille Kennedy, a spokeswoman for Research in Motion, based in Waterloo, Ontario, declined to comment about the music service.

The new music service is expected to provide a boost to Research in Motion. Having effectively created the smartphone market with the BlackBerry, the company’s North American market shares have declined substantially since the arrival of Apple’s iPhone and phones running Google’s Android operating system.

BlackBerry Messenger has become popular with young people because of its price. It usually offers unlimited text messages for a modest fee, even on prepaid phone plans, making it less costly than conventional SMS texting.

The news was first reported by CNET, a technology Web site.

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