RIM

Heading into the last quarter in 2013, it is becoming increasingly clear that Windows Phone is now solidifying itself as the third alternative for smartphones (see the latest IDC report). While sales are still miles behind iOS and Android, Windows Phone as a platform is finally being treated more equally by retailers and consumers.

Part of that apparent victory, in typical Microsoft fashion, is due to missteps by Redmond’s competitors. Years ago, BlackBerry (then called RIM) basically owned the enterprise market. Fast forward to 2013 and with BlackBerry 10 on the market with a handful of new devices, it’s becoming clear that it’s just not enough to regain that momentum.

The site IT Wire has performed some store-checks for the new BlackBerry Q10 and Z10—two devices we actually own and occasionally use ourselves. The site tried to get a statement from Australia’s telco’s Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone but received no comment about those BlackBerry sales. Not hindered, IT Wire then spoke with Harvey Norman, Optus and Telstra franchises for their opinions on BlackBerry’s prospects.

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BlackBerry today unveiled its new family of smartphones, running BlackBerry 10. The Z10 (review) is arguably the flagship device, touted as new innovation and pushing the boundaries of mobile computing. We checked out the presentation today and kept a watchful eye on how everything was progressing. It's impressive to see how RIM (now BlackBerry) has turned things around, but how does the Z10 rank against the Lumia 920?

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We had our say, now you have yours. The question is a bit loaded for a Windows Phone site, after all we’re guessing some of you are fans of Microsoft’s OS, but it is a legitimate question.

Windows Phone 8 has not set the world afire despite positive reviews and word of mouth. Is that because it’s not good enough or because Android and iOS are just too far ahead?

If it’s the former, does BlackBerry 10 fill that roll? If it’s the latter does BlackBerry even have a chance?

Click below for a few polls on the matter. Moible? Just head to m.wpcentral.com/polls-blackberry-10 to take them on your phone.

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Today, as expected the company formerly known as RIM has announced the availability of BlackBerry 10.

With two new devices, the Q10 (traditional qwerty phone) and the Z10 (traditional slab touchscreen) and an early global launch including all 4 US carriers by March, the Waterloo company has done an impressive mini-comeback.

The question is, is it enough?

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Although the stock market as a whole is down due to America’s ongoing blowhard budget bickering, we think investors have yet another good reason to buy Nokia (which is down today 3%). RIM will reportedly make an initial payment of $65 million to Nokia for their WLAN patent settlement from a few weeks back.

The settlement came after Nokia brought a complaint against RIM in U.S., United Kingdom and Canada claiming RIM was in violation of WLAN patents. The case went to arbitration and was found to be in favor of Nokia, resulting in an undisclosed settlement. Now information of the initial lump sum came forward via RIM's 6-K filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in addition “ongoing payments” for the right to use Nokia’s tech will also be provided.

Say what you will about Nokia but the company does have one of the strongest patent portfolios around and since money is tight right now, they are seeking to collect where they can. While $65 million won’t save the company, that’s not a bad “bonus” to add to the books at the end of the year.

Source: All Things D; via CrackBerry

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Nokia has prevailed in a patent dispute the company filed against Research in Motion Limited (RIM) in 2011. Nokia filed complaints in the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada claiming RIM was in violation of WLAN patents.

Long story short, the case went to arbitration and today the Arbitrator ruled in favor of Nokia. The ruling will require RIM to pay Nokia royalties for Blackberry handsets. And until a royalty agreement can be reach, RIM is not entitle to manufacture or sell WLAN devices.

As expected, Nokia was pleased with the ruling while RIM had no immediate comment. Nokia has filed cases with the Courts of jurisdiction to enforce the Arbitrator's ruling.

Source: CrazyJoys

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Look at the shiny shiny...

According to latest data released by comScore, Microsoft remains comfortable in fourth position (behind RIM) with only a .4% reduction in US marketshare. This was expected with the upcoming launch of Windows Phone 8, especially with new hardware unveiled for consumers to hold out on making a purchase.

Sat at 3.6%, Microsoft continues to witness the downfall of RIM which was hit by a sizeable 3.1% drop in US shares as the company continues to battle through the tough period until it releases Blackberry 10. Falling to just 8.3% of the market, unless RIM can slow down the descent of the platform's fall, Microsoft may well find itself in third position - dependant on the imminent Windows Phone 8 launch.

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Kantar Worldpanel has published its report based on latest smartphone sales data, which reveals Windows Phone seriously challenging RIM for third place in Europe with low-end devices such as the Lumia 610 driving sales in key markets.

Low-end Windows Phone growth rates representing multiple markets within Europe have been provided by Kantar. Italy tops the charts with an increase in market share of 6.6%, while France comes in second at 3.5% and Great Britan is third with 2.3%. What's more is Microsoft now sports 10.4% marketshare in Italy with Windows Phone.

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Microsoft today announced the company has finalised an agreement with RIM that provides broad access to Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) for BlackBerry devices. The modern file system from Microsoft enables a straightforward interchange between desktop PCs and electronic devices using the format.

exFAT is a vast improvement cover its predecessor, FAT. It expands both the size of files that flash memory devices can handle, as well as speed at which these files can be accessed. These are improvements RIM will likely be looking to take full advantage of in its upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS.

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Behind those smiles is concern

This was another important week for the mobile giant from Cupertino.  Apple continued to improve upon its iPhone product line by launching the iPhone 5. While I believe Apple delivered exactly what investors need, none of this really changes the story for the two major comeback players - Nokia and RIM.

So let’s focus on Nokia here.  We already know they did a poor job of unveiling the Lumia 920 but I didn’t think the stock market reaction made sense.  Sure, Nokia left a lot of information off the table but they still showed off a very nice phone running Windows Phone 8, proving their lineup is becoming interesting again.  And as much as I love Apple products (I really do), I recognize that people don’t just want to buy iClones.  Apple is an amazing company with amazing products.  But they aren’t for everybody.

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Another Monday, another questionable story about marketshare and smartphones is making its way around the tech blogs. This one centers on data collected by StatCounter, a site that collects data usage on browsing habits. They claim to gather data on more than 3 million websites and 15 billion page views per month, making them one of the largest aggregating companies around.

Recently, WMPoweruser ran a story that looked at browser data for RIM versus Windows Phone in the United States. Assuming all the respective trajectories stay on the same course, it looks like Windows Phone may overtake RIM sometime in November of this year. But is that the whole story?

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Could Microsoft make a Surface Phone? Not likely

We've re-published a number of concepts in the past when it came to guessing what designs Nokia had up their sleeves for Windows Phone, or how Windows 8 tablets could look like. Fortunately for consumers, Microsoft decided to smash the latter and unveil their Surface range of Windows 8 tablets to compete with the iPad and Android counterparts. So we now switch back to the phone, and with Apollo on the horizon what could we see if Microsoft and RIM made a Windows Phone?

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71% of developers are optimistic about Windows Phone 8

A new survey today from RW Baird shows some promising news for the Windows Phone platform.  Despite some recent setbacks and still less-than-stellar adoption rates, devs are keeping their eyes on the prize with Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft’s future.

The poll shows that since the June 20thWindows Phone Summit, 71% of respondents had an increased interest in the platform because of the new Windows Phone 8 capabilities.  That’s quite a high number and we believe a smart move as the promise of overlapping development for Windows 8 Desktop, Surface and Windows Phone 8 will offer some tantalizing opportunities for increased revenue.

Regarding developers long term outlook for Windows Phone 7, devs were less enthusiastic with a noticeable decline from 6.3 (out of 10) back in Q2 2011 to just 4.2 in Q2 2012.  Why the drop? It’s actually hard to decipher as it is far from clear just what devs understand as “the future of Windows Phone 7”. From a technical standpoint, the platform is winding down but Nokia and Microsoft have promised long-term support. Microsoft has also ensured that Windows Phone 7 apps will work on 8—so are devs turning from WP7 and looking to WP8 instead? That seems to be the case.

The worst news though is aimed at RIM and their upcoming Blackberry 10 platform. Developer interest for their next gen OS is precipitously declining with only a 3.8 (out of 10) now hopeful for its long term success. RIM has responded to this report noting that they’ve published 15K apps since January and their dev camps have had robust attendance. All of that may be true but image and perception are everything and people's view of RIM’s future looks negative—that is never a good thing and hard to turnaround. (But see Crackberry for an alternative analysis).

Perhaps it’s not surprising that iOS and Android remain strong with 9.3 and 8.7 scores for developers’ faith in their long term potential with Android taking a very slight dip.  The survey data comes from 200 developers culled from a sample set of 4,300 making the numbers seemingly reliable.

The takeaway from this news would be developers clearly see Windows Phone 8 as the third ecosystem for smartphones while webOS, Symbian and RIM’s future OS are clearly either dead or floundering. That's something to be hopeful about.

Source: RW Baird; via Crackberry, All Things D

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Windows Phone confusing to RIM's CEO

The Windows Phone platform is confusing. At least to Research In Motion's CEO that is.

In a recent interview CNET, Thorsten Heins said that Microsoft is overwhelming consumers with Windows Phone 7, 7.5 and now 8. He said,

"It's confusing at the moment, but that's the way they communicate."

It's understandable that Heins will speak highly of RIM and down play the competition but RIM doesn't exactly have a crystal clear approach on things. The obvious way to illustrate this is to ask where is Blackberry 10?  But there's more.

Beyond the delay of Blackberry 10's release, RIM has had to deal with lay-offs, resignations and quarterly loses. All the while Microsoft is posting gains, expanding through acquisitions and partnerships, and introducing new products (Surface anyone?). Sure, Microsoft has mulitple versions of Windows Phone in circulation but so does RIM with Blackberry 6 and 7. While Windows Phone may have confused RIM, I'll take stability and growth with a little confusion any day.

And it may not be fair to compare these two companies with Microsoft's more diversified portfolio of products. Still... is the Windows Phone platform any more confusing than RIM's?  Then you have to wonder if Heins should be calling out Microsoft's platform when RIM seems to be on the down hill slide?

Source: CNET via: ZDNET

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Reuters reports what we kind of knew back in December, that Microsoft boss, Steve Ballmer approached RIM about making a Nokia-style deal to scrap its own operating system in favor of adopting Windows Phone. Unlike Nokia, however, RIM decided it would sink or swim on its own, declining an infusion of cash from Microsoft, in exchange for a stake in the company. During a conference call yesterday, RIM CEO, Thorsten Heins, shot down the idea of moving to another company's OS, be it Android or Windows Phone:

“We came to the decision that joining the family of the Android players, for example, would not fit RIM’s strategy and its customers,” he said. “We are not trying to be one of many. We’re trying to be different. We’re trying to be the best solution for our customers that buy a BlackBerry, know why they want a BlackBerry. And we’re aiming for nothing less than being a viable, successful, mobile computing platform of the future. This is what we’re aiming at. And I think that’s the difference. If you compare us with others, did we take the hard road? Absolutely. Absolutely. But having done this and building and completing this new mobile computing platform that then expresses itself as a smartphone or as a tablet or as a vertical application or embedded in cars, whatever you want to do, that is where we will take BlackBerry. And this is – that’s why it was absolutely required and necessary to build its own platform. I would argue the other way around. If I continue to rely on somebody else’s OS and somebody else’s platform, would that allow me in the long run to really differentiate towards my customers and provide them the services and the environment that they request from me and that they would like to have? I have a big question mark around this. So I think going this way and building the platform we are building has the absolute intent to serve our customers and our markets better than on a standard-based OS and platform.”

Cheers to RIM for standing their ground. Sadly, integrity doesn't always translate into success. Yesterday saw them reporting a large loss for Q1. In addition, they announced that their latest operating system, BlackBerry 10, will not see the light of day until Q1 of 2013. Their struggles have also led to the decision to cut about 30% of their workforce, about 5000 jobs, in order to save money. Read more at Crackberry.com.

Source: ForbesReuters

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Looks like there may be some good news for Nokia and Windows Phone after all, at least according to Kantar Worldpanel who has been accumulating sales of smartphones for the last 12 weeks across the globe.

The data suggests a strong increase in sales of Windows Phone in the United States where sales jumped from 1.9% in 2011 to 3.6% during the same time frame in 2012. What's more, that period for sales ends on March 18th which is a full 3 weeks before the AT&T Lumia 900 was available for purchase.

The increase in Windows Phone sales would mostly be attributable to the Lumia 710 on T-Mobile and the "Mango refresh" on AT&T with the Samsung Focus Flash, Focus S and HTC Titan making up the bulk of sales. Of course that 3.6% pales in comparison to Android (47.6%) and iOS (42.9%) during the same period though for the first time sales of Windows Phone outpaced RIM (3.2%) which is certainly a good sign.

World wide, Windows Phone also saw a large increase in Germany where Windows Phone has 6.2% sales (up from 2.9%). Great Britain and France all had sales at or near 3% while Spain and Australia were much lower at 1.1 and 1.6% respectively.

While these numbers are interesting, we're certainly more curious about the next batch of sales figures to see how the Lumia 900 helped sales in the US and the rest of the world.

Windows Phone certainly has a long road ahead but the OS may be finally breaking that glass ceiling from the last two  years.

Source: Kantar Worldpanel; via TechCrunch; image via Nokia

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America's leading domestic hunger-relief charity Feeding America has ditched Blackberry support and is on its way to Windows Phone. The organization already makes use of Microsoft products including Office 2010 and Lync Server 2010, so the move makes sense with further integration possible while mobile. The Lync Windows Phone app and Office Hub are good examples of this. 

The move not only connects already utilised services, but the charity also calculated that savings could be found with the avoidance of costly annual server maintenance expenses. The cost reductions also hit devices with a 24% price drop per Windows Phone, with each smartphone improving access to information and services that employees rely on for productivity.

Kevin Lutz, vice president of Technology at Feeding America, had the following to comment on the Windows Phone adoption:

"Windows Phone provides a level of integration with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 and Lync Server 2010 that are not available with the iPhone, iPad or Android."

A feel good Tuesday story. Check out the press release after the break.

Source: Microsoft; thanks Morris for the tip!

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The Finnish manufacturer has announced in a press release today that they have filed patent lawsuits and will be taking on HTC, RIM and Viewsonic. Nokia has filed the patent claims in the U.S. and Germany, alleging that products from the three manufacturers infringe a number of owned patents.

Louise Pentland, chief legal officer at Nokia, had the following to comment on the situation.

"Nokia is a leader in many technologies needed for great mobile products. We have already licensed our standards essential patents to more than 40 companies.  Though we'd prefer to avoid litigation, Nokia had to file these actions to end the unauthorized use of our proprietary innovations and technologies, which have not been widely licensed."

Nokia is reported to license standards essential patents to more than 40 companies, and while the manufacturer would prefer to avoid litigation; there's no apparent room for unauthorised usage. A total of 45 patents are included in the claims, which have gone to the ITC (U.S. International Trade Commission), as well as regional courts in Mannheim and Munich, Germany.

Nokia proprietary innovations that are protected by these patents include dual function antennas, power management and multimode radios, as well as software feature enhancements that include application stores, multitasking, navigation, conversational message display, dynamic menus, data encryption and retrieval of email attachments on a mobile device. Fairly "basic" stuff to the average consumer.

Apple and Microsoft are among a number of companies that have been actively engaged in patent lawsuits. With Nokia's continued struggle to regain marketshare, not to mention a pretty steep loss reported in the previous financial quarter, some would say it's about time the company started fighting hard. Check out the press release after the break.

Source: Nokia

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In an interesting article over at GigaOm, the developers of the popular app textPlus (site) discuss why they decided to invest in Windows Phone instead of RIM's BlackBerry for their service, recognizing what we appears to be a growing trend in the market, that Windows Phone is the de facto third-way.

For those who don't know, textPlus is another free SMS app that uses a generated and assigned number to allow you to text anyone, anywhere (in the US and Canada) for free in addition from app-to-app. In the future, free VOIP calls will also be brought over to Windows Phone (it's available now on iOS and Android). The app was released a few days ago to the Windows Phone Marketplace for free and truth be told, while a bit slow it's done quite well.

The question GigaOm had for the developers was why did they go with Windows Phone before a BlackBerry client? The answer was simple, it's a beautiful and elegant OS. Scott Lahman, CEO and founder of TextPlus:

“The second we saw the OS and (Nokia) Lumia devices, we knew we wanted to support it. It’s a beautiful OS with a fresh take on what a phone OS can look like and that’s motivation for us to innovate. The OS brings elements that would be buried vertically to the top and you can see all your conversations, communities and contacts lists very easily. And you can pin specific conversations to the home screen. It’s elegant, easy to use, and it puts all of the elements at your fingertips.”

Though they had entertained making a BlackBerry client, they reportedly couldn't get the level of quality that they wanted. And once RIM announced their new OS, BB10, the uncertainties left the company feeling none to confident. By comparison, Nokia and Microsoft according to Lahman "...are some hungry organizations.".

Microsoft did not contribute financially to the development of textPlus for Windows Phone though they are reportedly providing some marketing help.

All in all, some great news to see developers finally taking the risk with Windows Phone over the dying RIM empire. The notion that Microsoft will be the third player is a forgone conclusion in our mind so it's nice to see some others finally noticing too. Pick up textPlus for free in the Marketplace right here.

Source: GigaOm

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Hot on the heels of that analyst calling for RIM to adopt Windows Phone OS comes this report from the Wall Street Journal which claims that Nokia and Microsoft considered making a joint bid for RIM in recent months. Nothing of course is actually in the works nor are there any impending announcements, but reportedly Microsoft and Nokia regularly meet with RIM to discuss industry and partnerships--which shouldn't be to much of a surprise. But now that reports are swirling that both companies are at least considering such a bid is certainly enticing.

The WSJ suggests that Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie is not seriously considering a bid until the company sees how their new OS, not expected till late 2012, performs on the market. Presumably if the OS does well, no sale. But if the company continues to sink in market share, running into the arms of a Microsoft/Nokia partnership could be an emergency 'Plan B'.

So for now, it looks like RIM will try their hand at Blackberry 10 but they appear to be lining up the life-boats in case it all goes south. Certainly having Microsoft-Nokia on the sidelines could only mean good things for Windows Phone. But for now, we wait. As an interesting side note, Amazon reportedly attempted to get talks started on a take-over of RIM but was rejected. Even more interesting of a side note? We found a story here on WPCentral from January 2009 which said if RIM's stock drops low enough, Microsoft will "snap them up". In other words, this may not be that new.

Source Wall Street Journal

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