Just one day after Research In Motion shares received a boost off news that Samsung Electronics might be interested in buying the struggling smartphone and tablet maker, Samsung came out on Wednesday and said the rumored deal isn't happening.
Samsung, the second-largest cellphone producer on the planet behind Nokia, said it is not considering taking over RIM and that it has "never" been interested in buying the BlackBerry maker, according to a Bloomberg report.
James Chung, a Samsung spokesman, told the news outlet that the Korean company and RIM, based in Canada, haven't had any contact regarding a purchase deal.
Chung also told Bloomberg that Samsung isn't interested in the rumored software licensing deals that RIM has been reportedly exploring as well.
On Tuesday, stock in RIM rose $1.30, or 8.04%, to $17.47 per share after the tech news site BGR ran a story, citing unnamed sources, stating that Samsung was the "front runner" to purchase RIM.
Of course, Samsung hasn't been the only company that has been rumored to be interested in buying RIM. Among the other potential suitors with speculated interest in RIM are Nokia, Microsoft and Amazon. RIM shares jumped 10% in December on news of possible takeover interest from Microsoft and Amazon.
This also isn't the first time that Samsung has come out and denied rumors of its interest in a smartphone property. Last September, Samsung declared its lack of interest in buying the WebOS operating system from Hewlett-Packard.
After months of trying to figure out what to do with WebOS, HP eventually decided to retain ownership, open-source the software and then move forward on developing new tablets (but no new smartphones) running the operating system.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: BlackBerry Messenger on a BlackBerry smartphone from Research In Motion. Samsung announced Wednesday that will not purchase BlackBerry maker RIM. Credit: Oliver Lang / Associated Press
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is again at the center of buyout rumors and this time the speculated buyer is consumer electronics giant Samsung.
Among other possible suitors believed to be interested in RIM are Nokia, Microsoft and Amazon, which sent shares in the smartphone and tablet maker up as much as 10% in December when the rumor mill was churning.
On Tuesday, after the website BGR published a story that stated Samsung was the "front runner" to purchase RIM, stock in the Canadian company rose $1.30, or 8.04%, to $17.47 per share.
"Research In Motion is currently weighing every single option it can think of in an effort to reverse a negative trend that is approaching a boiling point for investors," BGR said. "Reports that RIM is currently in talks to license its software to other vendors are accurate according to our trusted sources, though we have been told that RIM is most likely leaning toward an outright sale of one or more divisions, or even the whole company."
RIM officials were unavailable to comment on the BGR report on Tuesday.
The negative trend mentioned by BGR is a well-documented slide at RIM that didn't relent in 2011. In December, RIM recorded a $485-million loss on unsold PlayBook inventory after the tablet failed to live up to sales expectations since its launch in April. Every model of the PlayBook was also cut to $299 in a move to entice consumers.
With sales of the PlayBook slow, no wireless carriers have stepped up to offer a 3G or 4G version of the BlackBerry tablet as RIM had originally planned.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Research In Motion's senior manager of brand marketing, Jeff Gadway, discusses new BlackBerry technology in a presentation at the company's "BeBold" event at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 10. Credit: Eric Reed / AP Images for BlackBerry
As General Motors introduced its first efforts to bring apps from your smartphone into your dashboard at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Ford expanded its Sync AppLink system — which does just that and launched about a year ago.
When AppLink made its debut, Pandora was the only app a Sync user could operate via in-dash touch screen. Later, Stitcher radio gained Sync compatibility, which includes voice control as well.
Ford announced at CES in Las Vegas this week that apps for iPhones, BlackBerrys and phones that Google's Android would be added to the AppLink-friendly list, including NPR News, Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio and Ford's own Sync Destinations turn-by-turn navigation app.
To see NPR News and Slacker Radio in action in a new Ford Mustang GT, check out our video from CES above.
Ford says that more apps that work with Sync's voice recogniton software are on the way. Oddly enough, Sync (which was developed through a partnership between Ford and Microsoft) has no AppLink compatibility with Windows Phone apps.
Just as with GM's in-car-app systems — Chevrolet MyLink and Cadillac CUE — AppLink can use apps only if it’s connected to a smartphone with the app installed, and it accesses data through the phone. Ford isn't selling any AppLink data plans.
For now, AppLink is available only in Sync-equipped Fiestas, Mustangs, Fusions, F-150s and Econoline vans, but the U.S. automaker is considering pushing AppLink out to other Ford brands, such as Lincoln, as well as to vehicles running older versions of Sync.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screen shot of Ford's Sync Destinations app. Credit: Ford
General Motors, Ford, Mercedes, Subaru and even QNX (owned by Research In Motion) each showed off their respectively differing approaches to getting apps into the dashboards of our cars at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
And while the idea of apps in the car is a dream for some, so far, most of the apps center around replicating smartphone or tablet experiences from the driver's seat.
OnStar, the GM-owned telematics company, has a slightly different idea to piggyback off the work developers are doing building apps for use in both smartphones and cars.
OnStar wants developers to create apps that use its wireless service to actually control cars in new ways that utilize what it already can do — automatic crash response, stolen vehicle tracking, turn-by-turn navigation and roadside assistance for subscribers of its wireless in-car assistance service.
OnStar RemoteLink enables users (who also own select 2010 or newer Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick or GMC vehicles) to view real-time data such as mileage, fuel in the gas tank, oil life and tire pressure from their car or truck. The app also allows users to remotely unlock doors, honk horns, shine lights, start the engine and, of course, contact a dealer.
It's these sorts of capabilities that OnStar is now offering developers through its API, and the first developer to build on that is RelayRides, a neighbor to car-sharing service. A new RelayRides app, which we got a preview of at CES (as seen int he video above), will launch later this year on Apple's iOS and allow car owners to unlock their cars remotely after the person renting their vehicle arrives, or even track where a renter has taken their car.
OnStar's API isn't yet available to all developers; company officials said that would take place in the first half of this year, but what RelayRides is working on shows a bit of its potential. GM said at CES that any developers interested in using the OnStar API should email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RelayRides says its new OnStar integrated app, in both an iOS and Android-friendly HTML5 form, will launch "early this year."
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screenshot of OnStar's RemoteLink app for Apple's iOS. Credit: OnStar
Research In Motion may reportedly relieve its co-chief executives, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, of their positions as co-chairmen of the company's board of directors.
The move comes amid shareholder pressure calling for new leadership, according to the Financial Post, a Canadian newspaper.
The shareholder pressure is due in large part to a rough 2011 for RIM in which the smartphone and tablet maker dealt with declining market share, earnings results below expectations, shrinking stock prices, multiple product delays, employee layoffs, service outages, a $485-million loss on unsold PlayBook tablet inventory and takeover rumors.
Among those under leading consideration to take over as the head of RIM's board is Barbara Stymiest, who joined RIM's board in 2007 and is the chief operating officer of the Royal Bank of Canada's Financial Group, the Financial Post said in its report.
If Lazaridis and Balsillie are removed from their shared chairman posts, the move reportedly wouldn't change their roles as co-CEOs.
Regardless of what happens, it's clear 2012 will be a major year for RIM as it is looks to rebound from 2011 and release its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, which has been under development for months.
BlackBerry 10 will be introduced on a new line of BlackBerry smartphones that will favor touchscreens over full physical keyboards and enable users to run Android apps alongside native QNX and BlackBerry 10 apps, apps developed using Adobe's AIR software and HTML5.
The new operating system, which was supposed to launch in early 2012 but has been delayed to later this year, will also run on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Top photo: Mike Lazaridis, Research in Motion's president, co-CEO and co-chairman. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Bottom photo: Jim Balsillie, co-CEO and co-chairman of Research in Motion. Credit: Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press
Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has hit a new low price — $299 for every model.
Yup, that’s $299 for the PlayBook regardless of how much storage you buy it with: 16 gigabytes, 32 gigabytes or 64 gigabytes.
RIM made the temporary price cut, which ends Feb. 4, on its BlackBerry online store. If you’ve been waiting to buy a PlayBook, this might be the time to go for it — though it was offered as low as $199 on Black Friday.
Normally, the 16-gigabyte PlayBook sells for $499, the 32-gigabyte model for $599 and the 64-gigabyte unit for $699.
RIM officials weren’t available on Tuesday to say just what prompted the price cut, which can fairly be described as a fire sale of sorts. But it is well known that the PlayBook hasn’t lived up to RIM’s sales expectations since its launch April.
Last month, RIM took a $485-million loss on unsold PlayBook inventory. The PlayBook also has yet to entice wireless carriers, as none has offered a 3G or 4G version of the BlackBerry tablet as RIM had planned.
The dramatic price cut follows what was a difficult 2011 for RIM with multiple product delays, layoffs, service outages, shrinking market share, disappointing earnings results, sliding stock prices and takeover rumors.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Mike Lazaridis, president and co-chief executive officer of Research in Motion, speaks about the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet at BlackBerry’s DevCon in San Francisco on Oct. 18. Credit: Beck Diefenbach / Reuters
Based in Toronto since 1944, BBM Canada filed its suit against Research In Motion this month "after attempts to negotiate failed," according to the Globe and Mail newspaper which first reported on the complaint.
Jim MacLeod, BBM Canada's chief executive, told the Globe and Mail that RIM also turned down an offer from BBM Canada in which the group would rename itself if RIM would pay for the costs of the rebranding, but the smartphone maker wasn't interested.
Officials at RIM were unavailable to comment Friday, but the company told the Globe and Mail that it doesn't comment on ongoing legal matters.
MacLeod said BBM Canada doesn't want to pick on RIM, which has had a tough year with declining market share, sliding profit and another trademark lawsuit loss over the use of the BBX name.
"We want our name back," he said in the report. "I find it kind of amazing that this wouldn't have been thought about before they decided to use the name. The same thing goes for BBX."
RIM announced in October that its next smartphone and tablet operating system would be called BBX, a name owned by the New Mexican software firm Basis International, which quickly sued RIM for trademark infringement. Earlier this month, RIM was denied use of the BBX name and announced that its next operating system would instead be known as BlackBerry 10.
BlackBerry 10 has been under development for months and was slated to launch early in 2012 before being delayed into late 2012. When it arrives, RIM says, it will be the first OS from the company to run on both smartphones and tablets — an approach taken by Apple's iOS and Google's new Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
The delay is the latest of multiple product delays to hit RIM this year, including the delay of an update to the software running on its PlayBook tablet, which recently racked up a $485-million loss for RIM in unsold inventory. So far, no mobile carriers have offered up a 3G or 4G version of the PlayBook, and RIM has also dealt with layoffs, service outages and takeover rumors.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: BlackBerry Messenger on a BlackBerry smartphone from Research In Motion. Credit: Oliver Lang / Associated Press
The BlackBerry maker's stock rose 10% in trading on Wednesday after rumors began to circulate that the Canadian company had been in various talks to sell itself to Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Nokia Corp.
Nothing has come of those talks, but the buzz about a possible sale lifted the battered stock above dismal lows it had hit last week when it reported that quarterly profit had sunk 70% since a year earlier. The company has faced stiffening competition from rival smartphone powers such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc., and its BlackBerry Playbook tablet joined the ranks of also-rans that failed to chip away at the dominance of Apple's iPad.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Microsoft and its ally Nokia considered making a joint bid to buy RIM, but that the status of those talks remained a secret. A second report from Reuters described similarly indefinite talks the company had with Amazon, which it said hired an investment bank to research the viability of a deal during the summer.
The stock rose $1.26, or 10.06%, to $13.78 during regular trading, but is still down nearly 77% this year.
– David Sarno
Photo: A customer holds BlackBerry smartphones at a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia, this month. Credit: Mast Irham / EPA
The Android operating system's share of smartphone sales grew to 53% from January through October, up from 42% in 2010, and Apple's iOS share rose to 29%, up from 21% last year, research firm NPD Group said Tuesday.
Research in Motion, which makes the BlackBerry, continued to see its share of the smartphone market decline, plummeting to 10% in the first 10 months of this year. In 2010, it held one-fourth of the market.
Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, Symbian OS and Palm/webOS had tiny shares of the market, with each operating system capturing no more than 3%.
"The competitive landscape for smartphones, which has been reshaped by Apple and Google, has ultimately forced every major handset provider through a major transition," said Ross Rubin, executive director of Connected Intelligence at the NPD Group. "For many of them, 2012 will be a critical year in assessing how effective their responses have been."
Motorola is seeking to rebuild its share of the market, which was 36% five years ago but had fallen as low as 1% in the third quarter of 2009. After adopting Android, Motorola rose to 16% of the market in the fourth quarter last year but fell to 12% in the third quarter this year. But Rubin said Motorola is at least back in the game.
Another smartphone maker hoping to rebound next year is RIM. Rubin said few companies "have felt the impact of the shift to touch user interfaces and larger screen sizes as negatively," but noted that the company is beginning anew with a strong technical foundation and has already made incremental improvements this year with the release of its BlackBerry 7 operating system. In the second quarter of 2006, RIM held half of all smartphone sales, but by the third quarter this year, it had fallen to 8%.
– Andrea Chang
Photo: An iPhone 4S. Apple's iOS share of smartphone sales grew to 29% from January through October. Credit: Robert Galbraith / Reuters
Research In Motion's next BlackBerry smartphone and tablet operating system won't be called BBX after all.
Instead, RIM is going with the name BlackBerry 10 after a Federal Court in Albuquerque issued a temporary restraining order against the Canadian company, banning it from using the name BBX, which is a trademark of the New Mexico-based software firm Basis International.
Basis sued RIM in October over its use of the BBX name and rather than continue to fight the suit, RIM announced via Twitter on Wednesday that it's moving forward with its new operating system under the name BlackBerry 10.
#BBDevCon Asia Keynote: BlackBerry 10 is the official name of the next generation platform that will power future BlackBerry smartphones!^BZ
Basis uses the name BBx — note the difference in capitalization — as branding for its Business Basic eXtended line of software developer tools. The BBx tools are used to build applications that can run on a number of operating systems that use the Java programming language, including Linux, Microsoft Windows, Apple's iOS and Mac OS X, and Google's Android, according to Basis, which says it trademarked the name in 1995 but has been using it since 1985.
RIM's formerly-known-as-BBX operating system has been under development for months and will be the first OS from the company to run on both smartphones and tablets — an approach taken by Apple's iOS and Google's new Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
The OS now-known-as-BlackBerry-10 is based on QNX, the current operating system found on the slow-selling BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. RIM recently announced a $485-million loss on unsold PlayBook inventory.
BlackBerry 10 will usher in increased touchscreen-based controls to new RIM phones and the OS will enable BlackBerry devices to run Android apps alongside native QNX and BlackBerry 10 apps, apps developed using Adobe's AIR software and HTML5 apps.
The software is expected to arrive on new BlackBerry phones and the PlayBook tablet early next year.
— Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screen shot of Research In Motion's message on Twitter announcing that its BBX operating system has been renamed BlackBerry 10. Credit: Research In Motion / Twitter
Joining the growing parade of class-action lawsuits against cellphone software company Carrier IQ Inc., suits have been filed by a group of five California plaintiffs alleging that the Mountain View, Calif., company and affiliated wireless carriers and phone makers violated state law by "surreptitiously intercepting communications" of smartphone customers.
The plaintiffs are all clients of Century City attorney Susan Yoon, who filed the class-action suits Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Carrier IQ, T-Mobile USA, Sprint Nextel Corp., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., Samsung Telecommunications America and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd. Each suit alleged that the companies secretly recorded user cellphone activities.
"In violation of California's Invasion of Privacy Act, defendants herein secretly intercepted, received, recorded and/or monitored" the plaintiff's communications without alerting the plaintiff, the suit against T-Mobile alleges.
The suit also alleges that Carrier IQ's software "records and transmits to defendants keystrokes, content of text messages and passwords."
That assertion has been disputed by Carrier IQ and a group of security researchers, who said that a video purporting to show the capturing of keystrokes and text messages had been incorrectly analyzed by the amateur security researcher who made it.
Nevertheless, the company has stopped short of offering details about the specific types of smartphone user data it collects, saying only that "a great deal of information is available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset."
Doubts about the types of information the company and its clients collect have led to a series of state and federal class-action suits, as well as questions from federal legislators and privacy activists.
A Carrier IQ spokeswoman declined to comment on the California actions.
"The company has not seen or been served on any lawsuit, so we cannot comment on the allegations at this time," she wrote in an email.
When reached by telephone, Yoon, the attorney, declined to discuss the suits, including whether one of the named plaintiffs, Steve Yoon, was a familial relation.
The T-Mobile suit seeks both liquidated damages ($5,000 per violation to each class member) and an injunction to prevent further alleged violations of California's Invasion of Privacy Act.
– David Sarno
The head of Research In Motion's Indonesia division is reportedly under investigation after a stampede of consumers broke out at a launch event for a BlackBerry smartphone last month.
Police in Indonesia told Reuters that about 5,000 people were on hand to buy a new BlackBerry phone on Nov. 25 in Jakarta. As customers rushed forward to see and purchase the new phone, "dozens passed out in the crush," Reuters said in a report about the incident.
Now, authorities there are saying that Andrew Cobham, RIM's Indonesia chief executive, is suspected of being responsible for the event getting out of hand, Reuters said.
Officials at RIM were unavailable on Monday to comment on the report.
"Police also named a security consultant hired by RIM, an event organizer and a manager of the sale's shopping center venue, as suspects who are likely to be charged," Reuters said.
The launch event generated an overnight line of more than 1,000 consumers and the main attraction was a 50% discount on the phone for the first 1,000 people to make a purchase, the report said.
Cobham hasn't been arrested, but he "has been banned from traveling overseas. He must go through the legal process here," Jakarta Police investigator Budi Irawan told Reuters.
If charged and found guilty of negligence, Cobham could face a maximum penalty of nine months in jail, the report said.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: A screen shot of ID.BlackBerry.com, Research In Motion's Indonesian websites. Credit: RIM
Research In Motion said Friday that it will take a $485 million loss on its unsold BlackBerry PlayBook tablet inventory, sending shares in the company down about 8% in day trading after the announcement.
The news is the latest setback for the PlayBook and RIM as a whole, which has had a rough year so far with multiple product delays, no carriers offer up a 3G or 4G version of the PlayBook, layoffs, service outages, shrinking market share, disappointing earnings results and sliding stock prices.
"As previously disclosed, RIM has a high level of BlackBerry PlayBook inventory," the Canadian company said in a statement. "The Company now believes that an increase in promotional activity is required to drive sell-through to end customers. This is due to several factors, including recent shifts in the competitive dynamics of the tablet market and a delay in the release of the PlayBook OS 2.0 software."
The significant loss, which is technically called a pre-tax provision, will allow RIM to expand its marketing push around the PlayBook in a bid to boost sales, the statement said.
But while the PlayBook has been painfully costly for RIM so far, the company said it isn't planning on giving up on that tablet market.
"RIM is committed to the BlackBerry PlayBook and believes the tablet market is still in its infancy," Mike Lazaridis, RIM's co-CEO, said in the statement. "Although a number of factors have led to the need for an inventory provision in the third quarter, we believe the PlayBook, which will be further enhanced with the upcoming PlayBook OS 2.0 software, is a compelling tablet for consumers that also offers unique security and manageability features for the enterprise."
Lazaridis said that the response to PlayBook sales promotions so far have shown a "significant increase in demand across most channels."
Still, the numbers are small compared with the sales of competing tablets. RIM said in its statement that it sold about 150,000 PlayBook tablets to retailers in the quarter ended Nov. 26 "and sell-through to end customers, based on RIM's internal data, was higher than this amount."
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet from Research in Motion. Credit: Nathan Olivarez-Giles / Los Angeles Times
Research In Motion announced on Tuesday that it will soon launch software that will bring security and management features once only found on BlackBerrys over to Android and iOS phones and tablets.
The new tools, which RIM is calling BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, will allow businesses to set up and control Apple's iPhone and iPad, as well as smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system, as they have done for years with BlackBerry phones and more recently, the slow-selling PlayBook tablet.
"We are pleased to introduce BlackBerry Mobile Fusion — RIM's next generation enterprise mobility solution — to make it easier for our business and government customers to manage the diversity of devices in their operations today," said Alan Panezic, RIM's vice president of enterprise product management and marketing, in a statement.
"BlackBerry Mobile Fusion brings together our industry-leading BlackBerry Enterprise Server technology for BlackBerry devices with mobile device management capabilities for iOS and Android devices, all managed from one web-based console," Panezic said. "It provides the necessary management capabilities to allow IT departments to confidently oversee the use of both company-owned and employee-owned mobile devices within their organizations."
In announcing Mobile Fusion, RIM touted itself as "the leading provider of enterprise mobility solutions with over 90 percent of the Fortune 500 provisioning BlackBerry devices today," a nod to its still-large market share of the business market for smartphones.
But the Canadian company also acknowledges that when it comes time for consumers to buy phones and tablets for themselves, they're increasingly choosing rival devices and then bringing those gadgets into the workplace.
"The enterprise market for smartphones and tablets continues to grow in both the company-provisioned and employee-owned (Bring Your Own Device or BYOD) categories," RIM said. "BYOD in particular has led to an increase in the diversity of mobile devices in use in the enterprise and new challenges for CIOs and IT departments as they struggle to manage and control wireless access to confidential company information on the corporate network. This has resulted in increased demand for mobile device management solutions."
Among the features RIM said Mobile Fusion will offer for Android and iOS phones and tablets is the management and configuration of devices, as well as security features such as remote locking and data wiping, the creation of multiple user profiles on shared devices, app management and control over how a device connects to the Internet, among other settings.
While some would seem to love having an iPhone or an Android that's as secure and easy to manage at the scale a large business would require, others such as ReadWriteWeb has asked if RIM isn't "shooting itself in the foot with Mobile Fusion?"
GigaOm described RIM's stance with Mobile Fusion as "If you can't beat iOS and Android devices in the market, you might as well secure them."
Currently, Mobile Fusion is in "early beta testing with select enterprise customers," RIM said. But the company is accepting "customer nominations for the closed beta program which will start in January." The commercial rollout of Mobile Fusion isn't expected until late March.
— Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: An Apple iPhone 4S. Credit: Robert Galbraith / Reuters