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Blackberry Headed For The Deadpool?

I hate to say I told you so, but it’s clear now that instead of trying to make a new piece of iron Blackberry should have turned itself into a secure, real-time communication service that would run on any smartphone (as I predicted in Jan 2012).

Ian Austin, BlackBerry Posts Loss, Despite New Phone

Thorsten Heins, the president and chief executive of BlackBerry, recalled Friday that when he announced a delay in the introduction of a new line of phones a year ago, he was told his company was “finished.” Not so, he argued then, give us time to get this thing right.

The phones, known as BlackBerry 10s, are now here. But from the results the company announced Friday, BlackBerry has not turned around its fortunes. Just the opposite.

In the first full quarter of sales of the make-or-break BlackBerry 10s,BlackBerry reported that it shipped 6.8 million phones, of which only about 2.7 million were the new models.

Or, to put it another way, Apple sells as many iPhones in a week as BlackBerry 10s were shipped over three months.

“For many, going into these earnings, it was seen as the end of the new beginning,” said Anil Doradla, an analyst with William Blair & Company in Chicago. “Now, coming out of the earnings, it looks like the beginning of the end.”

BlackBerry’s share price plummeted nearly 28 percent after it reported an unexpected $84 million loss on Friday and revealed the early shipping figures of its new phone.

Someone (Microsoft? Google? Nokia?) might be buying this company for 1 penny on the dollar in a few weeks, or it’s headed for the deadpool

In Dubai, traffic accidents fell 20 per cent from average rates on the days BlackBerry users were unable to use its messaging service. In Abu Dhabi, the number of accidents this week fell 40 per cent and there were no fatal accidents.

Traffic accidents in Abu Dhabi decreased significantly during the BlackBerry outage.

BlackBerry cuts made roads safer, police say - The National

(via heyitsnoah)

(via infoneer-pulse)

Twitter: The Social Kernel For iOS 5 

[Update: I pulled a section of this out, as I was corrected about iMessage being the next version of Messages:

Project via comments

Actually, iMessage and the SMS app in iOS5 are one and the same thing. If the person you are sending a message to doesn’t have an iOS device, it sends it as an SMS.  If the person does, it recognises it in the To field and sends it as an iMessage.  In effect, Apple are embracing and extending the SMS protocol with this service. It is a huge move.

I stand corrected.]

Yesterday’s announcements from Apple included the new iMessage: an iOS-only messaging system, which is apparently intended to remove the last rationale that BlackBerry users might have to not adopt iPhones:

Darrell Etherington, iMessage: Biting RIM’s style and sticking it to network operators

BBM is one of the few remaining advantages RIM’s aging platform has over its younger competition in the smartphone market. (Check out this tweet representative of reaction toiMessage’s announcement if you don’t believe me.) People appreciated the way it integrates tightly to your device, and its delivery and read receipts let you know your messages aren’t getting lost in the ether. It’s been a life raft for RIM in the violent sea of the ongoing mobile battle BlackBerry faces with iOS and Android.

However, iMessage brings a lot of what’s good about BBM not only to the iPhone, which just passed RIM in terms of U.S. smartphone ownership trentds, but also to all iOS devices. With iPad and iPod touch users factored in, the potential audience for iMessage is huge, and it should cause at least some BBM-faithful to flee RIM’s platform for greener pastures.

Apple’s move also pushes the mobile carriers down in the stack, allowing iOS users to bypass SMS or proprietary messaging solutions. This is a painful but inevitable evolution.

iMessage is just a tactical play targeting BBM: a old-school pre-social, buddylist-style proprietary messaging system. It’s not strategic, really.

In the long run, it looks like Apple is planning to use Twitter as the platform for social communication, building Twitter into iOS instead of building protocols on which Twitter and other networks could run.

As reported by Marshall Kirkpatrick, Twitter on iOS 5 will be a platform for social apps:

My summary, in a sentence: iOS apps will look like, feel like, read from and publish to Twitter like never before. And they’ll do that in many cases instead of using Facebook.

[Jason] Costa [the newly hired Twitter Developer Relations leader] summarizes thusly.

"There is single sign-on, which allows you to retrieve a user’s identity, avatar, and other profile data." That sounds like Facebook Connect, but I’m going to guess that Twitter will not prohibit developers from caching that data for time-shifted, aggregate, offline or other interesting types of analysis. Letting users skip having to create an account with every new app they download and instead click to log-in with their Twitter accounts is going to make many users very happy and encourage every iOS owner to get a Twitter account if they don’t have one already. App developers will get more and better populated user accounts, faster.

"There’s also a frictionless core signing service, allowing you to make and sign any call to the Twitter API." To be honest, I’m not really sure what this means. Perhaps it means that parts of the Twitter API that require user authentication will be accessible via the same single sign-on feature discussed above.

"There is follow graph synchronization, which enables you to bootstrap a user’s social graph for your app." In other words, apps will be able to offer users to find their Twitter friends who are also using a new app they’ve installed, and connect with them there too. That’s the kind of solution to the user-level "cold start problem" that Facebook Connect has been so helpful with for web apps.

"Furthermore, there is the tweet sheet feature, giving your app distribution and reach across Twitter." Again, like Facebook Connect, this is a feature that appears to make it easy for apps to publish user activity and promotional messages out into the Twitter streams of a user’s friends. Facebook has a complicated algorithm that determines how often an app is allowed to publish messages out into the Newsfeed of a user’s friends, based on how much interactions messages from that app have received in the past. That’s a spam control mechanism that I’m going to guess Twitter will not replicate, at least at first.

It looks like Apple is going to give Twitter this deep and central role in its social OS plans, and allow the smaller more agile company to manage the building of an ecology of social apps on top of the paired architecture.

If even remotely successful, Apple will want to acquire Twitter, and Twitter will want to be acquired. These two will become as inseparable as NeXT was to Apple, when they regrooved Mac OS to be built upon the Mach Unix kernel. Here though, Apple will be making Twitter — and the open follower model Twitter resides on — the social kernel for iOS going forward.

This is a grand land grab by Apple and Twitter, an effort to block a Google/Facebook coalition on Android, or a Microsoft/Facebook partnership on Windows 8.

What about the competition? I predict Facebook will be too reluctant to partner with anyone, and may be at work on plans to launch its own hardware. Google is too slow on the social network side (the most expensive error of all time?), so they are stuck in the water. Microsoft is making credible efforts with Windows 7 and 8, but have no social network story. Microsoft is far enough behind the curve to possibly cede the social sphere to Facebook, too. RIM is falling like a stone, and would probably like to be bought, and either Google or Microsoft might bite, but that’s just tactics. None of these players has a strategic answer to the Apple move with Twitter.

What I don’t understand, though, is why iMessage isn’t written as a social app on top of Twitter. That would be the right path, and would simplify the Venn diagram tremendously. But Apple is opting to run both worlds — the pre-social and the social — in parallel, at least for a time, instead of doubling down on its social push with Twitter.

More RIM Problems: India Wants Access

India Warns It May Block BlackBerry Traffic

The Indian government said Thursday that it would block encrypted BlackBerry corporate e-mail and messenger services if wireless companies did not enable law enforcement authorities to monitor those messages by the end of the month.

The ultimatum suggested that Indian officials had reached an impasse after weeks of negotiations with Research In Motion, the Canadian company that makes and provides services for the popular hand-held devices. India would become the second country in recent weeks to restrict BlackBerry services. The United Arab Emirates announced last week that it would begin blocking services in October.

“If a technical solution is not provided by 31st August, 2010, the government will review the position and take steps to block these two services from the network,” the Home Ministry, the Indian equivalent of the United States Department of Justice, said in a statement.

Losing access to the wireless market in India would be far more significant for R.I.M. than losing the ability to provide service in the United Arab Emirates. India is one of the world’s fastest-growing wireless markets, and it already has an estimated one million BlackBerry users. Some use R.I.M.’s consumer e-mail service, which the government said it had no problem with because it can already monitor those messages.

Every repressive government in the world, and now some semi-repressive ones, are lining up and demanding that RIM give them full access to encrypted communications.

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