Wednesday 29 February 2012

BlackBerry tricked out Porsche gives you a reason to want a PlayBook and NFC
BlackBerry tricked out Porsche gives you a reason to want a PlayBook and NFC
BlackBerry handset maker RIM has tricked out a Porsche 911 showing what is possible with its phones and tablet when combined with a car.

In a concept car being shown at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Research In Motion has shown why those who are the road will still want a BlackBerry.

Jump in the car and the first bit of tech that should make life easier is that the company has fitted the car with an NFC tag allowing you to pair your phone simply and quickly by simply tapping it on the dashboard (or in this case a tag hidden in the central storage aisle compartment).

But it's not just about making pairing easier. User will be able to control the entire entertainment system via a customised PlayBook allowing them to access media from their phone, from the device itself, or the cloud.

Users will then be able to choice what content they want to display on what screen around the multiple screens in the car.
In the case of the Porsche on the stand, two further PlayBook tablets mounted on the rear of the headrests for people in the back to enjoy.

RIM say the system is also supported by App world suggesting that you'll be able to get apps dedicated for your car rather than just your phone in the future.

But it isn't just about a fancy dashboard, RIM says that they've also added full stereo voice support for an even better handsfree experience.

The demo witnessed by Pocket-lint felt like the person on the other end of the phone was actually in the car, but how that will fair however at 70mph down the motorway with the top down in another matter.

As you would expect, and something that Jaguar has talked up in the past, RIM says the dashboard console where the speedo sits is fully customisable offering you different stats, and access to the media you are playing as well as GPS direction guidance.

When will it be coming out? RIM isn't saying, but in theory all of the technology is available to make this happen sooner rather than later
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Tuesday 28 February 2012

Rovi Teams with Blackberry

BlackBerry’s PlayBook device is using Rovi Corp. technology to power its new Video Store movie service, which offers both catalog titles and day-and-date releases.

“Rovi continues to lead as a technology provider for major brands that wish to add value and complement their devices with the addition of Internet-delivered premium entertainment,” said David Cook, SVP of Rovi Entertainment Store Sales at Rovi Corp. “We are extremely pleased to be associated with RIM’s release of BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 and to be helping provide users with new opportunities to enjoy entertainment on their PlayBook tablet.”

The Blackberry PlayBook Video Store allows users to watch content moments after a download begins, and the tablet device includes an HDMI output for connecting to an HDTV.

“The BlackBerry PlayBook offers an incredible multimedia experience with a stunning display, stereo sound, an HDMI TV connection and high-powered performance under the hood,” said Martyn Mallick, VP of global alliances and business development at Blackberry-maker Research In Motion. “

In other news, Rovi Feb. 28 announced its Rovi Entertainment Store would be used to power United Kingdom’s Dixons Retailer’s KnowHow Movies over-the-top video service.

The service, launching March 1, offers catalog video titles to connected devices, including HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc players and gaming consoles. Dixon aims to expand the service to mobile devices later this year. The service uses Rovi’s DivX Plus streaming video technology, which includes 1080p video, subtitles and multiple language tracks.

“With KnowHow Movies, we are offering customers the most flexible service available — they will only pay for what they watch, will have access to the latest releases instantly, and can buy and view films and TV shows on any of their connected devices,” said Niall O’Keeffe, KnowHow development director for Dixons. “We chose Rovi for this service because of their considerable depth of expertise in the provision of over-the-top on-demand services and extensive reach across the globe.”

Dixons operates more than 1,300 retail and online stores across Europe.

Monday 27 February 2012

BlackBerry Bets on Europe to Gain Market Share 
BlackBerry Bets on Europe to Gain Market Share from Rivals
Research In Motion, whose US sales plunged 45 percent last quarter, is counting on Europe to regain ground lost to Apple and Google as the BlackBerry maker races to introduce a new operating system.

Thorsten Heins, who took the top job at RIM last month, heads to Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress this week to convince carriers he has the products European consumers want. His challenge is to bolster market share in the region, where sales in Britain, for example, have begun to drop.

“In Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, BlackBerry is a very strong brand, a leading brand — we can really rely on that,” Heins, a 54-year-old German who spent more than two decades at Siemens before joining RIM in 2007, said in an interview at the RIM’s headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, before leaving for Barcelona. “That doesn’t mean we don’t have to earn this every day again. We have to do that.’’

BlackBerry demand has held up better in markets such as the Netherlands and Britain than in the United States, where sales tumbled as American consumers and businesses opted for Apple’s iPhone and touch-screen devices built on Google’s Android software. While RIM made its name by targeting Washington politicians and Wall Street bankers, Europe’s portion of its sales has increased to about a third, said Matt Thornton, an analyst at Avian Securities in Boston.

“The brand is still stronger in Europe than it is here,” Thornton said.

Still, a lack of new BlackBerry models is making Heins’s job tougher and threatens to undermine RIM’s position in Europe, Thornton said.

In Barcelona, Heins will show a new version of the PlayBook tablet and smartphones introduced six months ago, while seeking to build excitement about new BlackBerrys coming on the BB10 platform in the latter part of the year, Thornton said.

That leaves RIM vulnerable to attacks by rivals such as Nokia, Samsung Electronics and HTC, which are preparing to showcase newer models at the Barcelona event starting today.

Samsung and HTC’s latest models run Android and include larger screens than the BlackBerry, and Nokia is displaying handsets using Microsoft’s Windows software, marking the first time the Finnish company is showing new products at the trade show in three years.

While RIM says the BlackBerry is still the top-selling smartphone in Britain, its sales in the country fell to $588 million last quarter from $685 million a year earlier. The traction RIM is retaining in Europe is mostly due to cheaper devices such as the Curve, according to Thornton. “It’s not the high-end stuff that’s working for them there, it’s the Curve and lower-end phones,” he said.

In a speech to BlackBerry developers in Amsterdam last month, Heins opened his remarks by pointing out where BlackBerry is the top prepaid smartphone or top smartphone overall, reeling off the Netherlands, Britain, Spain as well as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.

RIM had 8.5 million subscribers in Britain at the end of last year and a 26 percent share of phone sales in December, according to data from GfK released by RIM.

“In the UK, they’ve done really well and in the Netherlands, they’ve hit a home run; in Germany and France, not so much,” said Tavis McCourt, an analyst at Morgan Keegan Inc.

Getting the BlackBerry Messenger messaging software, or BBM, to catch on in Britain and Holland was key to that success, said McCourt, who is based in Nashville and rates RIM shares “market perform.”

Still, BBM wasn’t enough to keep users addicted to the BlackBerry in the United States as the larger screens and faster Web browsers of the iPhone and Android appealed to consumers. The competition is beating RIM on Web-browsing, Chavez says, even as she still plans to stick with her BlackBerry for messaging.

RIM’s US smartphone market share dropped to 16 percent in the three months through December from 19 percent in the previous quarter, according to ComScore. In that time Apple’s share rose to 30 percent from 27 percent and Android’s climbed to 47 percent from 45 percent.

Heins is counting on four new BlackBerry models introduced in September to catch on better in Europe than they have in the United States. He said last month that RIM needs to do a better job of marketing the BlackBerry 7 phones and their improved browsers and touch-screen navigation.

A PlayBook software upgrade, which delivers dedicated e-mail, calendar and contacts programs to the tablet, was pushed out to BlackBerry users last week after repeated delays under his predecessors’ management.

Heins’s bigger challenge is to get the next round of BlackBerry smartphones, using the new BB10 operating system, into stores before the year-end holiday shopping season. Lazaridis said in December the first BB10 device would come out “in the latter part” of 2012.

BB10 will position RIM to capitalize on the changing ways people are using smartphones in the United States and Europe, Heins said.

One thing playing for RIM’s advantage is the missteps of former market leader Nokia, which have left Apple and Android dominating the market. As long as Nokia is still struggling, executives from European carriers that Heins meets with in Barcelona will want him to succeed, McCourt said.

“Carriers around the globe, whether it’s Europe or the US, would love to see another successful platform,” he said. “They don’t want be just to be low-margin resellers of Apple and Android.” 
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Sunday 26 February 2012

RIM Placing Android Apps On BlackBerry App World Without Developer Permission

When the Dolphin HD browser developed for the Google Android Market appeared on the BlackBerry App World portal most users probably assumed that the developer had agreed to the submission, however it turns out that 3rd party app development team MoboTap had no idea their application had been placed. That’s because a third party application website decided to submit the application on the company’s behalf, without its permission.

Submitted by multi-platform app store Handster the reason for the submission has not been made clear however it’s a free program that doesn’t earn direct revenue from each download.

Speaking to Engadget a MoboTap spokesperson noted:

    “We do not condone Handster submitting our Dolphin Browser app to BlackBerry’s App World for us and are currently working to take it down and assure Handster will not submit our app for us again.”

Upon quick examination of Handster submitted applications it turns out that the company has submitted thousands of apps to the BlackBerry App world and some of those submissions are not free to download mobile apps.

Perhaps the worst part is the fact that “Handster, Inc.” is named as the apps “Publisher” and while that may be different then “Developer” we can see such action leading to lawsuits from developers who may not have planned to release their apps to the Blackberry App World or who may be working on more stable versions of those programs for the platform.

In the meantime it’s likely some developers are receiving support requests from BlackBerry users which could quickly turn into an ugly situation for developers who are not yet or don’t plan to support BlackBerry users.

Do you think Handster erred in submitting Android Apps to the BlackBerry App World without developer permission?

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Friday 24 February 2012

BlackBerry holds slim lead over iPhone in Canada

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM-T14.810.140.95%) has maintained a narrow lead in the Canadian smartphone market ahead of Apple Inc. (AAPL-Q520.414.020.78%) but has lost a lot of ground to handset vendors running Google Inc.'s (GOOG-Q608.312.200.36%) Android software, including Samsung Electronics, according to a new report.

According to research firm comScore, Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM had 32.6 per cent of the smartphone market in Canada, while Cupertino, Calif-based technology giant Apple had 31.2 per cent. Samsung, the Korean conglomerate that has released several sleek models over the last year running Google’s Android operating system, had 11 per cent at the end of the three months ending in December, 2011.
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In other global markets, Canada's largest technology company has fallen well behind Apple. In the United Kingdom, where BlackBerrys have not suffered the same brand erosion as in the United States, RIM had 18.3 per cent of the smartphone market, with Apple at 26.4 per cent and Taiwanese manufacturer HTC Corp. had 18.5 per cent of the U.K. market.

In the United States, where RIM's new chief executive Thorsten Heins has vowed to mount a marketing blitz to regain its former dominance, Apple had nearly twice RIM's market share: While RIM had slipped to 16 per cent of the valuable U.S. market, Apple was at 29.6 per cent, even as other devices running Android continued to gain share against Apple's latest iPhone 4S.

In Italy, Germany, France and Spain, comScore data showed that RIM was not in any of the top three spots, which were populated by Apple, Nokia and Samsung. In Japan, a unique market long dominated by Japanese handset vendors, Apple had triumphed over local manufacturers Sharp and Sony-Ericsson with a 33.6 per cent market share lead.

When asked for comparative data on the Canadian market for the quarter ending in December, 2010, comScore said it had only recently started reporting on the Canadian mobile market in 2011.

However, in the first three months of 2011 ending in March, RIM had 42.1 per cent of Canada's smartphone market, ahead of Apple's iOS platform at 31.1 per cent and Android at 12.3 per cent – which points to a drop in RIM's Canadian market share of almost 10 per cent.

In the period ending in December, 2011, Android had more than doubled its Canadian smartphone market share to 27.8 per cent, showing that RIM has mainly lost ground to handset makers such as Samsung and HTC, which both have advanced, consumer-focused handsets running Android.
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Monday 20 February 2012

Sprint Nextel is taking the first steps toward finally shedding the Nextel iDEN network, which has been nothing but a financial and operational drain on the company.

Sprint Nextel is taking the first steps toward finally shedding the Nextel iDEN network, which has been nothing but a financial and operational drain on the company.

Pretty soon, the Nextel in Sprint Nextel isn't going to make much sense anymore.

Dan Hesse at Sprint headquarters today

Dan Hesse, pictured at the company's headquarters in July, has gently steered the Nextel network to its eventual end.
(Credit: Kent German/CNET)

Sprint's Nextel network won't completely shut down until next year, but the company is already working to turn off the iDEN network. During the company's quarterly conference call today, executives laid out plans to decommission cell sites this year and talked up the financial benefits to come.

Nextel merged with Sprint in one of the most ill-advised deals in corporate history, with consequences of the disaster still apparent seven years later. Today, the company reported yet another unprofitable quarter. Nextel, which at one point had nearly as many customers as Sprint, has been nothing but a financial, operational, and strategic distraction for the company. Getting rid of Nextel gives Sprint added flexibility and marks a major step in the company's ability to truly turn itself around.

For CEO Dan Hesse, relief is in sight.

"It's a big cost drain on the company to have to run two networks," Hesse told CNET in an interview. "We're finally in a position both financially and with our network to solve that in a productive and elegant way."

But shutting down a network isn't easy, and the company is already bracing for a rocky year. Unlike last year, Hesse declined to provide any kind of expectation for contract customer growth. That's because the company is looking for a sharp increase in turnover from the Nextel side, as customers hop off a service that is either about to shut off or already out.

There are still 6.3 million customers on the Nextel iDEN network, 4.3 million of them on a contract. Many of them are still fiercely loyal to iDEN's trademark push-to-talk walkie-talkie service, potentially leaving a lot of disgruntled people looking for a new wireless home.

Plan on track
Sprint's plan to decommission the network is already off to a decent start. On Monday, the company set up a Web site that allows Nextel customers to see whether their markets would begin to lose cell sites and coverage.

Sprint executives said today that it plans to shut down 9,600 cell sites on the Nextel side, saving a significant amount on utilities, maintenance, and rent costs.

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"This will be the year that is really the beginning of active migration off of the iDEN platform," Hesse said.

Sprint is expected to realize $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion in depreciated Nextel assets this year, with $450 million realized in the first quarter alone.

Sprint is eager to rid itself of the iDEN network--classified as a 2G network--and move on to a 4G LTE network under its infrastructure upgrade plan. Unlike the other carriers, Sprint has had to manage these two networks simultaneously, with little return.

So while AT&T or Verizon could move to LTE from their current 3G networks, Sprint was hobbled with managed two older networks while planning out its own roadmap.

Beyond costs, Nextel was Sprint's largest source of customer defection. So no matter the improvement in the core Sprint service, the company as a whole would continue to report customer losses, particularly on the contract side. That changed in the fourth quarter, when the gains from Sprint and its newly acquired iPhone overpowered the losses at Nextel.

End of an era
Nextel's end would mark a concluding chapter in one of the worst mergers in history.

Sprint and Nextel announced in 2004 their intent to merge, and ultimately closed the transaction a year later. The deal was presented as a merger of equals, something that rarely works out, and included two headquarters in Reston, Va., and Overland Park, Kan. Executives attempted to merge clashing corporate cultures, with Sprint employees often winning out.

The management team, then led by CEO Gary Forsee, bungled the integration effort and realized there was no easy way to merge Sprint's CDMA network with Nextel's iDEN network.

The Sprint bias showed itself in investment in the service, with Sprint getting much of the capital improvements at the expense of deteriorating service on the Nextel end. Former Nextel executives have long privately bemoaned the quick fall of what had been the nation's fourth-largest service before the merger.

When CEO Dan Hesse took over in late 2007, the company was a mess. He put resources back into the Nextel network, focusing on improving service while also bulking up the company's customer-care operations. He also used Nextel's excess capacity to power its prepaid service. But 2010, Hesse announced the network would be shut off for good.

A land grab for Nextel customers
While the subscriber base for Nextel's service is shrinking, it's rabidly loyal. New Nextel phones are among the products that garner the most comments and questions from customers. These are customers who have stuck with a 2G network primarily because of the walkie-talkie function.

That loyalty to Sprint Nextel overall will be tested once the company begins to approach customers to get them off of the service. The customer defection will mark a land grab of sorts as rival carriers--and Sprint itself--works to pick up consumers looking for a new service provider.

Hesse believes Sprint can pick up more than its fair share of departing Nextel customers.

His biggest asset: the recently released Sprint Direct Connect service, a push-to-talk function on Sprint's network that the company believes is comparable to Nextel's trademark feature. Sprint previously attempted to offer a CDMA phone with push-to-talk capabilities, but it was deemed too slow and didn't draw in many takers.

Hesse said he is convinced it will work, and said he wouldn't have felt comfortable decommissioning the iDEN network if the company didn't have Sprint Direct Connect in place.

"We think we have an advantage in catching that customer base," Hesse said. "We expect to win more than our share of customers up for grabs.

With Sprint still far behind larger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T, Hesse better be right.

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