Cortana, Siri, Google Now, meet BlackBerry Assistant
Starting soon, pretty much any smartphone you buy will come with a virtual helper. Microsoft's Windows Phone platform has Cortana, Apple's iOS software has Siri, Google's Android OS has Google Now, and beginning with BlackBerry 10.3, BlackBerry users will have BlackBerry Assistant to boss around and ask for help. BlackBerry Assistant is the Canadian handset maker's equivalent to all the others, and it will act similarly.
Struggling handset maker sees light at the end of the tunnel
There may be hope for BlackBerry yet. The company formerly known as RIM -- these days it's just BlackBerry -- surprised investors and analysts by posting a $23 million profit for the three-month period ended May 31, 2014. That's quite a change from the $423 million loss it posted three months ago, and the $84 million loss it posted a year ago after being beaten down by the competition.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and for BlackBerry, that means opening up your ecosystem to run Android apps -- some of them, anyway. BlackBerry announced today that Amazon Appstore will be available with the launch of the BlackBerrry 10.3 operating system this fall. The deal will give BlackBerry users access to more than 240,000 Android apps, including popular titles like Netflix, Pinterest, and Minecraft.
Big losses have become all-too-familiar for BlackBerry
The numbers are in for BlackBerry's fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, and once again, they're not pretty. To get some of the bigger ones out of the way, BlackBerry posted a $423M loss, or $0.08 per share diluted, for Q4, which contributed to a $5.9 billion loss for entire year. Despite the heavy losses, BlackBerry's recently inaugurated CEO John Chen said he was "very pleased" with how things are going. Confused?
BlackBerry can't seem to catch a break no matter what it does. This was a year of change for BlackBerry, from a shakeup in management to new devices and even a new name. However, the end result is still the same -- losses. The latest loss comes to $4.4 billion for the Canadian handset maker's three month period ended November 30, 2013. No company wants to be staring at $4.4 billion loss, though the majority of that red ink is due to charges.
BlackBerry, or the company formerly known as Research In Motion (RIM), if you prefer, is quickly finding itself the odd smartphone maker out. Dreams of catching up to Android or iOS in market share now seem farfetched, but on a global scale, BlackBerry has even taken a backseat to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, a relative newcomer to mobile. Something has to change, and apparently that begins on the ownership side.
More layoffs loom as BlackBerry struggles for relevancy
It's been a tough past couple of years for BlackBerry, and for many of its employees, things might be about to get worse. Citing "people familiar with the matter," The Wall Street Journal says the Canadian handset maker is getting ready to reduce its workforce by up to 40 percent. BlackBerry currently has around 12,700 employees spread across various divisions, and none of them are safe from the chopping block.
Cries of "boycott!" emanate from the BlackBerry 10 camp.
Netflix has been known to rile up its subscribers on occasion. The biggest example of this is when Netflix tried to sever its DVD-by-mail division into a spinoff called "Qwikster" so that it could focus all its efforts on streaming. That didn't sit very well with consumers, but it wouldn't be the last time the company would make an unpopular decision. Just a few days ago, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings hinted that his company currently has no plans of developing a BlackBerry 10 app.
It seems like the whole world has gone crazy over tablets, and you can't go more than a week without some market research firm posting gloom and doom numbers on the desktop PC side due to consumer interest in mobile. Be that as it may, and despite falling prices for increasingly powerful tablets, not everyone believes the form factor will stand the test of time. Just the opposite, BlackBerry's Thorstein Heins -- the guy who runs the show -- believes tablets are a bad business model that will be lucky to last past 2018.