By Peter Nowak - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 6 Comments
After repeatedly coming up with fancy new toys that would go on to be desired by zillions of people around the world, the company’s much ballyhooed press events at which these gizmos are launched have become the tech world’s equivalent of must-see TV (except, ironically, they’re not video streamed, forcing interested parties to follow along on live blogs that frequently crash). Whenever one of these things takes place, the pressure is on to deliver something that inspires oohs and ahhs. Continue…
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 9:55 AM - 0 Comments
There’s some good news for the beleaguered tech giant
“RIM is a reactionary company,” a former executive at Research In Motion recently told Boy Genius Report, a technology website. For years, the top dogs at RIM refused to believe that the suit-and-tie users of BlackBerrys would care about being able to snap pictures and listen to music on their phones. It turned out they did, and the company has been scrambling to catch up. Today, with its stock at record lows and its workforce being trimmed by 2,000 employees, RIM is on the defensive.
And yet, it might still be worth holding on to those RIM shares. The last few weeks have seen a string of positive news and good reviews that could be the signs of an ongoing renaissance at the Waterloo, Ont., headquarters. For one, the new BlackBerry Bold 9900 made quite a splash. The New York Times has called it the “best BlackBerry RIM has ever produced,” and praised its “classy” stainless steel sides, touch-screen features and “spectacularly comfortable” keyboard. The new handset is faring so well among technology experts it is boosting confidence about RIM’s upcoming QNX phones as well, which will run on an entirely new software and are expected to hit the market next year.
Investor sentiment on RIM also got a boost from the earthquake that struck Virginia last week. While cellphone calls failed, government workers were able to contact family and colleagues through the BlackBerry email service, which runs on thousands of RIM servers and wasn’t affected by the usage overload that clogged phone companies’s networks. It all highlighted RIM’s security, which often gets lost in the focus on the smartphone gadgetry of rivals like Apple and Google.
By Peter Nowak - Friday, August 19, 2011 at 10:16 AM - 0 Comments
Google kicked this week off with a bang with a surprise announcement that it was acquiring cellphone maker Motorola for $12.5 billion, a huge move that will boost the search engine company’s employee headcount by 60%. As Google CEO Larry Page explained in a blog post, it’s a defensive move to acquire patents, a particular problem area for the company that I wrote about earlier.
Patent issues aside, one of the other main aspects many have focused on is that the deal is likely to alienate Google’s other mobile partners. HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and a few others who use Google’s free Android operating system will now find themselves competing directly against the maker of that software. Some are even speculating that the acquisition could become an antitrust issue. Continue…
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM - 0 Comments
Users thumbing away during meals is troubling, says a new study
A new study from British telecom regulator Ofcom is warning of “a nation addicted to smartphones.” Thirty-seven per cent of adult smartphone users and 60 per cent of teenage users surveyed admitted to having succumbed to the ostensibly enslaving effects of being able to check emails and tweet one’s every thought from just about anywhere, the report said. Worrisome behaviour includes reaching for handsets first thing upon waking up, breaking up relationships via text message, and talking on the phone or thumbing away during meals. Nearly half of teenage users even admitted to using the devices while on the toilet—a confession that echoes another study’s finding that some users would be ready to fish their beloved device out of a public toilet. Yet, addictive or not, one thing is clear: smartphones are only getting more popular. In the U.K., over a quarter of adults and nearly half of teens own at least one.
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 5:36 PM - 6 Comments
The remote control was supposed to kill off TV ads—audiences would just click away during commercial breaks. And we did, but only enough to make ads louder and more abrasive. Later the VCR was feared to be the commercial’s mortal enemy. We would all just tape shows and fast-forward through the ads. And we did…now and then. The same fears (and hopes) emerged when TiVos and DVRs hit the market. Now we wouldn’t need to pre-tape a whole show—just the first five or ten minutes worth, and then zip past those annoying adverts. But still, no dice. Turns out only 2% of ads ultimately get skipped over this way. Seems we like to watch TV as it comes, and “time-shifting” hardware has proven no match for the 30-second spot.
So what will kill the commercial? Phones.
AdAge reports on how spooky eyeball tracking technology was used in a recent study to measure how often TV viewers get distracted from ads, and by what. 60% of disruptions came by way of viewers’ smartphones. As Brian Monohan writes, “the challenge is not moving one’s thumb to push fast-forward, but rather moving one’s head to look at their smartphone.” Laptops, video games and other “companion media” also had an impact, but nothing near so damaging as phone use.
This is not so surprising. Before smartphones, the ad’s biggest competition was in fact the human being—we would wait until a commercial break to interact with the people we watch television with. In that sense, nothing is really changing—we’re just reading emails and checking social media instead of chatting with our friends and families. But whereas it was frustratingly impossible for advertisers to transfer their ad dollars from TV spots to sponsored live human conversations, GMail, Twitter and Facebook will happily sell brands access to our ad-time chatter.
Look for new “smart” ads that know what shows we’re watching and position their messages accordingly.
By Chris Sorensen - Friday, February 18, 2011 at 12:52 PM - 2 Comments
What RIM can learn from the ‘unbelievable’ fall of Nokia from the top of the smartphone market
For many in the industry, cellphone giant Nokia Oyj’s recent announcement that it will use Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system on its high-end devices was viewed as a sign of desperation. Despite being the world’s biggest cellphone maker, Nokia has been steadily losing ground in the smartphone wars to Apple’s iPhone and devices that run Google’s Android operating system, while Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, has been unable to gain any real traction with its mobile OS. And it’s far from clear that combining forces will do much to staunch the bleeding. “Two turkeys don’t make an eagle,” tweeted Google VP of engineering Vic Gundotra about the announcement.
It’s a stark reminder of how quickly fortunes can change in the tech business—and it should act as a cautionary tale for Canada’s Research In Motion Ltd., which makes the popular BlackBerry. RIM’s global market share has also been slipping (to 16 per cent from nearly 20 per cent last year) as consumers pass over the company’s clunky touchscreen efforts—Storm and Torch—for the latest iPhone or Android-powered device. Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Research, argues that both RIM and Nokia stumbled as they tried to adapt their existing keyboard-oriented operating systems to touchscreen hardware, instead of building new software from scratch.
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
While its rivals snap up television assets, Telus is sitting out the latest wave of convergence. Has it saved itself billions, or put its future in peril?
Three years ago, Telus Corp. chief executive Darren Entwistle and the company’s board of directors were considering a bid for phone giant BCE Inc., a move that would have created a telecom colossus with annual sales of more than $26 billion. While Telus’s bid never materialized (Entwistle blamed “inadequacies” in BCE’s bidding process), the fact that it was being contemplated at all highlighted the degree to which the Burnaby, B.C.-based telco was the more muscular of the two former phone monopolies, even if the Bell parent was bigger.
These days, though, Telus is increasingly being viewed as an also-ran in the fast-moving telecommunications sector. BCE’s recent decision to pay $1.3 billion for the 85 per cent of the CTV television network that it didn’t already own means Telus is now the only big communications company in Canada that’s not in the TV content game—Rogers Communications Inc. (which owns Maclean’s) has CityTV and Sportsnet, Quebecor Inc. owns Vidéotron, which is launching a wireless service in Quebec, and Shaw Communications Inc. purchased the television assets of Canwest Global Communications Corp. earlier this year for $2 billion. And some are suggesting that could be a big problem for Telus if rivals start using exclusive television programs and sports content to lure new customers to their wireless and other services.
By Katie Engelhart - Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 11 Comments
Pagers are slow, unreliable, and a reason for hospital deaths
Dr. Dante Morra likes to say that “in the 1990s, the only people who used pagers were gangs and doctors.” His punchline: “Now, it’s only doctors. The gangs have moved on.” Danielle Kain, a medical resident in Halifax, recently became one of those doctors. At the start of her residency, she was assigned a basic pager—“a big, clunky, ’90s-style thing . . . not quite as big as a deck of cards.” Now Kain says she gets paged for “anything from ‘this patient is nauseated’ to ‘this patient is complaining of chest pain.’ ” Either way, she drops what she is doing and runs to the nearest phone.
There are few professions where the sound of a beeper still inspires panic. A decade ago, Motorola, the industry king, announced it was bowing out of the pager biz because of lagging proﬁts. Tech writers penned obituaries for the corporate toy. “Death of the Pager?”, mused Forbes in 2001.
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 3 Comments
Palm may end up for sale after its Pre phone flopped
Around this time last year Palm was rolling out its new Pre smartphone—a glossy black orb that was supposed to resurrect the handheld computer pioneer from the dead. But while the Pre and its innovative touchscreen operating system won over tech followers, including some who suggested it was superior to the iPhone, it failed to catch on with consumers. Palm was about two years too late to the market with the Pre (the iPhone came out in 2007). It didn’t help that the Pre’s surreal TV ad campaign brought to mind powerful antidepressants, not a sleek mobile device.
As a result, it is increasingly looking like Palm will end up on the sales block. Executives are reportedly shopping the company around for US$1.1 billion, and interested buyers are said to range from laptop makers like Lenovo to European cellphone giant Nokia. But maybe the best match, say some observers, would be Research In Motion, the Waterloo, Ont.-based company that makes the popular BlackBerry. “It makes lots of sense,” says Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Research. “I have been a big fan of this connection for years. RIM has not come up with a compelling touch user interface and Palm has that.”
By Katie Engelhart - Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 1:00 PM - 6 Comments
The new must-have device for today’s doctors: the iPhone
Dr. Phillip Yoon loves—nay, needs—his iPhone. Yoon, district chief of emergency medicine for Halifax’s Capital District Health Authority, refers to his phone as his “peripheral brain.” “It’s part of my body now,” he trills. “If I lost it, that would be trouble.” Yoon’s love affair should be a familiar one to his colleagues. The smartphone—and in particular, the iPhone—has left the realm of electronic plaything, and become an almost required medical tool. According to Manhattan Research, a health care consulting ﬁrm, the percentage of U.S. physicians using smartphones stands around 64 per cent and is projected to hit 81 per cent by 2012. In Canada, the trend is the same. Smartphone use in hospitals “is almost ubiquitous,” says Dr. Dante Morra of Toronto’s University Health Network.
Today, doctors with a few dollars to spare and a smidgen of electronic know-how can download applications at the iTunes store that can transform their iPhones into drug-dose calculators, fetal monitors, or remote receivers for patient records. Yoon could purchase the Anatomical Diagrams app for 3-D illustrations of the human body. He could use Medical Spanish so he can advise Spanish-speaking patients—or check Medscape to review alternatives to the lab test he wants to order.
Rural docs are especially quick to jump on the iPhone bandwagon. In India, the iPhone is being used to mount a campaign against a retinal disease that afﬂicts premature babies. The effort takes place mostly at remote outposts, where lab assistants use iPhones to take pictures of preemies’ eyes. They then send the pictures to pediatric eye surgeons in Bangalore for diagnosis. Some press reports refer to India’s “EyePhone.”
By Paul Wells - Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 11:46 PM - 12 Comments
- RIM BlackBerry Curve (all 83XX models)
- Apple iPhone 3G (all models)
- RIM BlackBerry Storm
- RIM BlackBerry Pearl (all models, except flip)
- T-Mobile G1
In other news, I believe it’s been at least three weeks since the last Globe feature about trouble at RIM.