BlackBerry PlayBook Gets Updated To OS 2.0.1

RIM (Research In Motion) has started rolling out a new software update for its now forgotten tablet, the PlayBook. Yes, people actually brought the PlayBook! The new PlayBook OS update does not bring any major changes whatsoever, but there are some speed and performance improvements.

Below is the relatively short change-log of the PlayBook OS 2.0.1 as provided by RIM -:

  • Browser enhancements to address performance with some websites
  • Improvements to support Android apps
  • Optimizations to Video Chat, PIM and BlackBerry Bridge applications
  • And much more!
The last PlayBook OS update for the PlayBook brought with it quite a lot of new features and enhancements, including a much awaited and basic functionality – an inbuilt email client. Considering the PlayBook does not have a very large user base, it is good to see that RIM still supports the tablet.
The OTA update is already live, and users will be notified as soon as the update is available in their region. Alternatively, Playbook owners can also manually download and install the update by going to Settings-> Software Updates and then selecting the “Check for Updates” option.

Vote on Nano-SIM Standard Delayed Due to Disagreements

Earlier this week, we reported that Apple was willing to offer a royalty-free licensing for its proposed next-generation “nano-SIM” cards for use in devices connecting to cellular networks. In addition, it was reported that a decision would occur last week.

Apple nano-SIM

Now, FOSS Patents notes that the European Telecommunications Standards Institutes (ETSI) has postponed any vote on selecting a standard due to various companies proposing designs as they continue to debate over the issue.

Apparently, Apple is also taking heat from other companies in the negotiations, with Research in Motion accusing Apple of hiding its efforts to gather the voting panel by having at least three of its employees re-register for voting purposes as representatives of various carriers. However, Apple’s proposal is supported by most of the carriers.

If Apple’s proposal is passed, this would supposedly allow the company to create even small and thinner devices. Apple’s prototype design, which is made by SIM maker Oberthur Technologies, looks similar to the existing micro-SIM card minus most of the plastic edging. The contacts are in the same configuration as current cards and potentially could be used in existing hardware if connected with an adapter.

Apple Offers Royalty-Free Patent Licenses to Approve Nano-SIM Standard

Last week, we reported that Apple was trying to go against rival smartphone makers over the next industry standard for miniaturized  SIM cards. Apple is suggesting its own nano-SIM proposal in Europe’s standards’ body, ETSI. The company is said to have already won over  support by ”most of the European operators”.

Today, FOSS Patents reports that it has seen a letter sent by Apple to the European Telecommunications Standards Institutes (ETSI) regarding a royalty-free license of its nano-SIM design patent should be adopted as the next-generation standard and holders of other patents related to the standard offer similar terms to ease adoption. Supposedly, this would allow Apple to create smaller and thinner devices.

A perfectly reliable source that I can’t disclose has shown me a letter dated March 19, 2012 that a senior Apple lawyer sent to ETSI. The letter addresses the primary concern of critics of the proposal. The FT said that “the Apple-led proposal has caused some concern among its rivals that the US group might eventually own the patents”. But Apple’s letter has removed this roadblock, if it ever was any, through an unequivocal commitment to grant royalty-free licenses to any Apple patents essential to nano-SIM, provided that Apple’s proposal is adopted as a standard and that all other patent holders accept the same terms in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.

Motorola, Research In Motion, and Nokia are also said trying to push their own standards for these so-called “nano-SIM” cards. Nokia has raised objection about Apple’s use of a “drawer” to protect the nano-SIM card.


Halliburton Will Ditch BlackBerry for iOS This Year

Not only are consumers ditching RIM’s BlackBerry and Google’s Android for Apple’s iOS, but many companies’s IT department. Today, Halliburton, based out of Houston, Texas has planned to switch thousands of employees from BlackBerry’s to iPhone and the iOS platform, AppleInsider reports. Hilarious because at one point, business only used to use RIM’s BlackBerry devices. Oh, and not to mention Android’s “winning” too. Incredible on how quickly times have changed. Halliburton is one of the largest energy services companies in the world. The company has operations in over 70 countries and employes over 60,000 people.

“Over the next year, we will begin expanding the use of our mobile technology by transitioning from the BlackBerry (RIM) platform that we currently use to smartphone technology via the iPhone…”

…The move comes after “significant research” into both Apple’s mobile platform and Google’s Android operating system led Halliburton to “determine that the iOS platform offered the best capabilities, controls and security for application development.”

Halliburton’s decision was made after “significant research” into both Apple’s mobile platform and Google’s Android operating system. The company concluded that   the iOS platform offered the best capabilities, controls and security for application development. Wait a minute, shouldn’t an “open” OS win hands down over a closed one? According to the company’s spokeswoman, currently 4,500 Halliburton employees use BlackBerrys. Wow, that’s a lot of iPhones the company will be purchasing!

The company announced this via a company newsletter that was sent out earlier this month. Turns out, Haliburton used BlackBerrys for over 10 years. Ouch! That much be a huge blow to RIM. At one point, RIM dominated the market in the enterprise business, but over the past year its share in the enterprise market has rapidly declined.

Apple Was the Only Phone Manufacture That Saw Significant Growth Last Quarter

You know the iPhone 4S? The so-called phone that nobody wanted? Well, it turns out it has been a solid hit for Apple. With over 37 million sold last quarter, Apple’s marketshare and install base has significantly benefited from this. Today, a new report from Comscore, a research firm, reveals that due to the rapid fading away of RIM’s BlackBerry US market share throughout 2011, new data shows that there is an indication of a stabilizing slowdown in RIM’s losses as well as a consistent slowdown of Android’s growth. On the other hand, Apple continued to be the only phone manufacture to see growth in the quarter. Mind boggling for a phone that isn’t “open,” isn’t it?

The new data reveals that Android significantly benefited from RIM’s US lost market share, which decreased from just over 30 percent in January down to 16 percent. No surprise here, but what surprising is that while Android benefited from RIM’s loss, Apple continued to steadily grow its share throughout the year. Apple saw an increase from 25 percent to 30 percent over the year.

Comscore iPhone 2012 - 1

According to Comscore, the only two platforms that gained share among platforms was Android and iOS. Android saw an increase by 2.5 percent and Apple grew by 2.2 percent. RIM, the burning ship, still continued to fall 2.9 percent for the fourth quarter while Microsoft and Symbian showed no sign of change. What’s funny is that Comscore still does not distinguish between Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7, which has yet to gain significant share in the US.

Comscore iPhone 2012 -2

In addition, just yesterday, it was reported that Apple had become the third largest mobile phone manufacture. Doomed and losing indeed.

RIM Publishes Guidelines To Make Your Android App Ready For the PlayBook

RIM (Research-In-Motion) has announced via its official developers blog that the upcoming OS update for the PlayBook will allow users to run Android apps on it.

The blog post from RIM explains all the necessary steps Android app developers need to take, so that their app runs properly on the PlayBook and gets listed on the BlackBerry App World.

Below are some of the recommended changes which RIM suggests developer do -:

  • Before submitting your Android application to BlackBerry App World, please make sure to remove all mention of the word “Android” from your application. Both in the application description and the application itself.
  • Please remove all links to Android Market from within your application.
  • When submitting your Android application to BlackBerry App World, please make sure to select a minimum BlackBerry PlayBook OS of 2.0.
  • Please make sure your application is signed. For more information on code signing, please view the code signing documentation on the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps webpage (linked here).

RIM has also released some plug-ins which will help developers in converting their app from an APK to BAR format.

It will be interesting to see how Android apps perform on the Playbook, and if the ability to run Android apps will boost the sales of the tablet at all.

Nokia’s Qt on RIM’s PlayBook

Nokia’s defunct Qt software stack is headed to RIM’s dead PlayBook tablet. Will 2 wrongs make a right?

In an email to the Qt Project mailing list, Nokia’s Strategic Account Manager, Adam Weinrich has voiced his plans to coordinate a Qt keynote at RIM’s BlackBerry DevCon in Amsterdam, as well as developer outreach at Mobile World Congress in February 2012.

There is a Qt port for QNX/BBX/RIM devices.

Lets get this ecosystem involved in the Qt-Project!

Yes, I know, the code is not yet in the Qt-Project repository but it should be forthcoming. The QNX/BBX/RIM ecosystem are very open to engaging with the Qt community and the Qt Project.

I am coordinating a Qt keynote and training at the Blackberry DevCon in Amsterdam in February as well as doing outreach to their developers at Mobile World Congress. They are offering discounts to these events to Qt-Project community.

The Qt Developer Experience team will also be showing off Qt on the current playbook at the Qt booth at CES and MWC. Those who already owns a playbook, develops for Blackberry devices or are interested in becoming involved are encouraged to get involved with this new Qt port.

Let me know if you have any insight or interests in making this a win-win for Qt and this new community.

Cheers, Adam

Qt is a cross-platform application and UI framework. It’s available for Nokia’s past platforms – Symbian and MeeGo, with unofficial ports for iOS, webOS and Android, as well as solid support for Linux, Mac and Windows on the desktop. While this is a good way to increase the footprint of Qt on embedded and mobile devices, the PlayBook has seen less than enthusiastic sales.

With RIM rumoured to be releasing new  BBX BlackBerry 10  devices in late 2012, there is a very good chance that Qt on QNX will be polished and highly functional; with apps and games in tow, hopefully. Although the PlayBook has hit an all-time low of $199, the BlackBerry development team are said to be providing hardware at a discounted rate for developers who are interested in the platform.

Is this a move from Nokia to make Qt relevant? Is this a push from RIM to make the PlayBook relevant, while selling devices to bolster sales numbers? Either way, it’s an effort from both companies and it’s sure to make Qt enthusiasts rejoice.

RIM Under Fire From BBM Canada

It would seem that RIM hasn’t had it bad enough this year. From poor tablet sales, to service outages, and now a swarm of lawsuits, RIM is taking a beating.

BBM Canada, a company also based out of Canada, is claiming trademark infringement for the use of “BBM” in RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger campaigns. Back in October,  RIM revealed BBX as the name for their new QNX-based platform, shortly thereafter, a US court decision forced them to rename to “BlackBerry 10″ due to trademark infringement filed by a company that develops software, aptly named “BBX”. Fast forward a few months, and RIM is in an extremely similar situation. The BlackBerry team has been heavily marketing and branding themselves with the “BBM” moniker for the past few years, it’s quite obvious that the recent swarm of lawsuits over IP and trademarks has awoken many companies to the money that can be made.

The issue has become quite a public one, numerous statements have been made by both RIM and BBM Canada with regards to their concerns. The President and CEO of BBM Canada, Jim MacLeod, said We want our name back… 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..

The two companies will be in court early January 2012 to plead their cases, RIM has provided a press release which indicates they very much plan to fight for their right to use the acronym.

RIM Media Statement BBM Trademark Litigation: December 23, 2011

Since its launch in July 2005, BlackBerry Messenger has become a tremendously popular social networking service. In 2010, RIM started to formally adopt the BBM acronym, which had, at that point, already been organically coined and widely used by BlackBerry Messenger customers as a natural abbreviation of the BlackBerry Messenger name. The services associated with RIM’s BBM offering clearly do not overlap with BBM Canada’s services and the two marks are therefore eligible to co-exist under Canadian trademark law. The two companies are in different industries and have never been competitors in any area.

We believe that BBM Canada is attempting to obtain trademark protection for the BBM acronym that is well beyond the narrow range of the services it provides and well beyond the scope of rights afforded by Canadian trademark law. RIM has therefore asked the Court to dismiss the application and award costs to RIM. Further, for clarity, RIM’s application to register BBM as a trademark with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is pending and we are confident that a registration will eventually issue. The inference by BBM Canada that CIPO has refused RIM’s BBM trademark application is quite frankly very misleading.

With low profits in Q2 2011, RIM is going to have rely on throwing weight around, instead of money, to resolve the trademark infringement case. With all the lawsuits happening in the mobile sphere, it’s really not surprising that innovation has taken a back seat. They’ve found a way to make money, without actually shipping any products. Maybe RIM should hire a few interns whose sole job is to Google new product names, to ensure there won’t be any conflicts.

BlackBerry PlayBook OS Update Pushed to 2012

If you were waiting for the PlayBook to get an update to OS2.0 before actually being useful, unfortunately you’ll have to continue waiting.

While RIM is going against all odds and continuing to provide support for the PlayBook, the shiny brick won’t be getting the expected update to OS 2.0 until February of 2012. It’s not the recently announced BBX, but it is supposed to be a fairly large upgrade for existing users. It wouldn’t be a product from Research in Motion if it didn’t ship missing crucial features, would it? Of course not, so it’s very fitting that RIM has decided to leave BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) support out of the update. That’s right, it’s going to take an additional 4 months of work before the system is polished up, but it still won’t have their proprietary instant messaging functionality. Feel free to purchase a new $500 (likely) BlackBerry to accompany your $700 PlayBook so you can use BBM with it. That’s a pretty good option, right?Maybe news of RIM doling out a couple of hundred PlayBooks loaded with OS 2.0 beta might make you feel better. Developers and any other DevCon attendees were given a new PlayBook. So, technical journalists, hobbyists and other random kids got them, but not paying customers. Members of the BlackBerry Early Access Program will also be getting closed betas of 2.0 shortly, this is mainly for tackling Enterprise support and integration.

In a post to the Inside BlackBerry Blog, Senior VP of BlackBerry PlayBook at RIM, David Smith gives a few reasons for the delay and lack of features upon launch.

First off, we have decided to defer the inclusion of the BBMâ„¢ application to a subsequent BlackBerry PlayBook OS release. We are committed to developing a seamless BBM solution that fully delivers on the powerful, push based messaging capabilities recognized today by BlackBerry ® users around the world and we’re still working on it. In the meantime, BlackBerry smartphone users will be able to continue to use BlackBerry ® Bridgeâ„¢ to securely access BlackBerry ® Messengerâ„¢ on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet’s high resolution display.

These betas will be rolled out over the course of this year and are an important next step to bringing our unmatched enterprise app deployment, device manageability, security and email integration capabilities to the tablet category.

There is a bit of good news in the tidbit. When OS 2.0 does pop around for download, it will bring integrated email, calendar and contacts. Your “business ready” tablet, isn’t exactly business ready at all, but it soon will be.

The software update will add advanced integrated email, calendar and contact apps, a new video store, as well as new functionality that will allow your BlackBerry smartphone and BlackBerry PlayBook to work together even better.

Hopefully this means a few software managers at RIM got slapped with a trout and are now starting to put actual work into the PlayBook. Their half-assed Android Player isn’t going to bring any new customers, so hopefully the brand spanking new OS, BBX, will make it to smartphones by February with the new PlayBook OS in tow.

RIM Reveals BBX Disappointment at DevCon

Today, Research in Motion officially announced BBX. BBX is the culmination of their legacy OS merged with what QNX has been building for the past year or so.

The developer conference that RIM hosts, DevCon, takes place over the next few days in San Francisco and then moves to Asia and Europe in the following months. New devices, new endeavors and anything new to RIM is normally announced at the event. So far, BBX has been the most ‘exciting’ thing. No new smartphones, no new tablets, and most certainly no devices running BBX have been discussed thus far.

So, what makes BBX so special? For starters, it’s a completely new platform — except it’s already on the PlayBook, which was an abysmal failure in comparison to other tablets. Okay, well they now have new development environments! HTML5 with WebWorks, Adobe Air, Native C/C++ and an Android Runtime. Even if developers don’t flock to using “web technologies” for their apps, you can surely rely on the vast Android Market, right? Before you do that, be sure to check out what will and won’t work with their Android Player  — almost nothing useful will work as it should.

What did RIM do properly? They announced they were abolishing some of the barriers to start developing for the platform. You no longer need to register to download the SDK. You no longer need to show ‘notarized papers’ to start developing. Leave the credit card in your wallet, it’s now free become a BlackBerry third party developer. That’s right, previous to today, you had to create an account, identify yourself and fork over cash before you could write a single line of code with their tools. If anybody was wondering why RIM was having a hard time attracting real talent, wonder no more!

RIM plans to use BBX to provide unification to their smartphones, tablets and other embedded devices they have in the works. BBM is there, push notifications are there, and their now-defunct proprietary communications backhaul  is there too! Everything you love (and hate) about BlackBerry is basically going to stay the same for the foreseeable future.

If RIM plans on gaining back the confidence they lost earlier this month, they will have to pull out all the stops over the next 2 days. We can only hope that the Waterloo-based company has an ace in the sleeve before they end the game.