With Windows Phone Beta, BBM Continues Cross-Platform Strategy

I was in Jakarta recently, and when I was driving on the freeway from the airport, I saw several billboards advertising handsets from tier two and three manufacturers. Each billboard advertised that the featured device was “BBM ready.” In the Indonesian market, being BBM ready is a must-have.

But more important, BBM is no longer synonymous with “BlackBerry.” BlackBerry used to refer to the device, the operating system and the messaging app. And BBM was only available on a BlackBerry handset running BlackBerry OS. Not anymore.

BBM is going cross-platform. We’re opening up the BlackBerry ecosystem to other players, other operating systems. Earlier this year, we released BBM apps for iOS and Android. In Indonesia, a market where we have over 34 million mobile active users on BBM, more than half use non-BlackBerry devices.

Next up is BBM for Windows Phone, coming next week. When we announced the private beta a few weeks ago, all 10,000 testing slots were taken within 24 hours. The excitement is there. The numbers are there. The momentum is there.

Going cross-platform is all about scale—and we’re not done yet. Stay tuned for more announcements in this space in the coming months.

BBM for Windows Phone

The new app (see screenshots below) leverages the clean, modern look and feel of the Windows Phone interface. As with the iOS and Android apps, this version of BBM 2.0 keeps the process of signing up, signing in and adding contacts simple and streamlined.

BBM Windows Phone

The main interface has all the essentials: contacts, chats and feeds. Contacts list both your individual contacts and any Groups you belong to. Chat lets you connect one-on-one, with multiple people, or with a BBM Group, sending text, photos, voice notes or contacts. Feeds let you and your contacts to keep up with each other’s status updates and profile photos.

In the coming months, we’ll add more great BBM features, including stickers, BBM Voice, Channels and location sharing.

Early feedback is positive from the public, the press and beta testers. We’re seeing a lot of excitement and enthusiasm—and restlessness for the official release. The beta went live on July 10. We released an update with bug fixes and other improvements July 22.

Why Cross-Platform?

Taking BBM to other platforms is an important move for BlackBerry. Sure, it’s an invitation to former users to come back. We know that people love BBM, but may have stopped using it in recent years because they couldn’t use it on other handsets. We’d love to have them back.

But the bigger story is that cross-platform mobile messaging apps are big and getting bigger. That’s in part because they’re competing with—and winning against—SMS services.

Mobile messaging sends your data over the Internet, providing free (or nearly-free) chats with no limits. SMS travels through cellular networks, is tied to your phone plans, and costs money based on how many you send. If you’re chatting internationally, mobile messaging wins again, making it simple and either free or close to it. International SMS is expensive and can be unreliable due to carrier platform incompatibility. As an added bonus, many messaging apps will work on whichever device you happen to be using, popping up on your phone, tablet, laptop and desktop. SMS, of course, requires a device that’s connected to a mobile network.

Going cross-platform also opens up BBM to new possibilities. As I mentioned in my last post, messaging is becoming the #1 way to interface with the new economic ecosystem.

BlackBerry can leverage cross-platform messaging to offer more valuable services through BBM. Just last month, we launched BBM Protected, which provides an extra layer of encryption for our enterprise users, so employees in regulated and security-conscious industries can experience the productivity benefits of mobile chat. BBM Protected is the first solution in the eBBM Suite, a family of products and services specifically for enterprise customers. We have more on the roadmap for consumers as well.

This new economic ecosystem is mobile and social. It’s also global and diverse. No single company will control it. Consumers and businesses have choices, and they’re making purchasing and downloading decisions based on what they need. BlackBerry can’t be everything to every one of them, but we’d like to offer the best possible solutions and products that both build on our core strengths of security, privacy and innovation—and also take us into the future.


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CONFIRMED: This is the BlackBerry Passport in White

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. In the past few weeks since John Chen announced the BlackBerry Passport at our Annual General Meeting, rumors and speculation about the device have been rampant. And frankly, I won’t stand for it.

Today, I’d like to take one of those rumors right off the table and replace it with an actual image of a white BlackBerry Passport… on a table (click on the image below to see an even larger version).

Passport_desk

I do have to admit: some of our friends on the Internet DID beat us to the punch with a picture of the white BlackBerry Passport (I’m looking at you, Bla1ze). On the one hand, I love the enthusiasm; on the other, I wanted to be the one showing it off first. Score: Team BlackBerry: 1, Donny: 0.

However…you all know I’ve got my hands on a black Passport and have been sharing stories from my actual use. To answer some of my questions around the white Passport, I asked Brian Paschke and Joseph Hofer, designers of the Passport here at BlackBerry:

Q: What are some of your design philosophies informing the white Passport?

Paschke: Our team chose this exact shade of white to work with the warmth of the unique, stainless steel frame. The color is custom to BlackBerry.

Hofer: On a detail level, the white color has been further tuned for each individual part and material in order to create overall color harmony.

Q: What inspired the look, feel and materials of the white Passport?

Paschke: The rear cover uses a ‘porcelain feel’ coating that is smooth to the touch while providing grip and complementing the soft touch coating used on the black Passport. So they work as a family.

Hofer: In fact, all of the surfaces for both the black and white Passport have been gently softened for comfort while maintaining a modern look. The finish along with the smooth shaping creates a refined experience.

Q: Tell me what makes the Passport so special to you in general?

Paschke: The Passport leverages our strengths and heritage, yet is new and innovative. As the name implies … the format is inspired by a traveler’s passport; a familiar and universal symbol of mobility. This familiarity has potential to leverage existing systems and standards.

Hofer: Though the layout may be unique, the experience of using Passport will feel familiar to many.

*Bonus

Q: As Editor of Inside BlackBerry, may I have one in white?

Paschke: No, no you may not.


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BlackBerry Security Summit: Providing Assurance in an Insecure Era

491893013Today’s threats to mobile security have reached crisis proportions. Every day, I read a news article about another hacker attack, malware epidemic, million-dollar data breach or explosive spying report.

Also, enterprises that rolled out BYOD with light to no management over the past several years are starting to admit that their enthusiasm may have resulted in some problems. Take this CIO magazine article headlined, “Mobile Workers: ‘I Want My BlackBerry Back,’” from earlier this week. According to CIO, employees at a “well-known investment firm in New York City” ran into “mobile app performance issues and privacy concerns” after the firm rolled out a Bring Your Own Device policy.

“It’s a nightmare,” an IT executive speaking on condition of anonymity told CIO. The executive has tried out 4 different mobile device management (MDM) products to manage its deployment, and “in every instance, has had significant problems.”

Architectural failings made some rollouts difficult, he says. One MDM featured an impressive containerized solution but no push notifications for email. Another wouldn’t let salespeople send email from inside the Salesforce app or open a PDF with GoodReader.

“The failure of these systems has to do with little things that drive users crazy,” the IT executive says. “We’re an investment firm with a hundred-something monkeys, everyone is super smart, everyone is a prima donna, and it’s very difficult to accommodate them.”

As a result of this and other issues, unhappy employees sparked a “BYOD revolt,” with 60% of employees requesting to go back to a BlackBerry.

Grass Isn’t Always Greener

I understand human nature. The grass always does seem greener on the other side. This company and its employees had experience first-hand to understand that MDM point solutions don’t offer the breadth and capabilities that an end-to-end, cross-platform EMM solution – such as BlackBerry – can provide.

But this company was fortunate that during its experimentation with MDM vendors, it didn’t experience a major data loss or breach. That’s the risk that companies – along with their C-level executives AND Board of Directors – face when they take a chance on suppliers that lack the history and ongoing security credentials of a BlackBerry.

‘We Won’t Compromise on Security’

BlackBerry will be holding a Security Summit next Tuesday July 29 in New York City starting at 8 am Eastern Time. I will be giving the keynote speech, talking about how we are executing today to help our tens of thousands of customers deal with today’s mobile security risks. Things you’ll hear about include:

  • All of the R&D and patent work we are investing in today, and how that translates to our coming BES12 update to our flagship enterprise mobility management platform;
  • A key new feature to our secure communications platform, BBM Protected;
  • Other updates to our solution roadmap.

I’ll also share about how BlackBerry is already starting to plan and execute on a bigger looming security crisis – the Internet of Things. You won’t see the fruits of our execution there in any headlines in the near future, but maybe five years from now. But rest assured we are taking concrete steps today.

I’ll be joined by Forrester analyst, Tyler Shields, who will interview a panel of our leading enterprise customers, as well as a number of BlackBerry experts and executives.

Follow @BlackBerry4Biz on Twitter or the hashtag #BBSecurity to get live updates from the Security Summit. While the event is limited to journalists, and industry and financial analysts, we are also planning a live social event to get your questions answered on Tuesday immediately following our event.


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BlackBerry Names Marty Beard as Chief Operating Officer

Beard was most recently chief executive officer of LiveOps Inc, a provider of cloud applications for customer service. Prior to that he was an executive of Sybase.
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Internet of All the Things! Webcast Replay

QNX IoT Presentation

Hundreds of curious people tuned in last week to learn more about Project Ion, the Internet of Things (IoT), and what the QNX Cloud team has been working on.

Watch the webcast, available on demand! http://elqforms.qnx.com/transform-business-with-iot

Steve West is a senior director on the QNX Cloud team and led the participants through an in-depth presentation, answering questions and giving examples of how IoT can accelerate time to market, and enhance the experience of customers.

Here’s a quick way to think about it: Imagine that your company makes kiosks that sell movie tickets. You’ve got a brand new product in locations around North America. With the cloud-based secure applications platform from QNX Software Systems, you can remotely debug, acquire logs, and push software updates to every kiosk simultaneously, dramatically accelerating the development cycle. Gone are the days of sending a technician to plug in, and download logs from hundreds (or thousands!) of machines by hand.

It doesn’t stop there. The secure public applications platform can dramatically enhance the customer experience. Imagine the kiosk recommending a movie at the theater based on a customer’s Netflix history or suggesting food by tapping into previous Yelp! reviews!

Here are some more of the highlights from the hour-long session:

Security

Security remains top of mind for anyone considering an IoT strategy for his or her company or product. We heard that message loud and clear — almost half the questions asked were about security.

Security is never a simple topic, but in simplest terms, the secure applications platform has you covered, end to end. The platform leverages BlackBerry’s pedigree in security to protect your data as it moves from device to cloud, and then back again.

Cross Platform Support

Another question that’s been popping up is around supported platforms. The secure application platform is cross-platform. Yes it will work with QNX OS-based embedded devices, and BlackBerry technology – but we are also providing support for Android, iOS, and Linux if that’s your preferred flavor.

Developer Support

With Alec Saunders leading the QNX Cloud team you know that developers are going to be treated like royalty. We’ve designed the secure applications platform from the ground up to be developer friendly, with tons of APIs and pages of documentation. There are going to be more details for developers as we approach the public launch of the program, so keep an eye on the BlackBerry Developer Blog.

What possibilities are you imagining?

We are currently working with select partners, and are always looking for more. If you think your business is a good match for what we’ve been showing, please reach out to businesstransformation@qnx.com for an opportunity to get early access. The Internet of Things is just the beginning, and with the secure applications platform, you’ve got a head start.


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The BlackBerry Passport IRL: Lasting Battery Life, 4 Microphones and 1 Touch-Enabled Keyboard

BlackBerry Passport, Passport fits in pocket, pocket, Passport battery life, natural sound

Earlier this week, I started to tell you about my experiences actually using the BlackBerry Passport (albeit a beta version). It has changed the way I work with its large square touch screen. At its core, this is a messaging powerhouse, built for writing and talking all day long. I can tell you right now, this device has the battery chops to back up all the conference calls, emails and browsing I do throughout the day, with more than enough juice to let me blast some tunes over Bluetooth for my commute home. When I get home I’m not running for the charger either… and if I forget to plug it in before bed (or am burning the midnight oil well into the night) it’s consistently still had enough charge to start the next day.

I Do Not Suffer from Range Anxiety.

I can now relate to electric vehicle owners that have to convince naysayers that they don’t worry about their battery going dead in the middle of the road. Because everyone who sees my Passport feels compelled to ask how the battery life is. “That screen is so big,” they say in disbelief. The fine engineers here at BlackBerry know that our customers demand a phone that will keep up with them, just as Tesla engineers realize that a car needs to be able to get you home at the end of the day. They’ve packed an impressive 3450 mAh battery in the new BlackBerry Passport.

“No other smartphone or phablet on the market today has a battery that large.”

Make no mistake, the Passport keeps going as long as I need it to.

Feature-Packed, Runs All Day.

To get the battery range that I and other business users demand, the Passport doesn’t sacrifice the features I use the most, like BlackBerry Assistant, productivity apps like Docs To Go, social media apps like Sprinklr, and calling.

BlackBerry Passport, Calls, phone call screens, audio, BlackBerry Natural Sound, screenshots,

I spend a large majority of my day on conference calls – raise your hand if you can relate. With our team spread across North America and the world, we can’t always interact in person. With BlackBerry Passport, BlackBerry Natural Sound technology gets even better. This superior audio experience was previously available only on BBM Voice calls. On Passport, the same effect has been adapted to work with cellular voice calls, too. There are four microphones onboard that help adapt the audio levels in real time to my ambient environment and position of the phone relative to my ear. This is, in part, how Natural Sound provides a dynamic and clear audio experience for me AND the other caller. I was curious how this worked, so asked one of our product managers to explain. They mentioned that one of the four microphones is placed in the receiver port to detect the ear position relative to the phone in order to adjust the sound accordingly.

The aim is to provide an experience that is as close to an in-person conversation as possible. In my use with the device, it sometimes sounds as though I’m in the same room as the other person. On top of this, there are stereo speakers providing tablet-like volume when I enter a board room with multiple participants (it sounds great jamming tunes on the weekend, as well).

Some of you might be thinking, “Don’t phone calls, especially on speakerphone or Bluetooth, really hog battery life?” In my beta usage, I haven’t found this to be the case.

More about that Keyboard.

I want to reflect on one of my favorite things about the BlackBerry Passport. Typing on my previous device, the BlackBerry Z30, was, and still is, a fantastic virtual keyboard experience. The touch-enabled physical keyboard on the BlackBerry Passport blends everything I love about a traditional BlackBerry keyboard (read: the physical keys) and the best aspects of the BlackBerry 10 virtual keyboard, including commands such as “Swipe left to delete” and “Flick to type”. On top of that, the keyboard provides fine cursor control and scrolling, which for someone like me who composes blog posts, novel-length emails and a ton of BBMs, comes in very handy.

I can’t wait for you to ALL get your hands on the BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry 10.3. It’s a very versatile gadget. And YES, it does fit in my pants pocket.


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BBM for Windows Phone Now Available for Download; Only for Beta Testers

BlackBerry started registration for the closed beta testers of the BBM for Windows Phone app last week.
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Why I Still Sell BlackBerry: Tales from a Smartphone Sales Rep

Editor’s note: Below is a guest post from Pat Wallace, fan extraordinaire and BlackBerry Elite member. -DH


megaphone

Often, customers will ask a salesperson what device they have and if they like it. My answer is BlackBerry, and I love my phone. Sure, I’ve used all types of devices, but I need a device for productivity. BlackBerry is designed to make the daily multitasking I do achievable. After telling them about my experiences, the golden question becomes:

What Do You Use Your Phone For?

The majority of people say: text messaging, email, browsing, and the camera. Depending on the demographic, things such as music, the calendar, and making phone calls are also frequent answers.

Features that Matter

More people are using devices for composing text or messaging in one form or another. From text messaging and email to status updates and chatting on IM clients like BBM, I find there’s a lot of writing happening.

That Keyboard. . .

The first feature I demonstrate on BlackBerry 10 is the adaptive keyboard and features. I use the sentence, “Testing the keyboard on the new BlackBerry!” This is something that I can compose with only a few keystrokes and the rest of the sentence comes together by swiping up, or flicking the words as they appear on the keyboard. This shows the ease of one-handed typing and the ability of word prediction and spelling correction. These features are built-in to speed up communication and take into consideration ease of use for the customer.

Peek & Flow

The next thing I demonstrate is the BlackBerry Hub. I open the weather app and show how easily you can peek into the Hub and see if your incoming message is something that needs immediate attention or if you can continue watching for sunny skies. This highlights the ability to multi-task and flow from one thing to another without the need of a ‘home’ or ‘back’ button. A simple swipe up and you can see your inbox without leaving what you’re doing. Although, for those who just have to have the ‘back’ button, I’m told the BlackBerry Classic will include more traditional navigation features you’re used to.

Say Cheese!

One of the best features that I make sure to show off is the BlackBerry 10 camera. The Time Shift feature is unique and people love to try it. This is a big hit with parents of young children. There’s also built-in photo editing, which makes cropping, editing, and adding a filter or frame simple – no need for a third party application. With the upcoming Amazon partnership, that won’t be an issue either. Want to share? One tap of the ‘share’ button and it’s as easy as selecting the channel you want to post on, or person you’d like to send to.

What about the Browser?

One thing that people use that they want to make sure works well is the browser. In my experience, the BlackBerry 10 browser is fantastic. It’s fast, and doesn’t require additional downloads or plug-ins to work properly. I make sure to demonstrate the ‘Reader Mode’ option that eliminates all the unwanted advertising clutter, and gives you a simplified article view of a website. Multiple tabbed browsing just like on a desktop is another great benefit and I make sure to mention the fact that you can likely open every website available to you.

The list of features goes on and on, but those are the main things I make sure to show customers who are interested in upgrading to a new device. The estimated majority of the time, they leave with a new BlackBerry 10 and a smile on their face.

Different things are important to different people. It’s important to show the benefits of features that will actually be used regularly.

As a sales representative, there are often incentives to sell certain types of devices and this can lead to misguided customers who are misinformed and end up unsatisfied. I encourage you to take the initiative to do research on any product before you purchase it and remember that the job of a sales representative is to make the sale.

As a loyal BlackBerry customer for many years I enjoy being able to share the benefits of a great device with customers on a regular basis. I was actively encouraging BlackBerry sales to friends and family years before I worked in the industry and hope to continue to do so for years to come.


About Pat:

I’m an enthusiastic, easy-going guy with a passion for BlackBerry and a wide range of work experience. facebook-20140709-173242
I grew up outside Ottawa Ontario and now reside in Kingston. I work in sales, am a student in the health care field, and a proud father. I enjoy social media, spending time with my family, technology, and traveling. I’ve shown a dedication to BlackBerry for a number of years and am a proud BlackBerry fan on social media.


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BlackBerry Assistant Unveiled to Counter Cortana, Google Now, and Siri

BlackBerry Assistant is the company's own offering in the voice-based virtual assistant space, and will release on BlackBerry Passport.
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Welcome Back! 12 Consumers Explain Why They’re Switching to BlackBerry Passport

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The BlackBerry Passport’s an attention-getter with compelling productivity features and thoughtful time-saving innovations that we aren’t afraid of being different. As we recently pointed out, that combination is stoking passions and igniting chatter across the web, with thousands of comments across multiple articles and message boards.

Judging by the sampling of comments we’ve collected below, many people are announcing their plans to walk away from Android or iOS and come – or, in many cases, return - to BlackBerry.

They’re waking up and smelling the coffee.

Naturally, we like ours black.

“The Passport Screams ‘Business Professional’”

On Berry Review, user “Felix” certainly got the BlackBerry Passport’s appeal right away.

“With a physical keyboard and large square screen, the Passport screams ‘BUSINESS, PROFESSIONAL,’” wrote Felix. “I fully expect a whole host of software to make sure it performs to the high demands of professionals . . . I currently use a Galaxy Note 3. It is a wonderful device but forget doing any kind of serious typing, for me. I will buy a Passport without giving up my Note 3. I will simply use both of them. As to price, less than $1000 is OK as long as it include a nice suite of apps.”

BlackBerry Review Felix Part 1
BERRY REVIEW comment 1

Tired of “Walking the Wastelands” of Other Platforms

“I literally can’t wait,” wrote user Dennis in response to our reveal of the Passport’s touch-enabled keyboard. “After walking the wastelands of iPhone and Samsung soft keyboards after so many years of great BlackBerry phones, I can’t stand it any longer. I need a large smartphone. I need a real keyboard. Why, I asked month after month, could no company put the two together? Please release ASAP. I want to come home.”

Insider Switch 1

The original post certainly had people excited:

“I have to say, as a devout Android user, I really, really like this,” wrote Martin Golder. “I’ve always had an odd soft spot for BB, despite never owning one of their phones . . . But the Passport is just so different it is intriguing me and I want one.”

Insider Switch 2

“My Daughter has a Windows Phone and Does Not Like the Phone”

Meanwhile, L. Enrique Moreno has a demanding daughter currently on a Windows phone with keyboard envy: “Now with the Passport she is going to get what she asked for over a year ago… screen real state and a wide nice and smart keyboard that she can use both hands to type with . . . Can’t wait!”

Insider Switch 3

“I will Replace My Note II with the BlackBerry Passport”

With its 1,440 x 1,440 4.5-inch screen, the Passport features the same resolution as full HD-equipped phablets. That has TechCrunch commenters Hassam Mirzai and Adela Pop planning to bid adieu to their Samsung Galaxy Note II phablets.

“I like it,” wrote Mirzai. “The phone is small enough to carry in my pocket and large enough to read text comfortably. I currently have a Samsung Note II. When I bought my Note II, it looked weird too. After 2 or 3 days I got used to it. I will replace my Note II with the Blackberry Passport.”

Adela Pop responded, “I would do the same – BlackBerry Passport is faster than Note II and even if it has a smaller screen, the resolution is better, as you can clearly see here:
http://versus.com/en/blackberry-passport-vs-samsung-galaxy-note-ii.”

Daily Tech comments 1 and 2

“The Only Intuitive OS that also has Practical Hardware Designs”

We feel for Engadget commenter “ryboto,” who has been getting frustrated with his aging Motorola XT560 stuck on Android’s Gingerbread version.

“I’m going to be forced to upgrade as Gingerbread is no longer supported and apps are slowly breaking on me. So I plan to move to the only intuitive OS I can buy, that also happens to have practical hardware designs.”

Engadget comment 1


“It Makes Sense, So We Have to Kill It”

Over on DailyTech user “anothermax2” responded to criticisms of the Passport for being too large to type on with one hand.

“If you need a keyboard, you are committed to two handed use,” anothermax2 wrote. “If you are committed to two handed use, why not go wider? . . . I’ll definitely take a look to replace my aging 4.5″ (16:9) s2x.”

Daily Tech comment 1

“I’m a Huge Emailer and Android and iOS Just Don’t Do it for Me”

Over in the unfriendly waters of Android Central, users “patbjackson” and “mstrblueskys” swam upstream:

patbjackson18:

“I want it. Just because it’s different, and I like the screen and keyboard. I miss Blackberry [and] I’m a huge emailer, and android and iOS just don’t do it for me. I’m all about communication and neither platform is doing the job right.”

mstrblueskys:

“Ditto!”

ANDROID CENTRAL comments 1 and 2

On Twitter:

“Definitely Dumping My S5”

Android Central commenter “BlackB G” wrote, “Love this phone. Thanks BlackBerry. I’m getting one. Definitely dumping my hardly used S5 android aka wannabe iPhone for this. I’ll take the best part of android which is apps… and rock a proper functional phone [that] exudes being NOT a follower. This phone along with my z10 as a backup spells good times ahead.”

The Choice is Obvious

CrackBerry was churning up the comments, with posts nearing 500 in total.

Commenter “polytope” is mulling the decision ahead between choosing the iPhone 6 phablet model or BlackBerry Passport. (You know what we think about that.)
“Passport or iPhablet? That is the debate I have with myself.”

CRACKBERRY comment 1

We think the choice is obvious: BlackBerry Passport is going to deliver the goods in a way no one else will.

 


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