BlackBerry Updates: New Smartphone Launches, Automotive Security

 

BlackBerry has had an interesting couple of weeks, following its surprise $815 million arbitration award from Qualcomm in mid-April. The company’s hardware partners have lined up new smartphone launches, while there have been reports that the firm will enter the automotive security space. The stock has also fared reasonably well, breaching the $10 level for the first time in close to two years, driven by the award as well as the recent ransomware attacks on PCs, which have brought focus back onto cyber security, which remains one of BlackBerry’s core competencies. In this note, we take a look at some of the recent developments for BlackBerry, and what they could mean for the company.

Trefis has an $8 price estimate for BlackBerry, which is below the current market price.

BlackBerry Smartphone Updates

While BlackBerry announced that it would exit the handset business last year, the company continues to work with hardware partners in markets including China, Indonesia and India, who manufacture and sell BlackBerry-branded devices. TCL, one of Blackberry’s partners based in China, recently launched a new device called the KeyOne that has received reasonably positive reviews from critics. The device sports a physical keyboard in addition to a touchscreen and runs BlackBerry’s modified version of the Android software with security enhancements. Separately, the Optiemus Group, which holds the license to manufacturer BlackBerry branded hardware in India, plans to invest about $30 million to relaunch the brand in the market. Image result for BlackBerry Updates: New Smartphone Launches, Automotive SecurityThe firm intends to initially focus on enterprise users, selling primarily via retail chains, before widening distribution to other vendors. The company plans to launch two new models over the next few months, priced at under $600 and $300, respectively. BlackBerry will bank on these new launches to keep the roughly 14 million users on the BlackBerry platform worldwide engaged, while bringing in some high-margin licensing dollars.

BlackBerry’s Automobile Security Play

BlackBerry is reportedly developing security software for the auto market, working with two high-end car companies. The solution apparently acts as a virus scanner for automobiles, warning drivers when a vehicle could be compromised, while also installing software patches to vehicles. This could be a sizable market for Blackberry in the long run, as automobiles are being shipped with an increasing amount of computing power and internet connectivity, bringing about security related risks. BlackBerry could be well positioned to cater to this market, given its strong presence in the automobile industry (its QNX software powers infotainment systems on over 50 million vehicles) and also due to its exposure to the secure communications space.

Splashtop Debuts SOS With Mobile Android Support Service

Technical support software company Splashtop on Wednesday announced Splashtop On-Demand Support (SOS) with Mobile, a solution for remotely controlling Android devices and viewing the contents of their screens. The San Jose, California-based firm claims that its platform is the first one of its kind in the industry as it allows administrators, developers, and anyone else who might have to troubleshoot remote devices to quickly take control of distant Android smartphones and tablets and inspect them in real time. The company’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Lee believes that SOS with Mobile solves an industry-wide problem of supporting a wide variety of different devices and configurations which usually requires complicated setups that mandate a lot of time and other resources. SOS with Mobile is said to alleviate those problems by acting as a turnkey solution for administrators that’s not only simpler to set up but also easier to use, consequently saving time and money that IT professionals may otherwise waste on troubleshooting remote devices.Image result for Splashtop Debuts SOS With Mobile Android Support Service

Splashtop’s latest service supports a broad range of Android handsets and tablets, including Samsung Electronics-made Galaxy devices, the Silicon Valley company said, adding that SOS with Mobile can not only be used for troubleshooting but also for demonstrating corporate-issued mobile apps to users. The service itself is also available for Apple’s iOS devices and is the only one of its kind that supports real-time screen sharing on iPhones, iPods, and iPads. While it’s compatible with two of the most popular mobile operating systems on the planet that are radically different from one another, SOS with Mobile ships as a comprehensive solution that should avoid needless support fragmentation and allow administrators to focus on helping their users instead of setting up complicated support systems.

The newly introduced service is available for an annual subscription that amounts to $199 on a yearly basis per a single technician license during what Splashtop refers to as its “introductory special,” though the regular price of SOS with Mobile will be $299 yearly per each license. The service is being sold as an add-on for many popular mobile device management (MDM) and enterprise mobility management (EMM) systems, the San Jose-based company said. The firm is also offering a fully-featured free trial of SOS with Mobile that users can sign up for by following the source link beneath this writing.

 

The case for BlackBerry at $45 US a share

 

An automobile running Blackberry QNX software is shown during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., in this May 2, 2017, photo. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

BlackBerry Ltd. shares have been on a hot streak — rising more than 60 per cent in recent weeks — and one technology analyst thinks some of the company’s new products have the potential to help push the stock to $45 US in three years.

In a recent report, Gus Papageorgiou, associate director of technology research at Macquarie Capital Partners, pointed to two BlackBerry products — its Radar system for monitoring truck trailers and containers, and the QNX operating software system used to run vehicle systems — as drivers of the company’s future.

The Radar system can monitor the load status of a truck trailer, its location, and whether the doors are open or closed, among other things. That can help shipping companies better manage their trailers. Papageorgiou says some early customers are reporting a 17 per cent reduction in the number of trailers they require, along with opportunities to charge customers who hold on to trailers too long.

  • BlackBerry awarded $815M in arbitration with QualcommAn automobile running Blackberry QNX software is shown during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., in this May 2, 2017, photo.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry QNX currently dominates the infotainment software market for vehicles with an estimated market share of 50 per cent, Papageorgiou’s report says. The software runs in about 60 million vehicles.

Last year, Ford Motor Co. signed a deal with BlackBerry to ramp up the installation of QNX in its vehicles. Ford and BlackBerry also reached an agreement to shift up to 400 workers to the automaker to bolster its efforts to develop a self-driving car.

“I think these are very healthy markets where they have advantages,” Papageorgiou said in a recent interview with Dianne Buckner for CBC News Network’s On the Money. “The business they’re getting into is highly recurring software business with high margins, so I think there is potential here.”

Searching for reinvention

A former leader in the smartphone business, BlackBerry’s fortunes tumbled amidst strong competition in the handset market. The battered company has since been trying to reinvent itself with a new focus on software.

“I think they’re finally delivering some promising business lines,” Papageorgiou said.

  • BlackBerry’s software shift ‘100 per cent complete,’ but branding challenge remains

The company’s stock has been on the rise of late, hitting levels not seen in four years. Since the end of March, it has gone from under $10 on the TSX to close Thursday at $15.12. On Nasdaq, the stock closed at $11.22 US, up from about $7 US at the end of March.

Papageorgiou said the Radar and QNX innovations could contribute $2 billion or more in software revenue in three years, and earnings per share of about $1.80. Based on a price-earning multiple of 25, that translates to a stock price of $45, he says.

For the more immediate future, Macquarie’s take on BlackBerry’s stock is decidedly more modest. The firm bumped its 12-month target for the issue from $10.50 US and $14 Cdn to a new goal of $11.80 US and $16.20 Cdn.

Given the volatile nature of the technology market, it’s not clear cut that things will play out in favour of BlackBerry. A recent article in Forbes pointed out that both Apple and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have been showing interest in the automotive market.

Apple has been reported to be working on its own operating systems for a self-driving car, while Alphabet has launched its own Android Automotive infotainment system. Both firms have massive resources to throw at automotive projects.

 

Nokia 9 Specifications Leaked in GeekBench Listing, Seen to Perform Impressively

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The phone was earlier leaked in live image
  • GeekBench listing reaffirms previously leaked specifications
  • The phone is expected to pack 4GB of RAM

It seems we are finally nearing the launch of Nokia 9, the rumoured flagship Nokia Android phone that had been spotted in a leaked promotional video and live images. This time, Nokia 9 specifications have surfaced online via benchmark tests. If these tests are any indication, the alleged Nokia 9 smartphone will be able to deliver performance at par with, if not better, current flagships from other companies. Moreover, the upcoming Nokia flagship performs impressively in the benchmarks, suggesting a powerful rival to the likes of Samsung Galaxy S8, iPhone 7, and other top models may on the way.

As per the purported GeekBench 3 listing of the Nokia 9, spotted first by Dutch website Telefoon Abonnement, a device listed as “HMD Global TA-1004” outperforms other flagship smartphones in multi-core scores. However, it should be noted that these benchmark scores were recorded on an earlier version of the benchmark too, GeekBench 3, and not on the latest version – Geekbench 4.

Notably, the listing didn’t throw any major surprises at us and suggests that the Nokia 9 will run Android 7.1.1 Nougat, will be powered by Snapdragon 835 SoC, and will pack 4GB of RAM. This doesn’t rule out a higher RAM variant however. While the alleged Nokia 9 was able to post an impressive score in multi-core performance, it still seems to be way behind the iPhone 7 Plus, much like other Android phones, in terms of single-core performance.Nokia 9 Specifications Leaked in GeekBench Listing, Seen to Perform Impressively

In terms of optics, the Nokia 9 is expected to feature dual 13-megapixel cameras at the back and have a dual-LED flash support as well. The Nokia smartphone has been tipped to offer 64GB of inbuilt storage. While the battery capacity on the phone has not been disclosed, the Nokia 9 is expected to support Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 thanks to the Snapdragon 835 SoC. Further, the Nokia phone seems to have a fingerprint scanner embedded into the home button at the front.

Nokia 9

Nokia 9

  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS

Display

5.50-inch

Processor

quad-core

Front Camera

12-megapixel

Resolution

1440×2560 pixels

RAM

6GB

OS

Android 7.1

Storage

64GB

Rear Camera

22-megapixel

Battery Capacity

3800mAh

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HTC sets mid-June for its U11 India lift-off

Premium smartphone maker HTC is readying plans to launch its water and dust proof flagship 4G handset U11 by mid-June in India, which was unveiled today at around 750 euros for the European market.

“HTC U11 will be launched in India by mid-June. Global launch is in the first week of June. We are still negotiating the price at which we can sell HTC U11 in India. There will be differences between India and the European market. It will be competitive on global pricing,” Faisal Siddiqui, HTC President for South Asia, told reporters.

HTC has introduced a device operation technology in U11 with HTC Edge Sense that will allow users to control its function by applying different pressures of their grip on the edge of the phone. The sense-based control can be customised by the users.

U11 will start selling in some regions from the next week and the rest of the market, starting June. In Europe, it will sell for around 750 euros, that is about Rs. 53,000 a unit, from the first week of June, a company official said.

The pricing of the phone will vary across countries due to tax structures and operational cost, Siddiqui said.

“HTC will focus on only the high-end segment because it is difficult to sell innovation at a low price. In India, we are looking at the best ways to ease buying of HTC phones. For HTC U11, we plan to provide sales through easy monthly installments in partnership with companies like Bajaj Finance, Home Credit and banks,” Siddiqui added.

The company has launched variants of U11 with different storage capacities and colours that have a reflection feature similar to that of liquid surface.

It plans to sell a high-end variant in India with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage expandable up to 2 TB or above with the help of an external memory card.

The phone comes with 12 megapixel main camera along with HDR boost technology.

Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile chipset, HTC U11 has 3000 mAh battery that the company claims can be completely charged in 90 minutes and can support up to 24.5 hours of voice calls.

HTC, Siddiqui said, will focus on the mid and premium-range segment.

“In India, we are planning to launch various models of 4G VoLTE-enabled Desire series smartphones that will be priced between Rs. 10,000-30,000 a unit. We don’t plan to sell smartphones below Rs. 10,000,” Siddiqui clarified.

HTC has a retail reach across 400 cities in India. But the company plans to focus on the top 200 cities and branding in the top 100.

The company makes Desire series phones in India, but is still to start manufacturing its high-end segment.

BlackBerry, Qualcomm Decide on Final Amount to Resolve Royalty Dispute

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Qualcomm has agreed to pay BlackBerry $940 million
  • The dispute between the two companies started in 2016
  • Qualcomm is expected to pay the final amount on or before May 31

Canada’s BlackBerry said on Friday that US chipmaker Qualcomm has agreed to pay the software maker $940 million (roughly Rs. 6,068 crores), including interest and legal fees, to settle a royalty dispute.

Qualcomm had said in April that it would have to refund BlackBerry $814.9 million (roughly Rs. 5,245 crores), plus interest and attorneys’ fees, in an arbitration over royalties for certain past sales.BlackBerry, Qualcomm Decide on Final Amount to Resolve Royalty Dispute

The dispute between the two companies started in 2016 following Qualcomm’s agreement to cap certain royalties applied to payments made by BlackBerry under a licensing deal.

Qualcomm is expected to pay the final amount on or before May 31, BlackBerry said on Friday.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Tags: BlackBerry, Qualcomm, Royalty, BlackBerry Qualcomm Dispute, Mobiles, Telecom

Motorola to ramp-up retail operations, focus on premium devices in India

 

Handset maker Lenovo will invest in areas like marketing, expanding retail presence and building premium products for its ‘Motorola’ brand as it looks to strengthen its position in the fiercely-competitive smartphone market in the country.

India is among the top three markets — along with the US and Brazil — for Lenovo’s Mobile Business Group (MBG) that comprises both Lenovo and Motorola brands. Lenovo follows a dual-brand strategy in India, but offers just Motorola products in markets including the US.

Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6 Prices in India Announced: Event Highlights

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Nokia Android phone launch event scheduled to start at 12pm
  • Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6 price in India and release date to be announced
  • Prices of all three phones have already leaked online

Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3 India launch event is over, and all the details of the three smartphones have been officially announced. The prices in India of Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3, as well their respective release dates have been revealed by HMD Global. The company also revealed that all the Nokia phones in India will now be manufactured within the country. Notably, these are the first Nokia smartphones to hit the Indian market since the Lumia brand dropped the Nokia moniker under Microsoft’s ownership. Moreover, these are the first Nokia-branded phones with stock Android as the software, instead of a heavily tweaked version of the popular mobile OS.

Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6 price in India and release date

Nokia 6 price in India is Rs. 14,999, and the smartphone will be exclusively available on Amazon India. Registrations for the Nokia 6 sale will begin on July 14 on Amazon, and as a launch offer, those who purchase the phone from using their Amazon Pay balance will get a Rs. 1,000 discount.

On the other hand, Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 are both offline-exclusive products, and will be available via over 80,000 retail stores that stock the company’s handsets. The Nokia 3 price in India is Rs. 9,499 and it will go on sale starting June 16, while the price in India of Nokia 5 is Rs. 12,899, and pre-bookings for the handset will begin on July 7.Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6 Prices in India Announced: Event Highlights

These are highly competitive prices, and will mean the three Nokia Android phones will compete with the different variants of Xiaomi Redmi 4 and Redmi Note 4 in the highly competitive segment of affordable smartphones.

Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6 specifications and features

Nokia 6, the best-specced of the new Nokia-branded Android phones announced so far, features a 5.5-inch full-HD 2.5D screen with Corning Gorilla Glass protection, and a fingerprint sensor below the display. The Nokia 6 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat and was powered by Snapdragon 430 processor coupled with 3GB of RAM. The handset will come with 32GB inbuilt storage, and will support microSD card support up to 128GB, and houses a 3000mAh battery. The Nokia 6 sports a 16-megapixel rear sensor, while the front camera’s resolution is 8-megapixel. Featuring body made using 6000 series aluminium, the smartphone comes with in-built dual speakers and Dolby Atmos support, and is aimed at those who want great design and specifications.

Nokia 5 has been targeted to those who want a compact smartphone, and features a fingerprint sensor. For specifications, it comes with a 5.2-inch HD display, and Android 7.1.1 Nougat. The Nokia 5 is powered by the Snapdragon 430 processor coupled with 2GB of RAM, and comes with 16GB inbuilt storage. It also supports expandable storage via microSD card (up to 128GB). Nokia 5 packs a 13-megapixel sensor on the back and an 8-megapixel sensor at the front. Other features of the smartphone include Micro-USB 2.0, NFC, 3000mAh battery, and 4G LTE support.

Lastly, Nokia 3 is targeted at those who are looking for a premium-looking handset at a budget. It comes with a polycarbonate body and metallic frame on the sides. For specifications, the Nokia 5 features a 5-inch HD display, Android 7.0 Nougat, 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek 6737 SoC, 16GB storage, up to 128GB microSD card support, Micro-USB 2.0, NFC, 2650mAh battery, and 8-megapixel cameras on the front and back.

Is HTC making the next Pixel phones for Google?

An HTC blog has recently unearthed certain system files that indicate a possible relation between the HTC U11 and the upcoming Pixels.
 The Google phones might drop the delicate rear glass panels from the U11’s body and adapt a metallic body along with a rear fingerprint sensor.

The Google Pixel is the Holy Grail of all Android smartphones. It is the guideline around which other manufacturers build their iterations of Android-based smartphones. The astonishing fact about the Pixel is that it has been designed and made by HTC, one of the pioneers in the world of Google’s open source operating system. That reassures a Pixel customer that the phones would stand the test of time and provide the best hardware experience, even though with conservative designs. And, it seems that HTC is going to do that with the next generation of Pixel smartphones as well.The Google phones might drop the delicate rear glass panels from the U11's body and adapt a metallic body along with a rear fingerprint sensor.

A Japanese blog, called HTCSoku, has found a reference to the next generation Pixel phones while playing around with the HTC U11’s file system. The HTC U11’s system files have references to ‘S2’ and ‘M2’. The current generation of Google Pixel and Pixel XL phones had the codenames ‘S1’ and ‘M1’ respectively during their development process, which was loosely based on the HTC A9 and the HTC 10. Therefore, the next generation of the Pixel smartphones should be called the ‘S2’ and ‘M2’. The blog also found links of the ‘S2’ and ‘M2’ files with the Snapdragon 835 chip set.

This renders speculations that Google’s next generation of Pixel smartphones will be based on the existing HTC U11. The Google phones might drop the delicate rear glass panels and adapt a metallic body along with a rear fingerprint sensor. They could be running on the SD835 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64/128GB of storage. Since there’s no dual camera sensor on the U11, the 2017 Google flagships could also be sporting single lens rear camera. However, the Edge Sense feature from the U11 may not find a place on Google’s smartphones as it is an exclusive feature to the 2017 HTC flagship. And, they will have a solid build quality as well.

The Google Pixel 2 smartphone range could be unveiled later in the year. Stay tuned for further updates on the next generation Google Pixel smartphones.

 

HTC Updates Bootloader-Unlock Warranty Messages on Device Pages

 

Since 2011 HTC has permitted bootloader unlocking on some of its models, allowing developers and enthusiasts to tinker to our heart’s delight. HTC stood alone among other OEMs in providing both unlocked and developer edition devices, with the developer edition devices retaining much of their warranty despite unlocking. That changed with the HTC 10 which dropped the Developer Edition but retained its bootloader unlocking policy on the Unlocked model, in a practice that started with the A9 and was prominently displayed on the “Meet the Unlocked…” page.

It would appear that HTC may be taking a reversal of policy with the text boldly proclaiming “Your HTC warranty even covers bootloader unlocking on the HTC U11!” being removed as of the time of this writing. This text has also been removed from the HTC U Ultra, and HTC 10 page. Thanks to the Internet Archive, we can see that these pages were updated sometime in the past two weeks since all three had the text as recently as June 29th, and the verbage was even changed on HTCDev in relation to the U11. [1] [2] [3]HTC Updates Bootloader-Unlock Warranty Messages on Device Pages

What this means going forward is anyone’s guess, as a major perk to purchasing an unlocked device from HTC was the ability to unlock the bootloader without immediately voiding the warranty. This could just be a clarification and tidying of the information displayed and the prior policy might still be in place. However, it could also mean that HTC will no longer be as generous in its support of unlocking its bootloaders in the near future.  At this time it is still unclear whether such a move would affect HTC’s global unlocking policy as well. It is still important to note that the text – quoted below – on HTC Dev has not changed as to the possibility of voiding of the warranty for using the tool and to repairs stemming from the modifications. But this text is vague and not quite the explicit amd encouraging statement found on the earlier linked pages.

“It is our responsibility to caution you that not all claims resulting or caused by or from the unlocking of the bootloader may be covered under warranty.”

Bootloader unlocking has been a contentious topic for quite some time with many OEMs attempting to void your entire warranty just for unlocking the bootloader, even if the device’s failure is totally unrelated. At the same time though, some users push the boundaries and end up bricking their devices yet still attempt to claim it under warranty as a hardware failure. This causes manufacturers to look at those who like to tinker differently, and has likely further justified OEMs’ decisions to keep many variants locked down, especially in the US.

If the company did change its policy it would be a major step backwards in terms of supporting developers and could kill an already fledgling (but tight-knit) development community. But, this could simply be an unrelated decision, perhaps prioritizing or emphasizing the features that more mainstream customers understand and appreciate. We have reached out to HTC for more information and will update this article accordingly.