RIM and Porsche (of all companies) have just taken the official wraps off of the Porsche Design P’9981 BlackBerry, a frighteningly beautiful new slab that offers up a forged stainless steel frame, hand-wrapped leather back cover, sculpted QWERTY keyboard, and “crystal clear touch display.” It’ll ship with an exclusive Porsche Design UI and a bespoke Wikitude World Browser augmented reality app experience, not to mention the “premium, exclusive PINs that help easily identify another P’9981 smartphone user.” Fancy. As for specs, it’s boasting a 1.2GHz processor, HD video recording capabilities, 8GB of onboard memory, Liquid Graphics technology, a microSD expansion slot, an inbuilt NFC module and BlackBerry OS 7. We’re told that it’ll be available from Porsche Design stores later this year, and the price is expected to be somewhere around $2,000. Head past the jump for T-break’s hands-on vid.
Have people gone off their BlackBerrys? Earlier this month, BlackBerry users were hit with an outage that lasted several days. It took Research In Motion three full days to restore normal service around the world, and for many users, this just wasn’t good enough. We know a couple of folks personally who said that the service problems were the last straw and what prompted them to change phones. However, it seems like a lot of people are deciding to ditch their Blackberrys this month, and not all because of the service outage.
Gadget trade-in website Gazelle reports that BlackBerry trade-ins are up 80 percent in the last week alone. This is an increase from the record setting number of BlackBerry trade-ins the site saw last month. While the company doesn’t outright blame the outage for the huge surge, the timing would seem to suggest that numerous Blackberry owners decided enough was enough. That said, there’s another major event that has also resulted in a surge of Berry trade-ins.
Speaking to CNet, Gazelle’s Anthony Scarsella said that he reckons the iPhone 4S is to blame. This is “easily the highest volume of BlackBerry trades ever seen period,” he said, including the spike following the recent outage in his statement. However, he added: “In the grand scheme of BlackBerry growth over the past month, it can be pretty much entirely attributed to the launch of the iPhone 4S.”
Less than 2 weeks after the infamous services outages affecting Blackberry users worldwide, Canada’s Research In Motion have a new reason to reach for the Tums. On October 26, a class-action lawsuit was filed in a Quebec superior court by the Consumer Law Group, on behalf customers, estimated to be close to 35 million, who were affected by the outage between October 11 and 14th, 2011. The suit focuses specifically on “RIM’s failure to take action to either directly compensate BlackBerry users or to indirectly compensate BlackBerry users by arranging for wireless service providers to refunds their customers and to take full responsibility for these damages.”
Though the legal basis for the suit is sure to be decided in the coming days, it’s important to remember that RIM founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis did apologize for the outage in a somewhat emotional video posted October 13 to RIM’s youtube page. Regarding their commitment to providing reliable, worldwide communication in real time, “We did not deliver on that goal this week,” he admitted. “Not even close.”
Since then, free tech support and access to several premium apps have been offered, however at present, no further compensation has been made available. Whether or not RIM decides to offer additional compensation will surely affect the suit, but whatever happens, they can at least rest assured they haven’t been as universally humiliated as Sony Computer Entertainment.
Software maker Basis said it already has “taken swift legal action” to protect its “BBx” trademark. “Research In Motion’s press release announcing a new Blackberry operating system named “BBX” is causing great confusion for the worldwide Basis community and could potentially harm Basis’ reputation for enabling cross-platform application development,” a Basis press release states.
Basis CEO Nico Spence said that there is an installed base of “thousands” of Basis products that use the BBx prefix. “Ironically, Basis’ BBx may aid RIM in its quest to grab a share of the application market for mobile devices in that any application created with Basis’ BBx for the Android or iOS mobile devices will also run on BlackBerry products.”
However, Basis does not offer a product that is called “BBx”, but uses the “x” to signify a generalization of the platform in a similar this letter is used to describe a range of version number in software such as “Firefox 3.x”. Basis current BBx version is “BBj”. BBj is an object-oriented development environment for Oracle’s Java Virtual Machine.
Still, it seems reasonable to be concerned about RIM BBX, even if we know that Basis is riding the wave and will not only see damage at this point, but an opportunity to give its software exposure it otherwise would not have.
RIM might last week have faced the worst service outage in company history, but the Waterloo-based phone manufacturer isn’t going to dwell on the past. While last week saw Mike Lazaridis apologizing on camera for the service disruptions, today, the co-CEO was busy unveiling BBX, the next generation of BlackBerry OS.
Similar to the way Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich is a mash-up of Gingerbread and Honeycomb, RIM says BBX is a combination of the old BlackBerry OS and QNX, the operating system RIM acquired last year and is now powering the PlayBook tablet.
The BBX platform will support BlackBerry cloud services and development environments for HTML5 and native developers. According to RIM, BBX will also support apps developed using any of the tools already available for the PlayBook (including Native SDK, Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks/HTML5, as well as the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps) on future BBX-based tablets and smartphones.
BlackBerry users can also look forward to a new BlackBerry Cascades UI Framework for that will provide smooth 3D animations and deep integration with BBM and Push services. RIM says that a beta version will be available before the end of fall.
Last week, Research in Motion suffered what’s being called the worst service outage in company history. Affecting users around the world, the service interruption lasted three days. Not long after normal service resumed, unhappy customers started demanding compensation. Today, RIM announced that it will be compensating users. However, the company is not doling out cash refunds to the affected. Instead, users who experienced problems last week will be getting free apps.
The company announced today that a selection of premium apps worth a total value of more than US $100 will be offered to subscribers as an expression of appreciation for their patience during the service outages. The apps will be made available to customers over the coming weeks on BlackBerry App World and will continue to be available until December 31, 2011.
Aside from the special package of apps, enterprise customers will also be offered one month of free technical support and current customers will be offered a complimentary one month extension of their existing technical support. If you don’t have a tech support contract already, RIM is giving you a one month trial of RIM’s BlackBerry Technical Support Services – Enhanced Support, free of charge.
“We truly appreciate and value our relationship with our customers,” said said RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. “We’ve worked hard to earn their trust over the past 12 years, and we’re committed to providing the high standard of reliability they expect, today and in the future.”
“We are grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers for their patience,” he added. “We have apologized to our customers and we will work tirelessly to restore their confidence. We are taking immediate and aggressive steps to help prevent something like this from happening again.”
BlackBerry service resumes for users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, parts of South America, and North America. BlackBerry maker Research in Motion has announced that services have resumed around the globe following a three day outage of BBM and email services. Founder Mike Lazaridis announced the news during a phone in press conference this morning.
Lazaridis also mentioned that the folks over at BlackBerry working to resolve the issue haven’t been home since Monday, so when they said they were ‘working around the clock’ to restore services, it actually wasn’t just a figure of speech. A message on RIM’s support page confirmed that services are now operating normally worldwide:
Blackberry customers in Europe, Asia and Africa fell victim to a continents-spanning loss of service on Monday beginning at approximately 10:20 AM, British Summer Time. The outages were reported via user Twitter accounts and ultimately confirmed by Blackberry developers Research In Motion, who said in a statement that “We are working to resolve an issue currently impacting some BlackBerry subscribers in Europe, Middle East and Africa,” RIM said. “We’re investigating, and we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience caused whilst this is resolved.”
Services affected include email, Internet access and instant messenger. Though the ‘three continents” thing sounds daunting, the service outage is apparently centered around the Mediterranean region, affecting Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East and the Levant, though users as far south as Kenya have reported problems. Members began to report resumption of services around 4:00 PM BST though outages remain and so far, the reason behind them has not been identified (or made public).
During his keynote presentation at the GITEX conference in Dubai, Research In Motion Co-CEO Jim Balsillie unveiled a new way for BlackBerry smartphone users to connect with one another and share multimedia content. He called it BlackBerry Tag, and it’s expected to be incorporated into the next BlackBerry 7 OS update at an unspecified date.
Balsillie reports that the new feature will allow users to share contact information, documents, URLs, photos and other multimedia content by simply tapping their BlackBerry smartphones together. Friends will also be added instantly as a contact on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).
“BlackBerry Tag is an exciting and innovative feature that makes sharing contact information and multimedia content effortless and seamless,” he said. “BlackBerry Tag opens a new dimension to the BlackBerry platform that is powerful, simple and intuitive and we think it will be welcomed by both users and developers.”
Balsillie added that the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 and BlackBerry Curve 9350/9360/9370 smartphones will be the first devices to support BlackBerry Tag, as these devices also support Near Field Technology which powers the new Tag capability. BlackBerry Tag will also be released as APIs for the BlackBerry platform so that developers can add a “tap to share” feature in their own applications.
Currently it’s unknown when the OS update will take place, but it’s possible we’ll know more about the release during RIM’s BlackBerry DevCon Americas 2011 conference in San Francisco next week (Oct 18-20).
Research in Motion’s Jim Balsillie’s currently in Dubai, gassing about how amazing the latest update to BlackBerry 7 OS will be — probably between trips to the beach. When it arrives, those crackberries equipped with NFC (Bold 9900 / 9920 and Curve 9350 / 9360 / 9370) will get BlackBerry Tag. You’ll be able to tap two phones together to share contact details, multimedia content or add new friends to your BBM. RIM is planning to open up the relevant APIs so developers can use the facility in any number of interesting ways, like bringing touch-to-share to the system. Considering the speed constraints of NFC, it’s difficult to believe that big files like images could be carried by the technology — it’s more likely that NFC will pair the devices and then send your files down a larger pipe, like Bluetooth. Hopefully the company will explain how this works in a little more detail before the update arrives.