„All my friends got one” is sometimes a good reason to buy a specific phone

Last week, Apple released the new iPhone 5S and 5C. Android phones are released almost on a daily bases. With Microsoft now owning Nokia, we can probably expect new releases soon. And even Blackberry has some nice phones to offer. Never before was the choice of a phone so difficult. So what do we buy? And what are the reasons for our choice?

When outing ourselves that we want a new phone, we hear a lot of people around us telling us to get this one or that one for various reasons, some technical, some subjective and some just silly. And most of them will tell you not to get a particular phone, because “everybody got one”. But is this really such a bad thing?

We often want to display our individuality through the things we own and use but we tend to forget that we are social beings. Which means, in short, we have a need to communicate with each other and share things. Therefore, getting something because all your friends are getting or owning something may not be such a dumb reason after all.

What phone to get?

What phone you use often determines if you can play, communicate or interact with your friends or family. This is because different platforms make it harder to connect and interact. That is for different reasons, including the fact, that not all apps are cross-compatible and available.

Lets take the new iPhone, for example, with all the little features that make your life easier, like iMessage or the new Airdrop. If all your friends got Android phones, you won’t send many iMessages or exchange many files. The same applies for all the other platforms. Each has its own features but most are not cross-compatible. It is not about which is better then the other, it’s just which you can use most with your friends and family.

Not too long ago, “everyone has one” was a good reason for switching to or being on BBM. And that is why companies like Apple and Google are trying hard to keep the customers they already have.

I am not saying to go out and buy whatever your friends or family got. You should get whatever you like! But if you want to take full advantage of all that a certain platform or phone has to offer, you should take this criteria into consideration. There is no shame in doing or getting what your friends do or have. Basically, that’s what friends are for and that’s what defines us as a social being.

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Blackberry Considering Break-Off of BBM to its Own Subsidiary

Is Blackberry Messenger (BBM) a sustainable asset for Blackberry, Inc.? Not to be a naysayer, but…

I’m a huge fan of Tech News Today. The TWiT Network provides a lot of valuable podcasts and live round table technology shows, and yes… I’m hooked. I was listening to Episode 826 – The Promised Fridge, and Tom, Iyaz and Sarah started talking about how Blackberry – formerly RIM – was considering a spin-off of their Blackberry Messenger (BBM) product into its own subsidiary. Many of them saw possibilities in it. I think it’s a whacked idea and doomed to failure. Here’s why.

Back in its prime, BBM was one of the biggest draws for new users to the Blackberry smartphone. You could send instant messages to any other Blackberry user anywhere, on any other domain or BIS/BES server that also supported BBM; and that’s where the value ends.

bbm

Blackberry is seriously considering bringing BBM to other platforms, giving users the opportunity to trade messages with users on other platforms like iOS and Android. Unfortunately, the value in that decision is coming about 5 to 7 years too late… much like everything else the Toronto, Canada organization has decided to do.

Unfortunately, BBM is much like What’sApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Line and Viber. All of these apps are already cross platform and have wide user bases. They already provide the same level of functionality – and value – that BBM provides, except perhaps, security.

In the wake of the NSA and Snowden scandals, the public has become more aware of the need for privacy and security in their communications. Even if all you’re doing is chatting with friends about what the kids did after school or the latest posting on Facebook, no one likes the idea of having their privacy invaded.

As such many are looking at secure messaging options; and if BBM can offer that to cross platform users, then there’s its market. If it can’t, then it has no market, as their app and platform is just another me-too, late-to-the-game offering in a very crowded market.

Unfortunately, this seems to be part for the Blackberry course. They should have started looking for a buyer for the company 2-4 years ago when its assets still had some serious value. Now because they’ve asserted their patents and required competitors like Microsoft and Google to find another method to provide Push notifications and mail – with device management services – as well as independent messaging services (Apple’s iMessage platform is very similar to BBM, by the way), the only value that the company has is its patent portfolio.

I also have very serious doubts as to the TRUE value of it, too. As I said, RIM, now Blackberry, forced both Microsoft and Google to find different ways to provide Push services. As such, Blackberry’s technology while still very popular, is outdated technology and is quickly losing not only relevance, but the value of its exclusivity. BBM’s value is tied to the secured server technology that everyone has already worked around.

This, like most of what Blackberry has been doing, is too little, too late, and so very unfortunate.

 

What do you think? Am I totally off my nut, or am I dead-on? Why don’t you let us know your thoughts in the comments, below.

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Blackberry Shops the Company – Too Little Too Late?

Trading was briefly halted this morning, so an emergency strategy meeting could take place.

BB Stock-01BB Stock-02

I’ve been talking about the demise of RIM – now called Blackberry Corporation – for quite some time now.  In fact, if you recall, I called this over a year ago.  Blackberry was in trouble then; and quite honestly, nothing that they’ve done has had the force or power to turn the ship around. They’ve got an arduous decision in front of them.

Steve Ranger from ZDNet had an interesting column with 5 different suggestions for the company. I’m obviously not going to regurgitate what he said, but I do have my own take on most of these. I’ll make it brief; but I’m putting on my thunderwear for this. The time for candy coating everything is long gone.
According to Steve, Blackberry can:

  • Form partnerships
  • Go Private
  • Shop and Eventually Sell the Company
  • Break Up
  • Do Nothing

Form Partnerships
Whether on a client-by-client basis or with a larger player, RIM could seek out potential hardware partners like Samsung, HTC (a personal favorite of mine in this scenario), Microsoft or Apple. There are pros and cons to all of them

If I were Samsung, Apple or Microsoft, I’d pass on the partnership deal. Blackberry has too much going against it right now to attract any of these larger players as a partner, though Apple might want to partner with them to handle sync solutions for PIM data that might be integratable into a point release of OS X Mavericks and iOS 7 or later. If I were Samsung or MS, I’d look to acquire the company outright, which MS has tried to do on more than one occasion. Blackberry was never too keen on.  Big mistake on their part at this point, I think…

HTC could be the best choice of a partner, as they need something to help pull them out of the deep end of the pool.  They are also the potential partner that is likely to take the most risks and be the most flexible. Neither Samsung, Apple nor Microsoft NEEDS anything right now.  They’d probably take a majority share and just tell Blackberry to shut up and sit there… I would if I were any of those three.

Go Private
Without a major revamp in strategy, the company doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of surviving. They’re profitable, but only for as long as they can convince customers to keep buying their services. Eventually, they’re going to run out of steam. It’s just a matter of time.

Going private isn’t an option without a huge strategic shift. Blackberry hasn’t shown the potential to do this in the past 5 years. If they can do it now, I’d call for the removal of Thorsten Heinz. A strategic shift of that magnitude should have been done in the 2008/2009 time frame. No excuses…

Shop and Sell the Company
If I were MS, I’d adjust their last offer for stock price and try one last time. They have the cash, and Blackberry really can’t turn down any serious offer at this point.  I would also bid for the whole damn thing, too. Thorsten Heinz has turned his nose up at Ballmer twice since 2008, but a melding between Microsoft and Blackberry could do a lot for Windows Phone and could give it a huge boost.

As I mentioned, Samsung and Apple could and probably should also bid for the assets, including the IP that may still provide income. Blackberry’s future may not be bright, but there something there that may be of value to a larger mobile player.

Break Up
As I just said, their IP and other assets have some value. This is a real option for them. Their stock price as of 1130am Central Time as 10.25, up nearly a 1/2; but it had 6.6x that value in February 2011, just over 2 years ago.

Breaking up should be considered a last resort, if they can’t get any real cash in either the partnership or sell categories. The assets are likely to get spread around to too many companies, and then the value is greatly reduced

Do Nothing
This is clearly not an option. Heinz was brought in to turn around the company after its co-CEO’s did nothing and nearly ruined the company.

You don’t’ just halt trading on a publicly traded company. Something serious is up; and while there haven’t been any major announcements made on the results that I can see, its clear Blackberry’s time is almost up. Back in 2008, it thought Microsoft’s bid of $50 per share undervalued the company. They’ll be lucky to get 12 or 15 at this point, let alone 20-25 (which would be half the original bid).

I think the time has come. Heinz gave it a good go; but he hasn’t done anything to successfully turn the company around; and unfortunately, BB10, Blackberry’s new mobile operating system hasn’t seen any notable success.

The writing’s on the wall, we’ll miss Blackberry…maybe.

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Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems – #3: Where the Heck is Microsoft?

In the Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #1 and Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #2 we’ve been talking about why Ecosystems and mobile devices. The big question that many of you are probably asking is, “Ok… so what’s the big deal? Why do I care about this? We’ve been through Amazon and Google pretty thoroughly.

The one remaining player, Microsoft, has been pretty much out of pocket on all of this. Let’s briefly talk about why.

Bringing it all Together – Where the Heck is Microsoft?
Over the past few years, Microsoft has really struggled with mobility. Quite frankly, it doesn’t know its own butt from a mobile hole in the ground. Its pathetically sad, really. They had this market sown up and they let it slip away from them. Ballmer is a huge part of this problematic equation for Microsoft. He just doesn’t get mobile computing.

When Microsoft introduced Exchange ActiveSync with Exchange Server 2003, as a directed salvo aimed directly at RIM and Blackberry Information Server and Blackberry Enterprise Server, it did more than just hit RIM where it counted the most (in their wallet), it actually won the ecosystem war, really before it started, and didn’t know it.

Exchange ActiveSync (the PIM synching FOUNDATION of the ecosystem) did what BIS/BES did for Blackberry, it did it for all Windows Mobile based devices, and it did it for free, totally undercutting RIM’s revenue model. Today, RIM finds itself nearly unable to recover from this 8 year old wound. To add salt to it, Microsoft has licensed the basics of Exchange ActiveSync to both Apple and Google, bringing push to the iPhone and to every Android device, literally, everywhere.

As for the rest of the ecosystem – music, multimedia, ebooks, pictures etc. – Microsoft sorta had that in place with the Zune and the Zune Marketplace, but killed the Zune a couple years ago. The Zune Marketplace has struggled for any kind of identity since. Microsoft hasn’t cultivated new or tended any existing content distribution agreements that I’m aware of.

Further, Microsoft also killed Windows Mobile in favor of Windows Phone. The platform may be superior to its predecessors from a developer’s point of view, but Windows Phone has failed to gain any real traction with consumers since its introduction. While Microsoft and Nokia have partnered to introduce new hardware on MS’ updated Mango release of the platform, its largely seen as a last ditch effort to save both companies.

As far as a tablet is concerned, Microsoft just can’t seem to get past the, “put the whole OS on a mobile device” stance. No one wants a full blown version of Windows 7 or Windows 8 with its strange metro UI on a tablet. Consumers are telling manufacturers they truly want a companion device, not one device to rule them all, and Microsoft simply isn’t listening.

The best thing that Microsoft can do for itself is:

  • Ditch Windows 7/8 on a tablet and pull together a version of Windows Phone that will work on a tablet styled/sized device
  • Breathe some life into the Zune Marketplace for music, movies and TV shows. Insure that multimedia store apps are tightly integrated into Windows Phone and Windows Tablet (a working name, for lack of any other)
  • Adopt an ereader app and format as its designated platform and go with it. It doesn’t matter what format they choose, but they need to pick on and promote the hell out of it. Please don’t reinvent the wheel or try to bring back Microsoft Reader. It died a long time ago and we don’t need to splinter the ebook market any further
  • Develop Windows Live Essentials components for Windows Phone and Windows Tablet. They also need to update Windows Live Essentials for desktop Windows to include the sync support for WLE.
  • Give the sh…, uh, I mean stuff… Give the stuff away. Off branded Android tablets are doing well because they’re part of the Android ecosystem; but they’re cheap. The HP Touchpad sold well in the Fire Sale because it will make a GREAT Android tablet and again, they were cheap. Microsoft doesn’t have the luxury of brand or eliteism like Apple does. It doesn’t have the install base like Google’s Android does. It needs to get into the market and saturate it – Buy a Windows Phone, get a Windows Tablet, and vice-versa. That kind of thing. If it doesn’t do this, it may as well not even try. All they’re going to do is create a huge charge and/or write off for the company and their stockholders

Based on all of this, what should you get your loved ones for the Holidays? Come back next time, and we’ll start talking about that.

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Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #2

In the Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #1 article we’ve been talking about why Ecosystems and mobile devices.  The big question that many of you are probably asking is, “ok… so what’s the big deal?  Why do I care about this? What differences does it make if my gadget of choice is part of any kind of an ecosystem?” It’s a good question.  And actually, it’s something that I know many pundits and marketing mavens have been tossing around. Most people, the pundits and mavens included, don’t completely get it.

Let’s break it all down…

Why an Ecosystem Matters at All
Mobile devices that do nothing more than PIM and Sync Services are equivalent to PDA’s of unconnected times past (think back to 2002-2005 and Compaq/HP’s iPAQ line of personal organizers) or are equivalent to one of RIM’s various Blackberries.  While that may not be too bad in some people’s eyes, think about the issues that are currently plaguing RIM, connectivity and outdated architecture aside.

As you may recall, we briefly touched on an ecosystem containing the following:

  1. PIM,
  2. Sync Services
  3. Purchasing Options & Methods for
  • Multimedia Content

– Music,
– Movies,
– TV Shows, etc.

  • Apps
  • eBooks
  • Pictures
  • etc.,

While the PIM and Sync Services are common to all mobile devices today, let’s consider the Apple model again, as we examine the above list.  What’s common to everything in that list..?  Simply put – iTunes.

iTunes manages the PIM data and sync services. It provides a purchasing and organization method for all consumer content. Apple also provides tools to help developers create content and register it with iTunes so it can be sold. This ecosystem is so simple to work with many developers can top 6-figure revenue marks in under 12 months, given the right product subject matter and type. This “no-brainer” product development model saw many developers leaving other, well established SDK’s for iOS development over the past few years.

But that’s been Apple’s model – build the complete solution, for consumers as well as developers – make it easy for them to live within the defined boundaries [of the ecosystem] and they will come. As I mentioned before, this is where the real money is, not in the hardware. Compatible hardware is simply enables the sale of consumer content.

What Amazon Did
Amazon did something similar, but they are trying to emulate, to an extent, what Apple has created by plugging the holes Google left in the ecosystem they created.  Google has the PIM and Sync Services; but doesn’t really have a trusted way to sell consumer content.  Amazon has had a way to sell music for years.  They have recently created a way to sell Android Apps. They’ve recently created a way to provide streaming movies and TV shows (via Amazon Prime). Their Kindle software provides a way to read and purchase eBooks.

I’ve been saying this for years – Amazon should concentrate on the sale of consumer content, not on selling hardware – to make their mark.  They actually did better than that, as the Kindle Fire is now poised to take the number 2 sales spot in the tablet market, but NOT because of the hardware. The Kindle Fire may take that spot due to the hardware sales, but it’s got the sales because of the kinds of content it supports, and what users can do with the device.

What Google Didn’t Do
Google may have a flagship phone in the Galaxy Nexus, but Samsung controls it; and they haven’t really enabled the new OS to do anything more than any other Android smartphone. Google doesn’t want to provide any type of specific experience, or control how you experience Android. They’ve built openness into the platform and have only recently chosen to address some of the holes with updates to Google Books, Google Music, etc.

What they haven’t done, though, is truly created the framework of the ecosystem for all of the OEM’s making and selling hardware. As such, there are a number of different launchers, like TouchWiz from Samsung and SenseUI from HTC. There are a number of different Android builds built into a number of different formats from tablets to smartphones to e-readers. The level of fragmentation that they have allowed by permitting OEM’s to choose from 5 different OS revisions (Éclair, FroYo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich) and their acknowledgement of their lack of revision control is staggering. By permitting 5 different OS revisions to be actively used at the same time, creates a great deal of variation and compatibility issues with applications in the Android Market.

While they may have the lion share of the handheld market, Google’s Android is floundering, struggling for direction. It needs Google to step up and define that direction in order to bring solidity and stability to the platform. If they truly want to beat Apple at their own game, this is what they need to do. Period.

Come back next time, and we’ll try to figure out where the heck Microsoft is in all of this.

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New line of Dell products for 2011

Dell introduced an expanded consumer portfolio featuring next-generation 4G capable devices and high-definition 3D-capable laptops that deliver the ultimate in mobility, entertainment and gaming experiences for just about everyone.

The new products include:

  • Streak 7, Dell’s first 4G tablet on T-Mobile’s blazing fast new 4G network;
  • Venue, Dell’s new unlocked GSM Google Android 2.2 smartphone;
  • A new XPS-branded laptop with full-resolution 3D screen; and
  • New Alienware 3D capable gaming systems

In addition to the distinctive new solutions, Dell today announced it is extending its innovative Dell Stage software interface across its entire consumer product portfolio. The move provides a unified experience across Dell’s consumer PC mobile devices and makes it easier to access and share music, movies and photos. Dell also announced it is significantly expanding its popular Mobility Hub on Dell.com, which lets people find the perfect mobile product for their lifestyle.

Dell Streak 7: Gather Around the Family Tablet
The new Dell Streak 7 with Android 2.2 is Dell’s first 4G tablet to take full advantage of T-Mobile’s 4G network, the nation’s largest. With T-Mobile’s 4G connectivity and the Dell Stage user experience, the Streak 7 is the ultimate social-networking and entertainment hub for families with kids and students, putting your favorite friends, music and movies front and center.

Venue: Your Personal Express Lane to, Well, Everything
The Venue with Android 2.2 is the perfect one-touch, unlocked GSM smartphone providing instant access to everything you love. With its pre-loaded Stage software and 8-megapixel camera, on-the-go students, mobile professionals and active social networkers can quickly capture and share life’s moments with just about anyone.

Dell.com Mobility Hub: Your Mobile Super Store
Adding to its ever-expanding selection of mobility products, services and accessories, Dell today also announced its popular Dell.com Mobility Hub now offers a wide array of mobility products from popular manufacturers, including Dell’s own solutions. The enhanced hub – redesigned to offer a better shopping and activation experience – offers Microsoft Windows Phone 7, Android and Blackberry products. All devices from the store now arrive ‘ready to use.’

XPS Laptop with HD 3D: Unrivaled Dimensions in Entertainment
Dell is taking the XPS brand and mobile entertainment to new heights with a new 17-inch laptop featuring an eye-popping, adrenaline-producing, high-definition 3D display (3D viewing requires NVIDIA NVision 3D glasses, sold separately). The new 3D capable XPS 17 joins Dell’s recently introduced line of XPS laptops featuring booming JBL sound, an integrated subwoofer and crystal clear high-definition screens and, of course, HD video streaming with Skype for the ultimate in HD camming.

For Every ‘Stage’ of Your Life: Instant Access to Content across All Devices
Recognizing that PCs, tablets and smartphones are rapidly becoming the platform of choice for entertainment, Dell today announced it is extending its popular Dell Stage software across the company’s consumer portfolio. The move gives people simpler, faster access to their favorite content – from music, to movies to TV shows. Dell Stage also makes it easier to access and share photos, home movies and more across social communities like Flickr and Facebook.

Extreme Gaming that Pushes the Limits
Alienware, Dell’s premium high-performance PC gaming brand, is continuing its universal domination with sizzling new additions that take extreme gaming to new heights and ratchet up the hottest gaming system lineup in the industry.

The new M17x is Alienware’s first 3D-capable gaming laptop, offering a realistic, lifelike, mobile gaming experience in a 17-inch display (3D capability requires optional 120Hz w/3D Bundle WideFHD WLED LCD display and NVIDIA graphics card). With its available full HD 120Hz 3D display, the new M17x offers eye-popping stereoscopic viewing for today’s most realistic gaming and mind-blowing 3D Blu-ray movie experiences.

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Aviosoft Video Converter comes with a good looking and easy to use interface

Aviosoft Video Converter comes with a good looking and easy to use interface. You will not be taken through useless steps until you reach the final result. A simple drag-and-drop and a click will start the convertion process. From the beginning you can choose the desired format (for iPhone, iPod, iPad, PSP, Blackberry, 3GP or XVID). All the formats are by default on standard settings but this will not stop you from actually changing the resolution, the sample rate, the video bitrate or the audio bitrate of each format. You can also crop the main video file or download any video clip from YouTube. It’s a way of justifying the free aspect of the application.

read full review download Aviosoft Video Converter

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