Blackberry Ceases Phone Manufacturing

The only thing that I’m wondering, is why it took so long…

BlackBerry logo

Over the past five years, I’ve been very bearish on Blackberry and RIM. I’ve covered this extensively when I was Managing Editor at BYTE, the reincarnation of BYTE Magazine. Here’s a quick sample:

I have also covered this topic somewhat on

  • There was no 3rd Party Developer support
  • No available apps
  • No software store
  • No eco system
  • No way to manage, play or obtain digital content

However, I don’t want to spend the next 300 or so words harping on or reiterating what I’ve been saying for the past four to five years. Instead, I want to talk about what Blackberry has to offer the market now:

A fire sale on used office furniture…

If Blackberry is no longer making phones, their mantra of, “the world wants our devices and services because they love our keyboards,” isn’t true. No one seems to care or give a hoot about their keyboards. If they did, then they would have flocked to those devices and the iPhone or the latest Android device wouldn’t be as popular as those devices are.

The truth is no one gives a rat’s patootie about a physical keyboard in 2016. It’s all about apps and a functioning ecosystem, and Blackberry doesn’t have one. So what do they have..??

Messaging services.

Messaging services… which are no longer driving the industry. Messaging services… which now have a number of non-proprietary alternatives which don’t cost an arm and a leg. Messaging services… which now don’t require dedicated hardware or a certified, dedicated IT resource to manage. Messaging services… which now have other encrypted alternatives like Apple’s iMessage or Facebook’s WhatsApp. Messaging services… which at last examination, still ran through a centralized hub in Toronto, and were subject to outages if the messaging network were compromised or was negatively impacted by some kind of hardware failure or internet service interruption.

So yeah… if some, part or all of the above is true, just WHAT does Blackberry have to offer the world..?? As I said – a fire sale on used office furniture.

In truth, Blackberry has very little to offer anyone at this point. Now that their hardware is gone, the only thing they have left is their messaging services and software products, and I have NO idea who would really be interested in those.

While thinking about that point, I immediately went to folks like a state government or the Federal Government; but they can make use of existing mail server platforms like Exchange for email and use, for example, WhatsApp, to send and receive secure messages (though I doubt that the FBI, CIA or NSA will actually USE WhatsApp…). Some may argue, that there isn’t even a need for secure messaging in Washington DC; but I digress… My point is there are cheap, affordable alternatives to Blackberry’s software offerings, on platforms with hardware people actually want to use.

Blackberry’s business plan options now are bleak. According to an article by Roger Cheng, of C|NET and published on MSN Money,

“Even BlackBerry’s final Hail Mary, its embrace of the Android operating system, was the brainchild of veteran phone executive Ron Louks. He assumed that wider access to Android apps, combined with its reputation for security, would turn some heads in the corporate world. It did not. The first Android-powered phone, the BlackBerry Priv, was a high-end premium device that landed with a thud… Louks left BlackBerry in May.

…[Blackberry’s CEO, John] Chen believes BlackBerry will live on, but focused solely on software.”

Software that no one is really going to want…

The world has moved on from Blackberry. Blackberry is a messaging dinosaur that had is day and was driven out to extinction by the meteor that is the both the iPhone and is every Android device…ever. The enterprise has moved on to messaging alternatives that more easily allowed IT mail administrators to manage any device that every Tom, Dick and Harry brought to the office via their company’s BYOD initiative.

The big problem here is that Blackberry is dead. The world – including me – has been predicting and foretelling the world of its demise over the past four to five years. It really seems as though John Chen is the ONLY person in the world that either didn’t get the news or completely ignored it.

It just seems a little silly, really.

If you have Blackberry stock, now is the time to dump it before the fire sale begins; because when that starts… it will already be too late. I don’t know what kind of real value Blackberry intellectual property really has right now, or whom would want to purchase it.

As of this writing, Blackberry’s stock (NASDAQ: BBRY) was at 8.29, down 0.04. Its high over the past year was 9.42, back near the beginning of 2016. It’s all time high was 138.87 near December of 2008. Looking at those graphs, the stock seems to be on life support at best.

The party is clearly over. It’s just the host that doesn’t seem to know…

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Five Most Popular Mobile Software Apps

We’ve done our homework over here and have pulled together the most popular mobile software downloads for you.

Introduction
As a mobile device expert I can tell you one thing for certainty about ALL mobile devices and smartphones- they’re only as good as the mobile software available for them. If you recall, I addressed this in part in an article on what I think will make or break the iPad Pro. To be very honest, its true for all mobile devices – Software. Popular mobile software will make or break any mobile platform.

With software so important to the mobile devices that it runs on, it’s important to insure you have the right apps for your device. I’ve spent some time, pulling together five (5) of the most popular mobile software downloads, regardless of platform and brought them here, in no particular order, for your consideration.

The Top Five Apps

Maps.Me for Android
maps.meGPS apps are perhaps some of the best mobile software around. Maps.Me is an Android software download that provides turn by turn directions anywhere in the world. It supports over 345 countries and islands. Its maps are highly detailed, and contain more information than any other map or GPS app anywhere. It has millions of points of interest including restaurants, gas/ petrol stations, ATM machines, etc. It will work both online and offline, provided you have enough local storage available so you won’t incur any data roaming charges. It’s also fast, and free.


UC Browser
uc browserIf you remember, we reviewed UC Browser a few years ago. If you get the opportunity and if you’re interested in the app, you should give it a read, as it has a really complete breakdown of what the app can and cannot do.

UC Browser is an Android app that will allow you to surf the internet. Its adaptable configuration helps you adjust the way your browsing works under different networking connections and conditions. This helps manage bandwidth usage, and ultimately, data costs. The browser can also preload pages, download files in the background, and has an add-on platform that can extend the functionality of the app.


Kingsoft Office for Android
kingsoft officeOne of the most important apps I have on many of my mobile devices – tablets, laptops, and to an extent, smartphones – is a productivity suite. Kingsoft Office for Android is a free android software download. With it, you can create and edit rich text documents, spreadsheets and presentations. The suite is also fully Microsoft Office compatible.

Having the ability to edit content on the go is an important ability. Its why many of us carry mobile devices. Having this ability on your Android smartphone or tablet may just make life easier or save your bacon when you need to edit something in a pinch.


Whatsapp
whatsappWhatsapp is perhaps the most used mobile application in the world, especially outside the US. With Android mobile software being the most popular type of mobile download, Whatsapp for Android is very popular. With Whatsapp being cross platform, meaning that it’s also very popular on iOS, its literally available and used on nearly every mobile device on the planet.

The app allows you to send and receive instant messages over a secure network. With it you can send text, pictures, audio notes, and video messages at no other cost than the cost of the app.

Let’s talk about that secure network thing. Whatsapp doesn’t function on its own network, it functions on any internet signal. However, it does employ encryption that can’t be broken, meaning that your messages can’t be read by “inquiring minds [that] want to know. Private and secure communications is what Whatsapp is all about.


Mobomarket
MoboMarketYour mobile device doesn’t do too much without the software that runs on it. When it comes to Android, you actually have a choice of stores to buy software from. You can use Google Play. You can use the Amazon Store; or you can use Mobomarket.

MoboMarket for Android is a third-party Android Market App that really focuses on free Android games and apps. MoboMarket has a geo-location based recommendation system, helping you discover the apps that you’re interested in most. Apps updated in MoboMarket are updated in real time, giving you full control of the apps installed on your mobile device.


Conclusion
Android mobile software downloads are something that every Android user wants and needs. Getting the right software for your device is something that everyone wants and needs. With Android being the most popular mobile operating system, powering some of the most popular devices in the world, having the best of the mobile software available is what it’s all about. The apps that I’ve included here are some of the best… some of the most popular mobile software downloads on Soft32. If you’re an Android user (or an iOS user in the case of Whatsapp), you need to check these out and see if these mobile apps are the right ones for you.

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WhatsApp Blocked in Brazil due to Criminal Case

Facebook won’t turn over data, so a judge shut it down…

whatsapp-logo-iconeA Brazilian judge has blocked Facebook’s WhatsApp from operation inside the country and has authorized a fine of up to R$50,000 ($15,273 USD) per day while Facebook refuses to comply with a secret judicial order to provide data in a criminal case, according to Reuters. This is apparently the third such incident involving the popular IP-based messaging app since December of 2015.

The judicial order is officially being kept secret, according to Reuters; and is speculated to be related to conversations involving a number of drug trafficking cases currently under investigation. This action, however, appears to be severe, as its open ended. WhatsApp has been shut down indefinitely, and the outage affects more than 100 million Brazilian users.

WhatsApp is popular in Brazil and other countries due to steep local cellular carrier fees.

The big issue here is that WhatsApp’s data is encrypted. This case is similar to the recent case here in the US between Apple and the FBI. The Brazilian government wants to know what information was traded between suspects and is expecting WhatsApp to provide the unencrypted data.

Unfortunately, there’s a problem with the order(s) coming from the office of Brazilian Judge Baniela Barbosa Assunção de Souza from the state of Rio de Janeiro – Facebook doesn’t store the encrypted data on their servers,

“As we’ve said in the past, we cannot share information we don’t have access to. We hope to see this block lifted as soon as possible,” said a WhatsApp spokesperson in a public statement.

Brazil’s attorney general’s office has restated its position that judges who suspend WhatsApp for failure to provide data are incorrectly interpreting a 2014 law meant to provide a legal framework for the internet.

Brazil has five (5) major cellular carriers: Telefonica Brasil SA, América Móvil SAB’s Claro, TIM Participações SA, Oi SA and Nextel Participações SA. None of them had an immediate comment regarding this suspension.

I think they are waiting for either the other shoe to drop or for a higher judicial authority to lift the suspension. Since the nation’s attorney general doesn’t support this type of suspension, I suspect that it won’t last very long, and that any fine levied against Facebook/ WhatsApp will be negated, but we’ll have to wait and see.

What are your thoughts on this development? Should WhatsApp provide any information at all? Should they show the judge that they don’t have the messages? Why don’t you give me your thoughts in the discussion area below and tell me what you think?

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Facebook Acquires VR firm Oculus for $2B

Facebook is on an acquisition binge. This one has me scratching my head…

Oculus

Facebook has been on an acquisition binge recently. Just the other day, it announced that it would buy VR developer Oculus VR for $2.0B. A few weeks ago, it announced it was acquiring the mobile messaging application WhatsApp for $19.0B. Apparently, it has cash to burn…

The Oculus deal includes $400M in cash, and $1.6B in stock. If all goes well for Oculus, post-acquisition, its employees could receive another $300M in incentive bonuses if specific, undisclosed targets are reached. Oculus was made famous due to its crowd-funded start on Kickstarter, where it received approximately $2.4M in funding.

While it has yet to release a product, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg indicated his company’s interest and commitment in the organization by saying that, “mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus’ technologies could “change the way we work, play and communicate.” Facebook is planning to use the acquired company and its virtual reality technology to expand its “communications, media, entertainment, education and other areas.”

While Facebook is happy with the development, the rest of the world – or at least part of it – clearly isn’t. Markus Persson, the creator of the popular block-building game, Minecraft, said he WAS in talks with Oculus to bring the two together, but has since killed the deal. According to Persson, “Facebook creeps me out.”

Other developers are taking similar actions. One developer said, “I am really upset by this. I had nothing but grief as a developer of Facebook titles, and the direction and actions of Facebook are not ones I can support.” It’s not all doom and gloom, however, some think that Facebook could help Oculus monetize the Rift and make it successful.

Personally, I have my doubts. Weird Facebook stuff aside, I am seriously wondering how a social networking company, even one as successful as Facebook, can marry its core competencies with software that requires VR hardware AND your computer or other computing device in order to create an integrated experience. To me, this just seems really clunky and doomed to failure.

Currently, the user integration paradigm – computing device (PC, smartphone or tablet), web browser or app and user – don’t provide for an elegant way to incorporate any other kind of hardware or interim device. From my perspective, the big time of Facebook games like Farm Town or Farmville are long gone. That was SO 7 years (2007) ago… Like the WhatsApp acquisition, I have no idea what Facebook intends to do, or what they think they’re going to gain, other than, perhaps to keep some other company from acquiring it.

With WhatsApp, its purchase was redundant. They already have Facebook Messenger; and have indicated that they don’t have any plans on bringing it and Facebook Messenger together, either now or in the future. In my mind, that acquisition was purposefully executed to keep Google (and its competing social network, Google+) from getting their hands on the intellectual property.

What do YOU think of this development? Is this something that works for you, or is it something creepy? I know I always ask you guys for your opinion, but this time I really would like you to chime in. What do you think? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Tell me what you think in the comments section below and let’s see if we can sort this one out.

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Recover and restore your WhatsApp data with Tenorshare WhatsApp Recovery

It set a record, that’s for sure. Facebook recently entered into an agreement to purchase WhatsApp for $19B USD, and totally stunned the world. Google was interested as well, but despite their offer to pay $10M to WhatsApp to let them know if anyone was interested in acquiring WhatsApp, Google missed out on the sale. Its definitely one for the record books.

WAR-01

WhatsApp is very much like Apple’s iMessage. It allows users to send and receive text messages, pictures, etc. from your iDevice of choice including iPhone 5s/5c/5/4s, iPad 2/4/Air and mini, as well as iPod Touch 4th and 5th generation, with just a few clicks. It doesn’t matter how the data was lost – deletion, failed jailbreak, bad update, etc. – WhatsApp Recovery will bring it back. You can recover data directly from the device, or from a saved iTunes backup.

The cool thing about the app, aside from the fact that it can save your WhatsApp bacon, is that it can recover just about any app related data, down to the conversation level. It doesn’t matter if it was a group or individual conversation. It also supports iTunes 11 and iOS 7.x. its smart recovery options will automatically detect your devices and iTunes backup.

Tenorshare makes some really great recovery software. It’s the kind of software that helps you sleep well at night, knowing that your data, regardless of where it is or might be, is safe and recoverable, despite what might happen to your iDevice.

The software runs on both Mac and Windows operating systems. The biggest issue I have had with WhatsApp Recovery (or other Tenorshare apps) is that the recovery actions don’t work well with VM apps that capture USB port functions when specific devices are connected to your computer.

download Tenorshare WhatsApp Recovery

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Facebook to Acquire WhatsApp

This has to be about users and not technology, resources or anything else…

I saw this the other day and it really made my jaw drop. I wasn’t surprised that Facebook made the acquisition. I was surprised at how much Facebook paid for the organization. The total deal is worth $19B – $4B in cash, $12B in stock and $3B in restricted stock for the founders and other employees.  The restricted shares vest over period of four or so years.  The deal also provides WhatsApp founder Jan Koum with a seat on Facebook’s Board of Directors.

9344676230_20ecda4b6b_o-e1392849081655

WhatsApp is an instant messaging app that sends messages over a data connection as opposed to GSM or CDMA.  Because the app sends text messages as data over your smartphone’s data connection, they don’t count against your text messaging limit.  The app claims to have over 450M active users, and is signing up users at the rate of one million a month.  That’s a lot of users…

WhatsApp is similar to Apple’s iMessages platform which sends text messages via an iPhone’s data connection and not a cellular connection to avoid being double charged for the message.

Google also made an offer of $10B for the company, but was ultimately turned down.  Google wanted to make certain that it didn’t get surprised with the WhatsApp deal as it did with Instagram when Facebook snatched it out from under them in 2012.  They were so determined to insure that this didn’t happen that they were willing to pay millions for to WhatsApp in what’s being called a “right of notice” offer. I can’t find out if that agreement was actually consummated or not.  However, Google wanted the right to be notified if another company entered into acquisition talks with WhatsApp; and again, they were willing to pay millions for that. In this case, it likely would have been a waste of money for Google.  Facebook’s offer was nearly double what Google had proposed.

From what I’ve been able to see so far, Facebook plans to leave WhatsApp alone. They did the same thing with Instagram when they acquired them in 2012. They purchased the asset, with the intent of doing – something – with it later.  What that is, and how Facebook might actually make money from or with that asset has yet to be determined.

When I heard about this, I thought, “well, WhatsApp is going to be the new Facebook Messenger,”  but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s own text messaging app, isn’t going anywhere.  Some analysts think the acquisition supports Facebook’s strategy to be dominant in the mobile world.  They want to be a go-to company for mobile apps and messaging, especially in emerging markets.  Some analysts thing this is a survival tactic.  WhatsApp is strong in Europe and South America, where it enjoys approximately 80% market penetration in countries like Brazil, Germany, Portugal and Spain.  It is, in fact, the largest mobile messaging service in India, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa, according to Engadget.

What do you think? Is this a good buy for Facebook?  Will WhatsApp really continue to function independently as Instagram does, or will Facebook actively try to do something with the app sooner rather than later?  I’d really like to hear what everyone else thinks.  Why don’t you give me your thoughts on the matter in the discussion area, below?

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