Why a Microsoft – BlackBerry Partnership Can Work for Everyone

MicroBerry? BlackSoft? Neither! A partnership where Microsoft and BlackBerry exist as separate entities, but complement each others’ strengths is the best outcome for these two tech giants.

BlackBerry

– Get out of hardware; Nokia makes great hardware. A partnership where BlackBerry licenses BB10 to Microsoft so that it can be used on Nokia hardware would help both companies by freeing up resource for BlackBerry to focus on software, and by gaining Microsoft’s presence in the mobile market.

– Focus on software – create Windows 10 with QNX architecture and Windows Phone 10 with the best features of BB10 and WP8. This new mobile and desktop software would be used on exciting new Nokia hardware for phones, and third-party hardware for laptops, tablets (like current Windows 8 devices).

– Enhance current BB services like BES10 for enterprise device management and create the largest, most secure platform for this market. Microsoft is used in most businesses in one way or another, whether it’s in the set up of a business’ servers, email accounts, desktop/laptop devices, or cloud storage solutions. Tying their services into BlackBerry’s secure BES10 system would help expand both company’s presence in the enterprise market.

Microsoft

– Use presence in enterprise market to promote and expand BlackBerry’s Mobile Device Management (MDM) systems.

– DOMINATE enterprise almost immediately by tying BES10 into Microsoft services like Office 365, MS Exchange Active Sync, MS Servers, etc. Gain the reputation of ultimate security for businesses, as well as consumers.

– Improve the XBOX gaming experience by tying the XBOX OS into the Windows 10 QNX architecture for seamless integration between devices. Build XBOX OS as a layer of Windows 10 that can be accessed on any Windows 10 device – seamlessly. Use XBOX as the in-home connection to Windows 10 and integrate XBOX communication with the BB10 Hub so that your XBOX experience is as mobile as you are. Turn the XBOX device into a true home networking system with access to television content, networked files, apps, AND gaming.

Together

– create the ultimate solution to Mobile Business Management (MBM – – new term coined by the HeneyBlog)by creating the perfect synergy between mobile devices, business PCs and servers, and cloud services.

– Merge BBM and Skype to create the best mobile IM software on the market. Skype is miles ahead of BBM in terms of video/voice calling users, whereas BBM is miles ahead of Skype in terms of mobile Instant Messaging services. Working together, they can be the best consumer AND enterprise solution to messaging, conferencing and VOIP calling.

Extending into the Future

– expand on Microsoft’s Sync (Ford) for the ultimate in-car experience by utilizing QNX to its full potential. Self-driving cars, full mobile connections while driving, extending the mobile experience to the automobile.

– License BB10 to other partners to extend the experience to in-home services and appliances like televisions, etc.

Pros

– BlackBerry keeps software-related and R&D jobs in Canada and possibly brings in some additional jobs from Microsoft’s Windows team to work on the next iteration of Windows based on QNX architecture.

– BlackBerry maintains its presence in mobile (and could grow based on exciting new hardware that would come) and grows its presence in enterprise by attaching itself to Microsoft’s current reputation with small, medium and large businesses.

– Microsoft uses its recent acquisition of Nokia to build hardware that competes with the other top players in mobile. Microsoft extends its presence in Enterprise by offering an all-in-one solution for secure MDM using BES10 and existing MS services.

– Microsoft expands its presence in enterprise and in mobile

– Canadian economy doesn’t lose another tech giant and promotes growth in the technology field for future entrepreneurs.

Cons

BlackBerry shifts solely to software, which could mean further job cuts (but should eventually create more jobs as the company expands to new services like PCs and MS Sync)

– Microsoft makes a drastic change to the architecture of Windows and takes a giant risk if they can’t execute it properly. They stake their reputation on QNX as being their OS of the future.

Final Thoughts

Though all of this sounds amazing, it is hard to imagine it all actually happening. In a perfect world, I think it already would have happened.

– Microsoft would have realized that teaming up with BlackBerry and QNX to create the Windows Phone OS would open their services to more users at launch, however, it has taken several years and iterations of Windows Phone for Microsoft to make any serious dent in the mobile industry.

– Microsoft would have realized that Windows built using QNX architecture would be an OS that would be second to none in terms of speed, efficiency and adaptability.

– BlackBerry would have realized that their focus should have been on the beauty of the QNX-based software, instead of focusing on releasing multiple BBOS devices that all did basically the same things. BlackBerry could have focused purely on software and BB10 could have launched much sooner.

– BlackBerry would have realized that consumers want exciting devices that not only connect them to their other devices and services, but that also extend their personal lives through multimedia apps, games and social networks.

Yes, it is true that none of this has happened yet. However, there is nothing preventing this from happening in the future. A deal where both companies exist on their own, while providing products and services that complement each others’ offerings, is a deal that consumers and businesses alike would truly benefit from.

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The Blue Jays Need to Show Patience with Romero… Here’s Why

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If the Blue Jays want their 2013 season to go as they have planned, they’re going to need five solid starting pitchers in their rotation. Today, they have stated that Ricky Romero is going to be filling their number 5 slot when the season opens.

This is a BIG mistake, not only for the team, but for the future of Romero’s career.

Back in 1998, one of the greatest Blue Jays pitchers of all-time was taking the mound for the first time. In his second career start, Roy Halladay nearly pitched a no-hitter, broken up by a solo home run with two outs in the 9th inning. Calling this a tragedy would be an understatement for a rookie pitcher so early on in his career. Halladay’s first couple of seasons went alright and, similarly to Ricky Romero, he was thought of as the Blue Jays future Ace.

That was until Halladay’s year 2000 season. He was terrible. He pitched to the worst ERA in MLB history for any pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched. His career looked to be over before it had even begun.

Romero is looking to be on a similar path. His first couple of seasons were promising, though injuries forced them to be somewhat incomplete. In 2009, Romero could have easily been named Rookie of the Year after a very good season, and then went on to have decent 2010 and 2011 seasons afterwards.

This is where the similarities stop between Halladay’s and Romero’s careers. In my opinion, the Blue Jays organization made a fantastic decision regarding Halladay’s career, and are making a terrible decision with Romero’s.

Roy Halladay was sent down to the minor’s at the beginning of the 2001 season. This move would normally be considered shattering to a pitcher’s confidence, but I view it as a kick in the ass to get to work. Halladay knew his stuff wasn’t good enough to continue in the major’s and his work ethic, along with some great coaching led him to develop new pitches and perfect the ones that had caused him previous troubles.

Ricky Romero, though, has yet to be optioned to the minor’s, despite his constant struggles. Many believe that sending him down would be the same as calling his career in the major’s finished, but I believe it’s exactly what he needs right now.

Last season, Romero was forced to carry the load for an injury-plagued Blue Jays pitching squad. The responsibility proved too much for the young pitcher and he struggled with almost every start. I chalked last season’s losses up to Romero choking under the pressure of being number one, but now, I’m not so sure.

This past off-season, the Blue Jays made more deals than I think they’ve ever made in any previous off-season – – at least more meaningful deals than ever before. Their biggest improvements were made in the starting pitcher role. Adding Dickey, Buerle and Johnson were incredible deals by Blue Jays standards. These deals left the final two spots in the rotation up for grabs, one promised to Morrow (for good reason), the other to Romero (for no good reason).

Romero has gone from opening day starter to 5th man in the rotation in a very short period of time. Though deserved, I’m sure Romero’s confidence has taken a stiff hit, as displayed by his poor spring training outings. Are we really left to believe that sending him to the minor’s would shake his confidence even more? I don’t believe that would be the case at ALL.

In the minor’s, Romero could work on his pitches and gain back the confidence he has lost. Being 5th man in the rotation does not change the caliber of batters he is going to face in every start he makes this season, nor will it change the importance of each of those games to the Blue Jays season. There is no good reason to believe that being relegated to the 5th slot in the rotation should help Ricky Romero.

The Blue Jays need to look at their past, as well as their future. Their strategy with Roy Halladay helped groom him into a future Hall of Famer, but their moves with Ricky Romero could shatter whatever confidence he has left and subsequently end his professional career. The similarities between Halladay and Romero are remarkable, but the differences in their organization’s decisions with them could prove to be the dagger in a potentially great career for Ricky Romero.

 

PS credit for the above image to @Koorlpix. Check out Koolrpix.com to learn how to do great mashups of images in minutes. It’s a great tool, as well as a fun toy!

One Month Later… BlackBerry Z10 HeneyView

BlackBerry10

One month ago, I got my hands on the newest product from BlackBerry – – the Z10. The Z10 is a great looking device, has a vibrant and crisp screen, is the perfect size for both typing and viewing content, feels great in the hand…. but that is about all I have to say about the Z10.

That is, the device itself isn’t what needs to be reviewed. You see, the new BlackBerry devices don’t need flashy hardware and 8-core processors to keep users happy, nor will they ever grab any headlines for having the most advanced hardware on the market. Unlike Android, BlackBerry 10 is an operating system designed to run on hardware that doesn’t need to be top-of-the-line. The review I’m about to do is for the real product that launched a month ago… BlackBerry 10.

BlackBerry 10 (as displayed on the first BB10-capable device, the Z10) is a quick and efficient operating system that never lags. When I say never, I mean not when 2 apps are running, not when 8 apps are running, not when an OS update is performing in the background… never. BlackBerry users from years past will be blown away by this because lag was something OS7 and prior users had grown used to. The old BBOS dragged and took its time through even some of the most minor tasks. It still got them done (and done well), but the speed at which it accomplished these things was always what suffered. For example, I think all BBOS 7 and prior users can agree that upgrading apps was a painful process. Not only did it take several minutes and bogged down the phone throughout the process, but most updates required full device reboots that took upwards of 3 minutes or more. BlackBerry 10 can basically be viewed as the complete opposite experience. Upgrading apps is as painless as turning Wifi on and off.

Let’s get to some of the actual features of BlackBerry 10 and how they work on the Z10. The first, and I believe most important feature, is what’s known as the BlackBerry Hub. This is your one and only inbox on your device. Now, this doesn’t mean things are hard to find because they’re all mashed together in one spot, it just means things are all easily located in one spot. The Hub contains all the email accounts, Twitter messages, Facebook messages, LinkIn messages, calls, voicemails, and notifications on your device. You can view and reply to Twitter and Facebook messages from within the Hub; opening up the individual app is redundant.  The Hub is particularly great for two reasons:

1) It’s always open and accessible with one simple gesture (Swipe up and right) from any app, at any time, while doing anything. Imagine you’re in the middle of reading a great article and your phone vibrates. Instead of either closing the article temporarily or having an annoying pop-up while reading, BlackBerry 10 let’s you peak into the Hub and see if this message is worthy of interrupting your article. If it isn’t, just release the gesture, and you’re back reading the article without ever leaving it.

2) It is easily customized and organized based on your needs. For me, I don’t want my work email in my main Hub view, so through Hub Management, I’m able to make it only accessible by clicking the email account and then viewing all its content. What this means is that my work email is now separate from all my other content in my Hub. Another example of this is phone calls. When I first got my Z10, everything was showing up in my main Hub view, including several phone calls. Once I played with my Hub Management, I was able to remove Calls from the main view, but I’m still able to easily select and view them with a quick and easy swipe into the Hub Menu.

Another great feature of BlackBerry 10 is the keyboard. I believe this will be true for the Q10 (physical keyboard BB10 device), but I’ll focus on the virtual keyboard found on the Z10.

Coming from over 10 previous physical keyboard BlackBerry devices, I was almost convinced the Z10 would not be for me simply because it lacked a physical keyboard. Boy, was I wrong. The Z10 keyboard is phenomenal! I am as quick or quicker than I was on my previous BlackBerry devices, and to me, that says a lot. The keyboard has learned my way of typing/speaking over the last 4 weeks and most words I use are showing up above the 2nd or 3rd letter of each word I type. The “flick” up is turning out to be an absolute genius move for one-handed, on-the-go typers. I use it constantly while walking outside, and it proves to be almost as fast as full two-handed typing. I am genuinely impressed.

BlackBerry 10 isn’t perfect though. Here are some areas I believe BlackBerry needs to improve on in order to make BlackBerry 10 a true success:

1) Active Frames – – force developers to make better use of Active Frames and make them “InterActive” Frames so that the information they display can be of more benefit. Active Frames are the minimized states of running apps. One thing BlackBerry 10 does better than any other platform is multi-tasking, and making use of minimized apps is how it does it. Minimized apps show up as larger rectangles and, if programmed properly, can display the most vital information about the running app (for example, the minimized calendar app shows the next upcoming appointment, and not just a micro-sized calendar that is minimized). For the most part, developers that actually make use of the Active Frame philosophy are few and far between. I believe they can be somewhat useful, but until they’re adopted by all developers, they might as well just be considered minimized apps.

2) Notifications – – so far, BlackBerry 10 doesn’t allow full customization of notifications like previous BlackBerry’s allowed. For example, I used to have my BBMs set to vibrate with two short vibes, emails would be two long vibes, work emails would be one long vibe, etc. This may seem trivial, but when a phone is in your pocket at the movies or somewhere else private, it’s good to know (just by feel) what message has arrived. As it stands now, BlackBerry 10 doesn’t have the custom vibrate settings I became accustomed to, but hopefully it is coming with an update.

3) PlayBook support – – so far, BlackBerry has been pretty quiet about BB10 on the PlayBook, other than saying it is coming at some point this year. As a PlayBook user and supporter, I’m anxiously waiting for BB10 to arrive, not only to see how it runs on the PlayBook, but to see how it interacts with the Z10. BlackBerry Bridge is a fantastic app on OS7 devices, but BlackBerry hasn’t carried over most of its features to the Z10 – – yet. I believe once the PlayBook gets BB10, we should see all those features return, if not more, and the PlayBook will offer a great demonstration for the power of BB10 – – ability to run seemlessly on a two+ year old device running a dual core 1GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM. It is coming, we just don’t know exactly when yet and that is not helping current PlayBook owners relax.

Common Misconceptions about BlackBerry 10

1) The battery life is just fine! Yes, LTE can be a battery hog, but the new BlackBerry is SO fast compared to previous BlackBerry devices, that LTE won’t be needed for previous BB users. For those coming from Android or iOS, you may need LTE to keep yourself happy while browsing, and with it, you’ll find similar battery life to what you experienced on your previous phone. But for those coming from OS7 and prior BlackBerry devices, just use 4G and you’ll be as happy as ever. Your battery will last the full day (or more), and your phone and browser will be faster than you’ve ever seen before. It really is a very quick and MUCH improved browsing experience.

2) Apps don’t suck! Sure, BB10 doesn’t have ALL the apps that other platforms have, but remember, it’s only one month old! The fact that it has ANY apps that other platforms have is a great feat unto itself! More apps are coming, and as BB10 sales increase and the devices are launched in the US, more and more developers will create apps for the platform and we’ll see the “app-gap” dwindle and become a non-issue. I’m very confident in the fact that BlackBerry has made it very simple and accessible for developers to create (or port) their apps to the BlackBerry 10 platform and as long as developers see good sales numbers and adoption of the platform, they should have no reason not to make their apps available for BlackBerry 10 devices.

BlackBerry 10 isn’t perfect, but it’s important to remember that it’s only a month old. Features and updates will roll out (heck, one fairly significant update was released no less than 3 weeks after the device was launched) that will continue to mold the BlackBerry 10 devices into even better BlackBerry’s. BlackBerry 10 takes the smartphone from being an “app-opener” to a platform that is literally fun to use and explore. Swiping, flicking, and peaking are gestures that keep the user entertained even while doing the most simple of tasks. They add to the experience and usability of the platform, making it the most efficient mobile platform ever.

The potential for the expansion of BlackBerry 10 is endless, from laptop extensions to automobile accessories, BB10 can create the bridge between devices that previously had little to no connection to each other. The QNX back-bone that runs BlackBerry 10 is where BB10’s true future potential lies. Device to Device communication, and the “Internet of Things” are what BlackBerry is truly after. The fact that the Z10 is a great phone and the fact that the PlayBook is a great tablet are facts that just scratch the surface at the potential of BlackBerry 10. They show just how powerful QNX can be when used correctly and if BlackBerry 10 can gain enough sales, cash, and users through its first two devices (Z10 and Q10), watch out for what BlackBerry has in its plans for the next couple of years. Phones and tablets are not their end game and they know huge profits and expansion are waiting for them in other markets. If you like the idea of all devices around us being inter-connected and communicating with each other through little or no human input, then BlackBerry is in the best position to make this happen.

BlackBerry is back and BlackBerry 10 is here.

Here to stay… and expand.

The 7 inch iPod

The iPod was a device that took over the MP3 Player market when it first came out. Now, there is talk that the iPod is a redundant device because so many people choose to use their iPhones (or other perfectly functioning smartphones) for their music/media consumption.

Enter talk of an iPad Mini rumoured to come onto the scene to shake up the tablet market. A lower cost version of the iPad, it is set to compete head to head with other smaller tablets like the Nexus 7 and BlackBerry PlayBook.

My question is simple: What is the difference (other than screen size and internals) between the iPad and the iPod?

The answer… basically nothing.

When the iPhone came out, there was criticism that it was just an iPod with a cell phone built in and nothing more. Why would someone ditch their current phone and iPod just to have a newer iPod that was also a phone? It didn’t work well as a phone (dropped calls, bad reception, etc), but it sold millions.

When the iPad came out, there was criticism that it was just an iPhone with a bigger screen, and no cell phone built-in — or basically, a bigger iPod. It also didn’t have all the functionality that could/should have had (lacked cameras, OS was lacking multi-tasking capabilities as well as several other fairly ‘expected’ features).

Both products sold extremely well, though, and both products can be easily traced back to their big (little) brother, the iPod.

If Apple truly believes that 7 inches is too small for a tablet (as the late Jobs previously said), then perhaps it is in their best interest to market their 7 inch device as simply the new iPod. Apple needs not create a new 3-4 inch iPod because they make more money by selling iPhones that do the same things.

By sticking with the iPod name, they do not offend the legacy of their “genius” leader (they don’t sell a 7 inch ‘tablet’, but a 7 inch ‘media device’) and they also continue the legacy of the product that turned them from bottom-feeding computer company, to the current leader in mobile devices.

*this post was written completely from the BlackBerry PlayBook via BlackBerry Bridge.

 

Route for the Underdog… Why not?

Yesterday brought some rough news for BlackBerry enthusiasts – – another RIM delay and a rough outlook for the year ahead. Even though RIM is starting from the ground up with BB10, they are continually hammered by onlookers who keep cheering as the news worsens.

It boggles my mind why people route for RIM to fail. To have a such a negative attitude towards a company is such a disappointment and couldn’t be more of a waste of time and energy. Why are people hoping RIM will fail? Why is there such hatred between mobile operating systems?

I’ll be the first to admit I hate Apple and their products, namely the iPhone. I have no problem saying that, nor do I have a problem hoping that they one day fall from their imaginary pedestal on top of the mobile world. Do I want the company to fail and thousands of people to lose their jobs? Of course not. All I really want is for other products and their features to not be overshadowed by the brainwashing of the Fruit.

What is the reason behind my dislike of Apple? Well it goes back to its core functions and the fact that every other product on the market CAN do the same things, if not more. Apple’s only advantage is that app developers are choosing to develop for Apple before any other platform because Apple has the most number of users out there, so there is the greatest opportunity for growth and profits if you develop for Apple products (from a developer’s point of view). Other than apps, the core functions of any Apple product are at par with any Android or BlackBerry product on the market today. A great screen is just a great screen – – that will be matched or beat by the competition in the future. A company needs to stand out from the rest if it wants to be competitive. Apple did this by introducing the iPod and then iPhone. Simple devices that worked. It was the app developers that catapulted the Apple products to the next level.

I don’t want Apple to fail, though. Apple’s “innovations” have led to great competition from others and from this competition comes even more innovation. Even though Apple’s products may not be groundbreaking by any means, the fact is, the public still buys them. The public keeps sending the message that they like what Apple is producing. Since Apple has taken over the top spot, people are convinced that by getting an Apple product, they are immediately better off because they have access to millions and millions of apps and accessories. Herein lies the key to Apple’s success. They only make one product (iPhone) – – one product that millions of people decided was best. Since there is only one product, accessories become easier to sell, apps are easier to develop, and people get used to the form factor. Android’s key mistake is the number of devices available. You’ll never be able to go to Futureshop’s “Android” section (like you can for their Apple section) and select an accessory for your “HTC xyz” or your “Samsung abc”. The average person wants a simple solution, a simple way to integrate devices into their lives. This speaks to more than just a good OS, it speaks to the hardware itself.

So why hate on RIM? Why route for a successful Canadian company to fail? If RIM is successful, how does that negatively affect you in any way? If RIM can release a great product, should they not then be celebrated, instead of picked on for every minute detail? It just does not make sense to route against a company that is in rough waters. How does a RIM fail positively affect your life and why spend so much time cheering against them? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

RIM’s strategy going forward is to create many fewer devices than their current lineup of 10-20 different models. They know they need a keyboard version and a full touch version – – one aimed at those who feel they need a keyboard, one aimed at those who want the experience of a larger display that can really only be accomplished with a full touchscreen. This makes sense. Will there be a “BlackBerry” section for devices and accessories at Futureshop? Well, if it can take off, it’s not impossible to think that way. This would be advantageous to everyone involved. Third party vendors would see an increase in sales of accessories, manufacturers would have another company to build for, the public would have greater choice, and the possibility of future innovation increases exponentially.

I’ll end with this final thought. Why not route for the underdog? Better yet, why route against the underdog? What is there to accomplish by doing so? If RIM goes bankrupt, would your life be any better, or worse, or the same? Is there any good reason to WANT a company to fail? I don’t believe the negativity is needed. If anything, we should route for the underdog and hope that they can rise up and bring a great new product to market with features that encourage competition. It can only help everyone. It can only promote the smartphone market. It can only lead to more innovation from competitors and thus, better products in the future.

There is no reason to hope for RIM to fail. There is every reason to route for the underdog.

The Heneynomics of Gas Prices

First off, gas prices are high, but I’m willing to pay what is being charged because I have chosen to drive a decently fuel efficient car. The problem I have is with the economics of the price of fuel today. I believe there is a better way to ensure stability in the market for years to come. Here’s my reasoning — the Heney-nomics (the simplest language so that greatest number of people can understand):

FYI: All the stats are my own creation, based on my real-world experience.

In 2002 (10 years ago), the price of gas was around 75 cents/litre. Today though, we’re looking at prices around $1.20/litre and this is likely to go up in the hot summer months as the driving/traveling season gets underway. That’s an increase of over 60%.

Now, that’s all fine as long as the demand for fuel also increased proportionally (or if some outside factors affected the price… *cough* wars, bombings, etc). It can be said that there were several factors, other than demand, that could have played a role in the increase in fuel costs. Conflicts in the Middle East, hurricanes, regular maintenance to oil infrastructure, and inflation have all had an impact on the price of fuel.

When we look at demand in Canada and the USA though, we should be able to start seeing more calm increases to gas prices because of the increased fuel efficiency of vehicles. Are there more vehicles on the road now than in 2002? Very likely (again, no stats to refer to, just opinion and common sense). New vehicles are coming out with much greater fuel efficiency, which could in theory lead to a decrease in our demand for gas. In fact, if electric vehicles took off at all, we could see a significant thing happen in the relative short term… The demand may not decrease, but it could level off and increase at a much slower pace. If this happens (and no huge wars happen again for a few years), then we could see the price of gas decrease.

Is any of that likely to happen? Nope. The question though is why? Why can’t demand affect the price of gas in a significant way?

Demand is what drives supply. In simpler terms, if I want more of something, then there needs to be more of that something out there for me to buy. If I want less of something, then there ends up being more of that something available for others. The problem with this is that if oil reserves increased to ridiculous levels, the demand for it would likely increase as well because the price would likely decrease slightly. When I say slightly, I mean probably about 5 – 10 cents per litre at the pumps.

Can you imagine if the price of gas decreased 10 cents per litre overnight? Everyone with a vehicle and/or an extra gas can would line up at the gas stations and fill their tanks and containers to the brim, only to see the price go back up because they have increased the demand for fuel. An increase in demand means that prices need to increase so that the supply can catch back up with the demand.

It’s a never-ending cycle, only controlled by steadily increasing the cost so that demand doesn’t spike, nor does it decrease too much. By steadily increasing the price, consumers are given the false sense that prices are steady. Remember when gas was $1.00/litre? If it increased to $1.10 overnight, you’d lose your mind! However, a year or two later, $1.10 would look like quite the steal if it dropped overnight!

How do we fix the issue of gas prices? Fix gas prices. No really, fix the price of gas to a certain amount for a certain period of time. The government could fix the price of gas at $1.20/L for the year 2012. What does this do for the economy? Let’s say the price of oil drops significantly and the “real” price of gas drops below $1.20/L… the Canadian government makes more profits that it put towards infrastructure improvements and/or developing domestic resources and/or put it towards E-Stations for future electric vehicles, all while giving fuel companies a small profit “bonus”. What if the “real” price of gas increases above $1.20/L? Well the government could do a few different things, one of them being adjust the ratio of taxes to fuel company profits so that the government doesn’t have to adjust spending in other areas. Gas companies inevitably would lose profits, but we all know they make enough anyway and if the price decreases (which it probably would as it is in the best interest of the gas companies for it to go down), they would make a slightly greater profit.

Having a fixed cost for fixed period of time can be very beneficial to families and individuals alike. The rising cost of gas and the fluctuations it experiences do nothing but hurt the average person, even when the price decreases (because it will inevitably increase due to the increased demand).

BBM as a Corporate Messaging Tool for All Platforms

FYI:
This is an excerpt from my previous post, but after reading it again and receiving some feedback, I think this point needs to be in its own post. For the full post, please refer to Bright Days Ahead for RIM…

One way I believe RIM can better cement itself in the corporate world is by offering BlackBerry Messenger to any device on Mobile Fusion – including Android and iOS. While some may say this would be RIM giving up their #1 tool that has been keeping them afloat for so long, I think this could be a good way to promote BlackBerry to business users who may have previously strayed from their BlackBerrys in favour of a newer device. Here’s how I think this can happen:

By offering a slimmed-down version of BBM to non-BlackBerry users in Mobile Fusion (Android and iOS devices) that possibly only includes messaging and group messaging – and not all the features of BBM like photo and video sharing, broadcast messages, etc – business users could all have a common instant messaging platform to use and would hopefully eventually adopt it as the industry standard (leaving behind any 3rd party messaging apps). Once BB10 launches with its slew of new features and OS improvements, one can only assume that an updated BBM is also on the way – which would hopefully incorporate Video Chat. If the marketing for BB10 is done well, the corporate users may have enough incentive to switch back to BlackBerry, and their previous use of BBM on the other platforms would make for an easier transition. They would see that the new BBM includes many new features only accessible to BlackBerry handsets. At this point, they may have become so reliant on BBM as a corporate messaging tool, that they decide to switch back to BlackBerry to take advantage of the new features.

Now, I realize this may be far-fetched and there are a lot of assumptions in my argument, but I believe that securing the core user base (business users) needs to be at the heart of RIM’s short-term plans. They need to find ways to get BlackBerry back on top in the corporate world and offering BBM on other platforms may be the trick. I know BBM may be one thing that is keeping a lot of BlackBerry users on board and by offering it to other platforms may lead to a greater decrease in actual BlackBerry users, but this version of BBM would only be for enterprise users using Mobile Fusion (promotes Mobile Fusion) and it would be stripped down (to not include some features that regular consumers would still love to have).

Is this plan perfect? Of course not, but it does have some new ideas that RIM could use to grow in the enterprise world, as well as promote BlackBerry’s greatest asset – BBM – heading into the launch of BB10.

Bright Days Ahead for RIM… Only if its Perception in the Media Changes

When we think of how a company is perceived, we think of many different factors. For one, we think of how it is performing in the market, the quality of its products, but we’re also undeniably influenced by the media.

I know several people who will not consider a future BlackBerry device and who are also not even willing to give the company a chance at success with their new software – “too little too late” or “the same old thing” are common phrases that BlackBerry enthusiasts will hear when they try to bring up the potential revolution that is coming with BB10.

But how can this be? How can a company that had so much success in the past be completely written off even after showing some great new products and some great potential for future success in the industry?

The media has the power to change our perception of a company. By continuing to cover negative news, the media can influence the general public to believe that future news will also only be negative. This is what RIM needs to work on changing.

For a while now, RIM has been the subject of negative articles and its perception in the media has gone from a leader in the business world, to a company that is failing to deliver quality products in a timely manner. This point can definitely be argued, but I believe that the positive points that RIM has made need to be cited on a much more frequent basis.

FACT: RIM has lost ground in both the business sector and the consumer sector

Even though RIM has lost some of its market share in the enterprise world, they have introduced Mobile Fusion as a way to allow iOS and Android devices to operate using the BB Enterprise software and allow organizations to not only manage BB devices, but also the other platforms’ OS’. This can be viewed in two ways: 1) RIM has admitted defeat in the enterprise world by opening up to the other platforms or; 2) RIM is providing a secure option for employers wishing to allow employees the choice of which device to use at work, while still having confidence that data on the devices is secure.

From the more negative viewpoint, the point #1 will be highlighted over and over. While RIM knows they have lost ground in the business world, it does not mean they have thrown in the towel and are giving up on their proprietary OS as being the most secure in the industry. By introducing Mobile Fusion and allowing other platforms into the BB enterprise world, they are obtaining the greatest number of users possible and are, in essence, growing their enterprise position.

BBM as a Corporate Messaging Tool (via Mobile Fusion)

One way I believe this can be better displayed is by offering BlackBerry Messenger to any device on Mobile Fusion – including Android and iOS. While some may say this would be RIM giving up their #1 tool that has been keeping them afloat for so long, I think this could be a good way to promote BlackBerry to business users who may have previously strayed from their BlackBerrys in favour of a newer device. Here’s how I think this can happen:

By offering a slimmed-down version of BBM to non-BlackBerry users in Mobile Fusion (Android and iOS devices) that possibly only includes messaging and group messaging – and not all the features of BBM like photo and video sharing, broadcast messages, etc – business users could all have a common instant messaging platform to use and would hopefully eventually adopt it as the industry standard (leaving behind any 3rd party messaging apps). Once BB10 launches with its slew of new features and OS improvements, one can only assume that an updated BBM is also on the way – which would hopefully incorporate Video Chat. If the marketing for BB10 is done well, the corporate users may have enough incentive to switch back to BlackBerry, and their previous use of BBM on the other platforms would make for an easier transition. They would see that the new BBM includes many new features only accessible to BlackBerry handsets. At this point, they may have become so reliant on BBM as a corporate messaging tool, that they decide to switch back to BlackBerry to take advantage of the new features.

Now, I realize this may be far-fetched and there are a lot of assumptions in my argument, but I believe that securing the core user base (business users) needs to be at the heart of RIM’s short-term plans. They need to find ways to get BlackBerry back on top in the corporate world and offering BBM on other platforms may be the trick. I know BBM may be one thing that is keeping a lot of BlackBerry users on board and by offering it to other platforms may lead to a greater decrease in actual BlackBerry users, but this version of BBM would only be for enterprise users using Mobile Fusion (promotes Mobile Fusion) and it would be stripped down (to not include some features that regular consumers would still love to have).

Is this plan perfect? Of course not, but it does have some new ideas that RIM could use to grow in the enterprise world, as well as promote BlackBerry’s greatest asset – BBM – heading into the launch of BB10.

FACT: RIM is Innovating and has been innovating non-stop.

If you look at the progression of the BlackBerry OS over the past few years, you’ll see some pretty incremental changes – not only to features, but also to design and layout of the OS. While some may argue that RIM has simply been “keeping up” with the competition, I’d argue that they are well ahead of the competition when it comes to things like sharing and cross-platform compatibility.

NFC is quickly becoming a regular feature in today’s smartphones. RIM was not the first to implement NFC in their devices, but they’re definitely making it a standard in its future ones. Incorporating RIM’s security and acquisitions they’ve made, we could see RIM being a leader in the NFC field when it comes to payments, electronic entry to buildings, etc etc. Even through its new peripheral device – the BlackBerry Music Gateway announced at BB World 2012, RIM is showing that they are serious about the potential of NFC when it comes to sharing content, pairing devices and much much more.

The Android App Player is another example of RIM’s strength in innovation. In addition to Bridge, the Android runtime environment is one of the PlayBook’s best strengths to differentiate it from other tablets. An update coming (rumoured to be early summer) will allow multiple Android apps to run at the same time – harnessing the power of the QNX operating system to allow multiple instances of the runtime environment at the same time. If executed correctly, it means that Android apps would behave seamlessly with the BlackBerry apps that are running, creating an even greater user experience.

Canadians should all support RIM.

Yes, this statement will get some laughs. Why should we support a company just because it is from our native land? Why shouldn’t we try to knock it down even further when it delays new features? Well, the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) owns approximately two million shares of RIM, which effectively means that every single Canadian citizen has a stake in the company. In essence, if RIM fails, we (Canadians) all lose something. Whether it means our CPP would be reduced is a bit of a stretch, but more realistically, it would lead to other cost-cutting measures so that the government could recoup the loses felt by a possible RIM fail.

I bounced around a bit in this post, but I think the main message is clear – RIM needs to find a way to change how the company is perceived in the media. The media can make or break a company, it can make your new features seem revolutionary, or it can knock them down and say they’re too little too late. I think RIM’s message needs to be clear going forward with BB10 – – it’s a completely new experience. There’s iOS, there’s Android, there’s BlackBerry, and there’s BlackBerry10 – – a completely new experience with security, strong messaging, and cross platform compatibility at its core.

The Truth Behind the PlayBook

The BlackBerry PlayBook – what I believe to be the best tablet on the market today. Before you scoff at it and say this isn’t true, read on.

After being released in April 2011, the PlayBook had hardware specs that rivaled some of the higher end devices, however it definitely did not appear to be “future-proof”, meaning its processor speeds, memory, apps, and features had the potential to be out-of-date before it even went on sale. A year later, RIM has not released a hardware update (though one is likely coming soon with 4G capabilities) because the specs on the original model are still good enough to power the incredible QNX workforce OS. If you don’t know who or what QNX is, do a quick Google search, they do too much to list here and are more concentrated in our daily lives that anyone cares to investigate or believe.

Competitors have released new products, but RIM has held the fort with their tablet offering because they CAN. The OS that powers the PlayBook doesn’t need the latest and greatest and speediest processors, it uses the power of QNX to remain efficient even when the user’s multi-tasking demands increase. When competitors come out with new products, it’s because they HAVE to — their OS’ cannot power the new apps and demands that users are throwing at them. This leads to bigger, heavier, hotter batteries (if not, then decreased battery life), less stable OS’, and numerous features that basically go unnoticed by the average user.

The PlayBook is not an “app-runner” like other tablets on the market; that is, it does not simply rely on apps to be the main support of its native software. The iPad, in my opinion, is simply an “app-runner”. It relies on apps and fortunately for it, developers believe in it enough to continue to create apps for the platform. It’s the highest seller, the market leader – so this is understandable. The PlayBook, though, is not just an “app-runner”, it has an OS and native capabilities that help to increase personal efficiency and productivity. The PlayBook is not the PLAYbook, it is a playbook – a manual for success in our day-to-day lives.

What does the iPad do without apps other than being a screen with squares on it?

The PlayBook is meant to be a complementary device to your current smartphone, and it is definitely better suited to be paired with a BlackBerry smartphone. Here in lies the root of RIM’s current struggles – marketing. This has been talked about for years as something RIM has not done well and the PlayBook is a prime example. The PlayBook should not be marketed as RIM’s iPad; it should be marketed as a complementary device to your smartphone that provides greater capabilities, performance and features than exist in smaller handsets.

The PlayBook, in my opinion, is not an iPad competitor. The PlayBook is in its own class – it is the first device that truly complements the cell phone we’ve all been carrying around for so long. All small screens of cell phones have their limitations, be it with streaming media, viewing large files and documents, reading for an extended period of time… the list goes on and on. The PlayBook is the first device that Bridges the gap, yet still makes your phone feel necessary and useful.

Bridge – the one thing that RIM does that no one else can match and that RIM needs to market correctly. If you have a BlackBerry smartphone and a PlayBook, you’re in 7th heaven as far as connectivity and possibilities go. Bridge allows your PlayBook to always be connected to the web, without the user having to do a thing. Some may say tethering does this as well, however, some carriers charge more for tethering, plus the user needs to pull out their phone to turn it on each time. Bridge is always connected (if you choose). One thing RIM does well is BBM. The best part of BBM is that it is always running. There is never a need to open an app, never a chance to miss a message. The same holds true with Bridge. It is always connected and works to complement your BB smartphone. I won’t list the features of Bridge here, but they are potentially endless.

Think of automobiles. QNX powers a ton of in-car computer systems. RIM owns QNX. The PlayBook runs a QNX-based OS. See where I’m going with this? Connectivity in your car would be easily accomplished by using a variation of Bridge. A car that is always connected is possible, just like a PlayBook that is always connected – – without paying a higher monthly contract price to carriers. Just turn on your car, and it automatically pairs with your smartphone (like some cars already do for Bluetooth phone calls, music, etc), except now it also pairs in the sense that it extends your data plan to features in your car’s electronics. From navigation to media to communications, your car could be connected at all times through your smartphone, without having to hit any additional buttons upon entering the vehicle.

BB10 is coming. It is going to provide an even better relationship between the PlayBook and your BB smartphone. Right now, they’re running two completely different OS’ and communicate beyond the capabilities of any other smartphones on the market. Imagine what will happen when they are running the same OS?

Response to The Daily Grind

Some background: The Daily Grind – BlackBerry Fail

The Daily Grind’s post starts out with saying that money is tight and expectations are high. A statement that speaks many truths to the reality we’re experiencing in today’s economy and tech sector. If money is so tight though, why buy something only to sell it a few short months later, experience a considerable loss, then go buy another, more expensive product? This just doesn’t seem to add up. If expectations are truly high, then why not hang onto what is arguably the most innovative and expectation-filled product of the past 2 years (the PlayBook)?

When it comes to media cards failing in devices, I don’t care if you’re using an Android, a BlackBerry or a Fisher Price Waterproof Digital Camera. They can fail. They can have corrupt files on them. This is no fault of the device itself, but it is fault of either the card for failing, or the user for the content on the card. Now, is it possible that a device cannot read a large capacity card? Of course it is! Problem is, many users have had success with 32GB cards and the BB 9810. Not sure how you can make the false claim that RIM cannot produce because, in fact, it can and has. With a little research you’ll see that knock-off cards do exist in this not-so-perfect world and files CAN contain viruses that go undetected by scanning software. This isn’t news or fallacy, it is known fact.

As far as troubles with apps on the PlayBook, I’d ask that you look at the apps you’re complaining about, where they came from, and what you’re asking them to do. You mention the Kindle App on the PlayBook… well, there isn’t a Kindle App for the PlayBook, so you’ve sideloaded an unofficial, converted app that someone (other than Amazon) has posted. This file you loaded may not have been the Kindle App at all – it could have been a photo of a duck in mud for all you knew. You trusted a random source, loaded a file onto your device, and it didn’t perform as well as you’d have hoped. Is RIM to blame for this, for an app they didn’t create nor accept into their AppWorld? The answer is of course not. RIM does create some apps, but they rely on developers for the most part to stock AppWorld with apps. If Amazon chooses not to develop a Kindle PlayBook app, then so be it.

RIM has provided an avenue to load Android apps onto the PlayBook. Is it perfect yet? No. Does it work? Yes, with apps that have been properly converted and approved by RIM. This means that Android apps in AppWorld do work and shouldn’t crash the Android Player. This feature is unlike any other feature on any other tablet (or smartphone) on the market today. The BB OS can load and play Android apps. That’s quite the statement and quite the feature… one that should be embraced for its innovation and not shunned for its bugs.

The PlayBook is updated on almost a monthly basis. The attention and care that RIM is giving to this tablet show that it is not a dying breed. They want this to succeed because they know the power behind it. They know the possibilities. The continual updates are rarely ever spoken about. Android users can wait months, if not years for their devices to receive the latest version. The updates on the PlayBook may not always be feature-rich, but they provide fixes to users’ issues, and isn’t that what you need? In the last update, the Android Player was updated, over 8000 fixes were made to an already great browser, and it paved the way for future USB OTG support.

Before you sell your PlayBook, look at what you’re losing, what you’re missing out on in the future, and what you’re going to be getting. Android is a great OS, it truly is, but no company is in such a crunch as RIM to provide updates and new features to their products. From the point of view of someone who wants new things all the time, RIM is the best bet right now. If you want to have a product that won’t be updated, or it will be updated, but the performance will lag because of it, forcing you to purchase a new version with new hardware, then sure, by all means make the switch. If you want to keep a product that cost you basically pennies up front, that interacts with your smartphone like no other, that provides access to two ecosystems of apps, and a product that can really only improve (and will improve), then stick with the PlayBook.