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Big week for BlackBerry: BB 10 to launch Wednesday, Super Bowl ad to follow

It’s been a long time coming, but Research In Motion will finally pull the covers off its new BlackBerry 10 platform this week, a platform the Canadian mobile maker hopes will restore its fortunes and win back users – both consumers and businesses – who’ve been dumping their BlackBerry devices for rival handsets.

A global launch event on Wednesday will see the company unveil two brand new handsets – one with a touchscreen and the other with a physical keyboard – together with an operating system designed to dazzle. The new phones are expected to start shipping some time in February.

Following Wednesday’s launch, RIM will introduce its new platform to the masses with a 30-second ad to be aired during the Super Bowl on February 3, a slot costing the company somewhere in the region of $3.8 million.

“A Super Bowl commercial is a great opportunity to show the re-designed, re-engineered and re-invented BlackBerry to tens of millions of consumers on the largest advertising stage of the year,” RIM’s chief marketing officer, Frank Boulben, said in a release over the weekend, adding, “BlackBerry has 30 million social media fans, and we’re looking forward to continuing to encourage them and all NFL football fans to see the power of BlackBerry 10 for themselves.”

According to the release, RIM will also be launching a new tablet somewhere down the line, though no specific details were given. Such a BB10 tablet would follow in the footsteps of RIM’s current tablet offering, the much-maligned PlayBook, though an all-new design powered by an all-new operating system should give it at least a fighting chance of making an impact in the marketplace.

Once known as the Crackberry for its supposed addictive qualities, a failure to innovate and a string of service disruptions and other problems in 2011 caused many to exchange their renamed ‘Crapberry’ device for one made by rivals like Apple or Samsung whose handsets came with more features, more apps and fewer problems. If the Ontario-based company fails to impress with its new BB10 OS and hardware, it could be curtains for a company that was once king of the smartphone world. It’s going to be a big week for BlackBerry, and an even bigger year.

[via engadget]

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
BlackBerry to end partnership with ‘creative director’ Alicia Keys
alicia keys leaving blackberry

Alicia Keys is set to leave her role as 'global creative director' at stumbling mobile maker BlackBerry at the end of this month after a year in the position.
The award-winning singer-songwriter teamed up with the Waterloo, Ontario company to great fanfare in January 2013, with then-CEO Thorsten Heins wheeling her out with the all-new Z10, the BB10 handset BlackBerry executives hoped would transform the company's fortunes. It didn't.
Keys, we were told at the time, would oversee BB10-related creative projects, though for many people the appointment was little more than a PR stunt designed to highlight the new phone and mobile platform.
Despite appearing at various corporate events and working on a scholarship program encouraging young women to become more involved in the fields of science and technology, Keys' biggest BlackBerry-related headline-grabbing moment came for all the wrong reasons when tweets posted from her verified Twitter account in February indicated an iPhone had been used. Keys claimed at the time that her account had been hacked.
The parting of ways should be good for both – struggling BlackBerry will be able to save a few bucks while Keys can separate herself from a brand that has failed to make a go of the platform she was hired to promote.
With rival handsets from the likes of Apple and Samsung proving popular with consumers, and BlackBerry's share of the US market tanking, the ailing company has been forced to make big changes in recent times, laying off thousands of workers, firing its CEO, and, after failing to find a buyer, agreeing to a strategic investment from a group headed by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial.
Its most recent earnings report made for grim reading, showing a $4.4 billion loss for Q3 2013, together with a big write-down of assets.
New CEO John Chen has promised to focus less on the consumer market and more on its traditional base of enterprise users. In a commentary piece for CNBC published earlier this week, he said, "When it comes to enterprise, we're still the leader. Don't be fooled by the competition's rhetoric claiming to be more secure or having more experience than BlackBerry."
As for the likelihood of a replacement global creative director, we're not expecting an announcement anytime soon.
[Source: CTV News]

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BlackBerry still in with enterprise as Peugeot Citroen orders 10,000 smartphones
BlackBerry Q10 review blackberry logo

BlackBerry is set to release earnings data on Friday for the three-month period ending November 30, the first quarter under interim CEO John Chen following the departure of Thorsten Heins in November.
While many executives at the troubled company may well be bracing themselves in anticipation of some less-than-stellar figures, the week at least got off to a good start with the news that the mobile maker has scored an order with a multinational car manufacturer for 10,000 handsets. The development came at the same time as the company announced it had hired a new head for its global enterprise services business.
PSA Peugeot Citroen is set to deploy the Z10 smartphones for its operations in France and Spain, and is also shifting over to BlackBerry's latest mobile management system, the Waterloo, Ontario company announced this week.
Eric Marchand, head of telecom at PSA Peugeot Citroen, said the platform suited its needs "in terms of integration, security, connectivity and price."
Marchand's confidence in BlackBerry's ability to maintain its services at the current level isn't shared by the likes of analyst firm Gartner, which caused controversy back in October by suggesting corporate customers stop using the BlackBerry platform by April 2014, or at the least start considering alternative systems. The Z10 maker responded by saying it was committed to delivering "the most secure and powerful mobile management solutions and smartphones" to its customers, and that the conclusions the analyst firm drew with regards to the impact of recent developments concerning BlackBerry were “purely speculative”.
Last month an attempt by the company to sell itself off ended without success, with it instead agreeing to receive a strategic investment from a group led by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial.
Tough times
BlackBerry has had a torrid few years, with its US market share tanking in the face of competition from Android handsets and the iPhone. The backbone of its business – contracts with government agencies and corporate customers – has also come under huge pressure, with many organizations choosing to switch to rival platforms in recent years. Its new BB10 OS and handsets – launched at the start of the year – has failed to capture the imagination of consumers, with Windows Phone gradually establishing itself as the third most popular mobile platform behind Android and iOS.
While the Peugeot Citroen deal is unlikely to mark the start of any kind of major turnaround in BlackBerry's fortunes, it does indicate there's still interest from some players in big business, a situation its incoming head of global enterprise services will be keen to exploit. 
Chen attempted to reassure customers about the state of BlackBerry at the start of this month when he said the company was "very much alive" and "here to stay," at the same time stating four areas of future focus: handsets, enterprise mobility management solutions, cross-platform messaging, and embedded systems.

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10 cases to protect the BlackBerry Q10 and its endangered QWERTY keyboard
BlackBerry Q10 review bottom keyboard

It seems that the appeal of a physical QWERTY keyboard has not faded for some people, and if you need a QWERTY, the Q10 is your last stand. It combines the traditional strengths of a BlackBerry with the new BB10 operating system, and has a 3.1-inch touch screen, too. But if you really treasure your new BB (and at this rate, BlackBerry may soon go extinct), then you may want to invest in a good case. Here are our favorites.
OtterBox Commuter Case ($35)
You won’t find a safer pair of hands than OtterBox and the Commuter series finds a good balance between tough protection and style. The case combines a soft, rubber interior layer with a tough polycarbonate shell, and a screen protector. Your BB should survive scratches, bumps, and drops unscathed. The covers also keep your ports dust-free.  If you want maximum protection and you don’t mind the added bulk, $15 more gets you a Defender series case.
Seidio Surface Case ($30)
The Surface line from Seidio is always popular. It’s a slim case made from tough plastic with a soft-touch coating that makes it comfortable to hold. You get a good level of protection from drops and bumps without too much added bulk. It’s easy to fit too, thanks to the two-piece slide-on design. Classic black is the most popular, but you can get it in red, blue, or purple. For an extra $20 you can get a felt-lined holster that works with the Q10’s automatic sleep/wake function.
Trident Aegis Case ($35)
If you need military grade protection from vibration and drops. try Trident. The Aegis comes in a variety of colors: blue, pink, red, green, or plain old black. It has a rugged-looking, angular design that combines silicone on the inside with a polycarbonate exterior. There’s also a screen protector, silicone plugs for the ports, and even dust filters for the speaker bays. You can rest assured that your Q10 is safe in one of these cases.
Incipio Frequency Case ($25)
Incipio’s Flex2O material is a flexible, tough plastic that will keep your Q10 safe from minor impacts. The Frequency case takes its name from the graphic equalizer style pattern on the back, which provides a gloss contrast to the matte body of the case. It’s not just aesthetic either, because it does provide a little extra grip. Opt for eye-catching purple or pink, or go understated with grey or black.
BlackBerry Q10 Leather Pocket ($35)
Hand-crafted from real leather, the official BlackBerry Q10 Leather Pocket is a classy choice. It’s a simple pocket with a soft inner lining that keeps your Q10 scratch free and protects against damage from bumps or falls. The BlackBerry logo in silver adorns the black exterior. Since it’s an official case it works with your settings to help extend battery life and automatically send the Q10 to sleep.
Case Mate Wood Case ($50)
Rosewood or zebrawood are your options for this eye-catching case, which blends exotic hardwood with brushed aluminum. The silicone liner ensures that the Q10 is protected from the shock of bumps and there’s a raised bezel to prevent damage to the keyboard or screen if the phone is placed faced down. Precise cut-outs ensure that you never really need to remove the Q10 from the case.
Poetic Slimbook Case ($13)
You won’t get real leather at this price, but if you want a wallet style case that flips open like a book and looks like black leather, then this is a great value. On the inside you’ll find a cradle for your BB Q10 with all the cut-outs you need to access everything, there’s even a cut-out for the camera on the back. You’ll also find three slots for cards, so you don’t need to carry a separate wallet. There’s no support for the sleep/wake function, which is a shame, but this is a good option for the money.
i-Blason SoftGel Flexible TPU Case ($8)
There’s no need to break the bank for basic protection. TPU is flexible and durable, so it’s easy to fit and it will guard against small bumps and scratches. It also gives a little extra grip. The lip provides some protection should the phone be placed face down. It’s a good fit and it doesn’t block access to any controls or ports. You can get it with a black or pink tinge, or with a white frosted effect.
Acase Superleggera PRO Dual Layer Protection Case ($15)
If you can get at $15, rather than the RRP of $40, then this case is a good choice for solid protection. It comes in two parts, offering you a malleable silicone skin and an outer layer of unbreakable polycarbonate. It’s really sturdy and your Q10 should survive a drop in this case, but the inevitable price comes in added bulk, and it’s not as easy to push the buttons, particularly the power key.
Ballistic Shell Gel SG Series Case ($35)
Chunky would be a fair description here, but this case combines layers of protection to ensure that your BB Q10 survives falls and knocks without any ill effects. The corners are deliberately reinforced, as they tend to take the full impact of drops. The case also offers extra grip, so it’s easier to hold and it shouldn’t slide around on flat surfaces. If you don’t like the striking black and red combo, you can get it in plain black.
That’s all the BlackBerry Q10 cases we have to show off for now, but we will update this selection from time to time, so feel free to post suggestions.

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