RIM partners with lockmaker Assa Abloy on NFC, faces Barclays downgrade

Assa Abloy + RIM BlackBerry

Normally when a smartphone maker enters into a technology partnership, it’s something to do with software or patents or applications or revenue streams like mobile advertising—but RIM just loves to zig when other companies zag. Swedish lock and security company Assa Abloy announced today it is partnering with RIM to integrated keycard technology into future BlackBerry smartphones—and the tech will rely on the same near-field communications (NFC) technology currently being deployed by some phone makers to support mobile wallets. The first phones to carry the technology will be the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 and the BlackBerry Curve 9350/9360, which are due to be launched in early 2012.

The idea is that BlackBerry smartphones would be able to replace standard access cards; users would just wave their phones near an access panel for a building or door to be granted access. The system can also be augmented with PIN requirements, so merely having a valid phone doesn’t have to be enough to manage access. Although the initial focus will be on doors at offices and other access-controlled facilities—Assa Abloy tested the tech in Stockholm hotels beginning in 2010—the technology could easily be extended to the mobile equivalent of time cards as well as homes, garage doors, and even automobiles. And, of course, the NFC tech is also key to mobile payment efforts like Google Wallet. Assa

Assa Abloy’s deal with RIM marks the first time the company has partnered with a mobile technology developer, but according to media reports the deal with RIM isn’t exclusive.

In the meantime, RIM’s precarious position in the smartphone market is enduring another wobble as investment firm Barclays slashed its target price for RIM and downgraded the company’s stock to an equalweight or hold rating. In a note to clients, Barclays analyst Jeff Kvaal cut his price target in RIM stock from $40 to $23, citing an “uneven migration” to the company’s new BBX/QNX operation system and delays rolling out products like the PlayBook 2.0.

“Traditional strengths are fading—enterprises are opening to new platforms, third party IM apps are eating at BlackBerry Messenger, and Android and Nokia are aggressive in the low end,” Kvaal wrote.

Last week, the price of RIM’s stock fell below book value, meaning the market value of the company—as represented by its stock price—was less than the net value of its concrete assets like patents, assets, facilities, and property. Although the price recovered a bit last Friday, as of this morning RIM’s price was again below book value.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Self-balancing skates, tiny tripods, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Here's the Samsung Galaxy S9's new Android 9.0 Pie interface

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus are here. The flagship devices boast some awesome new features and a powerful new processor. Here's everything you need to know about these Samsung phones.
Mobile

Samsung looks to Huawei for inspiration, and the new Galaxy A7 is born

Samsung has launched the Galaxy A7 smartphone, its first with a triple-lens rear camera, which, although sounds similar to the one fitted to the Huawei P20 Pro, works in a different way.
Mobile

Samsung exec confirms upcoming Galaxy S10 will sport 'very significant changes'

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Photography

Joby’s tiny tripods double as selfie sticks and hide four different modes

The Joby TelePod models are more than just compact tripods -- they also double as hand grips, selfie sticks, and tabletop tripods. Designed to accommodate smaller gear like smartphones and lightweight mirrorless, the tripods use a unique…
Wearables

WatchOS 5 comes with tons of new features -- here are our favorites

Months after Apple announced its latest software at WWDC, you can now download WatchOS for the Apple Watch. WatchOS 5 brings a number of new features including new watch faces and improved health tracking.
Social Media

Instagram could separate hashtags for less annoying posts

Just what features will Instagram add next? One enthusiast reverse engineered the app to uncover several potential features the app could be testing, including a dedicated spot for hashtags and geofencing.
Photography

To post or not to post? Here's when you should put up a picture on the 'Gram

Let's be honest, the majority of us care about the popularity of our Instagram posts. There is a sweet spot, however, if you're looking to boost the number of likes and comments you receive. Here's what you need to know.
Mobile

Our favorite tips and tricks to help you master your Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Apple's not the only game in town when it comes to productivity tablets. Samsung's Galaxy Tab S4 has all the features you'll need to get work done. Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4.
Computing

Smart Reply not smart enough? Desktop Gmail users can soon opt out

Google will soon give desktop Gmail users the ability to opt out of Smart Reply. If you'd prefer to compose a short email the old-fashioned way, you can do so without seeing the auto-generated suggestions in the future.
Social Media

Instagram feature that lets you reshare others’ posts may be on its way

Despite constant calls from many of its billion-plus users, Instagram has always refused to offer an option that lets Instagrammers reshare others' posts that appear on their feed. New reports suggest this could be about to change.
Mobile

The iPhone XS and XS Max are now available -- here's how to get them

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.
Mobile

The Apple Watch Series 4 is now available -- here's where to buy it

The new Apple Watch Series 4 is here. Besides the Apple store, the company's next-generation smartwatch is be available for purchase through all four major carriers. Here's where you can get yours.
Mobile

Huawei is not-so-subtly trolling Friday’s iPhone launch

Apple launches the iPhone XS range to the public on Friday, but Huawei is out in force to remind the public what they could be missing out on (Hint: It's the Mate 20 Pro) by choosing Apple's latest smartphone.