Amid Long Odds, BlackBerry Maker Unveils New Line and New Name (Superbowl ad is coming…)


After numerous delays and development hiccups, RIM has finally unveiled it’s  next generation BlackBerrys on Wednesday, a new lineup of smartphones that could  make or break the company.

The company also dropped its Research in Motion moniker in favor of the  BlackBerry brand.

“From today on, we are BlackBerry everywhere in the world,” president and CEO  Thorstein Heins said. “One brand, one promise.”

Heins showed off two new phones at simultaneous events across cities around  the world including New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Johannesburg, Jakarta and  Dubai.

The Z10 resembles the smartphones most of us have become accustomed to since  the dawn of the iPhone with a large 4.2-inch screen while the Q10 maintains the  company’s iconic physical keyboard, an addition that will surely appeal to the  BlackBerry faithful. Both run the company’s next generation operating system,  BlackBerry 10.

‘A good browser, apps, good camera, and fast networking in your  smartphone is just expected today.’

– BlackBerry president and CEO Thorstein Heins


“A good browser, apps, good camera, and fast networking in your smartphone is  just expected today,” Heins said. “BlackBerry 10 goes beyond that with secure  communications, and a real-time platform.”

U.S. carriers will announce pre-registration today. Although there are no  concrete release dates, the new phones are expected to ship in mid-March. The  Z10 is expected to cost $199 with a contract and will be available on Verizon,  AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

The LTE-ready Z10 comes outfitted with a 4.2-inch 1,280 x 768 display and  measures in at 5.13 x 2.6 x 0.37 inches, making it slightly thicker than the  iPhone 5 and Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III. Powering the 138 gram phone is a  1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus with 2GB RAM.

On stage, Heins demonstrated a slew of innovative features unique to the new  platform, including a virtual keyboard that allows you to flick words onto the  screen, multi-tasking integration called BlackBerry Flow and a robust  re-envisioning of the Blackberry Messenger experience. Of emphasis was  “BlackBerry Balance,” the platform’s ability to seamlessly merge both work and  play in a single unified experience. For corporate users, it could mean finally  ditching the practice of carrying around two phones.

But in the age of “ecosystems,” simply having a solid phone with great  software is no longer enough. Users expect more. They want their favorite apps  and easy access to all the digital entertainment — games, music, videos, books,  sports — that they’ve all grown accustomed to. On this front, BlackBerry didn’t  disappoint.

The new BlackBerry World is the company’s answer to the iTunes Store and  Google Play and already includes over 70,000 apps and support from eight movie  studios and all major music labels. BlackBerry 10 launches with support for  Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, the NHL, Major League Baseball and more. Skype,  Angry Birds and WhatsApp among others have all pledged their support for the  platform although there were some notable absences. Instagram was nowhere to be  seen.

Whether or not the new releases can put up a serious challenge against Apple  and Android remains to be seen. In the months leading up to the launch,  BlackBerry’s stock has soared. But mere days before the launch, analysts were  split over whether the new phones could save the company. Following the  announcement, BlackBerry’s stock was down over 6 percent.

“RIM continues to face the twin demons of consumer-driven buying power and a  chronic inability to appeal to mature market consumers. There is nothing in what  we’ve seen so far of BB10 that suggests it will conquer the second of these  demons, and the first is utterly out of RIM’s control,” said Jan Dawson, chief  telecoms analyst for Ovum. “Its glory days are past, and it is only a matter of  time before it reaches a natural end.”

Others, however, believe this could be an opportunity for a serious  comeback.

“This year we will see multiple attempts to fight the Samsung/Apple  smartphone duopoly in smartphone hardware—along with the twin Google/Apple  duopoly in smartphone operating systems,” said Ian Fogg, senior principal  analyst at IHS. “Because of the fast-rising adoption of smartphones, 2013  represents the last, best hope for RIM’s BlackBerry 10—along with endangered  specimens like Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Nokia’s Lumia and Mozilla’s Firefox—to  create a viable third smartphone competitor in the market.”

For BlackBerry, the realization that this could be the company’s last chance  saloon has culminated in an unprecedented marketing push. Heins revealed that  singer-songwriter Alicia Keys would be the company’s new Global Creative  Director. And next week, the new BlackBerry will be featured in its first ever  Super Bowl ad.


New Jeff Lynne of ELO Music?


Just saw Jeff Lynne of ELO at the Grammy museum and he mentioned he has nine new songs ready for a new album some time in the near future.  With all the of the new music, we fans are really happy to hear this news!







Beyoncé Will Perform During Super Bowl Halftime Show

Beyoncé will perform during halftime at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on February 3rd. While an official announcement is expected Wednesday, Beyonce posted the below image to her Tumblr mimicing eye-black, which football players use to stop the glare from the sun.

It will be the second Super Bowl appearance for the superstar: Beyoncé sang the national anthem in 2004 when the NFL held its championship game in her hometown of Houston. This year’s Super Bowl will be the first held in New Orleans since 2002, and will certainly be one of the most watched television events of the year.

Hatsune Miku virtual japanese popstar coming to LA…

This seems a bit out there, but read about the ticket sales…

(Tokyo) – Having just closed a 4-concert tour in tokyo, japanese pop star hatsune miku is among the most successful contemporary
japanese performers, but she is also virtual: an avatar with a computer-programmed voice, who sings songs compiled
of lyrics written by her fans.

The voice-synthesizing program that powers the popstar is the work of crypton future media, which bills hatsune miku
as ‘a virtual singer who can sing any song that anybody composes’.  and indeed her songs are generated by her own fans,
arranged based on suggestions from as many as twenty different people. she originated as a way of showcasing
the company’s music software, but has since encouraged an entire movement of consumer-generated media,
spread originally via the nico nico douga sharing website further facilitated by crypton via the piapro portal for collaboration
and posting.

The 10,000 tickets for the four tokyo performances last week, each priced at 6300 yen (76 USD) sold out within hours,
as thousands more watched telecasting of the performance in movie theatres in shanghai, hong kong, and taiwan,
and others paid about 40 USD for their own access to the live video streaming feeds. the virtual popstar has also already
sold out shows in LA, and aluminum plates with her image on it composed part of the spacecraft akatsuki (launched may 21st, 2010)
after a petition towards the project received over 14,000 signatures. ‘project diva‘ by sega offers both at home video games
and standing arcade models of rhythm-testing games featuring the singer, with a new release called ‘project MMT’ expected in 2012.

And THE “Annie Award” GOES TO …

“Rango” Wins Best Animated Feature @ 39th Annie Awards

Paramount Pictures $135 million budgeted, computer-animated feature “Rango” took top honors as ‘Best Animated Feature’ @ the 39th Annual “Annie Awards”, Saturday, February 4, 2012 in Los Angeles.
The 2011 Western comedy, directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Graham King, follows a chameleon who winds up in the town of ‘Dirt’, an outpost in desperate need of a new town sheriff :
“…a pet chameleon (Johnny Depp) becomes accidentally stranded in the Mojave Desert after his terrarium falls from his owner’s car. After meeting an armadillo named ‘Roadkill’ (Alfred Molina), he narrowly avoids being eaten by a red-tailed hawk.
“The next day he meets desert iguana ‘Beans’ (Isla Fisher), a rancher’s daughter, who takes him to ‘Dirt’, an Old West town populated by desert animals.
“At the ‘Gas Can Saloon’, the chameleon, using bravado and improvisation, presents himself as ‘Rango’, a tough drifter, who quickly gets in the face of outlaw ‘Bad Bill’ (Ray Winstone), narrowly avoiding a shootout.
When Rango kills the returning hawk, the Mayor (Ned Beatty) appoints him the new sheriff and has him start by investigating the criminal source of the town’s water problem…”

“Rango” screenplay is by John Logan, from a story by Verbinski and Logan. Music is by Hans Zimmer. Producers are Nickelodeon Movies, Blind Wink, GK Films and Industrial Light and Magic.

Who says the “Big Party” has died?

It's enormous. It may have been invite-only, but it wasn't exactly "exclusive"

INDIANAPOLISMark  Cuban capped off a wild week of Super  Bowlparties with a blowout DirecTV-HDNet party last night.


The invite-only shindig featured a performance by Katy  Perry, and was touted as the weekend’s most exclusive party.

Read more:


Google Maps goes Analog in Clever CES Ad

Google Maps gets the low-tech treatment in a new ad that imagines the app as the classic Labyrinth game.The online video spot, the first for Google from San Francisco ad agency Venables Bell & Partners, uses a wooden gyroscopic structure to help two players navigate a blue ball. The camera follows the ball as it discovers restaurants, checks into a barbershop and then, finally, goes bowling.

The video was timed to coincide with CES and highlights capabilities on Google Maps like indoor maps, the ability to rate restaurants, create custom maps in Mapmaker and view traffic. A very similar animated videocreated by another agency, B-Reel, is designed to promote a game for Google Maps that’s expected to hit Google+ Games next month.

Super coup: Wilmington lands ‘Iron Man 3’

WILMINGTON North Carolina’s race to catch up with states that have lured film projects with better financial incentives has paid off with a major motion picture production commitment.

“Iron Man 3,” starring Robert Downey Jr. as a comic book superhero, will be produced from beginning to end in this state, Gov. Bev Perdue announced at EUE/Screen Gems Studios on Thursday.

“My top priority is creating jobs, and this film production will mean high-quality, well-paying jobs for North Carolinians,” Perdue said. “I pushed hard to get the revamped film incentive passed, with the help of a number of lawmakers, and now we see that initiative doing exactly what it was designed to do.”

The Perdue administration estimates that over the next 10 months the project will bring more than $80 million into the state, create 550 crew jobs and more than 1,000 positions for actors.

It will be the largest production ever to shoot in North Carolina, according to the state’s film office.

“It’s a huge, huge win for the state,” said Jordan Kerner, a longtime Hollywood producer who also is dean of filmmaking at the UNC-School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

Kerner has worked quietly with the governor and Aaron Syrett, director of the N.C. Film Office, to lure the film industry back ever since he moved to North Carolina to take the position at the university in 2007.

Wilmington became star-struck in the 1980s after legendary producer Dino De Laurentis moved Screen Gems Studios there, sparking the state’s reputation for film production. But North Carolina quickly lost ground as other states offered increasingly expensive financial incentives.

In recent years, the state has lost more than one major movie project to a competing state. Kerner pushed for a tax credit of no more than 25 percent and urged leaders to explore public-private funding options to build more production facilities.

In 2009, the state upped the tax credit to 25 percent, and last year it increased the cap on the credit for each production from $7.5 million to $20 million. The state also ended the corporate income tax on the incentives.

There was $73 million in direct spending from movie and TV productions in the state in 2010, and already $200 million this year, Syrett said.

Negotiations over “Iron Man 3” began about six months ago.

Michigan hoped to land the film. But its 40 percent tax incentive that had successfully lured film projects was brought to a halt by newly elected Republican legislators.

Read more:

Sprint’s huge bet on iPhone is a Winner or Disaster ?

By Larry Dignan | October 3, 2011, 12:43pm PDT

Summary: Sprint’s future largely rides on the iPhone. If the bet works, Sprint will be in a better position. If Sprint stumbles it will be on the financial ropes.

Sprint is getting the iPhone, but it’s going to cost the company about $20 billion in an all-or-nothing bet Apple’s iconic device.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Sprint has agreed to buy at least 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years. That is a staggering number of iPhones. Sprint is likely to lose money until 2014.

If Sprint is correct in its bet, the iPhone will put the carrier in a better position to gain customers and the recurring revenue they bring. If Sprint’s bet is wrong the company will find itself on the ropes.

Great debate 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday: iPhone Yes vs iPhone No

For Sprint’s bet to work, it will have to sell nearly 8 million iPhones a year. What’s unclear is whether Sprint can activate that many iPhones. For instance, Verizon activated roughly 2 million iPhones in its two quarters since acquiring the device. AT&T activates more iPhones a quarter—3.6 million in the last two quarters—but that includes the iPhone 3GS, which runs $49.99.

If Sprint sells two iPhones—a premium and lower cost one—its bet may pay off. However, Sprint will face iPhone demand spread across all three carriers. Sprint may keep its current customers, but not land new ones. If Sprint is forced to change its iPhone mix for the Apple deal it will be swapping profitable Android phones for a loss leading iPhone.

Toss in the Sprint costs to acquire the iPhone as well as the potential network costs and the carrier is making a bet with the devil. It’s not clear that Sprint’s balance sheet can take the hit.

As of June 30, Sprint had long-term debt of $17.3 billion and cash of $4.27 billion. Sprint’s return on equity is -20.97 percent while Verizon’s is 13.7 percent and AT&T’s is 18.78 percent.

And if you consider Sprint’s Clearwire potential financial time bomb, the iPhone bet looks a bit crazy.

Another PC Maker is Hurting…

Taiwanese PC maker Acer, the world’s No. 2 PC vendor, reported its first-ever loss as it and PC makers see their market eroded by strong sales of Apple’s (AAPL) iPad and rival tablets. Acer lost $234.3 mil in the April-June quarter, vs. analyst views for a $114 mil loss. Still, analysts said Acer and Dell (DELL) could benefit from Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ) exit. HP, the world’s largest PC maker, last week said it plans to spin off its PC unit, valued at $10 bil to $12 bil.