Technologizer posts about RIM BlackBerry

Foodspotting: It’s Not Just for Food Photographers Anymore

By  |  Posted at 8:13 am on Thursday, February 2, 2012

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Until now, I’ve thought of Foodspotting mostly as an iPhone app which my wife uses to share photos of her meal when we dine out. She loves it. So do enough other people that a million pictures have been uploaded since the app’s launch, making it feel a bit like an Instagram that’s entirely devoted to things you can eat..

But there’s probably a limit to how many folks there are in the world who want to obsessively photograph food. So the new version of Foodspotting that launched this week is designed to broaden the app’s appeal. The photo sharing’s still there–but it feels more like one feature in an app whose primary purpose is to let large numbers of people find and see the best dishes at local restaurants before they place an order.

The new Foodspotting lets you browse popular dishes at nearby restaurants, or pull up a “picture menu” of a specific eatery. Lists of picks from media outlets such as Zagat’s and New York magazine supplement the recommendations from Foodspotting users. And there’s a section of Specials–which consisted of 50% discounts at several restaurants when I checked–which is the start of Foodspotting’s strategy for making money.

With its new emphasis on finding places to go and stuff to eat, Foodspotting feels a bit more like a competitor to traditional sources of restaurant reviews such as Yelp. But the similarities don’t run deep. Foodspotting still focuses on pictures and thumbs-up ratings, not full-blown critiques. And there’s no way to steer other users away from disappointing dishes by giving anything a thumbs down.

Judging from my experience so far, Foodspotting also doesn’t have a Yelplike critical mass of content practically everywhere. At the moment, I’m in Newton Corner, Massachusetts–not exactly a hotbed of fine dining–and only see a few photos from a few restaurants. Yelp, however, has dozens of nearby establishments that have dozens of reviews apiece. (Back home in food-centric San Francisco, Foodspotting is a much richer resource.)

Of course, one of the goals of the new version is to ramp up more quickly. If it works, the app, which was already lots of fun, will be even more fun, and much more useful.

Foodspotting is available for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry; the iPhone and Android editions are the first two to become available in this updated version.



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How to Fix RIM: The Twitter Take

By  |  Posted at 11:33 am on Monday, January 23, 2012

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Over at Twitter, I asked folks to say what they’d do if they ran RIM. I asked them to be constructive, not snarky. And they came up with lots of sensible possibilities. Thorsten Heins, are you listening?

Continue reading this story…



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Good analysis by MocoNews’s Tom Krazit of the challenges facing RIM’s new CEO–and it ends with a great quote from IBM’s Lou Gerstner:

No institution will go through fundamental change unless it believes it is in deep trouble and needs to do something different to survive.

Posted by Harry at 10:37 am

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Uh oh: RIM’s new CEO is saying he doesn’t “think a drastic change is needed.” (What does he know that we don’t know?)

Peter Kafka of All Things D reports:

Research In Motion isn’t broken, so no need to break it up. But it needs better internal focus, and better external focus, too.

That’s the takeaway from new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins, who told analysts this morning that he thinks the company is in pretty good shape, all things considered. Sure, in the U.S., it has been roughed up by Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, but it’s still used by lots of people, has lots of fans in big companies and big government agencies, and lots of users around the world.

Posted by Harry at 9:09 am

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RIM’s CEO Swap is No Reboot

By  |  Posted at 12:10 am on Monday, January 23, 2012

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After God-knows-how-many months of incessant wondering about how long beleaguered RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie could keep their jobs, the tech blogosophere can move onto other topics. Both gents are stepping down from their day-to-day leadership roles–they’ll remain directors–to make way for Thorsten Heins, formerly the company’s COO (he was one of two of them). Barbara Stymiest, currently a member of the board, will become its new chairman.

The company has posted a video in which Heins talks about his new gig:

If Heins isn’t prepared to speak eloquently about the road ahead quite yet, that doesn’t mean that he’s clueless or that he won’t do a good job. I also understand why he might be inclined to say nice things about Lazaridis, Balsillie, and the RIM team. I’ll even cut the company slack for the spin it’s putting on the executive change, which is that it’s happening because RIM is doing so well, not because it’s in trouble.

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In a New York Times story by Ian Austen, RIM says it’s not sure how many different BlackBerry models it sells:

Features have proliferated on BlackBerrys as part of RIM’s move to the broader consumer market, and so have the number of models. Since 2007, RIM has introduced 37 models. The company, in a statement, said it did not know how many models were on the market.

The company with the most phones doesn’t win; the ones with the best phones do.

Posted by Harry at 9:24 am

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RIM is now saying that chip problems have delayed the first next-generation BlackBerry phones until last 2012–almost six years after the iPhone was announced. PaidContent’s Tom Krazit has a good, angry post on the news and the company’s generally sad condition.

Posted by Harry at 10:52 am

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BlackBerry: Vision Needed

By  |  Posted at 8:00 am on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis at DevCon.

I don’t mean to be painfully Pollyannaish, but I’m almost glad that RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis didn’t announce any new products or other major news at the keynote during its DevCon conference in San Francisco, which I attended on Tuesday morning. A year ago, at the 2010 edition of the event, he unveiled the PlayBook tablet. I got all excited. When it finally shipped months later, it was tremendously disappointing.

This year, the upcoming products that matter for RIM are the first BlackBerry phones based on the company’s new QNX-based operating system–which Lazaridis did say will be called BBX, and which will presumably come out next year. If RIM had provided a sneak peak at them at DevCon, it wouldn’t have helped matters and might have hurt. All that really matters is that they’re great when they finally come out. Who cares how unfinished versions look in a controlled demo?

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RIM Tries to Make Amends for BlackBerry Outage With Free Apps

By  |  Posted at 1:42 am on Monday, October 17, 2011

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After the worst BlackBerry outage ever–it affected customers around the world last week for up to three days–RIM is trying to make amends. It’s decided to let customers download a bunch of apps, worth more than $100, for free from the BlackBerry App World store.

They include:

  • SIMS 3 – Electronic Arts
  •  Bejeweled – Electronic Arts
  • N.O.V.A. – Gameloft
  • Texas Hold’em Poker 2 – Gameloft
  • Bubble Bash 2 – Gameloft
  • Photo Editor Ultimate – Ice Cold Apps
  • DriveSafe.ly Pro – iSpeech.org
  • iSpeech Translator Pro – iSpeech.org
  • Drive Safe.ly Enterprise – iSpeech.org
  • Nobex Radio™ Premium – Nobex
  • Shazam Encore – Shazam
  • Vlingo Plus: Virtual Assistant – Vlingo

Continue reading this story…



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The BlackBerry e-mail outage that has been impacting parts of Europe and the Middle East for days has now crept into the U.S. Here’s Ina Fried’s report on a conference call RIM held to (sort of) explain what’s going on.

I’m not an expert on e-mail back-end architecture, and it’s possible that BlackBerry’s overall uptime remains excellent. But these sweeping outages have happened before. Isn’t it a major problem for RIM customers who run their own BlackBerry servers that they’re still so dependent on things working properly up in Canada?

Posted by Harry at 1:00 pm

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TechHeads: The BlackBerry Situation

By  |  Posted at 10:12 am on Wednesday, August 17, 2011

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Here’s another TechHeads.tv segment. This one features Sharif Sakr of Engadget and me talking about the past, present, and future of BlackBerry. (We recorded it last week, which is why the biggest news in the phone business in years doesn’t come up.)



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Help Me Help My Mom Pick Her Next Phone

By  |  Posted at 12:00 pm on Thursday, August 11, 2011

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My mom, sans BlackBerry.

My mother isn’t the sort of person who craves the latest smartphone just because it’s the latest smartphone. Actually, she remains smitten with her BlackBerry Curve 8900, which she’s had for a couple of years. But it’s developing an odd shadow effect on the screen, and so she rightly thinks she may be in the market for a new phone soon.

She asked me for advice on what to buy. And now I’m asking you for advice.

When it comes to decisions like this, I’m not a missionary. I don’t instinctively want to steer mom off the BlackBerry platform, or onto a particular OS. (For the record, I use an iPhone 4 most of the time, and a Verizon Fascinate some of them time.) I just want her to own a phone she’ll like at least as much as her BlackBerry.

Here’s what’s important to her:

  • She does a lot of e-mail on her phone.
  • She loves reading Kindle books on her BlackBerry. Very important to her.
  • She’d use a browser if she had a decent one.
  • She might dabble in Facebook.
  • She might take photos if her phone had a respectable camera.
  • She might well make video calls on Skype if she could.
  • She might listen to music if someone showed her the ropes. Video, probably not. (Unless it’s of her grandchildren.)
  • She’s not going to play games, do any social networking other than light Facebook use, or install apps willy-nilly.
  • I don’t think she’ll detect much of a difference between 3G and AT&T’s “4G”
  • As far as I know, she has no desire to leave AT&T. (I think she’s nearing the end of a two-year contract and might be able to wangle a new handset at full discount.)
  • I don’t think she has a specific price in mind. But when I mentioned phones being available for a penny on contract, she sounded happy. And when I talked about the iPhone 4 costing $199, she sounded alarmed.

I don’t think mom has had real hands-on experience with any modern smartphones. But my dad has (and likes) an HTC Aria, so she has some sense of the world beyond the Curve. And she told me she’s intrigued by touchscreens. She’s not adverse to trying something new.

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A Harvard Professor Puts Smartphone Usability to the Test

By  |  Posted at 11:39 am on Tuesday, August 9, 2011

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[UPDATE: Upon further reflection, this seems to be a student project created for the class, not research by Galletta himself. And as I said, it's not clear how serious a test it was or what the methodology was. (I do note that the end credits list a "cast." My bad for jumping to conclusions after reading this story.]

Professor Dennis Galletta has been teaching a summer course at Harvard on Human Factors in Information Systems Design. As part of it, he conducted some usability testing of the iPhone 4, Samsung’s Windows Phone 7-based Focus, HTC’s Android-based Thunderbolt, and RIM’s BlackBerry Storm. He had people who hadn’t used any of the phones try to make a call, add a contact, and send a text message, and videotaped their attempts to do so.

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BGR is full of rumors that are uncannily accurate–and ones that turn out to be false alarms.  So take this story with a jumbo-sized grain of salt for now. But it says that RIM’s first BlackBerry phone based on its QNX operating system will come out in the first quarter of next year, will sport a single-core processors, and won’t support today’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

Posted by Harry at 9:58 am

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RIM’s Osborne Special Edition BlackBerries

By  |  Posted at 7:57 am on Wednesday, August 3, 2011

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AT&T is going to get three new “4G” BlackBerry models: a Bold with a touchscreen and two Torches, including one Torch with a large-ish 3.7″ display. They’ll run the new BlackBerry 7 OS, which RIM says offers “a much smoother and faster BlackBerry experience.”

I wanna give the phones and BlackBerry 7 a chance–and a BlackBerry with both a big display and a slide-out keyboard could be cool. But the new models have a whiff of the Osborne effect about them: RIM is already talking about even newer handsets that sport dual-core processors and software based on the potent QNX-based OS that debuted in its troubled-but-has-potential BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

BlackBerry fans who remain largely happy with the platform might get excited about BlackBerry OS 7. But I suspect that everybody else–phone shoppers who are at least as likely to consider an iPhone, an Android, or even a Windows Phone or WebOS handset–is reserving any potential BlackBerry-induced excitement for the future QNX models. Which aren’t available yet. (At this point, 2012 seems likely.) Why get too emotionally attached to a next-generation platform that we already know will become a last-generation platform before too long?

My personal barometer remains simple: We’ll know that RIM is in solid shape when there’s a new BlackBerry that Lance Ulanoff is enthusiastic about.



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One reason why RIM’s decision to let the PlayBook tablet access e-mail only via a BlackBerry phone wasn’t such a hot idea: it’s only now that AT&T customers are able to do it.

Posted by Harry at 9:21 am

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