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Is Blackberry in a death spiral?

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Poor Blackberry - they're getting a little bit desperate. They're haemorrhaging cash, laying off many of their staff and desperately trying to pull up from a nose-dive caused by technology shifting and their company being unable to keep up - compounded by the disastrous failure of the Blackberry Q10 to win back our hearts and minds. With the latest moves though, I'm wondering if they're a in death spiral?

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Earlier this week CEO John Chen announced a bold new solution: Umm... start manufacturing the old phone again.

His plan is to rejuvenate the Blackberry Bold 9900 - which was popular a few years ago by upgrading it to run BB10, the latest version of the Blackberry operating system. What will make the phone unique is that - going against trend - it will come with a full QWERTY keyboard, marking a big reversal from BB dumping the keyboard with the Q10.

Now, sometimes the old can be better than the new - just look at Windows 8 or the third and fourth Terminator films as proof. But this just seems bizarre - the market has very definitely moved on and voted in favour of trading buttons for on screen keyboards that create more screen real estate.

Just because something worked years ago doesn't mean it will work today - especially if the circumstances are completely different. The "I prefer a full keyboard" crowd is shrinking as more and more people are (essentially forced) to pick up a touchscreen device - training themselves on the new piece of kit. Would you switch back now?

The other problem for Blackberry is that there is still going to be the chronic lack of apps. All of the hardware keyboards in the world can't make up for the fact that Blackberry 10 lacks many of the apps we'd consider standard on iPhone or Android. And it simply isn't easy. The fact there has to be an installation guide for Vine for Blackberry says it all. (Also, unsurprisingly, Vine for Blackberry appears to be unofficial and not officially supported by Twitter, who own Vine).

The one ace the company does have up its sleeve is BBM. The messaging platform, which was wisely expanded to support iOS and Android isn't doing too badly - it now has 85 million users. Whilst this is dwarfed by the likes of WhatsApp, it still makes BBM a player in the only messaging space.

Unfortunately, the best thing they could come up with to make money from BBM is by selling premium "stickers" which can be bought for a couple of pounds and lets you send themed emoticons. This was announced yesterday, and is presumably aimed at suggesting to shareholders there is a way to make money from it.

So what to do? Is Blackberry really in a death spiral? At the moment they seem to be a moderately successful app company... but with this weird mobile phone manufacturing division bolted on to the side. It's hard to see them turning things around without doing something dramatic.

If you had to ask me to make a prediction, I reckon they'll get snapped up in a year or so by one of the bigger tech players who are wanting to increase their market share and take out a competitor in messaging. Maybe Facebook? They could add 85 million more regular chatters to their already massive suite of similar messaging apps (Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram) - which won't make a huge dent, but will mean that the only real competitors would be Apple's iMessage and Google's Hangouts. Plus if they need something to do with all of the spare Blackberry engineers hanging around the office, they could always put them to work on figuring out what to do with the Oculus Rift.

What should Blackberry do to stop the decline?

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bbfall.pngBeleaguered phone makers Blackberry have today announced that they're abandoning their sell-off plan. This has sent shares plummeting as no one can quite figure out what they're going to do to get themselves out of the pit that they are in.

Having been mercilessly sunk by market forces following the touchscreen phone revolution, the company that only a few years ago been the Next Big Thing was raved about by business people and "da kidz" alike - but now like an old family pet, everyone is just expecting the inevitable news.

Despite the doom and gloom (which I admit, I'm adding to) - they're not dead yet, and with good reason. They still have a substantial user base, lots of assets, and crucially a tonne of useful mobile patents.

So what can they do? Here's our view of the options.

Switch to Android

The most obvious thing to do is to switch to Android. As we've previously said - it's all about the eco-system, and no one is going to buy a phone that doesn't have any apps for it... even if the platform is (theoretically) better. Look at how the more popular VHS beat the technically-better Betamax all those years ago.

So rather than persevere, why not just switch to Android? Blackberry are already good at making hardware - so why not put it to use? Blackberry still have a pool of users who are still loyal to BB hardware - so why not let their next phone still be a Blackberry, but one that will run apps that their friends have?

Of course - there's a couple of risks with this approach. Switching to Android would put Blackberry into direct competition with the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, and Google themselves - so they'd have to do something pretty spectacular on the hardware front. Though it's not like BB don't have any experience making phones, right?

Similarly, there's also the loss of prestige - like when Sega stopped making consoles and became just another developer alongside EA and Activision et al. They lost what made them special. More practically, this isn't just a psychological blow but also means BB will no longer be a platform holder, and thus able to take a cut from app sales on the platform - and dictate the terms in which people can make apps for their hardware. Though as no one is using Blackberrys anyway, and Samsung seem to be doing okay... what do they have to lose?

Switch to Windows Mobile

The thinking goes that when Nokia abandoned the dying Symbian platform, they chose Microsoft's Windows Phone over Android because rather than be a medium-sized fish in a big ocean, they'd instead be a massive fish (think a blue fish tuna) floating in a barrel - with no other manufacturers competing for Microsoft's ear. Whilst this has certainly had mixed results for Nokia, it was good for Microsoft as it meant - frankly - they were able to compete as a distant third platform to Android and iOS.

If Blackberry also bought into Microsoft's Windows Phone platform it could become an even more viable third player - and Blackberry would retain some of the 'prestige' along with Nokia of being one of the few manufacturers who makes hardware for this platform, which aesthetically can compete with iOS.

Merge with other technology companies

Blackberry could put itself back up for sale - someone will surely want it? Maybe Microsoft might fancy another acquisition to bolster it's Nokia purchase? Maybe Google will want some of that enterprise expertise to stop business customers heading over to iOS?

Hell, Apple have a spare few billion left in the bank (allegedly more liquid cash than the US government) - maybe they might buy them out of pity?

Or, of course, they could merge with AOL, MySpace and the concept of a print newspaper to create the most redundant conglomerate in history.

Stagger onwards into oblivion and hope for the game-changer

People wrote off Apple before they came out with the iPod. Nintendo were gonners until they pulled the Wii out of nowhere. Could Blackberry survive? They need to do something truly game-changing. Not a Sarah Palin-style "Hail Mary" pass, as the Americans say, but they need to figure out what the next big thing in mobile is and make it happen.

Since the original iPhone (and perhaps almost as crucially, the app store business model), whilst phone upgrades have still been exciting, they've all been pretty similar: faster processors and bigger screens with no huge innovations.

Blackberry need to figure out what the next huge thing is going to be. Google, Apple and Samsung are no doubt working on things beyond our current comprehension (Google Glass, smart watches), so BB shouldn't be dragging their feet.

However, I don't know what that next big thing is going to be - if I did, I'd be a billionaire. So my advice to Blackberry is simple: Get your thinking caps on!

What can Blackberry learn from Nintendo?

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Mario holding a Blackberry Q10It hasn't been a good week for Blackberry. Following the failure of the Q10 to interest pretty much anyone, they've essentially announced they're giving up on consumers and are instead going to go after their more reliable "Enterprise" users. They've also sacked 40% of their global workforce. So can the company turn things around? I think Blackberry could learn a lot by looking to Nintendo.

Remember the Gamecube? Nintendo's little purple box that never quite managed to compete with the Playstation 2 and the original Xbox. It was a grim time to be a Nintendo fan. Whilst all of your mates were busy playing the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, God Of War, and a seemingly endless stream of Triple-A titles, the only thing you had to look forward to was playing through Mario Sunshine - again - whilst waiting for the new realistic-looking Zelda: Twilight Princess (which only arrived just as the console was breathing it's last breath).

What killed the Gamecube and it's prospects was that there weren't many Gamecubes sold, and there wasn't any third party support. Companies like EA, Konami and Activision were reticent to make Gamecube games because there was no one to buy them. And no one bought a Gamecube because there weren't many games available. As you can imagine - it was a deathly spiral.

Meanwhile back in 2013 Blackberry have the same problem - no one wants a Blackberry phone because there aren't many apps available. And no one wants to develop any apps for Blackberry, because no one wants a Blackberry phone. Is there a way they can pull out of this nosedive?

Remember what Nintendo did. Rather than try to compete with the Sony and Microsoft powerhouses, they decided to take a huge risk and come up with something radically new: The Nintendo Wii.

The initial reaction from gamers was fairly negative: What a stupid machine! The controller looks more like a TV remote, not something for gaming! And (to paraphrase angry developer Chris Hecker at the time), it's underpowered - it's just two Gamecubes duct-taped together! But as soon as people actually had a go at using the motion controls that changed everything. And the Wii subsequently sold by the bucket load. And Nintendo, rather than folding into oblivion, are still here today.

So what is it that Blackberry can do that matches Nintendo's bold move? Well, I'm not so sure (that's why I'm not a millionaire having sold my revolutionary idea to them). But what I do know is that if their next move is to simply release a boring and unremarkable black rectangle that roughly matches their competition, then I wouldn't expect them to be around much longer. Blackberry must innovate or die - and come up with something that is truly gamechanging, rather than play catch-up with the big beasts.

And as a footnote - the final irony of all of this is that whilst Nintendo has seen great success with the Wii, the console's successor, the Wii U has been misstep after misstep. Maybe in a couple of years I'll be writing "What can Nintendo learn from Blackberry"?

bbm-ios-android.jpgBlackBerry's BBM messaging service will be making its long-awaited arrival on Android phones and Apple's iOS devices this weekend.

Those sporting gadgets running Google's operating system will get the first stab at it on Saturday 20 September, with the iOS version hitting the Apple App Store on Sunday 21 September. That sees BlackBerry just squeeze into the summer launch window that they had planned, with barely a day to spare.

BBM for iOS and Android will let users chat with BlackBerry owners and each other, while also letting users share files, images, and voice notes. Group chats of up to 30 participants is also supported. BlackBerry says that its BBM Channels feature will be made available on iOS and Android soon after the initial launch.

On Android, the app will be compatible with Android 4.0 and up, while only iOS users running version 6 and above will be able to make use of the service.

Despite this year's BlackBerry 10 reboot for the company and the launch of a number of critically well-received handsets, BlackBerry has still struggled to make up the ground lost to smartphone rivals Apple and Google with Android.

As such, the company have now begun farming out key software properties to rival mobile platforms, while also potentially considering an outright sale of the company.

Job cuts hit struggling BlackBerry

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thorsten-heins-blackberry-w1.jpgIt's still very much a rough time to be at mobile phone manufacturer BlackBerry. According to a new report by the Wall Street Journal, the Canadian smartphone makers this week laid off dozens of staff in a whole new round of job cuts.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal claim that it was predominantly members of the US sales team that will now be standing on the breadline.

"I can confirm a small number of employees were laid off today," a company spokesman told the newspaper, also confirming that these were just the latest layoffs in a series that has continued over several weeks now.

Despite this year's BlackBerry 10 reboot for the company and the launch of a number of critically well-received handsets, BlackBerry has still struggled to make up the ground lost to smartphone rivals Apple and Google with Android.

As such, the company have now begun farming out key software properties (including the popular BBM messaging system) to rival mobile platforms, while also potentially considering an outright sale of the company.

bbm-ios-android.jpgBlackBerry's much-loved BBM service may be making its way to Android and iPhone handsets sooner than expected, as a placeholder page advertising the cross-platform messaging service breifly hit the web last night.

Spotted by CrackBerry, the clumsy BlackBerry webmasters quickly took down the prematurely published, half-finished page that appeared last night. But not before a few details were gleaned and screen captures were saved, revealing that the app will be available as a free download across both platforms.

Those hoping to get as fully-featured a service at launch as what is offered through BlackBerry's own BB10 operating system version of BBM will be disappointed however. The page revealed that the BBM Voice, BBM Video and screen-sharing options won't land until later in the year.

With the BB10 platform struggling to gain traction in the crowded smartphone market, BlackBerry will be increasingly looking towards farming out their services to other platforms. Earlier this month, it was even suggested the company may be considering selling up.

BlackBerry may be finally considering selling up, but that wont the BB10 brand from having at the very least one final push towards mass market success. A wave of leaks suggests a "phablet" sized BB10 handset is on the way in the shape of the Z30 and, if this video is to trusted, above you'll find the very first hands-on preview video of the smartphone.

The handset, elsewhere also known as the A10, has been exposed by Vietnamese site Cellphone S, and though the video commentary is in Vietnamese, it's a good look at the handset from every angle, running what appears to be a new build of BB10 - look at that extra row of app icons, for instance.

Believed to be making use of a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 2GB of RAM, the 5-inch, 720p handset caught on film in the clip above is also bearing the AT&T logo, suggesting a US release might not be all that far away.

A brand savior, or another doomed BlackBerry handset? Sign off in the comments below.

blackberry-z10-02.JPGAfter failing to meet the company's big hopes for the BlackBerry relaunch, and despite garnering some critical acclaim for the Z10, Q10 and Q5 handsets, BlackBerry have announced that they are ready to "explore strategic partnerships" for the brand - which may include potentially finding a buyer for the whole company.

With Microsoft's Windows Phone line wrestling third place in the smartphone market from the Canadian one-time mobile kings, BlackBerry have created a "Special Committee" to establish new money-making strategies for the company going forward. Thorsten Heins, president and CEO of BlackBerry, will sit on the board, while Timothy Dattels will act as chairman.

The committee will explore the potential of joint ventures and strategic partnerships, and could lead to the sales of company technologies, or increasing expansion of BlackBerry properties beyond the confines of BB10 - the same sort of expansion the BBM messaging service is currently going through. "During the past year, management and the board have been focused on launching the BlackBerry 10 platform and BES 10, establishing a strong financial position, and evaluating the best approach to delivering long-term value for customers and shareholders," said Dattels in a statement.

"Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives."

Heins added, "We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition."

z30-z10-q10.jpg♫ Three little BlackBerry phones, sitting in a row...♫

BlackBerry handsets new and old are snuggled up next to each other in perfect harmony today, as a new leak of the BlackBerry A10 (otherwise known as the Z30) shows the new handset in comparison to its BB10 operating system predecessors.

The latest in a string of leaks, the nsaps, sent to CrackBerry, give us a good indication of how the phone will shape up next to the already-released BlackBerry Z10 and keyboard-packing Q5. It looks to be the super-sized touchscreen-only handset of the BlackBerry range, ready to challenge the likes of the HTC One Max and Xperia Z Ultra.

The specs that have dripped in so far suggest to expect a 5-inch screen, powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM. 16GB of internal storage is set to feature, alongside 8MP and 2MP rear-and-front cameras, as well as a 2,800mAh battery.

BlackBerry OS version 10.2 is also tipped to makes its way onto the phone, with the extra screen real estate shown off in the pictures above affording a fifth, extra row of app icons when compared to the Z10.

With the leaks coming thick and fast for the handset, we'd wager it's now only a matter of weeks before BlackBerry take the covers off the handset officially.

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BlackBerry's next expected flagship handset, the BlackBerry A10, has seemingly been detailed in an extensive video leak from Vietnamese website Tinhte.

Expected to be the successor to the struggling BlackBerry Z10, Tinhte have posted a full specifications list for the 9.4mm thick device along with the video which is embedded above.

They claim the handset will use the BlackBerry OS 10.2 version, with a 1.7GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8960 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 5-inch 1280 x 768 AMOLED screen. $G connectivity is expected to be included, as it was with the Z10.

An 8MP camera sits on the rear with LED flash, with a 2MP camera for video calling and selfies up front. The handset acquired by Tinhte has AT&T branding, revealing that to be at least one of the handset's carriers in the US, with the device sporting 16GB of onboard storage.

Rounding off the specs revealed is a micro USB port and micro HDMI, as well as Wi-Fi, NFC and DLNA support. The battery is 2,800mAh.

Still no official word from BlackBerry, but we'll pass on confirmed details once we get them.

BBM for Android to land in September

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bbm-android.jpgBlackBerry have already made it clear that their popular BlackBerry Messaging service (aka BBM - arguably more popular than their phones) would be branching out to the Android and iOS platforms at some point this summer. And it now seems that we have a more precise date for the Android leg of that roll out.

Speaking to IBN Live, BlackBerry India's managing director, Sunil Lalvani, has giving us a month to pop into our diaries.

"The service is coming to Android this summer. But summer as per North America, where it remains till September," he said.

A little vague, but when asked to clarify whether or not that pointed towards a September launch, the executive is said to have responded "in the affirmative".

September is pushing the definition of summer a little far - we'd really call that the Autumn. Also, there's no hint of news on the iOS version either.

Previously, a tweet from T-Mobile had suggested that the BBM app would hit both platforms on June 27, but a quick check of the calendar shows that's proved not to be the case.

blackberry-z10-04.JPGBlackBerry are lining up a brand new 5-inch flagship touchscreen device, the BlackBerry A10, set to supersede the floundering BlackBerrry Z10 handset (pictured) at the top of the company's smartphone range according to a new report.

Sources speaking to Boy Genius Report describe a handset intended to take on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, with a curved design (said to be reminiscent of Samsung's Galaxy S4) replacing the angular look of the Z10.

However, compared to those Android quad-and-octo core powerhouses' specs, the A10 is already sounding a little weedy, with just a dual-core processor present according to reports, backed by 2GB of RAM. Elsewhere, an 8MP rear camera is also said to feature.

BGR's sources expect the handset to release at some point in the Autumn of 2013.

It's a tough time for BlackBerry at the moment, with the company's most recent earnings call revealing the company made a loss over the first financial quarter of 2014, and CEO Thorsten Heins admitting the Z10's launch was flawed.

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thorsten-heins-blackberry-w1.jpgFollowing BlackBerry's disappointing financial results for Q1 2014 (April - June 2013), CEO Thorsten Heins has admitted the launch of the brand's flagship Z10 smartphone was flawed.

Speaking at the company's annual shareholder meeting, webcast from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Heins fielded criticisim from one shareholder who referred to the Z10 rollout as "a disaster".

"Were we perfect at the launch?" responded Heins responded.

"Probably not. Was it a disaster? I don't think so."

Despite 6.8 million smartphones being sold over the quarter, with 2.7 million sales of BlackBerry 10 handsets the Z10 and Q10, BlackBerry still posted a loss for the quarter, suffering an $84 million loss. Analysts had hoped for the re-invigorated brand to sell some 1 million further handsets than the figure they achieved. Revenues however are up 15% year-on-year, rising to $3.1 billion.

BlackBerry shares now sit 30% lower than prior to the earnings call, with BlackBerry holding just 2.9% of the market share, massively behind Google's market leader Android at 75%.

bb10-launch-top.JPGBlackBerry has posted its quarterly earnings report of Q1 fiscal 2014 (April - June 2013) and it's a mixed bag for the company's fortunes.

On one hand, sales have been modestly strong, with 6.8 million smartphones sold over the quarter, boosted by the 2.7 million sales of BlackBerry 10 handsets the Z10 and Q10.

However, it hasn't stopped the company from posting a loss for the quarter, suffering an $84 million loss. Revenues however are up 15% year-on-year, rising to $3.1 billion.

For CEO Thorsten Heins, it all still represents a positive shift for the company, with the new BB10 platform "still in the early stages" according to the company head. With new devices in the pipeline, including the recently-launch Q5 budget offering, Heins sees adoption of BlackBerry devices set to steadily climb over the coming months.

"The BlackBerry 10 platform and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 are proving themselves to customers to be very secure, flexible and dynamic mobile computing solutions," said Heins.

"Over the next three quarters, we will be increasing our investments to support the roll out of new products and services, and to demonstrate that BlackBerry has established itself as a leading and vibrant player in next generation mobile computing solutions for both consumer and enterprise customers."

BlackBerry-P9981-Gold-top.jpgDoes anyone need a gold plated phone? No, of course not, at least not beyond some sort of maniacal status symbol. But there will always be some oil baron swimming in cash who will want even his turds covered in the shiny stuff.

For that sort of ludicrously wealthy fool then, the real question is, should you buy the new Porche Design P'9981 BlackBerry. Unless you wan't an incredibly expensive yet outdated blower in your pocket, the answer is again no.

Complete with a stainless steel case and covered in a layer of titanium before having a 24-carat gold coating applied, the P'9981 is disappointingly left with the ageing BB OX 7.1 platform, 2.8-inch touchscreen, 1.2GHz processor, 768MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and 5MP camera.

A BlackBerry Z10 is a fraction of the price, and far more functional.

BlackBerry have been quiet on exactly how much the phone costs. But with a standard non-gold version of the phone priced at roughly £1,250, and this pricey variant limited to a 25-piece run, expect it to exponentially more expensive. Avoid.

blackberry-10-ui-top.jpgThere's no shaking Google's Android and Apple's iOS from first and second place respectively at the top of the smartphone user number rankings charts, but the battle for third place is a corker. The latest stats have just come in from the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, covering Q1 2013, seeing Windows Phone overtake BlackBerry for third place.

Microsoft's mobile OS now sits at 3.2% of the smartphone market share, up from 2.0% last year, with BlackBerry dropping down to 2.9%, a considerable fall from their 6.4% share a year earlier in Q1 2012.

While that's a 133.3% growth for Windows Phone, BlackBerry's share has shrunk by 35.1%. This is despite a gigantic new hardware and software push from the Canadian company, launching new handsets like the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10, as well as the well-considered BlackBerry 10 OS. While the Nokia and Microsoft partnership across the Lumia line-up is finally making headway it seems, leading the Windows Phone charge, it must be very worrying times over at Blackberry HQ.

"Windows Phone claiming the third spot is a first and helps validate the direction taken by Microsoft and key partner Nokia," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

"Given the relatively low volume generated, the Windows Phone camp will need to show further gains to solidify its status as an alterative to Android or iOS."

As expected, Google's Android OS retains the top spot with 75% of the market share (that's 79.5% year-on-year growth), with Apple's iPhone line taking a 17.3% share in second place.

For more from the report, click here.

white-blackberry-q10.jpgFollowing the early sales success of the BlackBerry Q10 as a Selfridges exclusive at the end of last month, a new white variant will hit UK stores Carphone Warehouse and Selfridges.

Previously only available in black, the phone features a full QWERTY keyboard as well as the new BlackBerry 10 operating system that first debuted in the touch-only BlackBerry Z10 (which is now also available in white).

The BlackBerry Q10's spec sheet includes an 8MP camera, a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and storage expansion support over microSD. If you sign up with a contract from EE, you can also get the phone with superfast 4G mobile data connectivity ahead of the roll-out of the mobile network from competing operators later this year.

Carphone Warehouse have the white Q10 listed as free on £33 a month, 24 month contracts, with the phone up for grabs at £579.95 SIM-free.

For an indepth look at the BlackBerry Q10 operating system that runs on the phone, click here.

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thorsten-heins-blackberry-thumb.jpgIt seems as though the early success of the keyboard-packing Q10 handset has gone to the head of BlackBerry boss Thorsten Heins. The CEO of the struggling mobile phone company has predicted the death of the tablet, saying that the hardware category will go the way of the dodo by 2018.

"In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore," Heins said in an interview with Bloomberg yesterday at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles. "Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model."

It's an interesting stance from the BlackBerry boss, especially considering the waning desktop/laptop sales and booming Android and Apple tablet market. Though we can't speak of innovations 5-years down the line, consumers are voting with their wallets in favour of tablets, suggesting that they may well eventually supersede traditional computing formats.

If anything, it seems as though the CEO is laying the ground work for BlackBerry's exit from the tablet market, an attempt at justifying the inevitable move in the wake of dire PlayBook sales. Heins has been tightening the BlackBerry purse strings since taking over at the company, cutting 5,000 jobs.

So where does the future lie for BlackBerry? According to Heins, somewhat contradictorily with mobile computing.

"In five years, I see BlackBerry to be the absolute leader in mobile computing - that's what we're aiming for," Heins said. "I want to gain as much market share as I can, but not by being a copycat."

BlackBerryQ10-2.jpgBlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is being bullishly confident with his predictions for sales of the QWERTY keyboard-packing BlackBerry Q10 smartphone, telling Bloomberg he believes the new phone will sell "tens of millions" of units.

"This is going into the installed base of more than 70 million BlackBerry users so we have quite some expectations," Heins said.

If his predictions are accurate, sales of the BlackBerry Q10 would dwarf that of the BlackBerry Z10, the first of the company's smartphones to use their new BlackBerry 10 operating system, so far managing to sell just over 1 million handsets since going on sale back in January. Some US retailers have even claimed that return rates are outstripping sales on the Z10 model.

So far though, things are looking positive for the Q10. Sales kicked off as a Selfridges exclusive over the weekend, where the handset became the retailer's fastest-selling tech product ever.

Peter Misek, analyst at Jefferies Group, shared Heins' optimism:

"Salespeople were well-versed on the device and there was more apparent buzz versus the Z10 launch," Misek said.

Heins looks to be running a tight ship over at the rechristened BlackBerry. Slashing 5,000 jobs last year, the company posted a $98 million profit for Q4 2012, a year-on-year turnaround from the $125 million loss 12 months earlier.

selfridges-q10-top.jpgUK retailer Selfridges has announced that the newly-released BlackBerry Q10 handset has broken the company's technology sales record during its opening weekend at retail.

The QWERTY keyboard phone is the second in BlackBerry's new line of BB10 smartphones and was a Selfridges exclusive, going on sale in the retailer's London, Birmingham and Manchester flagship stores.

The handset broke Selfridges' "fastest-ever selling consumer electronics record" well within 24 hours, with initial stock selling out in just two hours and the online pre-order site attracting 30,000 views in the two days prior to sales opening.

"The BlackBerry Q10 has been, without a doubt, the most highly anticipated smartphone we have ever sold and is already our most successful," said Selfridges' head of Home and Leisure, Julian Slim. "Our partnership has proven to be a powerful combination of great technology and commercial success."

Rob Orr, BlackBerry's UK managing director, shared the delight:

"The BlackBerry Q10 represents the next chapter in the BlackBerry 10 story and we are delighted that it has been so well received. This initial success at Selfridges highlights the strong consumer demand for a high-end physical keyboard smartphone."

It's welcome positive news for BlackBerry. Though the all-touch BlackBerry Z10 handset reviewed fairly well in critics' hands, reports have suggested sales have been slow. It seems BlackBerry's purists still want a physical keyboard, if early sales of the Q10 are anything to go by.Whether the early Selfridges-exclusive success is replicated when the Q10 goes on general sale remains to be seen.

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