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BlackBerry's legacy in enterprise mobility should not be forgotten – TechRadar

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Earlier this week, the news that BlackBerry devices would essentially stop working led to an outpouring of nostalgia – not just in the mobile industry, but in the wider world.

It’s rare that the shutdown of an aging, largely abandoned technology service (in this case BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS)) should be the subject of newspaper headlines, television reports, and discussions on social media, but the response demonstrated the strength of feeling for BlackBerry’s iconic devices.

BBC Radio 1 even made a point of playing a song by Swedish House Mafia and Tinie Tempah that referenced a ‘Bold BB’, itself evidence of the crossover appeal of mobile phones that were orgiianlly designed for executives and office workers.

Crossover appeal

The fact the devices were designed for business users only elevated their appeal, while the associated price tag made them aspirational items in the late 2000s, but BlackBerrys were the first evidence fir many people that mobile phones could be more than just for making calls and sending texts.

BlackBerry offered email, instant messaging, and physical keyboards – capabilities that had previously been limited to PCs. And, what’s more, BIS allowed for unlimited data consumption at a time when data plans were often not included in usual contracts. BlackBerrys offered an attractive cocktail of functionality and prestige.

Many of the retrospectives have examined the impact of BlackBerry devices in the same way that the industry might reflect other iconic mobile phones like the Nokia 3310, the Motorola RAZR, or the original iPhone.

However, BlackBerry’s impact on mobility and the world of enterprise IT goes much further. Its software and security capabilities, its contributions to industry-standard patents, and its device innovation are still relevant today.

BlackBerry started life as Research in Motion (RIM) in 1984 when two engineering students, Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, set up a company in Waterloo in the Canadian province of Ontario. RIM quickly made a name of itself in the fields of wireless connectivity and electronic messaging, creating the world’s first two-way pager, devices that could access corporate email, and, eventually, a smartphone.

Two decades of technological development, three generations of mobile connectivity, and one pandemic later mean we’re all accustomed to flexible working. But the ability to access email securely from any location and respond using a QWERTY keyboard rather than an alphanumeric pad, was truly revolutionary for businesspeople at the turn of the century.

(Image credit: BlackBerry)

Enterprise revolution

In an era of IT still dominated by desktops and perimeter-based security, even for those with access to laptops, the behind-the-scenes capabilities of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) made this all possible. BES could manage devices, authenticate users, and secure the transmission of data beyond the confines of the office meaning the new freedoms did not come at the expense of security.

The functionality, design, and price tag made BlackBerry a highly desirable device and one that had consumer appeal. RIM responded by ensuring its latest devices had integrated cameras and by updating the BlackBerry OS several times over its lifespan. BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) became one of the key selling points for its unlimited messaging and media features that went beyond that of SMS. Indeed, BBM PINs were once viewed as a status symbol.

Even when Apple and Google readied the first iPhone and Android devices in 2007, BlackBerry showed no signs of stopping, increasing sales and market share. As late as 2011, a four-day outage of BlackBerry’s infrastructure that saw BBM taken offline was worldwide news. The company was clinging on, but the signs of decline were becoming apparent. BlackBerry OS was designed for an earlier era of mobile, one which relied on more primitive hardware and networking standards. As mobile technology became more advanced and cellular networks more capable in the 4G era, BlackBerry OS and its devices were increasingly outdated.

Attempts to stay competitive in the market proved futile. The touchscreen BlackBerry Storm was a flop and although BlackBerry 10 was well-received by critics, it was repeatedly delayed and arrived far too late in 2013. In a mobile world increasingly dictated by app ecosystems, BlackBerry simply lacked the critical mass to sustain developer interest.

BlackBerry legacy

In 2013, BlackBerry had reached its peak of 85 million subscribers, with many businesses still valuing its security and management capabilities. However, consumers were drifting away, while many employees now wanted to use the same technology at work as they did in the personal lives, resenting many of the shortcomings of BlackBerry handset and the restrictions imposed by IT.

Apple, Samsung and Google slowly eroded BlackBerry’s security advantage and the rise of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend were arguably the final nails in the company’s device ambition coffin.

A name change (from RIM to BlackBerry), lay-offs and a shift in focus from handsets to services followed. The pain of downsizing has given way to a smaller, more focussed and financially-secure organisation that continues to serve the industry and maximise the value of its patent portfolio. The company did release some new devices to serve its die-hard fanbase before deciding to call it a day in 2016. The only BlackBerry devices sold since then have been made by third parties under licence.

It is tempting to fantasise about what might have happened had BlackBerry 10 come out a few years earlier or if BBM had gone cross-platform before Facebook and WhatsApp cornered the market for mobile messaging. But the switch-off of the company’s mobile infrastructure is a time to celebrate the BlackBerry’s legacy in mobility. It helped drive the convergence between the mobile and IT industries, laid some of the foundations for flexible working, and forced other vendors to follow suit.

Parallels with Nokia are obvious and just as the Finnish firm has moved onto telecommunications infrastructure, BlackBerry is working on security and management platforms for a mobile-driven world of IT that also includes emerging fields like the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected cars. 

The worlds of business mobility and BlackBerry itself have both moved on to pastures new and an important chapter in the history of the industry has ended.

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Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Buy Is Not A ‘Metaverse Bet’ – Forbes

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When Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard this past week for nearly $70 billion, the same refrain kept being repeated, first by Microsoft, then by mainstream outlets. That this purchase was a “big bet on the metaverse.”

And yet no one, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella included, have been able to articulate exactly what that means, or why that’s the case. Unless we have finally arrived at the inescapable conclusion that the true metaverse as it exists right now, is mostly just…video games, and has been for decades now.

There is nothing about the Activision Blizzard purchase that actually speaks to this new, often VR or web3-driven vision of the metaverse. Activision is not a VR or AR developer in any meaningful capacity. Their most “immersive” virtual world game is World of Warcraft, the MMO that has existed as a “livable” virtual space since 2004, and these days, is often badly showing its age.

The metaverse is supposed to be a shared, interconnected digital space, but there’s nothing about this purchase that signals Microsoft is building something like that. This is simply a very large tech company buying a very large video game publisher, and they will then start making a lot of money from those very popular video games.

What idea of the metaverse are we even trying to qualify here? Is it simply the idea that if you own a bunch of IPs under one company, they could theoretically be combined someday to create a “metaverse”? If that’s the definition, than Fortnite is far ahead of everyone, licensing hundreds of IPs for use in its game, including a number across Sony and Microsoft video games (Master Chief, Kratos, Aloy, Marcus Fenix, etc).

Microsoft is betting on the video game industry, you know, the thing that has existed for forty years and is bigger than all other entertainment industries combined? The metaverse remains little more than a buzzword, something to spur investment in web3 projects, or try to justify Facebook’s colossal investment in VR. I do agree that video games, as a concept, are closer to the fictionalized vision of the metaverse than anything else, and yet this has been true for eons. Purchasing Activision Blizzard, which does not really have much of a roster of “living universe” games, seems entirely outside of this. Minecraft was more of a “metaverse purchase than this,” but that buzzword didn’t exist back then.

I think tech investment in video games is a good thing overall, and I expect to see more of it. But pretending like buying the company who produces the highest selling video game of the year, every year, is about making a “metaverse play” is disingenuous, and simply repackaging something that has already existed for decades.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 series now rumoured to launch February 9 – MobileSyrup

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Samsung recently revealed an Unpacked event is coming but didn’t set a specific date for the keynote. Rumours previously indicated that the event would take place on February 8th. However, information from reliable tipster Ice Universe suggests the S22 series will instead be revealed on February 9th.

Ice Universe reportedly made the post on the China-based microblogging site Weibo, stating that the Galaxy S22 series will launch on February 9th alongside the Galaxy Tab S8.

However, Digital Daily says that the phone series will launch on February 8th, with the devices releasing on February 24th.

Rumours indicate Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra will feature a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, up to 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and work with an S Pen. The other S22 models will lack the S Pen, sport an S21-like design, a trio of cameras, and the aforementioned Snapdragon 8 gen 1 chipset.

Samsung will likely unveil the official launch date for the Galaxy S22 series in the coming weeks.

Source: Weibo, Android Police 

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Samsung Galaxy A53 passes through TENAA, some specifications revealed – XDA Developers

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The Galaxy S22 series isn’t too far off, with Samsung now accepting reservation orders for the phones, but there are a few other devices in the pipeline too. One of them is the Galaxy A53, the upcoming entry in Samsung’s super-popular A50 lineup, which has already leaked a few times. Now we have the first concrete information about the phone’s hardware, thanks to a new regulatory listing.

TENAA, China’s equivalent to the FCC, has published certification information for the Galaxy A53 (via Android Authority). The page includes dimly-lit photos of the phone from the front, rear, and side, which appear to match the renders published by OnLeaks from November. There is some new information though, especially about the internal hardware.

The phone is identified as the SM-A5360, and has 5G support — there was speculation that Samsung might be ditching the 4G option and only selling a 5G-capabel A53, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s true for every region. TENAA says the device measures 159.5×74.7×8.1 mm, again matching the information from OnLeaks, and weighs 190 grams.

Other hardware details include a 6.46-inch 1080×2400 display, a 4,860mAh battery, an unspecified 8-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128 or 256GB of internal storage, microSD card support up to 1TB, and an under-screen fingerprint sensor. There are three rear cameras: 64MP, 32MP, and two 5MP. The listing also reaffirms the Galaxy A53 won’t have a headphone jack, which is a shame.

Overall, the phone doesn’t appear to be significantly different from last year’s Galaxy A52. The screen is nearly identical in size, though we don’t know the refresh rate — the A52 4G had a 90Hz display, while the A52 5G/A52S was 120Hz. The Galaxy A52 also had the same 8GB RAM, 128/256GB storage, and in-display fingerprint sensor. We don’t know for sure what each camera will do, but the A52 had a 64MP primary lens, a 12MP ultra-wide, a 5MP macro, and a 5MP depth sensor. The 32MP camera mentioned in the listing could be an upgraded ultra-wide, or Samsung might be swapping it for something else (like a telephoto camera).

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