The obituary for BlackBerry as a smartphone pioneer has been written countless times before. But after pivoting its business away from devices and toward the software that powers them, reports of the company’s death are proving to be premature.
BlackBerry’s QNX software, which tracks real-time data for features like Google maps, GPS navigation, traffic monitoring and infotainment systems, is already embedded in millions of cars on the road today.
And the company recently partnered with Amazon to create BlackBerry Ivy, a new cloud-based platform that takes things a step further into the realm of self-driving technology, collecting real-time data and making on-the-fly recommendations for everything from dangerous road conditions to the location of the nearest electric charging or gas stations.
“You can look at things like traffic congestion or offering new services to your customers, like being able to recommend where there’s an open parking space, based on where you’re at,” is how Sarah Tatsis, who heads up the program at BlackBerry, describes it.
Pinning hopes to an automotive future
The company has high hopes for the technology, but acknowledged it’s not perfect in a news release last week. In a blow to its stellar reputation for security, BlackBerry revealed that it had found a potential vulnerability in versions of QNX that came out prior to 2012.
While versions since then aren’t impacted and the company said it’s “not aware of any exploitation of this vulnerability,” it underscores just how important BlackBerry thinks the automotive industry is to its future.
While few drivers are likely aware of it, QNX is already installed in 195 million vehicles on the road today. That’s almost 100 times the number of vehicles Tesla has out there, providing similar data points to learn from and giving Canada’s fallen tech giant a leg up in the self-driving space.
“It’s a big advantage for BlackBerry to already be in close to 200 million smart vehicles right now,” independent technology journalist Pascal Forget said in an interview with CBC News.
“They have much more data points, much more data that they can use to improve their systems compared to Tesla.”
Forget says he doubts that being just one component under the hood of every smart car on the road is enough to bring the company back to its glory days, but he says it could at least mean a new lease on life.
Bumpy road back
CEO John Chen has helmed BlackBerry for eight years now, and his mission since day one has been to do exactly what they’re doing now: pivot away from the lost battle of handsets and toward the software that powers the gadgets of tomorrow.
That path has been a painful one, with several rounds of major layoffs that hit hard in the technology hub of Kitchener and Waterloo, Ont.
“It was definitely a challenging time and there was a lot of worry locally,” says Mike Kirkup, the company’s former head of developer relations.
While BlackBerry was losing people, Kirkup says there was a concerted effort to retain a lot of the company’s talent in the region. Because even as it was dying in smartphones, the company was giving birth to the next generation of high-flying tech stars.
Many ex-BlackBerry people went on to build their own startups, while others helped take existing tech companies to the next level.
The data surveillance company Magnet Forensics, for instance, mostly consists of former BlackBerry employees in its executive team, including CEO Adam Belsher and chairman Jim Balsillie, who cofounded BlackBerry with Mike Lazaridis in the early 1990s when it was known as Research in Motion.
Magnet Forensics, which helps law enforcement agencies fight cybercrime, went public in May with an IPO on the Toronto Stock Exchange that raised $115 million. Barely three months later, those shares have already tripled in value.
“I think that’s the understated or underrepresented story of the impact of what all those BlackBerry people are doing now: they’re scaling the next generation of companies with a level of experience and global knowledge that very few people would’ve had before,” Kirkup said.
Meme stock treatment
While the name doesn’t have the cachet it once did, BlackBerry’s penchant for having world-leading tech was a factor in shares of the company going on a run earlier this year.
The stock price hit a nine-year high in January after news of the smart-car deal with Amazon landed, but a lot of the hype came from BlackBerry’s sudden status as a “meme stock” — a company retail investors pile money into, often confounding analysts who have a more intimate knowledge of the company’s financial prospects.
Robert Tétrault, portfolio manager at Canaccord Genuity in Winnipeg, says BlackBerry owes its run to the “GameStop phenomenon,” where online investor forums would co-ordinate to drive trades and pump up the value of certain stocks.
“It was all about sticking it to the institutions, sticking it to Wall Street. And pumping up a stock that they believed could grow.”
While that rally mostly fizzled, BlackBerry’s brief time as a meme stock speaks to how investors think the company has some valuable tech under the hood.
Regardless of that hype, turning high-tech driving software into actual profits will be where the rubber meets the road for the company.
“Redditors are focused on the next big thing and earnings are less important. But at the end of the day, a stock will be a reflection of its potential future earnings regardless of what happens online,” Tétrault said.
Inflation: Half of Canadians' finances worse than last year – CTV News
As inflation rates soar to the highest they’ve been in Canada in forty years, nearly half of Canadians say that right now, they’re doing worse financially than they were at this time last year.
A further third say they expect things to get even worse in the coming year, the largest number of people to answer this way in more than a decade.
The numbers come from a new Angus Reid Institute (ARI) survey released Friday, which surveyed more than 5,000 Canadian adults between June 7 and June 13 on their financial standing and struggles.
The results shed light on the plight Canadians are facing coast to coast.
Currently, inflation is at a staggering 7.7 per cent higher than last year, according to Statistics Canada. The inflation rate hasn’t been this high since 1983, the year that Canada Day replaced Dominion Day.
The percentage of Canadians answering that they are worse off financially now than a year ago has been increasing steadily over the last few years. In 2018, only 29 per cent of Canadians said they were doing worse than the previous year. That number climbed to 32 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, then to 45 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.
It’s now the highest that it has been since ARI started tracking this specific question in 2010.
At the same time, the number of Canadians who said they were doing the same as a year ago plummeted, going from 54 per cent in 2018, to 44 per cent in 2020, to 36 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.
Interestingly, the percentage of Canadians who say they are doing better than the previous year jumped to 23 per cent in 2020, after years of hovering around 13-14 per cent. That number is now at 17 per cent.
When these results are broken down into the household income of the respondents, those who are in the upper echelons of income, making more than $200,000 annually, were much more likely to report that they were doing better than last year financially, at 26 per cent, and the least likely to report that they were doing worse, at 30 per cent.
On the other end of the scale, those making less than $25,000 per year were more likely to say they were worse off this year, at 51 per cent, and less likely to say they were doing better than last year, at 15 per cent — underlining how the rich are hurt less by shifts such as inflation, and the poor keep getting poorer as rising costs hit their wallets.
Only one in five Canadians said they expected things to improve a year from now, while a third anticipated things to get even worse.
“Residents in Saskatchewan voice the most pessimism and least optimism on this question,” the report stated.
COST OF LIVING IS EXORBITANT FOR MANY
Concerns about the cost of simply living is the one that consumes the time and energy of most Canadians, with food, housing and bills driving a huge amount of financial worries across the country.
When asked what the top provincial issues were, with respondents being able to choose up to three options, “cost of living/inflation” was overwhelmingly the most popular selection, with 63 per cent of respondents selecting it as a major issue.
Health care and housing affordability took second and third place at 52 per cent and 31 per cent respectively, with climate change and the environment coming in at fourth with 26 per cent.
“Some regions of the country are under more economic stress than others,” the report stated. “In Atlantic Canada, the cost of living was already higher than most other parts of the country last year. And Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have experienced higher rates of inflation than other provinces, alongside Manitoba and British Columbia.”
When it comes to the country as a whole, more than half of those who rented said that it’s difficult to afford their rent.
For homeowners, monthly mortgage payments are on the rise after a series of interest rate increase by the Bank of Canada. One quarter of Canadians with a mortgage say prices have already gone up, while another half said they anticipate a price jump. Two thirds say that if their payments increased by $300 a month, they might not be able to afford it anymore.
“The challenge for many, as pandemic-era supports are removed, and some struggle with repayment of the CERB they received, is to avoid debt creation,” the report stated, noting that many Canadians are already struggling with debt.
Two in five Canadians said they had credit card debt.
Of those who scored high on the ARI Economic Stress Index and were classified as “struggling” on that index, 62 per cent had credit card debt, and three-in-five of this group said it would take them more than a year to pay it off.
The Economic Stress Index, created in January, looks at core costs related to quality of life, such as debt, housing and household food costs, as well as the respondents’ anxieties and assessments of their own finances, to map out who is having a harder time.
There are four categories: struggling, uncomfortable, comfortable, and thriving. The proportion of those who are “thriving” has dropped six points since May, while the number of those who “struggling” has risen three points in that time period. Some good news is that 29 per cent of Canadians fit into the “comfortable” category compared to 26 per cent in May.
“A majority in each of the Atlantic provinces fall under the Struggling or Uncomfortable categories,” the report stated, with 55 per cent in Nova Scotia and 64 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador falling into one of these two categories.
Across the country, in most provinces, more than half of the respondents fell into the one of the bottom two categories, with 64 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador, 59 per cent in Alberta, 62 per cent in Saskatchewan, 57 per cent in Manitoba, 55 per cent in Nova Scotia and 54 per cent in Ontario. Prince Edward Island was not included in the survey.
“Only in Quebec (61 per cent) and B.C. (52 per cent) do more than half fall into the top two categories on the ESI,” the report stated. “Notably, by Statistic Canada’s CPI, those provinces have the lowest cost of living of any province in the country.”
The province with the single highest percentage of Canadian respondents deemed to be “thriving” was Quebec, with a whopping 30 per cent.
Just over 75 per cent of Canadians said their province had done a poor job of handling inflation.
Around one in three Canadians said their costs due to purchasing gas had increased, while just under half stated that those costs had gone down for them because they were consciously avoiding driving and seeking out other forms of transportation to save money.
FOOD PRICES LEAVING SOME HUNGRY
The report noted that inflation affects some goods more harshly than others.
“Food inflation was 10 per cent in May, higher than the 7.7 per cent inflation rate overall,” the report said.
Just over half of Canadians surveyed reported struggling to make the grocery bill each month, with the report noting that this is seven points higher than last October.
And the lower your tax bracket, the harder it is to put food on the table. Seven out of ten Canadians making less than $25,000 a year said it is difficult to feed themselves and their family, while at least one third of all incomes reported finding it hard to budget for food.
One B.C. resident told The Canadian Press that her grocery bill has more than doubled. Food Banks Canada are concerned that more and more children — who make up a third of those who rely on food banks — could be going hungry this summer as school ends and access to school-based food programs is cut off.
Earlier this month, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called out MPs for laughing in the House of Commons after he spoke about Canadians being unable to afford groceries. In a video Singh posted of the incident, laughter can be heard after he states that one in four Canadians are going hungry.
“I just mentioned that Canadians are hungry and I hear laughter in the chambers,” Singh said after the Speaker asked him to repeat himself. “They should be ashamed of themselves. Absolutely ashamed.” He stated on social media that those who were laughing were Conservative MPs.
TRUST IN INSTITUTIONS
Amid rising inflation, the Bank of Canada is meant to keep the impact on Canadians to a minimum through policy adjustments, but Canadian trust in this institution is split, according to the survey. While 46 per cent said they trusted the Bank of Canada, 41 per cent said they did not.
When the political leanings of survey respondents were taken into account, the results became more stark: Past supporters of the Conservative party and the People’s Party of Canada were less likely to trust the Bank of Canada, with 59 per cent and 86 per cent indicating this respectively.
The Bank of Canada has admitted that it made missteps, and is now playing catch-up as Canada’s economy overheats.
Disney, other companies vow to cover employees' out-of-state abortions – CBC News
The Walt Disney Co., publishing giant Conde Nast and the investment firm JPMorgan Chase were among the major American companies that pledged on Friday to cover travel costs for employees seeking out-of-state abortions, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade.
The ruling did away with the constitutional protection of abortion, leaving the matter to individual states, 13 of which were poised to immediately ban the procedure.
Florida, home to Walt Disney World, currently prohibits abortions after 15 weeks. Disney’s employee benefits will cover costs for those who need to travel to get health-care, including abortions, a company spokesman said Friday. The company, which recently sparred with state lawmakers over the contentious “Don’t say gay” bill, had previously declined to comment on a potential overturn.
Other major media companies — Sony, Paramount, Comcast, Warner Bros. Discovery and Netflix — also said they will reimburse travel expenses for out-of-state abortions.
Airbnb, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Patagonia made similar pledges. The Gap, in a statement, noted its employee benefits cover abortion and other family planning services, but did not specify travel expenses.
Top executives at other companies — Meta’s outgoing COO Sheryl Sandberg, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman — condemned the ruling as a step back for women’s rights.
“Business leaders must step up to support the health and safety of their employees by speaking out against the wave of abortion bans that will be triggered as a result of this decision, and call on Congress to codify Roe into law,” Stoppelman wrote in a statement.
There it is. I’m so sorry to see it. Dems, here is your mandate going into midterms. <a href=”https://t.co/BWhLPRQqtC”>https://t.co/BWhLPRQqtC</a>
Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch emails staffers: “The most powerful way for us to respond to what’s happening right now is through our brands and the distinctive editorial lenses with which they’re covering today’s news and the effect it will have on society.” <a href=”https://t.co/0JxkuznpCj”>pic.twitter.com/0JxkuznpCj</a>
Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO of the dating app Bumble, said her company will continue supporting reproductive rights by donating to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. OkCupid encouraged people to contact their elected representatives, in a post on Instagram.
Apple, Amazon, Tesla, Levi Strauss & Co., Lyft, Starbucks and Microsoft have all previously said that they would also cover travel costs for employees seeking out-of-state health-care.
In September, Uber said it would cover legal fees for any drivers sued for dropping people off at abortion clinics. That same month, Salesforce offered to help Texas employees relocate, after that state, together with Mississippi, passed “heartbeat bills,” effectively banning early-pregnancy abortions.
Stock markets end week on high note, after weeks of declines – CBC News
Stocks racked up more gains on Wall Street Friday, as the S&P 500 had its best day in two years and just its second week of increases in the last 12 to provide a bit of relief from the market’s brutal sell-off this year.
The benchmark index rose 3.1 per cent, with technology and banks leading the broad rally. The S&P 500 notched a 6.4 per cent gain for the week, erasing the brutal loss it took a week earlier, though it’s still close to 20 per cent below its record set early this year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.7 per cent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended 3.3 per cent higher. Both indexes also posted a weekly gain that more than made up for their losses last week.
Stocks rallied this week as investors speculate the Federal Reserve may not have to be as aggressive about raising interest rates as earlier thought as it fights to control inflation.
The gains are a reprieve from Wall Street’s tumble through most of the year, caused by the Fed’s and other central banks’ slamming into reverse the monetary support put into markets through the pandemic. In hopes of beating down punishingly high inflation, central banks have raised interest rates and made other moves that hurt prices for investments and threaten to slow the economy enough to cause a recession. Many economists predict further moves.
“It has been a good week,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “It’s rare. At least in 2022, we’ve had only a couple of weeks where we ended up net positive. It looks pretty similar to what we saw right around the end of May, and that one of course fizzled out.”
The S&P 500 rose 116.01 points to 3,911.74. The Dow climbed 823.32 points to 31,500.68. The Nasdaq rose 375.43 points to 11,607.62.
Consumer sentiment at record low
Parts of the U.S. economy are still red-hot, particularly the jobs market, but some discouraging signals have emerged recently.
A report on Friday confirmed sentiment among consumers sank to its lowest point since the University of Michigan began keeping records, hurt in particular by high inflation.
Another lowlight this week suggested the U.S. manufacturing and services sectors aren’t as strong as economists thought.
Such weakening data raise worries about the strength of the economy. But they also can be good for financial markets, as paradoxical as that may seem.
They could mean less consumer demand fuelling inflation, which would ultimately mean the Federal Reserve doesn’t have to raise rates so aggressively. And interest rates drive trading for everything from stocks to cryptocurrencies.
“We have seen a cooling off in a lot of areas, certainly. Gasoline purchases are down, housing prices appear to be cooling across the board,” Frederick said. “To me all of this speaks to the fact what the Fed is doing now appears to at least be having some impact. Now, whether or not it’s sufficient to bring inflation down, I don’t think we know yet.”
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