Weekly Update

BlackBerry isn’t dead yet, and the market for mobile OS might not be closed, either

Looking back on what was a relatively quiet week, there no doubt that the actions at BlackBerry stood out.

First off, as I wrote about in Blackberry’s Chen is pushing hard to turn the company around, acting CEO John Chen cut a serious number of senior executives that had been brought in by Thorsten Heins, the previous CEO, who was fired early in November. This wave of execs included Kristian Tear, the chief operating officer,  Frank Boulben, the chief marketing officer, and the chief financial officer, Brian Bidulka, (who will be advising the company for a few more weeks). Roger Martin, a long-time director, stepped down from the board.

The company also announced agreements with a long list of Android smartphone makers to preinstall BlackBerry BBM on their phones, including Be, Brightstar, Celkon, EVERCOSS, IMO, Micromax, Mito, Snexian, Spice, TECNO, TiPhone and Zen.

Later in the week, BlackBerry announced its own social network, implemented inside of BBM, called BBM Channels (see BlackBerry announces social network within BBM). Channels based on the chat notion of ‘channels’, like those found in IRC, or the ‘chatrooms’ in Twitter when a group are following the same hashtag. However, BBM channels can be sponsored by brands or organizations, as well as individuals. What is unclear at present is whether there might be an enterprise angle for BBM Channels.

At present BBM Channels is only available on BlackBerry 10 devices, although the company plans to release versions for iOS and Android soon.

So, it appears that BlackBerry isn’t quite dead yet. PerPerhapsen’s actions could make the company viable enough to kindle interest for a sale, perhaps by one of the major Android phone manufacturers.

One More Thing

The dominance of iOS and Android on smartphones and tablets looks fairly unassailable, despite efforts by Microsoft to break in, and BlackBerry’s efforts to hang on. During this week there were a few interesting activities that suggest that innovation at the edge may be on the rise, as BlackBerry has shown. Another example is the chief secretary of Samsung, Wonsuk Lee,  proposing that Tizen and Mozilla OS could converge. Both are HTML5 based, meaning apps written for one could run on the other, for example.

In unrelated news, the Finnish startup Jolla released its first phone based on the Sailfish OS. The company was started by some ex-Nokia folks who had worked on the now dead MeeGo project. Apparently the company’s CEO, Tomi Pienimäki, plans to let existing Android users install Sailfish, which is supposedly easy to do. He then plans to make money on apps and other services.

So, just when is started to seem like the mobile OS market was closed to new entrants, new entrants start cropping up.