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September 28, 2013

Mobility Techzone Week in Review

It appears that the end of a true mobile era - one that began two decades ago with the introduction of the first BlackBerry devices, is finally coming to a close. Or least we're nearing the final chapter. The week began with the news that BlackBerry is now entertaining a $4.7 billin dollar buyout offer. It is certainly a strong indication of how far a company once values at $82 billion has fallen. The news was accompanied by details of a 4,500 person cut in the BlackBerry workforce, certainly a disheartening turn of events not only for BlackBerry but for Canada itself.

Finally, though we already knew the financial numbers, the week ended with confirmation of BlackBerry's dire financial situation. The company did not actually hold an earnings call, but did report a huge slide in revenue, to $1.6 billion, and the already known loss of $965 million. There is, alas, nowhere for BlackBerry to turn at this point other than to seek alternative paths to remaining an independent public company. It has definitely been a sad week from a technology perspective.

The other mobile device vendor currently in dire straits - HTC, did not fare any better this week. The company that makes the awesome HTC One received more bad news on the patent front - a US International Trade Commission judge has issues a preliminary ruling that HTC has infringed on two Nokia patents. It is unfortunate though we don't yet know what the full impact will be. Meanwhile, Panasonic is exiting the consumer smartphone market completely. An old time player in the old mobile and feature phone space the company has finally given up competing here and has called it quits.

It wasn't all doom and gloom however. Microsoft has finally released its next wave of Surface tablets - the Surface 2 series. The question of course is whether or not they will be good enough to alter user negative perceptions of the current devices. One thing we do know is that there appears to be some genuine innovation lurking within the new Surface keyboards - who knew?!

As other vendors die on the vine Samsung continues to flourish and to expand its product lines and services. The company has hinted that it may deliver a curved screen smartphone soon, though it won't be curved in the sense that people think of as "bendable." On the tablet front the new Tab 10.1 2014 Edition certainly looks to us to improve on current versions. Finally, Samsung has introduced Samsung Solutions Exchange, which is designed to enhance Samsung's stature within the enterprise. It's interesting but we doubt it will affect enterprise thinking in any sort of influential way.

Finally this week we've had some interesting reports on the consumer mobile space generally. First, it appears to be the case that consumers are open to providing location information for marketing purposes, though this will be tempered by the fact that they will only give such data out to highly favorite and trusted brands. This dovetails nicely with a new report that most marketers are now aggressively turning to mobile-first thinking relative to their marketing strategies. Location-based data will be a key component of these mobile strategies.

Finally, we have a new Android-specific service to shout out about and an interesting if perhaps weird new product. Android is now finally rolling out the ability to lock down and virtually wipe lost or stolen devices, giving consumers a new degree of security relief. It's about time! And we'll call it a wrap for the week by highlighting the new FlameStower - a device that will turn an open flame into a USB battery charger. You can't make this stuff up.

Have a great weekend!

Edited by Tony Rizzo

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