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TCL put another nail in coffin of BlackBerry smartphones. That makes me sad.



BlackBerry smartphones were the first smartphones carried by many people around the world. BlackBerrys preceded the iPhone and Android in important ways and helped set the stage for many of the features we rely on today. That’s why it hurts just a little that the smartphone brand is, for all intents and purposes, dead (again).

TCL licensed the BlackBerry brand after the Canadian company stopped making its own phones. In other words, TCL kept BlackBerry alive. Today, TCL said it allowed its license to lapse and will no longer design and build BlackBerry phones. Optiemus in India also licenses the brand, but has so far failed to produce all the devices it announced.

For its part, BlackBerry has remained quiet. So, where does it go now?

Storied history

Blackberry KEY2 Red Edition keyboard

The first smartphone-related story I ever wrote, for Field Force Automation magazine in the fall of 2001, was about BlackBerry. Set in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, several companies located in the downtown NYC area lauded BlackBerry for its DataTAC platform, which remained up and functional while regular cell service in the area failed. Back then, BlackBerry phones were gloried pagers. This was a vital success story for the company.

BlackBerry eventually upgraded to fully-connected internet devices, with browsers, email, and more. Believe it or not, support for phone calls, which would make them genuine smartphones, was added later.

Early models, such as the 7100, 7290, and 8700, were staples with the jet-setting business crowd.

The company made its own hardware, and, more importantly, provided the background services that gave the phones their value. BlackBerry Mobile Services provided business users with access to not only their contacts, calendar, and email, but connected enterprise apps and much more.

Early models, such as the 7100, 7290, and 8700, were staples with the jet-setting business crowd. They were huge, clunky devices with monochrome screens, thumbwheels, and terrible keyboards. (But they had keyboards!)

Once consumer-friendly handsets such as the Pearl, Curve, and Bold reached stores, BlackBerry became a hit with regular people. BlackBerry smartphones were the best way to stay connected without a laptop. BBM, the company’s stout messaging service, cemented its reputation as a communications master.

An early peak

After little more than a dozen years in business, December 2012 saw BlackBerry reach its highest number of users, which was about 80 million. It had grown rapidly, mostly thanks to its email dominance, but fell even faster due to the market turbulence created by the iPhone and, later, Android.

In June 2007, when the first iPhone went on sale, BlackBerry had some 8 million customers. The fact that it would grow tenfold over the next five years is a testament to its strength as a platform, despite the competition. Of course, this is when companies issued BlackBerry smartphones — and not iPhones — to employees. Once Apple adopted the right set of licenses for corporate-grade email and security, that all changed.

BlackBerry’s slow decline began after Palm and WebOS called it quits, though Windows Phone will still a competitor. From March 2013 through May 2017 the number of BlackBerry users retracted from 80 million to 11 million.

The company gave up on making smartphones and instead allowed TCL and Optiemus to build them. BlackBerry continued with its software, which included a suite of communication services for the Android platform, which is what modern ‘Berries run.

Functional, not fun, phones from TCL

Blackberry Key2 LE rear cameras and flash super up-close

TCL kept the BlackBerry brand kicking, but not necessarily thriving. The hardware coming from the company looked and felt perfunctory. There were the warmed-over, slate-style DTEK50 and DTEK60, as well as the keyboard-equipped KEYoneKey2, and Key2 LE.

The phones got the job done, and yet didn’t reignite any fires. Sales for these devices were never fully revealed and yet can’t be anything but sluggish.

Perhaps this is for the best. Perhaps BlackBerry needs to be done. Even so, it was a key player in helping create the products we now rely on for literally everything. It’s sad to see companies and brands fail.


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PS5 and Xbox Series X surprise reveal as key specs leak for BOTH consoles




What’s going to be the better console: PS5 or Xbox Series X? It’s certainly an argument that’s been waged across quite a few message boards in recent months, as Xbox Series X was officially unveiled to the world. Meanwhile, a series of leaks and sly comments by Sony execs have given us an inkling as to what the PlayStation 5 will be capable of.

However, we still don’t know which will be the better buy. Although the Xbox will come with no exclusive games at launch, if it proves to be the more powerful console in the long term, it could hurdle this barrier. Although some PS5 games will be exclusive, this is no guarantee of power. The stakes are high. And now, thanks to a recent link, we could finally have the answer we’ve been looking for.

Posted on 4chan’s /v/ gaming board, the anonymous leaker posts what they claim to be specifications from the second, revised development kits, which means if true, these specs won’t be too far off the finished product. 

One the one hand, 4chan’s lack of accountability means it’s awash with misinformation. However, a leaker posting on the same board last month correctly predicted PlayStation’s new tagline: “it’s time to play”. The tagline, incidentally, was hidden among a smorgasbord of PS5 info also disclosed by the same leaker, so we won’t write anything off just because of the source.

The specs adhere closely to some of the rumours previously heard about the consoles, with the Series X being incrementally more powerful while the PS5 is set to edge it out in the GPU stakes. 

Both consoles appear to have cores dedicated to ray tracing, the GPU technology that creates incredibly immersive, realistic environments. However, the PS5 also includes dedicated 3D sound cores too, something the Series X appears to lack.

As stated above, take this info with a whole heap of salt. In addition, although the kits are fairly advanced in the development process, things could change between now and release. We can’t wait until the PS5 is officially revealed and both consoles’ gamepads are in our hands, so we can compare them side-by-side. Not long now…

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Nintendo announces first new Switch Lite color since launch




Nintendo has announced the first new Switch Lite color since the portable-only console launched last fall. The new hue is “coral,” perhaps belatedly inspired by Pantone’s decision to name “Living Coral” the Color of the Year for 2019. Or maybe Nintendo wants it out in time for cherry blossom season.

Coral joins turquoise, grey, and yellow in the regular lineup. It’ll be available in Japan on March 20th, with preorders starting on March 7th. Notably, the launch of the new system doesn’t appear to have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak, unlike the upcoming Animal Crossing-themed Switch.

The coral Switch Lite maintains the same price of 19,980 yen ($182).


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Breaking News: CP+ 2020 Has Been Cancelled Due to Coronavirus Fears




PetaPixel has learned that the CP+ 2020 expo in Japan—one of the largest photo industry trade shows in the world—has been cancelled due to fears over the recent coronavirus outbreak. An official announcement from the show is expected shortly. (UPDATE: Confirmed)

We were tipped off to the news earlier this evening when social media consultant and friend of the site Simon Pollock tweeted, “Very sorry to hear that CP+ has been cancelled. Damn you #CoronaVirus Damn you…”the first one is this Hashtag which has
been trending on on twitter and the Hash

Simon Pollock@gtvone

Very sorry to hear that CP+ has been cancelled. Damn you #CoronoVirus Damn you…12:14 AM – Feb 14, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacySee Simon Pollock’s other Tweets

We followed up with Pollock, who confirmed the news for us, though he asked that the original source be kept confidential.

As of this writing, CP+ hasn’t made the news official, though we’re keeping a close eye on their newsroom and Twitter account, and one is expected very shortly. The most recent Coronavirus update from the show was posted on February 5th, when the expo revealed that they were concerned, but moving forward.

“The CP + Secretariat strives to collect the latest information and is considering specific countermeasures. Also, strengthening coordination with the venues Pacifico Yokohama, Osanbashi Hall and related administrative organizations, and we will strive to respond appropriately,” reads the roughly translated statement. “At this stage, we are preparing for the event while paying close attention to the situation, and CP+ 2020 will be held.”

The statement, which you can find here, said that the show’s organizers were planning to put hand sanitizing stations at every entrance and exit, and “strongly recommends” that attendees wear a mask. It ends with a link to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, which states that Coronavirus “is not currently recognized as an epidemic in Japan.”

Unfortunately, the news that CP+ 2020 will not be happening is not surprising. With Japan’s proximity to the disease epicenter in China, and the precedent set by the cancellation of MWC 2020 just yesterday, many felt that it was only a matter of time before organizers pulled the plug on CP+ 2020.

We will update this article as soon as there is official confirmation that the show will not go on.

UPDATE: CP+ confirmed the news moments ago in a tweet that reads (Google Translated):

Notice of the cancellation of CP + 2020
As the prospects for effective remedies and countermeasures against the new coronavirus are uncertain, the health and safety aspects of the visitors are considered first, and as a result, the event will be held in Pacifico Yokohama for four days from February 27. We have decided to cancel the planned CP + 2020.


新型コロナウイルスへの有効治療薬や対処法の先行きが見通せない中、来場される皆様の健康や安全面などを第一に考えました結果、2月27日から4日間、パシフィコ横浜で開催を予定していたCP+2020の中止を決定いたしました。 …6,9553:04 AM – Feb 14, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy10.8K people are talking about this

The tweet is linked to an official cancellation announcement, which you can read here. The rough translation reads:

Decision to cancel CP + (CP +) 2020

The Camera and Imaging Products Association of Japan (CIPA: Masaya Maeda)

Visitors and exhibitors amid uncertain prospects for effective treatments and remedies for coronavirus. As a result of putting the health and safety aspects of stakeholders first, we have decided to cancel CP + 2020, which was scheduled to be held in Ko-Yokohama.

With CP +, visitors can actually pick up the latest camera and related equipment and feel the operation. The biggest feature of this show is that it is a consumer-friendly show. At this time, it is not possible to eliminate the risk of infecting about 70,000 unspecified number of visitors.

The JRA considers it important to avoid such risks, and unfortunately, we have decided to cancel the event.


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