Today IPG Media Lab took a detour from the Las Vegas Convention Center to walk through the “Yahoo Experience” at the Cosmopolitan. Of particular note was Yahoo’s proprietary content recognition and delivery service for Smart TV. Otherwise known as ACR, the technology has been around for a bit, but it’s at the forefront of Yahoo’s content strategy for 2015. The company has a footprint of 4.4 million televisions, which gives it a sample size 50 times that of Nielsen. (And of course, if you have the Yahoo Sports mobile app open, you can get the same ad on both devices, and that user data will connect across all Yahoo properties — including Tumblr.) Yahoo is moving toward this strategy because it yields more eyeballs, better ad revenue, and more interesting data.
Next door to the Yahoo Experience, Pogue interviewed BlackBerry CEO John Chen about the future of the phone company. While not the mobile powerhouse it used to be, Chen insisted their phone business is still profitable, and intends to expand distribution in 2015. And despite the lower profile of BlackBerry’s phone, its QNX automotive system is used in 50 million in-car systems, and possesses a 50% market share. Over in the North Hall, QNX has featured a Maserati with its infotainment and telematics systems working in full throttle. As the car is a huge story at CES 2015, expect this sector of BlackBerry to keep growing.
BlackBerry is dead; at least, that’s the conventional wisdom. But looking at BBM tells a very different story: with 85 million users engaging with the platform on at least a monthly basis, the platform has better numbers than Tango when it finished its $280 million round of funding. To continue to drive those numbers, the company has released stickers in an attempt to monetize the platform, much like many messaging apps before it. The packs of stickers will run at $1.99 to start, but as BBM starts to look at different pricing models, that will likely change. Already, brands have gotten out ahead of BBM stickers; WWE Inc. has a pack called “WWE Superstars,” and other third parties have packs up on the store as well. The update is now available to BlackBerry 10, Android, and iOS users. It will be very interesting to watch BlackBerry build this product out, and whether messaging – ironically, one of the features that brought BlackBerry to prominence in the first place – can truly salvage the company. Whether or not the move works in the long run, it’s indicative of the fact that messaging companies and brands see stickers as a valuable, lucrative way to engage customers on their platforms.
According to Bloomberg News, Ford has dropped Microsoft as its Sync software provider, and has instead switched to BlackBerry’s OS after the second-gen, MyFord Touch suffered from technical problems and consistent bugs. These issues were so persistent that Ford has continued to build on the first-gen system, and has left the second-gen system entirely. The QNX BlackBerry system will, ideally, provide engineers with a whole new type of mobile platform that the present systems lack, including support for touch screen, HTML5, and other interface enhancements. QNX is already in use with Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Acura, Porsche, Saab, and Hyundai, so for Ford to join on speaks more to a broad industry standard than anything else. And for BlackBerry, it represents a big bright spot in a new year of restructuring for the company.
In addition to Apple, Android, and Window’s Phone market share numbers, we’ve now had the chance to take a look at where Blackberry falls in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately for Blackberry, the numbers confirm what we’ve known to he true for some time: Blackberry now accounts for 0.0% of market share of smartphone activations in the United States. It’s not at all surprising, considering the numbers they’ve put up for the past few years, but it’s yet another nail in the coffin for the company. It’s unclear if it’s at all possible to recover from this, but if they do it will need to be a miracle at this point.
Maybe Blackberry isn’t quite as a dead and gone as we thought: the company announced a five-year deal with Foxconn, who are known for manufacturing Apple’s products, as well as the ethical scandals that they’ve brought to Apple. Nonetheless, the deal with the big-name manufacturer speaks to a determination to defy their poor sales and stock numbers from this year. Whether it’s too little, too late, will have to be judged in a little while, but no matter the outcome Blackberry seems like they’re not going to go down without a fight.
Research In Motion, or should we now say Blackberry, is banking on their Z10 smartphone to resurrect them from a rapid two year decline. The new device boasts a much improved OS and has shown strong sales in the UK according to allthingsd. While the real test will come during the phone’s US launch in March, we may start hearing people mention “crackberry” like it’s 2008.
As part its late-in-the-game effort to maintain relevance in a growing smartphone market, smartphone pioneer RIM is mere days away from launching the Blackberry 10, and has announced a revamped Blackberry World media platform. The website will feature DRM-free music, and TV shows and movies for purchase or rental. An impressive group of content providers has already been announced including record labels 4AD, Matador, Warner and Sony, and TV partners BBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Warner Bros. Most exciting is that most movies should be available on their DVD release date, and most TV shows should be available the day after they air. Could this be a sign of things to come for RIM?
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