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Gee, I wonder how many people simply won't look -- but damn well should.

I've used both an iPhone and a BlackBerry for more than five years — and the Z30 impressed me so much that my iPhone 5S lost its appeal. I've stopped using my iPhone and now use the BlackBerry Z30 exclusively.

Uh, yep.

It's interesting seeing this coming from CIO.  And what's not even brought up is that if you have infrastructure at your company behind it you can partition the device so that it has two workspaces -- one in which the company has control and the second in which you do, and the two are distinct and secure from one another.

Another nice feature -- auto-connect of VPN service on any desired WiFi hotspot.  Open WiFi is nice for its performance and convenience (never mind not hitting your data quota on your cell connection.)  It's horrible from a security point of view, however, in that literally everything you send or receive can be seen by anyone within a couple hundred feet!  Most people don't think this is such a big deal but they should as anyone else in that nice cafe you're sitting in (or, for that matter, in their parking lot!) may have their laptop in "promiscuous" mode and be silently capturing everything you do!

The auto-VPN connection setting eliminates this problem; when you connect to said saved open WiFi hotspot the phone will automatically bring up the VPN connection back to your home or corporate gateway thereby encrypting all traffic over the open WiFi network and securing it.  Now you can have your cake and eat it too.  Once it's set up you don't have to remember to do anything and the enabling of this mode is shown with a little key on the top info bar of the screen.

Finally, the other feature that is mentioned is the "picture password."  I've had a great deal of fun with this when out drinking with my friends.  A couple of times I have described how it works (the number I selected must be at the place on the picture I previously selected) unlocked the phone while they are studying me do it in full view of the screen, then locked it and handed it to them.

You'd never let someone study you putting in your password on either Android or IOS (whether numeric or the "drawing" one on Android) because with any close observation at all there's a very good chance you just gave them your code.  While I'm sure that if you were to video record a BlackBerry user unlocking the device a sufficient number of times you could determine what it is, the expected risk through casual even if intentional and studious observation can be classified as "slim and none, and Slim just went home."

The other advantage to this mode of unlocking is that in addition to being quite secure it's fast; long alphanumeric passwords are secure but slow.

Sometimes you really can have it all.

H/t: stcm

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Well now, so much for Mr. Brash....

If you've followed the BlackBerry blow-up with T-Mobile you know there have been some pretty-amusing developments over the last couple of months.

First, T-Mobile's Legere targeted BlackBerry users on his network to sell them iPhones.  This was done although the company claims to be a "partner" with BlackBerry and had a formal distribution agreement with them that, I assume, gave the company material discounts off list prices in exchange for their support and sales efforts.

Never mind removing the phones from the stores and the employees repeatedly telling people that BlackBerry either was out of business or would be within months -- neither of which has proved up, by the way and neither of which they had any reason to do, other than to push competitors products over BlackBerry's.

When T-Mobile got called on their attempted raid by BlackBerry they responded with a "loyalty" discount that was functionally yet another raid.  

At that point John Chen had enough and said "Ok, your distribution agreement is up for renewal shortly.  Go to Hell."  Then he backed it up with a $100 coupon that he sent out to BlackBerry owners that are on T-Mobile, good for devices sold directly on shopblackberry.com for an unlocked device that can be used on any GSM/LTE carrier in the US.  

Some other media reported this as a "rumor"; it's not rumor, it's fact.  I received one in my email.

For those who wonder how BlackBerry knows where to send them, that's easy -- when you create a BlackBerry ID, which is used for their app store and BBM, you give them an email address.  They can trivially determine the cellular IPs from which their servers are "touched", and when their update server is checked the MCC/MNC (carrier ID) of the SIM in the phone is transmitted.  As a result BlackBerry knows what network a given phone is being used on.

Legere, for his part, first blasted this canceled agreement on Twitter as "removing choice" from customers.  That was utter crap; choice does not include bad-mouthing your so-called business partners, it does not include your employees claiming that a firm is going bankrupt when it is factually not and you are allegedly a business partner and finally, it most-certainly does not include attempting to raid their user base and sell them things from other competitors.

Business is business and competition is a good thing, but abusing an alleged "business partner" isn't "business"; it's utterly outrageous.  I would not be even slightly surprised if this behavior was driven by a distribution agreement T-Mobile signed with Apple that has a financial penalty in it if the volume of devices sold does not meet agreed levels.  Apple is known to demand those penalties, and while those agreements are confidential that clause has been reported with regard to other carriers, so assuming T-Mobile's agreement has a similar clause in it is not an unreasonable expectation.

But -- this means that other companies that are Apple competitors and have similar distribution agreements with the carriers are subject to being abused and the general covenant of fair dealing violated.  That covenant doesn't have to be written in an agreement either; it is inherently part of any business arrangement and in my opinion T-Mobile has repeatedly and intentionally not only violated it they have bragged about it.

Now, faced with BlackBerry selling Z-10s for $200 (with the coupon) Legere not only appears to have deleted his poke at BlackBerry on "choice" via Twitter it appears that he blogged this:

And, of course, that goes for the BlackBerry loyal, too. We hear you and stand with you. We always have and always will. So, obviously, we were disappointed in BlackBerry’s decision this week to end their agreement with us.

Well then, maybe you shouldn't have attempted to raid their customer base.  And maybe you should have fired any representative that made materially false and misleading comments about the company and its products in your retail outlets, of which I can count several in my personal experience alone.  And perhaps you should have not tweeted like a drunken jackass attacking the company too.

But you did all of the above, and John Chen has had enough of your bull****.  So he did something that I applaud: He caused the pitch of your voice to rise a couple of octaves -- by delivering a knee to your nuts.

His price for those phones is now half of yours; a Z-10 for $200 is damned impressive.  

But it gets even better in your alleged blog entry:

But here’s what really matters most for BlackBerry owners. Whether you’re an individual customer or business customer, nothing changes.  Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.

....

In fact, to show our appreciation for all current consumers so passionate and loyal to all things BlackBerry, we’re offering a $100 credit toward any new device, including the BlackBerry Q10 or the Z10. And this offer is good through the end of the year. So you can take your time.

Why would I be dumb enough to do that John if I want to run the device on your network?  First, you don't have them in the stores, even in the back room, as you removed them from retail distribution months ago.  Second, you no longer have a right to distribute, which means when your current stock in the warehouse is gone, it's gone and you can't get more of them.  Third, if I buy it from you it's locked to your network, and finally, your price isn't competitive when I can buy a Z-10 for $200 directly from the company.  In addition the only BlackBerry phone I see on your "personal" service site is a refurbished (not new) Q10!

If I want a Q10 I can have one for $299.  If I want a Z10 I can have one for $199.  Directly from BlackBerry, where you make zero on the device.  Unfortunately the coupon doesn't appear to work on the Z-30, but if I want one of those, again unlocked and available to work on both T-Mobile and AT&T, I can have one for $499.

So why would I buy a phone from you Mr. Legere?  Equally to the point, why would I buy your service?  I don't have to, you know.  I can walk into a WalMart and get Straight Talk, which allows me to choose my network -- it has SIM cards in it that are blue (AT&T MCC/MNC) and Pink (T-Mobile MCC/MNC.)  For $45, no contract, no credit checks, and no fees or costs other than sales tax I can have a month of service that's pretty-close to identical to what you sell -- for more money.

Now it's true that I can have a $50/month plan from you, but it only has half the data.  To get more, the 3GB bucket, I need to spend $60, or $15 more than at WalMart.  And I have to pay the postpaid fees and additional charges, while Straight Talk has a 2GB bucket and no additional costs for $45.

So why would I buy from you?

Well, if I needed tethering I might, because you include it and Straight Talk does not.  But if I'm not interested in or have a use for tethering......

Incidentally, I think BlackBerry ought to get real aggressive with WalMart and Straight Talk, acting like your competitor, which is exactly the position you have taken with them.  

Were I John Chen I'd negotiate a retail agreement with the biggest of the big box retailers and stick my devices into their nice green Straight Talk retail boxes for immediate sale anywhere in the United States within a few miles of most consumer's homes.  Since they work perfectly well with both Pink and Blue SIMs that would be a trivial thing to do.  I'd also take back control of the software update cycle at the same time and let the consumer choose which firmware release to run, at their option, either directly through the phone or through the companion BlackBerry Link package instead of allowing you and the rest of the carriers to slow-walk the introduction of new features as BB10 evolves, as you've all done thus far.  Indeed, Chen could do that right now with T-Mobile, since any contractual restriction giving you a right of review and approval you might have had in your agreement with him turns into a pumpkin along with the rest of it.

And then to really screw with the CDMA folks I'd do the same thing with Boost and/or Virgin Mobile.

To start I'd get the Z3 in there -- the one that BlackBerry recently disclosed will have an LTE-enabled version.  I'd follow that with a keyboard model.

I have a suspicion that at the right price point Chen could bury Legere and T-Mobile in this regard, and yet the customer would have their "instant gratification" as well instead of having to order online.

Indeed, I'll make a prediction here: BlackBerry is in the process of doing something of this sort right now, which is why Chen believes he has the room to fire T-Mobile.  If I'm right within the next couple of months we'll see exactly this sort of push.

Finally, there's another problem for Legere and T-Mobile to go with the rest -- the BlackBerry 10 devices really are very nice and yet Legere continues to bash both the company and the phones.  They're very different than iFruit or gRobot, of course, but today all BB10 devices will run most Android applications if you want to for some reason.  They have Hub integration for all messaging services and arguably the best soft keyboard implementation in the business.  They're fast, the Q10 and Z30 have insane battery duration (grossly outlasting iFruity garbage) and they have security features that the others simply lack.  BlackBerry has released four significant firmware updates for these devices that have added significant features in the last year, while the other competing brands typically release either one update per year (e.g. Apple) or in many cases one or even zero, ever.

I bought a Z10 from one of T-Mobile's retail stores on launch day and it has been, objectively, the best smartphone device I've ever purchased.

Will many people prefer something else?  Sure.  That's what makes a market.  But the bottom line is this -- you're not someone's business partner when you bash them and try to steal their customers, diverting them to a competitor's product, and that is exactly what Legere's actions have looked like for the last six months if not longer.

I've been a T-Mobile customer since the Voicestream days.  Go check it for yourself John, if you'd like to; I owned a 33xx series Nokia from Voicestream, then a 6610, then the original MDA, one of the first "smart phones."  That's how far back my use of your firm's service goes.

Am I about to fire T-Mobile?  Maybe, maybe not.  It's just business, you see, and so long as it makes financial sense for me to remain on T-Mobile's network I will do so.  The day it does not, I'm gone.

But this much I believe is clear: If you think I trust T-Mobile after seeing the repeatedly puerile and bullying Legere has put on display as CEO toward a firm they claimed to be one of their business partners, you're certifiably nuts.

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Wow, man, talk about dumb.

I suppose it was what you'd expect after Chromecast which itself was an attempt to do something about things like Internet-connected BluRay players that can access content such as Netflix -- and the Roku box.

But if this is the "hypester" game Amazon thinks they're playing, Bezos needs his meds adjusted.

This is utter nonsense.  Ok, so you can have Hulu, Netflix, etc.  But I already have that.

So what's the "hook"?  There isn't one.

The obvious attempt here is to sell Prime streaming memberships, but there's a problem with that -- I don't need to buy this device to do it, and in fact I don't see much of a reason to buy it for that purpose.  Therefore, if Amazon doesn't actually make money on this commodity piece of hardware it will simply dilute rather than improve operating results.

Update: $99; this is a zero in terms of operational leverage.  Underwhelmed doesn't begin to describe my reaction to this "announcement" -- it's an utter non-event.  If this is the best Amazon can come up with....

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CEO John Chen has balls.  And that, my friends, is what a CEO should have.

"BlackBerry has had a positive relationship with T-Mobile for many years," BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in a statement. "Regretfully, at this time, our strategies are not complementary and we must act in the best interest of our BlackBerry customers. We hope to work with T-Mobile again in the future when our business strategies are aligned."

If you remember T-Mobile explicitly targeted BlackBerry customers on their network to switch to other brands of device -- specifically, iPhones.

It is no secret that Apple requires sales quotas to be met and has penalty clauses in their agreements if they're not.  This creates an inherent conflict of interest in that carriers with said agreements have a strong incentive to try to "convince" customers to buy a specific brand of device -- one that may be more expensive, may lack features (e.g. a user-replaceable battery) or in other ways simply not be the right fit.

One interesting change is that the expiration of this agreement will free BlackBerry from any contractual obligation it may have to not directly push updates without carrier approval.  That would be quite interesting, although at present 10.2.1 is available and is the "most-current" released firmware.

I give Chen a lot of credit for this move; there's no reason to call someone a "partner" in a business venture when the so-called "partner" is telling customers you're going out of business (something that is endemic in the retail chain -- and not just at T-Mobile stores) or otherwise disparaging the products that you are allegedly supporting and selling.

But explicitly targeting a "partner's" customers to try to get them to switch to a competitor's offering is beyond the pale.

It's long past the time that carriers and manufacturers of devices should have been divorced from one another.  That Chen has decided he's had enough of T-Mobile's intentional back-stabbing is, from where I sit, a very positive development.

Work with people who want to work with you -- not those who are actively trying to knife you.

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I know what your kid should be when he or she grows up.

Have a cute but implausible idea, put it on kickstarter, then find some way to get Zukerburgler to see it and 'like' it.  You'll get a $2 billion cash-out deal with essentially zero diligence performed as it will all be done in a day or three.

I'm actually serious, although I do understand the odds of you being the one who gets the deal.  They're "long."  Well, ok, not long.  About as good as being hit by an asteroid while getting your mail.

But -- let's be real here about what "Oculus" is, and what Zucker****er has bet that money on.

Virtual Reality is nothing that's actually new.  It's really just a way to put the monitor that you have now on your desk (or the array of them that I have on my desk) right next to your eyeballs and then figure out how to put enough corrective lens in front of them so that your eyes don't go ape**** trying to focus up that close over any material amount of time.

That an immersion-style "virtual reality" set of eyewear got this sort of payday should tell us a lot about what Facebook's founder sees as the future, and if that doesn't make you sit back and shut down your Facebook account then there's little hope for you.

I'm not surprised, by the way, that this sort of thing is garnering "attention" -- after all, the walking zombies that we see today in shopping malls, on the sidewalk and elsewhere trying to get themselves run over by various things (like stationary light poles -- that's one of the more-amusing parts of "people watching" these days) certainly point to where certain aspects of the tech marketplace think we're all headed as a society.

I'm not buying it, and I'll go further:  No-diligence deals are nearly always little more than burning Benji as a form of conspicuous dissipation of shareholder value.

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