The usual cascade of "leaked" software has dried up of late for the BB10 devices. 10.2.1.1055 is the last we've seen, and while I'm running it there are some bugs that are annoying enough that I can't recommend it for "general use."
Intriguingly, however, a rumor surfaced in the last day or so that more-recent builds include Google Play integration.
Let me back up a bit -- there have been a number of people who have successfully hacked Google Play into things like the Kindle Fire. Because this is an "integral" part of the Android load in "stock" trim it's not available as a loadable application -- to "hack" it in you thus must root the device (to gain access to the system area) and then place the APK file in the system directory. This can't be done on BlackBerry 10 devices because their security actually works, and thus you can't gain access to the system directory necessary. In addition there has been a "stub" version of that framework present in the Android runtime, likely to prevent an attempt to load it via other means.
Anyway, the rumor appears to be that this restriction is dropped in later "test" builds that have allegedly been seen. If true then this means that using the actual Play Store, including purchased applications, will work on "carrier released" 10.2.1 BB10 firmware.
In other words you'll have a better Android than an Android, since you will have full dual-mode compatibility.
This change is slated to hit carriers, according to the same sources, right after the New Year.
The existing 10.2.1 "test" loads will run virtually anything Android, and as I've noted runs many of those apps better than an actual Android device. If this rumor turns out to be true then BlackBerry will have a fully compatible Android-capable handset, while not giving up anything in their native OS -- the vastly superior security, the ease of use in The Hub and more.
There are those who say none of this matters, that Android has already won and BlackBerry lost.
If this rumor proves up I believe you're going to be proved dead wrong and that, coupled with what appears to be an emerging story of success with BES10 (device management across platforms) has an extremely high probability of not only stabilizing the firm's revenue and operating picture but will likely lead to a decent-sized full-year 2014 operating profit.
Incidentally it's entirely possible that this announcement, if and when it comes, is not so much BlackBerry "wizardry" as it is some sort of formal business arrangement between Google and BlackBerry. If that turns out to be the case, well.....
So-called analyst Ehud Gelblum, who jumped ship from Morgan Stanley to Citibank, was out yesterday late afternoon with "research" on BlackBerry, "initiating coverage" with a Sell rating and a $4 price target.
I don't know why that merits being called "news", given that everyone and their brother believes the firm is going to zero. And the timing is rather suspicious, given that the company's stock traded double normal daily volume and had a monster rally and outside reversal yesterday after diving at the open, leaving me to wonder if someone has inside information on something that has not been announced.
Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum upgraded shares of the Canadian technology firm to "overweight" from "underweight," and raised his price target to a Wall Street high of $22, as he believes the gross margins from BlackBerry 10 will add to earnings this year.
That's from March.
Now I'll give you that people are free to change their mind. But -- and this is the key -- note what he said at the time about what he believed were the prospects for the firm's BB10 devices:
Though the price target is being raised and the stock is being upgraded, Gelblum noted he does not believe BB10 is likely to emerge as a third viable operating system in the United States, where Google's Android and Apple's iOS dominate.
In other words he believed the firm would fail to find wide adoption with its devices but put a $22 price target on the stock anyway? The stock was trading around $16 at the time.
So here's the question -- where's the accountability when you issue a price target that is wildly at odds with what you claim for the underlying premise of the firm? Now you essentially claim that the company's going to be forced out of business, as you don't believe it's a going concern, and you put a price target on the company that's 30% lower than today's trading price where the last time you put one that was 50% higher out there.
The essence of the price target call is a belief that the company has, at its core, zero value as an operating concern.
Well, maybe and maybe not, but how is it that the previous price target not to mention being the most-bullish of all on the street at the time gets no ink as a cautionary note when it comes to listening to this guy's call?
More to the point, what's Citibank doing allowing him to "cover" this stock at all given that history?
He does acknowledge that BES10 may prove out to be a winner -- indeed, every indication is that despite all the screaming about the company being dead it continues to find both test and online installation growth, and with good cause -- it's the only multi-vendor device management solution that is deliverable today and yet doesn't lock you up, leaving open the choice to run IOS, Android or BlackBerry handsets at your option. I note with some curiosity that T-Mobile just announced a cloud hosted BES10 option for those who don't want to run their own servers.
I've been quite-surprised at the management failures that BlackBerry has accumulated over the last year, but the firm's stock price has certainly been punished commensurate with those failures. BB10, as an operating environment on a mobile device, has a number of unique features in its stable that nothing else has, among them being the ability to run not just native apps but also nearly all Android apps as well.
The company has intentionally crippled a number of these features over the last year, and whatever business case they had internally for doing so has been proved to be stupid. Whether that has resulted in the infliction of mortal but self-inflicted damage is yet to be determined, but it has resulted in the departure of their CEO (good) and a number of other high-level people (better.)
I find it interesting that Gelblum says exactly nothing about the progress of the BB10 platform that has come about primarily through the release of these artificial constraints -- most particularly the ability to seamlessly load and run Android apps in 10.2.1. Yes, I know, it's not yet officially released, but it is publicly known that work hasn't been abandoned on getting that out to customers -- indeed, if anything it has been stepped up.
The real question is whether the firm shows stabilization on the financial front in the next quarterly release and what the roadmap is to complete both that and delivery of a fully functional platform that is both BB10 and Android-app compatible -- and when that will occur in general release.
As I've previously noted full S/MIME support for non-BES clients along with a concerted drive to make BB10 a "computer in a pocket", replacing a tablet and perhaps a laptop, porting something like Open Office to it and widening the HDMI external display compatibility so that full external screen resolution can be exploited, would be a monstrous bombshell. The devices already have seamless connectivity back to the file store on your desktop or network and this would be the first credible single-device mobile-office solution that actually fits in a pocket.
Chen, the so-called "interim" CEO, certainly has the chops and the history to recognize both the challenges and blaze the path. There are always those will say "it's too late" but in point of fact there are multiple instances in the marketplace -- including Apple, I might point out -- where that exact claim was made and turned out to be wrong.
At today's stock price the company is trading as if it's already out of business, but the window remains open. Chen doesn't have the luxury of time, but he doesn't need it -- all the ingredients are there if he has the corporate and visionary chops to take the right steps.
My question at this point is simple: Have so-called "analysts" turned into nothing more than a legal way to manipulate stock prices and, if so, what does that say about the value of so-called "research" shops?
The most surprising aspect of BBM’s success is probably its strong showing in Asia, where it is competing head to head against powerhouse messaging apps like LINE, WeChat and KakaoTalk. Brand new data from Distimo shows download shares of leading messaging apps across a broad spectrum of Asian countries. This data was gathered over the month of November, so it does not include the first week spike of BBM downloads that yielded 10 Million new users across Apple's AAPL +0.71% iOS and Google's GOOG -0.21% Android devices.
The full article shows 39% market share in Indonesia, 38% in India (!!) and 26% in both Malaysia and the Philippines.
Clearly the cross-platform initiative is working by any measurement you care to use, and Forbes seems to think that this will lead to 200 million users by the end of next year.
That's definitely not in the current stock price for the company's shares.
My, what a nice set of Android applications you have there. Looks like Go Launcher (it is.)
But what is that phone?
Oh wait... it's not an Android at all..... it just runs like one along with all the BB10 you want.
One device, two environments, both accessible and running at the same time.
I've said for a long time that Amazon's "business model" of tax avoidance (sales taxes, specifically) is outrageous and ridiculous -- and would eventually end.
The justices, without comment, yesterday rejected appeals by Amazon and another Internet retailer, Overstock.com Inc. (OSTK), which said New York is violating the Constitution by demanding tax collection from companies that don’t have facilities in the state. New York’s top court upheld the state law.
States lose an estimated $23 billion a year in uncollected sales taxes from web retailers. Although Amazon has agreed to collect taxes in some states as it sets up distribution centers around the country, it has resisted efforts by others to impose sales taxes unilaterally. New York’s measure is among a handful that have been dubbed “Amazon laws” because they affect only the largest online sellers.
States don't "lose" anything -- in return for sales tax collection you're supposed to provide services. If you provide no services, why should you receive any taxes? This isn't a kingship, you know.
The argument has turned on "Nexus", a fairly simple concept that has nonetheless turned into a mess. When I ran MCSNet we had to deal with this and did -- legally. We wanted to expand into Wisconsin; by setting up a virtual POP there, however, we effectively had presence. The simple act of paying for a colocation cage resulted in enough "connection" to be subject to the laws of Wisconsin, including registering as a foreign corporation and doing all the things we had to do to legally operate there -- including collecting tax on anything that was taxable we sold into the state.
What Amazon has done is skirted this by setting up "separate" LLCs to "own" their distribution centers. I gave some thought to this sort of thing when I ran MCSNet but was sternly advised by both legal and accounting that I'd probably not get away with it. Amazon has instead used the bludgeon of threatening to take jobs out of the local economy of various states rather than pony up. Well, that may work for a while, but.....
The other issue is one of commissions paid to "referring entities." This one looks even more black-and-white; if I hired a person who lived and worked in Milwaukee to market my goods and services in Milwaukee then I cannot imagine how that's not Nexus.
But that's what Amazon argues, basically -- because they're "online." So if you get paid to refer sales to Amazon (you're one of their sales force by any reasonable analysis) then the state you live in and operate from has a pretty-clean argument that Amazon has Nexus in that state!
What Amazon wants is to have its cake and eat it too -- it wants to have distribution centers in a given state where it receives services and it wants to pay people to hawk its wares in a given state, but at the same time it wants to claim it doesn't have Nexus.
As for "tax fairness" and new legislation that's a red herring. If I receive no service from a given jurisdiction then there's no reason for me to be bound by its laws, including tax laws.
But as soon as I start paying people in a given state to refer people to my products and services, or as soon as I open a distribution center in that state there is utterly no rational means by which I can then claim that I don't have Nexus -- and thus must comply with the laws of that state for all goods that pass to or from it, in whole -- including tax laws.
If I don't like that cost I don't have to open the distribution center or engage what amount to sales people in that jurisdiction. It's a choice, and comes with both costs and benefits -- as it should.
Where We Are, Where We're Heading (2013) - The annual 2013 Ticker
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