Friday 28 June 2013

Blackberry. Big loss means even tougher times as shares tank. This is now about survival.

Blackberry (or Crackberry as it was known), I've been keeping an eye on and blogged about before. 

In July 2012 I thought they were in a death spiral then and this might give you background - 

The appointment of Alicia Keys as Global Creative Director was, well, a WTF moment -

The smartphone and playbook maker has been struggling for some time.... although poor results have been balanced with an optimism that things well get better.

Well they haven't. 

Today the share is tanking -25% on foot of results from the last quarter and optimism has waned - to say the least. Thorsten Heins the CEO isn't exactly Steve Jobs and I'm not sure anyway, that he's inspiring. Poor English under an accent is never good in the old communication stakes and a more polished spokesperson might have been a better idea.

They lost 84m dollars in Q1 and predicted more losses in Q2 expected. They have also scrapped plans to update their Playbook, an indication that they've given up the ghost on that too. And subscriber numbers were not disclosed either (although rumour has it, they're down by 4 million).

Although it has to be said, their Revenue was up +15% and their accumulated cash improved.

Blackberry have put their future on their BB10/Z10 smartphone which was late to the market and these results are the first full quarter where the device has been available. 

They shipped (which is different to "sold") 6.8m smartphones in the quarter which compares with Apple's 37million nevermind Samsung's 60 million-ish.

The critical issue here is that these results have disappointed in that they show no sign of a hoped-for turnaround. 

Blackberry was once a dominant brand in smartphones and simply it has been overtaken by innovation of the Iphone and Samsung and others. Leadership of the company was focused on cost-cutting rather than building better brands and are now paying a price.

With market chatter today negatively and the corresponding collapse in share price, will make this a really difficult period for them. Really difficult. Early share price rallies have been wiped out and more at issue has been the wipe-out of confidence.

Survival is now the watchword for the once great brand.

Monday 24 June 2013

The Guardian reveals Britain's GCHQ is the biggest spier of them all. They tap into fibre-optic cables called 'Tempora'. Extraordinary.

The Guardian is really on the spying case and has revealed that Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to cables which carry vast amounts of the world's phone/data traffic. They are literally, physically, tapping into those cables. 

It is also sharing that collected data with its friends in America, The NSA.

Codenamed Tempora, they've been drawing down the data from fibre-optic cables for some 18 months and it includes content of emails, all phone call data, facebook postings and data history (of visited websites). The disclosure comes from Edward Snowden.

Last year, the British were handling 600 million data "events" a day - that's a lot of data and probably makes them bigger spiers than any other country. It was done as the cables or pipes landed physically on British shores and with the co-operation clearly of commercial companies. All under the ongoing defence of the needs for 'national security' but one has the wonder if the biggest threat to national security is indeed the Government itself.

For example, one of the secret justifications by GCHQ outside of terrorism is "economic well-being" which covers a multitude. Perhaps currency trading? Market data? And the fact that they'll defend this by saying that they discard much of the data (which they do) it's because the documents reveal, that they simply don't have the resources - yet. Not because they want to discard it.

And it gives them the option to look back over discarded material when they need to.

There's no doubt now that the UK and US Governments have extensive digital spying networks on the privacy of their own citizens. Whilst few would disagree that the goal of preventing terrorism is worthy, few would agree that the use of data for political ends is. And these networks allow for that abuse.

Trust me too, this data is being used improperly and without control. Nixon had to break into the Watergate building, Obama and Cameron, don't. They just have to watch from behind their desks. Be sure, they are.