Blackberry Announces New All-Screen ‘Motion’ Smartphone With 4,000mAh Battery

Blackberry announced its latest crack at an all-screen smartphone during the GITEX Technology Week in Dubai on Sunday. The Motion is the company's third Android phone to ditch the keyboard following the release of the DTEK50 and DTEK60 in 2016. Blackberry also released the KEYone earlier this year, but that device includes a keyboard below the touchscreen.

The Motion's 5.5-inch AMOLED display and Snapdragon 625 system-on-a-chip is powered by a large 4,000mAh battery (the iPhone 8 Plus has a 2,675mAh battery), which Blackberry hopes will appeal to business users looking for all-day battery life. Like all of the company's branded handsets these days, the Motion is actually made by Chinese company TCL Communication.

The Blackberry Motion (Image: Evan Blass)

The phone will be initially available in Middle Eastern markets for approximately $460, with availability in the U.S. likely further down the line.

Blackberry officially discontinued its keyboard-rocking Blackberry Classic in July 2016 and later declared it would cease internally developing its own handsets, relying on partnerships with other companies instead while it focuses on software development.

The rise of the iPhone famously wiped out Blackberry's smartphone market share, but the company's pivot towards mobile security has been a profitable one, with its recent quarterly earnings report exceeding expectations.

The company reported record gross margins of 76 percent, up from 67 percent last quarter and 62 percent a year ago, despite the fact its hardware market share remains essentially zero.


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BlackBerry Hits ‘0%’ Market Share Nearly Ten Years After iPhone Launched

Nearly ten years after Apple launched the iPhone, which completely upended the smartphone industry, the device has effectively helped to wipe out one of its major predecessors: the BlackBerry.


BlackBerry has at last fallen to a rounded 0.0% share among smartphone operating systems, including iOS, Android, and Windows 10 Mobile, following an over seven year decline from its peak market share of approximately 20% in 2009, according to the latest quarterly data from research firm Gartner.

The demise of the smartphone that was once the poster child of Canadian innovation has been a long one in the making, but one that was inevitable now that BlackBerry has shifted its focus to software and sold the global rights to future BlackBerry-branded smartphones to Chinese company TCL Communication.

BlackBerry actually continued to grow for around two years after the iPhone launched in June 2007, taking market share away from then-leader Nokia. BlackBerry's market share among all smartphone operating systems was 9.6% in 2007, 16.6% in 2008, and 19.9% in 2009, according to Gartner. Then, the decline started.

By 2011, the surging popularity of iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones led iOS and Android to leapfrog BlackBerry and Nokia to form a duopoly in the smartphone market that exists to this day. iOS and Android combined for a record 99.6% market share last quarter, according to Gartner.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 4Q16 (Gartner)

Windows 10 Mobile was the only other platform to make any sort of dent last quarter, recording an insignificant 0.3% market share, according to Gartner. Windows 10 Mobile fell from 1.1% in the year-ago quarter. A group of unnamed "other" operating systems captured the remaining 0.1% share.

iOS adoption is still low compared to Android, with the platforms capturing 17.9% and 81.7% worldwide market share respectively in the fourth quarter. iPhones mainly target the premium smartphone market, however, while there are Android-based smartphones at all price points sold by dozens of brands.

What's next for BlackBerry? In addition to focusing on software, the company is also doing self-driving vehicle research, while its rumored "Mercury" smartphone by TCL will be unveiled on February 25 at Mobile World Congress.


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BlackBerry Opens Autonomous Vehicle Research Lab in Ottawa, Canada

Former smartphone company Blackberry opened a new autonomous driving research center on Monday in Ottawa, Canada, according to Reuters.

Blackberry is betting its future on the self-driving car business following its 2010 acquisition of QNX, a company which develops software for multiple in-car infotainment systems and whose software became the foundation of the BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system.

Blackberry Canada
Image via Reuters

The new R&D facility is an extension of Blackberry's existing QNX operations in the region and is said to be developing advanced driving features like automatic emergency breaking, intelligent cruise, and complete driving autonomy.

The company will use Lincoln vehicles from Ford retrofitted with autonomous hardware and software as a basis for carrying out tests, with a direct partnership with Ford also reportedly in the wings.

Blackberry is one of three organizations to receive clearance from the government of Ontario to test self-driving vehicles on public roads, having avoided the sort of ire brought upon Uber by Californian regulators regarding nascent self-driving laws.

California says Uber needs permits for its cars because they're equipped with technology that allows them to operate autonomously, but Uber has argued that employee drivers are always seated and in full control of its cars.

Google has also complained about the situation regarding state and federal laws for self-driving vehicles, but Uber has gone further by completely ignoring authorities' demands. California's state attorney has threatened to sue the company if it doesn't take its cars off the roads immediately.

Apple has met with California DMV officials in the past regarding self-driving car laws within the state, with its Apple Car team reportedly focusing on autonomous systems rather than an out-an-out vehicle design. Earlier this month, Apple confirmed its interest in autonomous cars in a letter to federal regulators requesting equal rights for "new entrants" to the auto industry.

Early this year, Apple was also said to have opened an R&D facility in QNX's hometown of Kanata, stirring speculation that the offices could be linked to the development of its own autonomous car systems.


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