BlackBerry CEO John Chen explains his business

by Volker Weber

More CEOs should be like John Chen. Since taking this job 18 months ago he has avoided the imminent crash of BlackBerry. With 3.6 billion dollars in the bank he is confident to be able to transform the company into a viable business.

Two is the magic number

by Volker Weber

Last quarter BlackBerry sold 1.6 million smartphones, down 300,000 from the previous quarter. So far more than 700 million iPhones were sold. At 1.6 million per quarter it would take more than a hundred years to catch up to where Apple is today. And that's the company that is "losing" against Android. Microsoft sold a record 10.5 million Lumias last quarter. To put this in perspective, Apple sold 10 million iPhone the weekend after the 6/6+ were released.

A few years ago, my perspective was that there would be a third eco system besides Android and iOS. Symbian and webOS were still in the running but only two platforms were fighting for being third: BlackBerry and Windows Phone.

My perspective today is that neither won. BlackBerry is a niche player that just stopped bleeding money. And Windows Phone is fighting to stay relevant. Microsoft's next move is to make "Phone" go away and put everything under the Windows brand. And it's going to make everything even more complicated. In contrast to Apple where there is one version of iOS and one version of OS X, there will be dozens of Windows versions.

This is what application developers target today, when they are not being bankrolled by a vendor:

iOS trumps Android in revenue, not marketshare. Win32 is the old API that runs on all desktop versions of Windows. Chrome is the fastest growing browser, at the expense of (mostly) Firefox. Both are cross platform and work the same across Windows and OS X.

Who are the winners? Apple and Google. This is the real battle for Microsoft. Windows (old Win32) is still king on the desktop. But what were the dominant platforms for smartphones five years ago? Symbian and BlackBerry. Times are changing.

BlackBerry spart sich reich

by Volker Weber

Der kanadische Hersteller kann einen Etappensieg auf dem Weg aus der Krise vermelden: Blackberry weist für das abgelaufene Quartal einen Gewinn aus. Die Absatz der einst populären Smartphones sinkt aber weiterhin.

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Amazon Cloud Drive drops the limit

by Volker Weber


Three months free trial, after that $1 a month for unlimited photo storage and 5 GB worth of other files. $5 a month for unlimited everything.

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Watson - ? - Profit

by Volker Weber


This is John Paul Benini, and he was one of the most interesting people I met last week at CeBIT. How did that happen? Marie-Ann asked me "did you see the Dino?" And I did not. So she hooked me up with John and he explained what the Dino is all about.

IBM has Watson and Watson is the most advanced cognitive computing engine there is. Now IBM has to figure out what to do with Watson beyond winning Jeopardy. One of the things they did was a Mobile Developers Challenge. Elemental Path won this challenge. And they want to bring this Dino to market before Xmas.

Elemental Path started a Kickstarter campaign for CogniToys to get in touch with interested people. What you see in the photo above with John is a very early prototype.

So what is the Dino going to do? It is going to be toy that speaks to a child, answers all or most of his questions. The child presses the big button on its belly and the Dino will listen. It connects to Watson over Wifi and will speak Watsons answer. There is a dialog engine developed my Elemental Path and a body of knowledge within Watson. The Dino knows what it has spoken about and will store its state in an encrypted cloud storage. Think of it as a computerized Montessori teacher. There is parental supervision and you can rule out certain topics you don't want your child to discuss, even if they are in the body of knowledge. The Dino will divert those questions with an answer like "I don't know. Ask Mommy."

I see a lot of potential in these connected toys. And I can see people going batshit crazy about supposedly bad parenting.

How to get started with SONOS

by Volker Weber

If you have been reading for a while, you may have noticed that I enjoy music via SONOS players quite a lot. And there are a lot of players. If you are still sitting on the fence, here's how to get started.

  1. Start by buying two PLAY:1. Not one. You need two to get the full experience. First you place them in two different spots in your home. Learn how they can play different tracks from the same source. Link the two zones to play the same music in sync. Add a few free music services like 8tracks, Soundcloud, The Hype Machine. Play your own tracks from your mobile, from Google Play Music or your Amazon purchases right from the cloud. Add a music library in a file share from your NAS or your computer. Create a stereo pair from your two PLAY:1 to experience stereo sound and find out if you think that is important.
  2. If you like your PLAY:1s then buy a PLAYBAR. Hook it up to your TV and experience the sound quality in movies and TV series. Play all your music through the PLAYBAR instead of your old stereo. Put that stereo away after a while when you find you are no longer switching it on. On movie nights fetch your two PLAY:1 and configure them as back channels for true surround sound. After the movie, remove the back channels and put them back where you got them from.
  3. Buy a SUB. Hook it up to your PLAYBAR and finally hear all of the earth shattering sound track. Enjoy your music in an entirely new way. I know many people who have delayed their SUB purchase only to find out later what they have been missing.

After your completed these three easy steps, you have been infected with the SONOS virus. You will not stop buying more components until you run out of power outlets and places to put them.

Stuff that works

by Volker Weber


Lots of things come and go at vowe's magic flying circus. If I would have to name three devices that I touch almost every single day and would not want to be without, it would be those:

  1. The iPhone 6 Plus is the best machine I have ever touched. It's perfect in so many ways that I am scratching my head how it could be improved. It's not only a smartphone but on many days the only computer I touch. It's with me at all times, the screen is big enough for everything, it's a wonderful camera. Although I have an iPad Air 2, it is often ignored. By now I run my presentations off the iPhone, I can write stories on it while on the move, just by adding a Keys-To-Go keyboard.
  2. If I use a "real computer", it's a Macbook Pro with Retina display most of the time. Again, there are plenty of choices, but this notebook just feels right. Great screen, great keyboard. If there is anything that could replace it, it would be another Macbook.
  3. The Dyson DC62 has become essential ever since the dog moved in with us. I cannot overstate how convenient this machine is. Very light and powerful, runs on battery, and easily takes care of all the fur the dog sheds every day. It takes me about five minutes to clean the ground floor and I do it once or twice a day.

Is Verse a new way to work?

by Volker Weber


I applaud IBM for trying a new and fresh start with email. Ever since they have shown first ideas at Connect 2013 I was hooked. Everybody has his own pattern how to deal with email. Some people leave everything in the inbox and use the unread indicator to form a todo list. Others file everything in dozens of folders. Can they change their ways?

I have shown demos and the preview to a couple of users and I have tried the preview myself. The reactions have been all over the place. Here is a rundown.

Office worker, enterprise with 100k people: "Today I always keep the enterprise directory open in a browser window. Being able to look up who is who right from the email is a real time saver."

Consultant, large firm with 10k people: "This is a browser app? Completely useless to me. I cannot work on the train or in an aircraft. But this is where I deal with most of my email that cannot be handled on my mobile."

IT person, enterprise with 100k people: "We are on IE8 and migrating to IE11. Only runs on Chrome and Firefox? Then it's not for us."

Owner, 5 person agency with lots of contractors: "I don't know how this could change even a single pattern. We know who everybody is, we don't have profiles. We deal mostly with customers who would not be on Verse".

Freelancer: "I would need to change my email address? Well, then forget it."

IT person, small firm, 80 people: "Everybody at our company hates Outlook. But they can't live without it. I am not moving their cheese."

Office worker, medium firm, 150 people: "We don't do much in email. We have SAP. At home, I have my friends on Facebook."

Freelancer: "I set up a trial account, but it's empty. Cannot find a way to get anything in there. Why would I bother? I have my mail on Google and I can login to many places. What is IBM offering that I don't have".

The list goes on.

My current thinking is that if your company looks like IBM, you may be able to profit from Verse. It's certainly better than just plain iNotes. If it comes down to Verse vs. Office 365, then it's going to be Office.

Freemium is a neat idea to seed Verse. But without being able to move in with all their belongings, people will look at it, send a few mails, shrug and leave. A few weeks later they will have forgotten they ever signed up. If IBM does not want to fall for their own propaganda, they won't count the number of sign-ups but the number of messages sent and the number of people who check their inbox every few hours.

Schlechtscheine: Wie leicht sich Gutscheinkarten ausrauben lassen

by Volker Weber

Elektronische Geschenkgutscheine und Guthabenkarten sind beliebte Geschenke, jedoch vor Missbrauch kaum geschützt. Mit ganz simplen Tricks können Gauner deshalb auf fremde Rechnung shoppen gehen.

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BlackBerry battery performance is back to normal

by Volker Weber


Check for the latest 10.3.1 update.

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Ceci n'est pas un blog is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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