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Blackberry has signed a letter of intent, agreeing to acquisition terms from Canada’s Fairfax Financial.  Read on for details.

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Blackberry has signed a letter of intent, agreeing to acquisition terms from Canada’s Fairfax Financial.  Fairfax is run by V. Prem Watsa, who had also been on the Blackberry board until recently.  Terms are $4.7 billion, or $9 per share, a slight premium over the closing price from Friday.  Cash net of long term debt on Blackberry’s balance sheet is about $2.9 billion, so Fairfax essentially gets Blackberry for $1.8 billion.  Blackberry announced their exit from the consumer smartphone space late last week, along with a write-down related to the Z10 approaching $1 billion.  Fairfax is a Canadian insurance holding company with investments in insurance and re-insurance; turnover is about $8 billion annually.  This is an odd investment for an insurance company to make; clearly, it provides Blackberry with an exit strategy and a place to reassess their future course of action and Fairfax can buy it for next to nothing.  With the failure of the consumer device business and the announcement that they are retrenching towards enterprise customers, it is hard to see how the company can remain independent, and I expect that Fairfax will sell off Blackberry in pieces over the coming quarters in order to recoup their investment and earn a profit.  We’ll keep you posted on developments.  Here is the press release:

BlackBerry Enters into Letter of Intent with Consortium led by Fairfax Financial

  • BlackBerry shareholders would receive U.S. $9 per share in cash
  • Transaction valued at approximately U.S. $4.7 billion
  • Consortium permitted 6 weeks to conduct due diligence
  • BlackBerry entitled to go-shop during due diligence period, subject to payment of a termination fee in the event alternative offer accepted

Waterloo, ON – BlackBerry Limited (NASDAQ:BBRY; TSX:BB) today announced it has signed a letter of intent agreement (“LOI”) under which a consortium to be led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (“Fairfax”) has offered to acquire the company subject to due diligence.

The letter of intent contemplates a transaction in which BlackBerry shareholders would receive U.S. $9 in cash for each share of BlackBerry share they hold, in a transaction valued at approximately U.S. $4.7 billion. The consortium would acquire for cash all of the outstanding shares of BlackBerry not held by Fairfax. Fairfax, which owns approximately 10 percent of BlackBerry’s common shares, intends to contribute the shares of BlackBerry it currently holds into the transaction.
The BlackBerry Board of Directors, acting on the recommendation of a special committee of the board of directors (the “Special Committee”), approved the terms of the LOI under which the consortium, which is seeking financing from BofA Merrill Lynch and BMO Capital Markets, would acquire BlackBerry and take the company private subject to a number of conditions, including due diligence, negotiation and execution of a definitive agreement (the “Definitive Agreement”) and customary regulatory approvals.

The Special Committee, chaired by Director Tim Dattels, was formed in August 2013 to review strategic alternatives for the company. J.P. Morgan and Perella Weinberg are acting as financial advisors and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Torys LLP are acting as legal advisors.

Diligence is expected to be complete by November 4, 2013 (“Diligence Period”).  The parties’ intention is to negotiate and execute a definitive transaction agreement by such date.   During such period, BlackBerry is permitted to actively solicit, receive, evaluate and potentially enter into negotiations with parties that offer alternative proposals (“Alternative Transactions”).

If (A) during the Diligence Period (i) BlackBerry enters into any letter of intent or definitive agreement providing for an Alternative Transaction, (ii) BlackBerry ceases to negotiate with the consortium in good faith with a view to entering into the Definitive Agreement by the end of the Diligence Period,  or (iii) an Alternative Transaction is publicly proposed or publicly announced and is consummated within 6 months following the end of the Diligence Period, or (B) during the 3 month period following the end of the Diligence Period, BlackBerry enters into any agreement providing for an Alternative Transaction with a person with whom discussions were held before or during the Diligence Period, then BlackBerry shall pay Fairfax a fee of U.S. $0.30 per BlackBerry share, provided, however, that no such fee shall be payable if the consortium shall have reduced the price offered below U.S. $9.00 per share without the approval of the board of directors of  BlackBerry.  In the event that a definitive agreement is signed with Fairfax the termination fee will increase to U.S. $ 0.50 per share.

Barbara Stymiest, Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors, said: “The Special Committee is seeking the best available outcome for the Company’s constituents, including for shareholders. Importantly, the go-shop process provides an opportunity to determine if there are alternatives superior to the present proposal from the Fairfax consortium.”

Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, said: “We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees. We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world.”

In addition to the consortium and its lenders being satisfied with all aspects of the due diligence to be carried out by them during the Diligence Period and the negotiation and execution of a binding definitive agreement approved by the board of BlackBerry, completion of the transaction will be subject to other customary conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals.  There can be no assurance that due diligence will be satisfactory, that financing will be obtained, that a definitive agreement will be entered into or that the transaction will be consummated.

BDT & Company, LLC, BofA Merrill Lynch and BMO Capital Markets are acting as financial advisors, and Shearman & Sterling LLP and McCarthy Tétrault LLP are acting as legal advisors to Fairfax in connection with the transaction.

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Yesterday BlackBerry unveiled a new social media service, BBM Channels. The smartphone company launched its latest product at the BlackBerry Live 2013 event with the support of F1 driver Lewis Hamilton.

BBM Logo blackberry-bbm-channels-lewis-hamilton

BBM Channels will enable users to chat about topics on their favourite companies or artists, as well as interact with them.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins revealed that the F1 Mercedes AMG Petronas team would be among the first companies to feature on BBM Channels.

BBM Channels is currently available in beta with a full release due later in the year.

The news comes as BlackBerry also announced that it would make the popular BBM messaging app available on iPhone and Android for free later this summer.

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BlackBerry has unveiled its latest smartphone – the BlackBerry Q5. The device, previously rumoured as the R10, runs the new BlackBerry 10 operating system and is aimed at emerging markets.

Blackberry-q5

It will be released in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America in July and is expected to be cheaper than the Q10 and Z10 announced in January.

The company didn’t announce pricing or detailed specs at the BlackBerry Live conference in Orlando, but revealed that the phone will come in black, white, red and pink.

Phones 4U has already confirmed that it will carry the Q5, which features a physical Qwerty keyboard and a 3.1-inch touchscreen.

Thorsten Heins, President and CEO of BlackBerry, said: “The BlackBerry Q5 gives you the best of everything with its cutting-edge BlackBerry 10 functionality and a physical QWERTY keyboard.

“We understand the importance of having devices to suit all markets and needs. It’s a sleek, slim high-performance device.”

Just announced that BlackBerry is being its BBM messenger platform is going multi-platform. It will be released for Android and iOS as a free app this summer. BBM will support iOS hardware running iOS 6 and above; the Android version will be compatible with version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above.

Blackberry Live 2013

In the first version of multi-platform BBM, iOS and Android users are expected to be able to experience the following BBM features:

  • The immediacy of BBM chats
  • Multi-person chats
  • Voice note sharing
  • BlackBerry Groups, where BBM users are able to set up groups of up to 30 people and share calendar, photos, files and more

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Is your smartphone talking about you behind your back? It’s probably not, but that doesn’t mean your phone isn’t saying a lot about who you are as a person. Read this infographic to find out what kinds of things strangers can figure out about you from your choice of smartphone.

73% of smartphone users are using it to check their email, and the largest segments of those email-obsessed users are probably BlackBerry owners. No one loves email like BlackBerry users.

With the average smartphone owner carrying about 28 apps, it’s no surprise that so many people choose iPhones because of the kinds of apps available on the Apple operating system. Apple phones have incredible app opportunities, which attract the most progressive app users.

While BlackBerry and Apple owners are easy to spot, the truth is that the Windows user is less easy to find. This person is usually as understated as his phone. Neither the owner nor the device is very fancy, usually. The HTC Windows phone is the hallmark of a person who is low maintenance and laid-back.

If you’re into Motorola madness, then you probably enjoy texting like a mad man. Motorola lovers are quick on the draw and even faster to respond to tweets. These phone owners are usually under 20 years of age, or experiencing mid-life crises.

Finding the perfect phone isn’t about a brand or a user type: it’s about who you are and what you need. Forget the stereotypes and get the phone you love, whether it’s the HTC One or even an old-school flip phone.

Read this handy infographic to find out more about average smartphone users. You’ll also learn interesting facts and figures about smartphone users, such as that 80% use their devices to access social networks.

What_Your_Smartphone_Says_About_You_Final (2)

About the Author:

DJ Miller is a graduate student at the University of Tampa. He is an avid gizmo geek who spends most his time writing on anything gadget related. From video games to smartphones he likes all things techy . Feel free to connect with him on twitter @MillerHeWrote

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BlackBerry’s R10 smartphone has been glimpsed in what is said to be a leaked photograph of the device. The handset is said to be a budget alternative to the BlackBerry Q10, combining the same physical keyboard with scaled-down hardware specs.

blackberry-r10-red

The R10 appears to sport a similar form factor to the more powerful Q10, but has a distinctive red bezel and slightly different keypad design.

BlackBerry will launch the device during the third quarter of the year with a price tag somewhere between $300 and $400 (£192 and £257), according to pocketnow.

The R10 would be the third device to come with the BlackBerry 10 operating system pre-loaded, following the touchscreen Z10 and the Q10.

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BlackBerry’s Q10 smartphone has gone on sale in the UK at Selfridges stores that sells out in 90 minutes. Model and actress Lily Cole has teamed up with the retailer to showcase the physical keyboard-equipped device, posing for a photoshoot with the phone in-hand.

Blackberry Q10

Lily Cole showcases the BlackBerry Q10 at Selfridges

“I’ve always been a fan of BlackBerry and am excited to use the new Q10. I travel a lot and the BlackBerry keyboard helps me keep on top of work and emails. I’ve even written articles on my BlackBerry,” said Cole.

The BlackBerry Q10 is the second handset to come with the BB10 operating system pre-installed, following the launch of the flagship Z10 in early February.

Powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, the Q10 sports BlackBerry’s signature QWERTY keyboard and a 3.1-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen.

Other features include an 8-megapixel camera, 16GB of on-board storage and 4G support.

The BlackBerry Q10 is available from Selfridges stores in London, Birmingham and Manchester from today (April 26). The handset goes on general sale on Monday (April 29).

Today Twitter has launched its #music application following weeks of speculation. The service offers song recommendations based on the accounts that the user is following, and lets them stream tracks in-app through platforms such as Rdio, Spotify and iTunes.

twitter-music

Users will also be served track recommendations directly from artists and can share music with their friends, as well as see what they have been listening to.

“Today, we’re releasing Twitter #music, a new service that will change the way people find music, based on Twitter,” said the microblogging firm in a statement. “It uses Twitter activity, including Tweets and engagement, to detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists.

“It also brings artists’ music-related Twitter activity front and centre: go to their profiles to see which music artists they follow and listen to songs by those artists. And, of course, you can tweet songs right from the app.”

twitter-music-2

Speculation about the service hit critical mass last week when Twitter announced that it had acquired music discovery service We Are Hunted.

Twitter #music is available for iOS devices via the App Store and as a web-based service. Native apps for Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices are yet to be announced.

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Has BlackBerry “reinvented” the new smartphone generation with BlackBerry 10, and leading the charge is the new full-touchscreen Z10 handset.

For BlackBerry fans, the Z10 is everything you wanted. It’s a sleek, classy and well-made smartphone that performs well in most areas and is suited to both personal and professional use.

Hands on with the Blackberry Z10 from PDTechHD

But there’s no denying that it looks remarkably like an iPhone, and doubts remain over BlackBerry 10. The OS brings some great ideas – including a fantastic typing system and the ability to have two active accounts on the same phone – but it also feels a bit behind the times compared to rival systems.  BlackBerry 10 suffers from a general lack of apps, the maps tool is dated and the swipe gestures are very confusing at first. But anyone willing to forgive a few software irritations will still find a lot to love about the Z10.

Design/body

There’s no way around it; the Z10 looks remarkably like a chunkier, less beautiful iPhone 5. The handset is 5.12 inches wide, 2.58 inches deep and 0.35 inches thick (130 x 65.6 x 9 mm), making it just a bit deeper than the iPhone 5. At 4.78 ounces (135.4 grams), it feels light in the hand and is arguably more comfortable to use than Apple’s handset, thanks to slightly rounded edges and a textured finish. However, the iPhone 5 is made out of much more premium materials than the Z10’s plastic shell.

BlackBerry 10 front BlackBerry 10 side

The Z10’s display measures 4.2 inches on the diagonal with a resolution of 1280×768 pixels. This gives 356 pixels per inch, beating the iPhone 5’s 326ppi density – not that you will overly notice. The screen displays text and graphics clearly, and ensures colours are vibrant and bright. The side bezels are a tad chunky but not horribly so.

Users get 16GB of onboard storage, and that can be increased to 64GB with a microSD card.  Micro-HDMI port and Micro-USB ports are on the left edge, and the right houses up and down volume keys and a voice command button.

BlackBerry 10/Apps

The OS has many strong features but also others that feel dated compared to the competition, and the lack of apps is a problem. We like BlackBerry Balance, BBM Video calls and the BlackBerry Hub, but the camera features feel limited and the maps app is very basic compared to Google Maps.

BlackBerry 10 BlackBerry World

BlackBerry 10 launches with more than 70,000 apps, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare, along with Skype, Amazon Kindle, WhatsApp, Angry Birds and Rdio. But there is no Instagram, Spotify, Netflix, or YouTube (BlackBerry has included an icon, but it just leads through to the browser). With iOS, Android and even Windows Phone offering much more apps, BB10 starts to seem behind the game.

But at least with the Z10 you get NFC support for wireless transfer of data and contactless payments, along with the exclusive and still hugely popular BBM service. There is also a decent music app on board, and bundled apps for productivity tool Documents To Go, Dropbox, Newsstand and BlackBerry’s own Story Maker.

Processor/Battery life

The Z10 has a 1.5 GHZ dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus processor, which is not exactly meaty against quad-core rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy S3. But the system seems to admirably handle most tasks that you can throw at it. Downloading apps is quicker than the 2Ghz Motorola Razr i, and web browsing is zippy. Only on the really heavy duty apps and tasks did we see some lag. Battery life is rated at up to 10 hours of talk time, up to 60 hours of audio playback and up to 11 hours of video playback from a full charge of the 1,800mAh battery. We found that the battery does generally just about last a full day, even with some game playing and full screen brightness.

Keyboard

BlackBerry prides itself on the typing experience and the Z10 features an excellent system on board. The trademark BlackBerry keyboard pops up on the screen and makes typing a dream. The touch keys have a more solid and satisfying feeling than typing on iOS, Android or Windows Phone devices.

The keyboard has a learning engine that monitors what you are typing and then suggests words above the keys. You can then just ‘flip’ your thumb over the word to write it. Predictive text is nothing new, but flip word is so much faster and it is possible write entire sentences with just your thumb. The system also supports three different languages for multilingual people.

Camera

Camera has never previously been a strong point with BlackBerry phones, so its good to see the Z10 pack an 8-megapixel camera on rear and a 2-megapixel snapper on the front. Video recording comes in 1080p high-definition on the rear and 720p on the front for those BBM calls.

BlackBerry 10 lifestyle 2

The shutter speed is a real plus on the Z10. Most photos are taken almost instantly, which cuts out the danger of missing your subject. You can select scene mode, such as for action and night, as well as take pictures in a 3:4 or 9:16 ratio. But compared to other systems, there are not many other features available, barring the option to select the best picture from a burst shot.   There is no HDR for improved shot quality and no function to change ISO settings, while geotagging and grid are also absent. It is also annoying that you cannot turn off the loud clacking sound of the camera taking a photo. The pictures themselves are crisp and defined, but the autofocus struggles to cope at times and can completely misread the desired subject of the photo.

The Verdict

BlackBerry had an impossible task with the Z10 – it had to reinvent the whole concept of a smartphone just to get noticed. It has not done that – not by a long shot – but it has created a solid and dependable phone. If it adds lots more apps, rolls out some fixes for the OS (Google Maps, please) and wins over the personal-professional crowd, then the brand could well get back into the game.

CDW-Rating-Banner-black-4

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Today at the Blackberry BB10 Event RIM has officially Renamed itself to just Blackberry. The BlackBerry World store will play host to a rich library of movies, TV shows and music, as well as more than 70,000 BlackBerry 10 apps at launch, including  Skype, Kindle, WhatsApp, SAP, Angry Birds, Facebook and Foursquare.

US carriers announcing pre registration today, but no concrete release dates. Expected availability in March. “By the end of February, we will be completing lab testing with 110 carriers worldwide.”. The Z10 will be available from tomorrow (31St January) in the UK, UAE from the 5th February. Also Alicia Keys is Blackberry’s new Global Creative Director.

blackberry-10-1 blackberry-10-2

Inside the Z10 is a 4.2 inche device, On the back of the BlackBerry Z10 is an 8-megapixel camera, capable of taking 1080p stabilized video. Front camera is an 2-megapixel, You’ll find a healthy compliment of feeds, speeds, and other things that rhyme with feeds and speeds.  The phone is powered by a dual-core CPU clocked to 1.5GHz. The device has a fat 2GB of RAM alongside 16GB of internal storage (that can be expanded, of course, all the way up to 48GB with the use of a 32GB microSD card). Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, an accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, and ambient light sensor alos with the ppi of 355 using a 1,800 mAh battery.

Also Blackberry showed off the second BB10 device but this one has a physical keyboard. The Q10 sports a 1.5GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage, which is expandable with a microSD slot. The 3.1-inch touchscreen has 330ppi, 720 x 720 display.

blackberry-q10-2 blackberry-q10-1

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