MLB.Com’s At Bat Expands Ballpark with BlackBerry 10 Support

Research in Motion has a lot riding on the upcoming release of its next generation BlackBerry smartphones, the BlackBerry 10, but it now gains support from an important app market from which it has in the past been a virtual non-player, sports.

RIM is expected to unveil its latest smartphone next week at an event in New York City showing both a pair of handsets as well as its latest iteration of its operating system as the company seeks to halt the strong sales and user erosion that it has experienced in the past two years as new generations of smartphones have soared past it in popularity and sales.

The BlackBerry has long been viewed as a solid enterprise tool but was sadly lacking in apps and features that would help it expand out of its business centric sales, but this deal could be the start of a major change in that perspective.

Queue At Bat, one of the most popular apps available for smartphones, and one that seems to be the top app for some time for iPhone users. While pricing and availability details are not yet available, has said that the 2013 version will be available by Opening Day, or rather Opening Night, March 31, 2013.

At Bat is the official mobile app for Major League Baseball and has a huge array of features ranging from Winter Meetings news to analysis of what clubs are doing. Roster information, game scores, both this year and last are available as well as watching games and even for premium members, viewing classic games that are in baseball’s archives.

This is a strong move for RIM and should help it gain at least some credence in the consumer market space, helping break down the barrier from the enterprise into the bigger overall market. It will be interesting to see what other apps are available at announcement because even as popular as this one is, there is a lot of room for growth in this space by the company.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Tablets and Tradeshows

With the growth of apps that can read and transmit data files such as contact lists improved security is becoming increasingly important. A new security app has come on the scene from mobile security developer SentrySP that seeks to prevent your smartphone from giving away your personal information.

The company’s SentrySp InSight app tracks all operational transmissions from a smartphone it is installed on and looks for transmissions that have the characteristics of an unauthorized transmission, and when it finds one it alerts the owner.

Steve Jobs to speak at trial

Quotes from the late Steve Jobs that were given to biographer Walter Isaacson will be allowed in a patent trial between Apple and Motorola, Chicago Federal Judge Richard Posner has ruled. The book had some pretty strong quotes about the lawsuit and it will be interesting to see how they are used in the trial.

A good look at Facebook’s rise
While the continued poor performance of Facebook’s stock is a source of a steady stream of articles and OP-ED pieces, Nielsen’s takes a different path and has a nice piece on the rise of the social media giant and how far and strong its reach is today.

Among the tidbits in the article are some very interesting facts. It passed Myspace as top social network site in January 2009 and by March 20012 it had 152 million unique U.S. visitors representing two out of three Americans that were online during that time.

Apple wins standards battle
It looks like Apple will emerge victorious in setting the requirements for the next generation SIM that is called the nano-SIM. The new standard is expected to be 40% smaller than the current SIM card design that is popular in mobile devices such as digital cameras and smartphones.

Apple beat rivals Nokia, Research in Motion and Motorola Mobility which had submitted a rival standard to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to get the standard approved. Officially called fourth form factor (4FF) it will be backwardly compatible with existing SIM card designs.

Judge rules Java API’s not copyrightable
In what could be one of the last gasps of the Oracle vs Google battle over Java patents and copyrights; the judge overseeing the case, William Alsup, has thrown out Oracle’s claim that the Java APIs that were used in Android by Google were copyrightable.

Application program interfaces are what allow one piece of code or software to talk to another and this portion of the ruling has been of great concern to the software industry because it has been widely assumed that these were available to all. Oracle has said that it will appeal this decision which concerned 37 APIs.

Big month for conferences
Expect an interesting parade of news this week from the variety of major trade shows and conferences occurring around the globe in the next two weeks. In Taipei there will be the Computex show that is expected to provide a first look at some of the Windows 8 tablets from a variety of hardware developers.

Apple will see Tim Cook take center stage for the first time as Apple’s CEO at its World Wide Developer Conference that will be held in San Francisco from June 11-15. New iPhones or iPads in the wings? Last but not least there is the E3 show down in Los Angeles where the gaming industry will be rolling out some of the next generation offerings and updates on current ones.

Twitter to see $1 billion in ad revenue by 2014?
A report from Bloomberg News claims that Twitter expects to generate an estimated $1 billion in ad revenue by 2014, based on inside information from two sources. The article noted that this would mean that the site would have to grow at double the rate that many market analysts have predicted.

Reports from Pew and others have shown that Twitter has seen steady growth in the last year but nothing like this. The technology has an estimated 140 million users and earned $139.5 million last year.

Appsplit focuses on apps
We have written a good deal about crowd funding and Kickstarter in particular as a way that new products and ideas can get funding and a boost into the market, and idea of this type of funding is increasingly popular as new sites have arisen to play in the market.

One new one, at least to us, is AppSplit, which focuses just on apps. It has a front page that is similar to its rivals, showing a few efforts to get funding, where they stand and how many days left. There are seven platforms that a potential investor can browse; iOS, Mac, Web, Android, Windows and Windows Phone.

Ice Cream Sandwich not hot with Android crowd
A site called Android Developers is reporting that adoption of the Android 4.0 operating system, code named Ice Cream Sandwich, has been very slow among developers. Seven plus months after its release the platform has a paltry 7.1% market share.

Restructuring Management at RIM, Corporate Restructure Next?

Co-CEOs step down, New CEO Named

The top management picture of wireless developer Research in Motion (RIM) has been completely redrawn this week with its cofounders surrendering the position of CEO and the board implementing a new top executive.

Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the co-chief executives and co-chairmen of the company announced that they were stepping down and submitted a succession plan to the company’s Board of Directors that included promoting one of the company’s two Chief Operating Officers, Thorston Heins, as the new CEO and president.

Lazaridis was the company’s founder and he has worked very closely with Balsillie as it grew to a $20 bn player and developer of the first popular smartphone, the BlackBerry.

However both Balsillie and Lazaridis will remain with the company in prominent roles. Lazaridis was named vice chairman of the board while Balsillie will remain as a director. Barbara Stymiest, who formerly served as a member of Royal Bank of Canada’s Group Executive and has been a member of RIM’s Board since 2007, has been named the independent Board Chair. John Richardson, formerly Lead Director, will remain on the Board. Prem Watsa, Chief Executive Officer of Fairfax Financial Holdings, also was named to the Board, expanding it to 11 members.

Declining Market Cap, Revenue and Market Share

The move comes as the once high flying developer of the BlackBerry is facing losses that are expected to extend across the current fiscal year and possibly beyond as demand for its technology continues to wane and the current generation of smartphones and tablets siphon away business.

It suffered a very bad 2011. Its market share has been plummeting in the smartphone segment, dropping from an estimated 30.4% to 16.6% as Android and to a lesser extent Apple iPhones have both expanded the overall market and at the same time eroded RIMs position in it.

The decline in market share has been accompanies by an even greater stock price decline, with a 75% decline in its stock value over the course of the year. It reported a 71% decline in earnings in its 3rd Quarter, it’s most recent. It has been hurt also by a delay in its next generation phones, the BlackBerry 10, now due late this year, and the fact that its tablet, the Playbook, has been a non-starter.

There have been increasingly growing demand from shareholders for vigorous action by the company, up to and including breaking it up or selling it in the last months. The promotion of Heins has not been met with universal approval by shareholders and analysts and is likely to fuel even more negative comments as Heins tries to turn around the company.

Fortune called Heins the wrong choice for CEO. Investopedia wonders if his appointment is simply ‘old wine in a new bottle’ and The New York Times led off with the headline ‘Markets Are Not Convinced by a New Leader at RIM’.

Yet he does have a number of assets in his favor- the company has new generation phones and tablets in the pipeline, it has $1.5bn in cash in the bank and a loyal core of customers that still claim it has the best tools for business. So while Heins has a tough road ahead of him, he has some props to help him along the way.

‘Cricket With Friends’ Game Wins BlackBerry Fund Developer Challenge

Research-In-Motion’s global push for apps garners a range of programs
The fourth annual BlackBerry Partners Fund Developers Challenge is wrapping up as the effort has now crowned the winner of its latest regional round with “Cricket with Friends” taking the top prize in the Asia Pacific regional.

The app, developed by Synqua Games, enables cricket fans to challenge each other to matches, play games and chat and is designed for use on the BlackBerry Messenger (MMB) devices. The other winners include Menoo, developed by PT Elasitas Multi Kresai, a restaurant guide that includes discount coupons for select vendors and GiftnTake, which helps create personalized gifts from developer Risto Mobile Solutions Pte. Lte.

The event is part of a concentrated effort to expand the BlackBerry application ecosystem so that it breaks out of its business tools only image that many have for it and to enable it to better compete with the huge smartphone app space that Android and Apple’s iOS enjoy. The use of focused funds to spur development is a growing tool for not just the smartphone and handheld developers but also component players including Intel.

The growing importance of the Developers Challenge can be seen in the rise of similar funds from rival companies including Intel and Facebook. The awards now includes placement on the featured carousel on BlackBerry App World, membership in the BlackBerry Alliance Program, gift certificates for BlackBerry accessories and more.

The event was judged by BlackBerry Partners Fund and Research-in-Motion (RIM) and is just one of a group of events held regionally around the globe. The other winners are:

North America:
Grand Prize Winner: SeaBattleSE (Vendor: Toysoft Development Inc)
First Runners-up: AP Mobile World Edition (Vendor: The Associated Press)
Second Runners-up: Jingu (Vendor: Jingu Apps Inc.)

Latin America:
Grand Prize Winner: MTV Nightfinder (Vendor: Consultora Eudaimonia SRL)
First Runners-up: Social Game Center (Vendor: Walkover)
Second Runners-up: Navita Translator (Vendor: Navita Tecnologia)

Europe, Middle East and Africa:
Grand Prize Winner: Wikitude (Vendor: Wikitude GmbH)
First Runners-up: FancyTran (Vendor: FancyApps Limited)
Second Runners-up: GPSLogger II – The free AIO GPS Solution (Vendor: Matthias Marquardt)