Tag Archives: smartphones

BlackBerry Considering Options as Sales Lag

BlackBerry 10 Not Making the Cut
BlackBerry 10 Not Making the Cut

Veteran of the smartphone set, BlackBerry has been having difficulties competing with the latest handheld devices such as iPhones and Androids. Disappointment mounted as the much-anticipated introduction of their latest phones failed to produce the crucial turn around in sales which had been hoped for.

Now the company is faced with some tough decisions as to the best way to proceed from here. BlackBerry’s board of directors formed a special committee to examine “strategic alternatives” to hopefully boost the company’s value and improve the rate at which the new BlackBerry 10 platform is adopted.

Under consideration by the company now are the possibilities of joint ventures, partnerships or other changes. The US-traded stock of the Canadian based company rose 10.5 percent on Monday, when the announcement was made, to a price of $10.78.

BlackBerry announced the release of its new operating system in January, hoping to become more competitive in the highly competitive smartphone market. Market share continued to lag, however, and the company is now in fourth place in global smartphone sales with 2.9 percent of the market.

Even with price reductions, says Mike Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, sales for BlackBerry are in decline.

“Now they have to go to the next step of what’s best for the company and shareholders to survive long term because it doesn’t look promising on BlackBerry 10 sales,” Walkley said.

Cash Registers Going the Way of the Dinosaur

Take a Good Look: You Wont be Seeing this Much Longer
Take a Good Look: You Wont be Seeing this Much Longer

Shops are finding the old-fashioned cash register expendable as the bulk of purchases are made with credit and debit cards, making having cash-on-hand obsolete.

Instead stores are beginning to have their salespeople armed with smartphones or tablet computers to register sales, and in some cases even the customers themselves will be able to load their purchase into their own mobile device.

The luxury retailer Barneys New York is planning on making the changeover this coming year, using iPads or iPod Touch devices to record purchases in seven of their almost two dozen non-outlet stores. Urban Outfitters, a clothing store chain for teen buyers, ordered its last cash register last fall. They plan to go completely mobile one day soon. Wal-Mart, which is the largest retail chain in the world, is now testing a “Scan & Go” application that allows customers to scan their purchases as they shop.

“The traditional cash register is heading toward obsolescence,” said Danielle Vitale, chief operating officer of Barneys New York.

Phone Therapy Helps Depressed Patients

A Smartphone that Detects Moods

Scientists at Northwestern University, led by psychologist David Mohr, are developing a smartphone which can detect depression in phone users and offer help to improve the user’s mood.

David Mohr thinks of his phones as virtual therapists:

“We’re trying to develop individual algorithms for each user that can determine specific states, so their location where they are, their activity, their social context, who they’re with, what they’re engaged in, and their mood,” Mohr said.

For example, if someone has not left his house for several days, the phone will know.

“It can provide them an automated text message, or an automated phone call to make a suggestion to give somebody a call or get out of the house,” Mohr said.

A preliminary phone has already been tested on eight patients, and the results seem to indicate that a phone ‘therapist’ can be a very useful thing, helping to uplift the patients down moods.

“They all had a major depressive disorder when they started, and they were all both clinically and statistically better at the end of the treatment,” he said.

Mohr suggested that this type of technology can be a highly cost-effective method for treating depression. More widespread tests are scheduled for this coming summer.