Companies #BlackBerry should take in house

Social Media -> Kasai Labs which makes Blaq (twitter client) and Trapeez (tumblr client). BlackBerry users are social media junkies and Blaq is the best twitter client available. Bringing this company in house would allow for a great tumblr and twitter experience for users. BlackBerry already has a good Facebook and Linkedin client but this would allow them to bring a great experience to BB10 phones.

Camera -> Occipital Inc. (360 Panorama). Many of the competing phones allow for a panorama feature right into the phone itself. BlackBerry doesn’t, the camera is also viewed as a weak spot on the phone. Giving BB10 users more tools to play with will allow them to forget about the misgivings of the camera.

Editing feature -> Want: The ability to write text boxes on photos within the edit section on the camera.
-> Want: The ability to write like on a teleprompter or a smart board and draw on photos.

Lock Screen -> Ability to change songs from there without having to open the device.
-> Different ways to unlock the device like number password or design unlock

Voice Control -> Purchase Ispeech.org for their Ispeech translator app. Bring this feature into the camera and the voice control portion of the phone. When the camera takes a photo of a sign which is in another language it translates it to english or the desires language. With the voice control portion, allow it to listen to what people are saying and translate it but also allow the user to talk to people in their native language.
-> Purchase BachKhoa University’s app SayIt Built for Blackberry to give the voice control feature which is extremely lackluster more life. Bring it to parity with Siri and other voice control features.

MDM -> Purchase one of the leading MDM companies to bring it in house and reduce the competition but also bring the greatest aspects of that MDM into BES10.

BlackBerry Fit -> Bringing in a company like Sportstracker and a healthy eating application to create BlackBerry Fit. A fitness package that will help users on the go to be healthy and stay fit.

Good Morning/ Good Night feature: Good Morning -> When the phone turns on in the morning it provides a “good morning (owner)” and the top 3 things that person wants to see in the morning along with email and weather. Customizable by the owner for what they want to see in the morning and will play the song of the owners request.

Good Night -> At a designated time the phone will prompt the user asking if they are going to bed. If they are then the phone will start slowly reducing the back light and getting ready to go into sleep mode. Before it completely shuts off it will prompt the user and say good night along with weather forecasts for the next day.

What do you think? What would you add?

Time for a shake up at city hall?

We all know that government moves in one speed: slow but it seems that as time goes on it is only getting worse. Months go by without any indication of how long or when the process will be complete. It seems that the City of Thunder Bay is not immune to this level of speed. A couple projects in particular have brought out the fire in me to write this article. Those two projects include the County Park splash pad and the redevelopment of a building in downtown PA. Both were stuck in the lost regions of city hall for months at a time and in the case of the splash pad years. Rumors from the inside state that many are shaking their head at how slow the process is. People that have been there for too long and processes that are outdated and irrelevant holding up progress. Its time to shake things up and speed up the process. With Thunder Bay in the process of booming we need to have the trained planners, engineers and proper minds in place to get things rolling much quicker. We need to reduce the red tape that is slowing down the process and make sure our planners, engineers have all the tools they need to make quick and accurate decisions.

I believe that our first step is to take a look at the top to bottom staffing levels and procedures that run our city. We need to really make sure that we are set with the proper amount and proper people to make this future as bright as possible. If that means cutting the top to add a couple engineers or city planners or cutting at the bottom to do the same then so be it. We need to make sure that the city runs as efficiently as possible and simple things like overloaded staff aren’t holding us back. We need to start cutting the red tape that doesn’t make sense anymore, things that are doing nothing but adding thousands of dollars to developers bills. We need to make this city one of the best places to do business and to start a business. Yes, we need to make sure that things are right but we need to make sure that they are up to date and not holding back developers.

Back to the 2 different topics that made me right this article. The Splash pad in County park was started in 2010 and was finished in late 2011/ early 2012. For months it sat empty sitting there doing nothing but mocking the kids of the area. City engineers and staff said that the water would be turned on soon and that they were waiting for some documents from the developers about piping. While we don’t know exactly what happened the delay shouldn’t have happened. The delay turned into a 50 week PR nightmare for the city which is only now getting started. Waiting, waiting and more waiting by the city between departments and the developer have forced kids in the area to stare at a $300,000 unusable jungle gym. Luckily, I can now write that the pipes have been installed and hopefully soon the water will be turned on for kids in the area. But this is only one of the issues that the city and developers have faced building in Thunder Bay.

Investment into the downtown cores is something that the city has been pushing hard to get. They are looking at investing a 105 million dollar event center into downtown north core. Again, the slow government action seems to be holding back development in this area. A company from St. Catherine’s came and was rebuilding one of the older building in the north core. To get started they needed to wait for the approvals to come back and then start building. The problem for them was that they sent the applications in October and didn’t receive the approvals for months. They weren’t allowed to start construction till early june! While this delay would seem to be appropriate since the weather likely wouldn’t have allowed for the type of construction they were doing anyways; weather is one thing. Not being able to work because of slow government approvals is another and isn’t acceptable. The developers were shocked and likely left a negative impression on them of what Thunder Bay is all about. People talk and this cannot be the type of storyline we want for people considering building in Thunder Bay. We need to do better and this isn’t the start we want for a construction boom that could be more then we have ever seen before.

I believe a shake up is necessary in city hall. Time to bring in need blood with new ideas that haven’t been corrupted by the politics of city hall. We need to change the way we deal with developers and deal with applications. While I am no engineer and every application is different, we need to decrease the time it takes from application to approval and get our people working.

Quebec Turban ban disgusting

The Quebec soccer league is in the news over its suspension after the leadership decided that turbans would be banned from Quebec soccer games. I need to all my voice to the list of disgusted people around the world shaking their head at Quebec. This is not about protection of players, this is not about protecting Quebec’s french history or even about improving the game but a direct attack at Muslim children and the Muslim faith. The game of soccer (or football for those in Europe) is that it is an inclusive game designed to provide entertainment and fun for all. There is a reason why it is called the ‘beautiful game’ and sadly this decision isn’t it.

The decision on the ban was said to be made as a health and safety response but my question is what is the danger? That the turban could fall off and hit the person behind them? Realistically that is all I could consider a safety issue and its easily fixed by adding a chin strap to make sure it is secure. The best part about adding a strap is that there are already turbans available that provide this and are worn with the religious item (not sure of significance tho).

Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Above is a word for word copy of wilful promotion of hatred in the Canadian Criminal Code. I believe that the decision makers of the Quebec Soccer League need to be charged for their actions. Not only does it promote hate against Muslim and children who wear turbans is singles them out. It makes a mockery of all the work Canada has done to become that save multicultural haven that we have so strived to become. The world is viewing this as a Canadian issue and doesn’t realize that Quebec seems to do what it pleases when it pleases. We need to continue to act against the hatred of a single race or religion and come out against organizations like this. We need to let the kids play and be kids, we cannot allow this mockery to continue. The ban against Turbans in Quebec is disgusting and every player should boycott their matches until this ban is repealed.

Ms. Marois, the Quebec Leader needed to step up and say that this ban was against the wishes of Quebec but she didn’t. She didn’t even blink and she jumped when she had the chance to support the Quebec Soccer League because it was Quebec. Ms. Marois this is not about promoting Quebec, its sovereignty or promoting French as a language this is pure and simple hate. To have a provincial leader stand up and support the ban is a disgrace to all people who have French backgrounds and all Canadians. As a leader you should be providing a good example for inclusion, promotion of religion and people’s history not squashing it to promote french. I guess it is too much to expect a leader to stand up for the little guy when she is policing the way people speak in order to make them more ‘french’. Some of these policies remind me of a shorter gentlemen from Austria 60 years ago but I’ll let the reader make their own conclusion.

To the family’s affected, I would like to apologize now for the actions of the Quebec Soccer League. We as Canadians are better then this and the actions of Ms. Marois, her government and this idiotic decision makers do not represent Canada. We want you to feel safe and to feel that you can play soccer without being hated on for your religion. This game truly is beautiful, whether you call it soccer or football and we want you to play it.

Service revenue over hardware sales?

Blackberry announced at BlackBerry Live that they would be brining BBM to IOS and Android which ended the rumours over the last couple years of such a move. The announcement immediately sparked reaction on both sides of the BlackBerry World both for and against the move. One side said that it would bring BBM back to relevancy and the other side said that it killed BlackBerry’s competitive advantage. BBM is a huge feature for BlackBerry and one of the reasons that it is so popular in developing countries. Of course in the end we will have to wait to see if the move works for the company but both sides in this argument have points that are important to look at. I am on the fence with this move as of right now, I can see it either working extremely in BlackBerry’s favor but also see the potential for negative results.

The adoption of BBM on Android and IOS will be important to the future of this venture and will determine if it is a success or failure. With BBM losing its exclusivity the people who were staying for BBM now have options to look elsewhere. The impact could be felt in hardware sales as people who were tied to Blackberry specifically for BBM are now free. Hardware sales likely wouldn’t be affected in the developing countries as older phones are still popular and selling like hotcakes. The number that would be hurt the most would be the subscribers which is a factor for investors looking to the health of the company. The next couple quarters could be very good for Blackberry and be reminiscent of 2008 but a declining service income and subscribers could scare investors away. If the adoption rate of BBM amongst android and IOS users isn’t good then BlackBerry needs to be ready to pull the plug. I believe that BlackBerry is looking at BBM on other platforms in this fashion.

In today’s market many companies are unwilling to provide a phone for a employee. Many employees also hate having to carry around 2 or 3 devices to be able to keep their personal and work lives separate. Companies want a secure way to transmit information from 1 device to another and in the world of Bring your own device (BYOD) an app like BBM provides that. BBM on an individual Android or IOS device wont really do anything to help the companies bottom line, in fact it may hurt it. If BBM is able to spread to hundreds or thousands of these BYOD company phones these companies may consider hoping onboard BES10 and providing BlackBerry with a new service revenue. I believe that BlackBerry is willing to lose some hardware revenue to Samsung and Apple as they have been for the last couple years in order to steal away potential service revenue from other management companies. Getting BES10 into these companies that may have used BlackBerry in the past will allow BlackBerry to show the potential of BB10 and the QNX system. This may help to rekindle the love that companies once had for BlackBerry and help to cement the #1 position they have in fortune 500 companies and governments across the world. The initial loss of hardware sales to get the service revenues should help to reduce or eliminate any losses if they can get into enough new businesses. If this is BlackBerry’s plan then they are hoping that the old BlackBerry users remember and still love BBM and will be willing to adopt it on their new phones.

This is a risky move for BlackBerry but a very necessary one. If BBM can grab even 20-30 million more users through IOS and Android then it becomes more relevant and a bigger asset for the company. I know there are 76 million BlackBerry subscribers and that many of them use BBM but the application has lost its luster. It needs a boost in term of tricks, features and most importantly people. As an investor I am leaning towards this being a good sign but I do hope that BlackBerry has its finger on the kill switch if they don’t see it going their way.