BlackBerry Misses In Q1 2014: EPS Of -$0.13 On Revenue Of $3.1B, 6.8 Million Phones Shipped


BlackBerry has just released its fiscal Q1 2014 earnings today (yes, their fiscal calendar is a little kooky), and the company still can’t seem to find its footing. The company reported generating $ 3.1 billion in revenue this past quarter, up 9% year-over-year, but definitely missed most analyst estimates with an adjusted net loss of $ 67 million (which works out to -$ 0.13 per share).

Meanwhile, the consensus estimates according to Bloomberg Businessweek were for the company to report earnings of $ 0.07 per share on revenue of $ 3.4 billion. As you might expect, BlackBerry’s poor quarterly performance has left the company’s stock price tumbling in pre-market trading: at time of writing, the price is down over 18%.

UPDATE: And the stock price just keeps dipping. With just a few minutes until the market opens, it’s down nearly 24%.

Now these are undeniably bad numbers, but beyond that, today’s earnings release is a little… odd.

Take hardware for instance. More than a few pundits and analysts ruminated on the importance of the BlackBerry Q10 to the company over the past few weeks — it’s the first BlackBerry 10 device to sport the now traditional physical QWERTY keyboard, but today’s release doesn’t take into account U.S. shipments. Curiously enough though, BlackBerry didn’t break down its hardware shipments by OS like it usually does — according to the release the company shipped 6.8 million smartphones, but there’s no word on how many of them run BB10. Last quarter the company reported moving 1 million BB10 devices, so there’s something very strange (and frankly not very confidence-inspiring) about the fact that BB10 hardware doesn’t seem to get a nod this time around.

UPDATE: BlackBerry representatives noted on the earnings call that some 40% of the smartphones it shipped this past quarter were BB10 devices — that shakes out to about 2.72 million BB10 units moved.

Furthermore, there’s no word on the company’s subscriber base. Last quarter the company reported that it some 76 million subscribers were still loyal to the BlackBerry platform (down from 79 million the quarter before that). Has the number finally dipped to the point where the company would rather not flaunt it despite launching a new operating system and hardware to go with it? It sure seems like it.

If anything though, these next few months will shine even more light on whether or not BlackBerry still has the chops to compete in the crowded smartphone space. We’ll have a clearer understanding of the Q10′s sales impact in the United States, and BlackBerry pulled back the curtain on the entry-level Q5 last month, a device that seems tailor-made to help the company maintain its relatively strong position in emerging markets. It’ll be some time before we get a feel for the impact the Q5 will have on BlackBerry’s bottom line though — CEO Thorsten Heins noted during the Q5′s unveiling that the device won’t be available until sometime this summer, and declined to delve into which markets would get the thing first.

Speaking of the summer, Heins also noted that the BlackBerry Messenger service would go live for Android and iOS sometime over the next few months. BBM has endeared itself to a considerable chunk of fans (the service boasts “over 60 million” users across the globe), but we’ll soon see if it’s enough to keep BlackBerry competitive amidst a sea of messaging apps.

As always, the company will be holding an earnings call in just a little bit. Stay tuned — hopefully Heins explains where all those juicy numbers went.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

HandiBot Is The Robotic Carpenter Of Geppetto’s Dreams


Given that I have no talent in woodworking, I suspect Handibot may – dare I say it? – come in handy. The device is a motorized CNC machine – they’re calling it a Universal Digital Power Tool (UDPT) – for wood. It can cut, machine, drill, and carve. Built by the guys who built the ShopBot, a similarly complex CNC system for woodworking.

The Handibot is basically a 3D cutter. It can create precise cuts in wood or even create complex carvings for molding or decorations. In short, it’s a pocket carpenter.

The product also uses a mobile app to allow users to create various cuts including holes and mortises. You can also download designs from the Internet, creating a sort of reverse Thingiverse.

You can get a Handibot for a $ 2,700 pledge and they will offer additional bits and accessories that can turn it into a fully-functional shop robot. It’s a lot of money but it’s a pretty complex bit of gadgetry and ShopBot is a solid outfit. They’re looking for a $ 127,000 goal with $ 86,000 already raised.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

BlackBerry CEO Confirms No BB10 Update For The Aging PlayBook Tablet


Here’s a Friday morning PSA for you BlackBerry PlayBook owners: if you were feverishly clutching your tablet in hopes that BlackBerry would finally update it with a shiny new OS, you can finally put them down. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins just confirmed during the company’s Q1 earnings call that the BlackBerry 10 won’t be coming to your aging doodad.

Tough break, folks.

Specifically, Heins said that he was “not satisfied with level of performance and user experience” of BlackBerry 10 on the PlayBook, though he quickly added that the company would continue to “support PlayBook on existing software platform and configurations.” Understandably, it just didn’t make sense for the company to continue devoting time and effort to the project (especially considering the tablet is about two years old). Going forward, Heins also noted that BlackBerry only aims to have about six products in the market at any given time, and hopefully that “more wood behind fewer arrows” approach works out. And hey, one of them may be a BB10-powered phablet, which kinda sorta jibes with Heins’ belief that tablets won’t be around for too much longer.

It’s a fair enough reason–BlackBerry has limited resources with which it’s attempting to perform the mother of all mobile turnarounds–but the company hasn’t exactly been keeping people’s expectations in check. Last month an errant tweet from a BlackBerry Mexico employee indicated that the update would be hitting devices within the next few weeks, a scenario that will (sadly) never play out. Still, for a tablet that launch in April 2011, BlackBerry is still doing a decent job at moving them — the company pointed out in today’s earnings release that it shipped 100,000 PlayBooks over the past quarter.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

BlueStacks Adds A Free Hardware Option To Its ‘Netflix For Gaming’ With GamePop Mini

GamePop Mini

Mobile virtualization startup BlueStacks only recently revealed the GamePop, its mobile home gaming console  that offers all-you-can play gaming for a flat monthly fee, but it’s already expanding the line. Today, the company is announcing GamePop Mini, a version of the GamePop that offers completely free hardware with a standard $ 6.99 monthly GamePop service subscription, with smaller hardware that’s yours to keep after 12 months even if you decide to cancel your GamePop account.

The GamePop Mini also runs Jelly Bean 4.2, and connects to your TV via an included HDMI cable. Just like its big brother the GamePop, it will provide access to the service’s curated list of 500 games (from both Android and iOS sources) each month, with titles from studios like HalfBrick (makers of Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride) that are normally available only with a one-off purchase. The key difference between the GamePop and the GamePop Mini will be in terms of specs, which BlueStacks aren’t quite ready to reveal.

The $ 129 GamePop is currently available free to pre-order customers, but reverts to full price as of June 30. The GamePop Mini will become available as of July 1 for pre-order, and BlueStacks CEO Rosen Sharma told me in an interview that it will ship at or around the same time as the GamePop some time this winter. Sharma said a free console was always something that it wanted to do, and that the GamePop Mini is the first of a line of “forever free” options it plans to provide to gamers seeking to access its services.

“We were always planning this, because we think of GamePop as a service,” he said. “Just like when you think of when Netflix came out, they used to send you a Wii disc so you could run it on the Wii, and then you could run it on the PlayStation. And our goal is that you can run it on a number of different devices, and some of them will be from us, and some of them will be from other people.”

GamePop becoming a platform agnostic service would be a considerable departure from other mobile gaming consoles out there, like OUYA and the upcoming GameStick. It would open the door to integration in smart TVs, Windows computers, embedded devices and various other places. Once that happens, the value prospect of a subscription service with true portability increases dramatically; GamePop truly does become the Netflix of mobile gaming.

“It is in part to show how good the market is out there, and I would call it a showcase, but the pre-orders have also inundated us,” Sharma said. “So it’s not just a showcase. The direct channel is a very strong business, and one we plan to continue, but having it run everywhere is our vision.”

Sharma also talked about GamePop’s potential to eventually bring in media titles, as well as interactive experiences that aren’t strictly games, like the Talking Tom series, which is especially a hit with younger audiences. For mobile developers, that presents an option for getting a variety of mobile titles in front of a wide swath of users on a huge range of devices, on a subscription-based billing model that could upturn the pay-per-download revenue scheme that’s mostly driven the mobile software ecosystem to date.

GamePop Mini will be a way for BlueStacks to spread its service far and wide, especially since there’s no commitment, and you need only return the console hardware should you decide to cancel the subscription before the 12 month mark. It’s also super portable, and in fact pocketable, so it’s designed to travel (which has the side benefit of introducing new people to GamePop). I think it’ll be most interesting to see how users react to having both a free and a $ 129 hardware option for a brand new type of gaming device, but we’ll find out more come winter when they launch.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Maker Nabs A 3D Model Of Marcus Aurelius With Google Glass


In what looks to be a first for the technology, designer and engineer Todd Blatt took 30 pictures of a bust of Marcus Aurelius with Google Glass and created a downloadable 3D model that you can grab and print.

Blatt writes:

I just walked around the work, repeating, “ok glass, take a picture” over and over, 30 shots in total. No real care in aiming the shot. I just looked at it and that’s it. Then I manually uploaded the photos from Google Autobackup to 123D Catch on my computer and proceeded as normal with the regular scanning/123d process.

Obviously Blatt had some prior experience with the gear and the tools required to build a 3D model but it’s fascinating that, in a few minutes, he was able to render a physical object digitally and then reprint it. These methods aren’t foolproof, but they’re very nearly so.

What does this mean for the future? Well, almost anything can be copied now, from a car to a tourist’s trinket. It also means that nothing is “safe” anymore – all it takes for IP theft of object designs to happen is a few winks with a good enough camera. Look for this to also affect the uptake of glass in the corporate world. If I were a designer I definitely wouldn’t want some weirdo coming in and snapping my objects with Glass.

You can also buy a copy of the bust here, which should give museums pause if they’re worried about losing gift shop business.

TechCrunch » Gadgets