Samsung sells one out of every four smartphones in the US as ownership increases

Following the continued growth of smartphones in the US and increasing competition between Samsung and Apple, the two companies saw combined growth between 2012 and 2013 amounting to 68% of the US smartphone market. That’s according to data provided by The NPD Group which reports overall smartphone growth increased from 52% to 60% in Q4 of 2012 and 2013, respectively. NPD reports Samsung rose from 22% to 26% in Q4 2012 to 2013 among US smartphone users. Read more

BBM beta for Android updated with voice chat and Channels

After teasing the app for what seemed like years, BlackBerry finally released its BBM client to Android last October, to a somewhat surprising number of downloads. Today, the company has released a private beta of the app that includes the promised Channels feature, as well as voice chat support (via Engadget).

Channels is BlackBerry’s stab at a social network. The company describes it as something similar to Tumblr. Voice chat is exactly what it sounds like. It’s essentially Skype, but baked right in to the BBM app. Users can call each other, for free, over WiFi networks. This is something that Android users have been wanting for a while now in Google’s Hangouts app, so it’s surprising to see BlackBerry beat Google to the punch.

The update is available via the BlackBerry Beta Zone now. There’s no word on public availability, or when/if the update will come to iOS.

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Google sues Apple/Microsoft-backed consortium Rockstar, not the makers of Grand Theft Auto

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Google is making moves this week to protect its Android partners as the Apple, Microsoft-backed “Rockstar” patent group seeks to sue numerous Android partners. Google has asked a San Jose court for a declaratory judgement to rule that Google and thereby the Android ecosystem does not violate seven of Rockstar’s patents.

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LG will preload BBM on select Android phones beginning with LG G Pro Lite

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BlackBerry isn’t letting BBM go down without a fight as it strikes a deal to preinstall the application on select LG smartphones. BlackBerry’s once wildly popular Messenger application will come pre-installed on the LG G Pro Lite in “markets around the world.” The deal will allow a bundling agreement with LG involving “both the standard and virtual preloading” as well maintaining that BBM is available as a free download in Google’s Play Store.

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BlackBerry ditches its CEO as potential buyer falls through

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While Google may have been among a lengthy list of rumored suitors for BlackBerry, it appears its latest attempt to sell the company has failed. In fact, the collapse of the deal with Fairfax has led to the ousting of CEO Thorstein Heins and the raising $1 billion in convertible debt. So, you win some you lose some, eh?

The “new” BlackBerry will be led by John S. Chen who will be appointed Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors and is now responsible for the strategic direction, strategic relationships and organizational goals for BlackBerry. We wish John the very, very best of luck in this difficult climate.

“Today’s announcement represents a significant vote of confidence in BlackBerry and its future by this group of preeminent, long-term investors,” said Barbara Stymiest, Chair of BlackBerry’s Board. “The BlackBerry Board conducted a thorough review of strategic alternatives and pursued the course of action that it concluded is in the best interests of BlackBerry and its constituents, including its shareholders. This financing provides an immediate cash injection on terms favorable to BlackBerry, enhancing our substantial cash position. Some of the most important customers in the world rely on BlackBerry and we are implementing the changes necessary to strengthen the company and ensure we remain a strong and innovative partner for their needs.”

It’s an unfortunate day for the folks in Waterloo and while there was an inkling of hope that Google might scoop up the company formerly known as RIM, it appears they are now back at square one in their attempts to knock Android and iOS off their pedestals.

via BlackBerry