Saturday, November 15, 2014

Open thread: can BlackBerry Classic wean Kim Kardashian off her Bold?

If you’ve sold a BlackBerry Bold smartphone on eBay recently, it might be to Kim Kardashian. “They don’t even have them in stores anymore. I buy them on eBay,” she told a conference earlier this week, explaining her love for the venerable keyboard phone.

No wonder she hasn’t unboxed her new BlackBerry Passport smartphone yet. But Kardashian isn’t alone in sticking to the Bold-era device, and the company is well aware of that trend. Here’s CEO John Chen, blogging yesterday about the next new BlackBerry smartphone.

It’s tempting in a rapidly changing, rapidly growing mobile market to change for the sake of change – to mimic what’s trendy and match the industry-standard, kitchen-sink approach of trying to be all things to all people.

But there’s also something to be said for the classic adage, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

BlackBerry Classic reflects that. It is classic BlackBerry – complete with a top row of navigation keys and a trackpad. It’s the device that has always felt right in your hands and always felt right in your busy day.

Yes, the BlackBerry Classic aims to tempt BlackBerry loyalists away from eBay and towards a brand new handset. Is the company onto something here? And is there a wider opportunity being missed by Android smartphone makers, if there are still people out there craving physical QWERTY keyboards on their devices?

Also on the radar today:

Film director James Cameron isn’t sold on Oculus Rift and VR headsets yet. “There seems to be a lot of excitement around something that is… a yawn to me,” he told the WSJD conference. “You want to move through a virtual reality? It’s called video game.” The CEO of Cambrian Genomics sounds a bit like a sci-fi supervillain. “We want to make everything that is alive on the planet... We want to make totally new organisms that have never existed, and replace every existing organism with a better one.” Messaging app WhatsApp won’t be introducing voice calling until 2015, according to CEO Jan Koum. “He noted that WhatsApp is working through several technical issues related to the launch, including the fact that the app does not have access to certain phone microphones, which makes noise cancellation more difficult.” Apple is exploring the potential to sell iPhones in Iran, claims the Wall Street Journal. “In the conversations, the Cupertino, Calif., company explored the possibility of having Iranian partners sell Apple products at so-called premium resellers.” Startup MegaBots has raised $1.8m to build what Engadget describes as “15-foot-tall, 15,000-pound piloted robots” who’ll battle one another with “high-powered paint guns” for our amusement. This surely won’t end well for humanity.

What do you make of these stories, and what else in the tech world is interesting you today? The comments section is open for your views.

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