BlackBerry rounds its Passport for U.S. customers
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Jan 07, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

BlackBerry rounds its Passport for U.S. customers

AT&T to carry new version of handset

OurWindsor.Ca

BlackBerry has redesigned its Passport smartphone for wireless carrier AT&T, which will offer an exclusive version to U.S. customers that rounds out the unique handset’s square edges.

“AT&T wanted rounded corners. Some of us are more square,” BlackBerry chief executive John Chen said Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

AT&T, in a statement, said its version of the 4.5-inch, wide-bodied, touch screen and physical keyboard Passport will be available “in the near future” from its website and in AT&T retail stores.

The Passport will sell for $649.99 (U.S.) off-contract, while the BlackBerry Classic is priced at $419.99 at AT&T, also without a contract.

“The Passport and Classic, when (they get) to the hands of the individuals, meet expectations. Right on track. What we need to work on is the distribution channel,” Chen told reporters at the electronics trade show. “AT&T is big step forward.”

Along with the carrier announcement, BlackBerry served up new details on its strategy for the connected devices market, saying its cloud-based “Internet of Things” platform will offer secure tracking services for assets including autos and shipping containers.

As well, BlackBerry announced an update to its BBM messaging app at CES, saying it will soon support Android Wear software so users can read BBM messages, accept invitations and dictate responses on smartwatches running the Google operating system.

BBM has 90 million active monthly users, with 70 per cent accessing the platform daily, and has added more than 140 million registrations from iPhone and Android users, the company said.

BlackBerry said it will continue to develop BBM as an advertising and electronic-payment platform and plans to introduce a vanity BBM pin with no ads for a fee sometime this year.

The company also said it will provide the software platform for NantHealth’s HBox, which collects and transmits vital signs data to medical devices and hospitals in the U.S.

Chen said Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry’s cloud-based Internet of Things platform will combine technology from the company’s QNX operating software with its secure network infrastructure.

BlackBerry is aiming to offset declining hardware revenue with software and services, and is targeting the Internet of Things, a term describing the interconnection of devices such as appliances over the Web via billions of embedded sensors.

BlackBerry’s IoT services will initially focus on shipping and automotive markets, but will expand into smart energy and health care, the company said.

Toronto Star

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