GLOBAL TECH WRAP: Whoops - BlackBerry shares plummet as comeback phone launched
Facebook reported a 40% jump in fourth-quarter revenue to $US1.59 billion - in part because of a rise in mobile ad revenue. Mobile ads accounted for 23% of ad revenue, up from 14% in the previous quarter as, notably, daily mobile users overtook web users of the social network for the first time. But net profit fell 79% to $US64 million - slightly better than expected. CEO Mark Zuckerberg also said costs would increase 50% this year as the social network hired more staff, and developed new tools for advertisers. The spend-up was higher than anticipated. Shares [NAS:FB] fell 5% in after-hours trading.
Kim Dotcom's new Mega file sharing service has been hit with 150 copyright infringement notices, IDG News reports. Dotcom's US lawyer, Ira Rothken, said the notices came from the US and other countries. Mega was working quickly to address them and would take down infringing content. Dotcom and Rothken argue all file sharing services, includiing Dropbox and Google's YouTube, attract copyright-infringing content but that on balance such "dual use" services are a public good. Rothken argues Mega complies with laws around copyright and file takedowns. And although files are encrypted, Mega has pledged users will not be anonymous and that it will cooperate with authorities where necessary. On Twitter, Dotcom claimed there were now 50 million files on Mega, so 150 was a small number of infringements, and less than that attracted by Google.
Chinese hackers have spent four months trying to infiltrate the New York Times' computer systems, the paper reports. The attacks followed a Times investigation into the billions accumulated in various business deals by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and his family.
Whoops - BlackBerry shares plummet as comeback phone launched
BlackBerry shares [NAS:RIMM] were down nearly 8% in late trading as the launched new software and handsets this morning.
The Canadian company used to own the smartphone market, but saw its share collapse under 10% in four years (or barely two ownership cycles) under the iPhone and Android assault.
Today in New York it officially launched its big comeback drive in the form of its new BlackBerry 10 software, and two new handsets: the Z10 (its first all-touch phone since the sluggish, ill-fated BlackBerry Storm), and the Q10, which sports a traditional physical keyboard.
ABOVE: BlackBerry's official demo video for its new Z10. While apps and cloud features are weak, but the BlackBerry 10 software looks undeniably slick on this 4.2-inch display, 130g handset. Other tech specs, including a dualcore processor, 8 megapixel camera and HD video, are standard for any smartphone these days. It ships mid-March.
Wall Street Journal tech doyen Walter Mossberg, who has been using a Z10, for the past week, says it offers a much more iPhone or Android-like experience.
The Z10 has "the best virtual keyboard on a smartphone," with very clever predictive text.
He was also impressed by the Hub, which aggregates all email accounts, social media feeds and Blackberry Messenger into a single update stream.
That's the good news.
The bad: Walt criticises the fact there is no native cloud ecosystem for storing or synching files online (like Apple's iCloud, Google's Drive and Microsoft's SkyDrive). Although the third-party Dropbox could be used, it was less satisfying (Wot no Mega app? - Editor).
He fears the Z10 will be a "tweener" phone. BlackBerry users will find it too unfamiliar, and Android and iPhone users will be put off by the lack of apps. There are 70,000 apps available, which sounds a lot but is only around 10% of those offered by Apple or Android, and key apps like Gmail, Google Maps, Instagram, Spotify and Pandora were missing at launch.
In the US, all four major phone companies will carry the Z10 (the Q10 will follow later).
Here, there's been no word from Telecom or Vodafone so far (2degrees has never supported the BlackBerry platform).
ABOVE: BlackBerry's market cap hit a high of $US84 billion in 2008, shortly after the first iPhone was launched. Today's fall reverses a recent modest comeback that saw the company's shares up 53% over the past year to value it at just under $US8 billion (Nasdaq 10-year performance chart from S&P Capital IQ; click to zoom).