back to article Will It Blend? Maybe. BlackBerry’s secret comeback weapon

Former smartphone giant BlackBerry has another trick up its sleeve for its comeback, alongside the oddest looking phone in recent years. The Passport is expected to be unveiled next month, along with an intriguing bit of software, the as-yet-unannounced BlackBerry Blend. Part of the forthcoming 10.3 BB10 release, Blend “casts …

  1. Aoyagi Aichou

    Yep, still using PC Suite for my 808 Pureview. I think I can live without Facebook, Twitter, advertisements, clouds, stores and all that crap that plagues all the modern devices.

  2. Efros

    BB comeback?

    There certainly seems to be a buzz and air of optimism around the Passport and it's apps.

  3. Simulacra75

    I like the look of this, if i'm honest. When i had a BB OS 7.x device the Blackberry Bridge link with my BB Playbook was a very useful feature, see incoming calls on the tablet, reply to emails and texts, etc. Was annoyed when this functionality kinda stopped when the BB device itself was not on OS 7.x. This seems to be a more polished version of that with support for any (?) tablet. I'm looking forward to giving it a shot once it comes out with my Z10. Thanks Blackberry!

    1. Brian Morrison

      Bridge has been supported on the BBOS 10 devices for a while now, so if you still have that Playbook...

    2. Jess

      Re: OS 7

      There are quite a lot of things that haven't made it into OS 10 from the earlier versions, yet.

      Such auto power on. Phonetic keyboard input for other alphabets, coloured LED flashing,etc.

      Hopefully they will return them.

      Also it would be nice if Blend could be used without special software through a lan. Perhaps a simple webapp generated by the device? Plugins for Thunderbird and outlook would be nice too.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    When I saw that Blackberry Blend screenshot I felt an emotional tug at my heartstrings but didn't recognise it until you mentioned Nokia's Lifeblog software.

    Oh, they were the days. Can't go back now though.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia fail?

    I think PIM should be: As in contacts, calendar, etc.

    Protocol Independant Multicast is a way of controlling multicast data on routers...

    1. Kepler

      Re: Wikipedia fail?

      I think in the first instance, and maybe the second as well, he meant the latter ("Protocol-Independent Multicast"), because he was talking about the link between the BB and other devices with which the BB is to share various kinds of information. (Or else referring to a type of message by the name of the protocol by which it is transmitted? Like using "SMS" to refer to text messages?) But then in the third instance (and maybe the second as well!) he changed meanings, and did indeed mean the former ("Personal Information Manager"), as you suggest.

      I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who found this confusing. I bitched about this ambiguity and apparent equivocation in a post that — pending moderator approval — will appear below (under the title "PIM").


      P.S. Regardless of what was meant in each instance, and whether Orlowski used the right definition of "PIM" or not, how can that possibly be a "Wikipedia fail[ure]"??? His article had nothing to do with Wikipedia, and Wikipedia had nothing to do with his article! Wikipedia was not the source of his definition of "PIM", nor was it identified as such.

    2. Kepler

      Re: Wikipedia fail?

      P.P.S. I up-voted your comment anyway. (Not that you care, having posted anonymously!) Because "Personal Information Manager" almost certainly was meant in at least one of the three instances, and possibly two. Your "Wikipedia" red herring is beside the point, and certainly was not reason enough to withhold my oh-so-precious vote (let alone to down-vote an otherwise on-target observation).

  6. Paw Bokenfohr

    Interesting. Apple seem to be going the same way; iMessage is already shared across your iOS devices and Macs, along with your calendar and contacts etc. With Continuity in Yosemite+iOS8, they're extending that to SMS and MMS, along with phone calls etc. Seems like the same kind of deal here.

  7. Joe 48

    Really, good looking???

    Personally I think this will be the final nail in the coffin for BlackBerry. There is a reason people haven't done it since the 90's.

    Unsure what other devices are CESG accredited these days but they can't be the only ones, can they? As that was the only reason we still used them a few years back but I don't deal with that area any more so I'm out of touch.

    I used to be a big fan of the device for email but its just not kept up and has made too many bad devices in recent years trying to please both touch screen and physical keyboards. It doesn't work imo.

    1. Afflicted.John

      Re: Really, good looking???

      The Z30 is every bit as good as a top end Android - try one and you might be surprised.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really, good looking???

        Doesn't it have to be better than the competition to make people want to choose what is now a niche player in Blackberry? Just being "as good as" might have been good enough five years ago, but they weren't then, and now it is too late.

        1. Afflicted.John

          Re: Really, good looking???

          No, it just doesn't have to be worse. And what features are we talking about? If camera is the most important factor then no, Z30 is not your device etc... But then again a cehap and powerful Nexus won't be either.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Really, good looking???

            Exactly what's the incentive for someone to choose a Blackberry with a relatively tiny market share which is consequently much less likely to get many of the apps that are and will be made available for iOS and Android, versus an Android or iPhone that they judged to be "just as good as"?

            The reason people choose niche products in such situations (other than that small minority who likes to be different just for different's sake) is because they feel they're getting something better than the alternative, not something equivalent.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Really, good looking???

              Exactly what's the incentive for someone to choose a Blackberry with a relatively tiny market share which is consequently much less likely to get many of the apps that are and will be made available for iOS and Android, versus an Android or iPhone that they judged to be "just as good as"?

              I believe their new devices, which will ship with 10.3 has access to the Amazon Appstore, so you can install any Android app that you find in there (which will be all the main important ones)

              Whether they run OK on the Blackberry OS remains to be seen. Not sure how they will handle the permissions headache that Android seems to be presenting at the minute for example and you could install an app to find it is constantly crashing as they don't have the required API support.

              I personally really like the look of the Blackberry Passport. I've never owned a Blackberry before though and I know a lot of people who basically ran their businesses from their car and Blackberry Bold, but have all switched to the iPhone, but I can't wait to have a play with the passport and see what it is like for myself. I think they missed a trick with the three line keyboard though by not going for the blackberry bold style keyboard.

            2. xBURK

              Re: Really, good looking???

              The incentive? For one, BB10 is just starting to win awards for best operating system. For such a young O.P, that's incredible. When Mr. Chen said BlackBerry is a niche player, that's just a way to take the pressure off while they regroup. Look for BlackBerry to gain ground soon. I realize from the press, that sounds far fetched, but it's not in the tech world. Things can change on a dime.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Really, good looking???

                Keep dreaming the dream, but my money is on RIM being sold off in pieces for its IP in a year or two...

  8. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Am In the only one?

    Who read the article and still has no clue what problem Blend is meant to solve?

    Best I could get to was a messaging hub?

    Consumers already have whatever's on their mobile plus twitbook, and corporates have outlook or similar.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Am In the only one?

      This kind of software originally let you manage SMS and MMS on the computer. Maybe if BlackBerry's new version lets people use their phone's already-configured corporate e-mail on their home computer (without the need to download a mail client, configure the home computer's IMAP settings, and other stuff) and wipes everything that needs wiping leaving no trace of the corporate e-mail account when the phone's unplugged then they might be on to a winner.

  9. Cipher

    Didn't Al Gore...

    ...invent the BlackBerry?

  10. Afflicted.John

    What it is for....

    Seemingly not in the article so here goes:

    Blend is as Simulacra75 points out Bridge on Steroids. The idea is that the content on your phone is accessible to the computer. So what you may ask?... Well the clever bit is that the thin client on the PC/Mac is accessing all the data from your phone and nowhere else. Your PC becomes a glorified input device, and your monitor a larger screen.

    But while geeks may hook up a HDMI cable and USB on the go peripherals, Blend makes full use of the screen real estate by formatting appropriately. The "secure" connection is reliant on a good old fashioned cable - USB no less. No funky Bluetoothing needed. And no need for your monitor and keyboard to be connected to the web either. This is a tunnel only to the BB.

    It will be interesting how CESG look at this, but purely for those who want to work on their phones, but cannot deal with the overly cramped screen real estate, this can offer your emails and contact all in one place. I am not sure if the office suite is also available.

    Why now and not since the 90's? Well the smartphone has certainly evolved hasn't it? Now that I have virtually everything I need to get by on a daily basis on my phone, it has become the working computer, but no matter how much larger phones get, I would still prefer a nicely sized monitor and keyboard when serious tying is called for.

    1. Simulacra75

      Re: What it is for....

      I managed to install a leaked version of the 10.3 OS onto my Z10 and there's a placeholder icon for Blackberry Blend. Once opened it gives a brief blurb as to what it's about. According to it, Blend will connect with your computer/tablet using USB, WiFi or your cellular network, once it becomes available. Personally, i hope that the software is a lot better than BB Link, buggy as hell in my experience.

  11. Vince

    Maybe the reason the reason we don't do it is because nobody lets us?

    I'd *love* to have Blend for my Blackberry Z10. I love my Blackberry Z10, it is by far and away the smartest messaging and communications device (that's what my phone is for after all) out there. It does facebook and twitter too if you want to waste your entire life doing that.

    It does most of the other rubbish everyone wants too - some not so I admit, but I couldn't care less because I value being able to reliably communicate and do my job over some ability to potentially check the latest bill I got from $randomvendor via an otherwise featureless app. Especially when said vendor has a web site that works just fine on my phones browser.

    The same integrated any device approach Apple are developing is the only thing I actually like about what apple are doing - I still wouldn't buy the products they churn out though. I'm actually amazed Microsoft haven't long since done this - they could have integrated all of this in minutes across it's devices and platforms, but as usual they're too busy napping.

  12. ecofeco Silver badge

    Wow. Where to begin

    The one thing PC OS's lack is a simple messaging/contact app. Because of this, I don't even use my PC as contact database except for emails, I use my phone. This could really could be a winner for BlackBerry.

    That said, Blackberry has an abysmal record of PC interface software design. While the concept is often good, the software itself has always been buggy. Let's hope they get it right this time.

    A fully seamless phone/PC integration is surely the next evolutionary step. No, Windows, I don't mean you.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BB still the best PIM

    The integration of my Exchange/Outlook-BES-BB Bold setup is astonishing. Emails usually arrive on the phone a second or two *before* Outlook, and changes to Contacts, Calendar or Notes items will be there by the time I've opened the relevant app to check!

  14. David Roberts Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Integrate a phone and PC???

    What a novel idea!!

    Skype (other products are available) gives you a 'soft phone' on your PC with integrated telephony, messaging, contacts, hands free with a headset, incoming calls (if you pay).

    So all the bits of the interface are there in clear view and windowed with your other desktop applications.

    Phones integrate with PCs over IR, bluetooth, USB, WiFi....

    Some phone suppliers even used to offer PC suites to manage your contacts and send SMS messages.

    So what is so hard about having a Skype-style interface interact with your phone so that you can make and receive calls from your desk top?

    Treat the phone as just another peripheral?

    You can tether smart phones to use them as 'modems' to access the Internet.

    So - sit down at your PC, put your phone in the cradle and your phone is integrated into your desktop.


    The integration is so obvious that I have reluctantly concluded that there is some kind of deliberate suppression of what would be a really useful integration tool.

    But why?

    Oh, and wouldn't it be nice to integrate your tablet and phone in the same way so that you don't have to pay an arm and a leg extra if you want a SIM card in your tablet?

    It is all a dastardly plot, I tell you.

  15. xBURK

    Blackberry Blend will be cross platform and will be something everyone will want at their work or home desk. Just think how many times you have to pick up your phone a day? Now you can send or receive Email, Text, BBM, Calendar etc easily on a big screen. This will include Android, Apple, Windows and BlackBerry. Game changer, yes.

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