Some good news for embattled smartphone maker RIM: the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has said it plans to test BlackBerry 10 devices next year, Reuters is reporting. A spokeswoman for the BlackBerry maker told the news agency that ICE will begin a pilot program on RIM’s new line of BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10) early next year.
Update: In a release announcing the ICE pilot, RIM said the agency will be “among the first government organizations to pilot the new BlackBerry 10 solution”. At the time of publication RIM had not responded to a request to name other organizations planning to pilot BB10.
Back in October ICE announced it planned to end its long-standing relationship with RIM and switch its 17,600+ employees from BlackBerrys to iPhones – saying BlackBerrys “can no longer meet the mobile technology needs of the agency” – so it would be a massive win for RIM if ICE ends up staying faithful. However it is not clear exactly what the agency plans at this point — whether it’s just kicking the tyres of RIM’s new platform to consider its options, or intending to use RIM”s device management software to manage a mixed estate of devices (including iPhones), or indeed considering buying all new BlackBerry 10 devices for its staff. At the time of writing ICE was not available for comment.
RIM is very much in limbo at present — trying to keep its remaining customer base together and out of the arms of the iOS and Android-based competition while it transitions from its current generation BlackBerry OS to the next generation of the platform, BB10, with devices not due until the first quarter of next year. It’s also expending a lot of effort to get developers backing BB10 and building the apps it needs to ensure a healthy BB10 ecosystem.
Having a big government agency like ICE kick the tires of BB10 is exactly the sort of thing RIM needs to see and validates some of the moves it has been making.
In November the BlackBerry maker announced that BB10 had been granted FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) 140-2 certification — which certifies the products for use by government agencies and regulated industries in the U.S. and Canada. It has also announced a program for existing enterprise customers to get ready for the switch to BB10 — offering one free device per company if they start preparing to adopt BB10.
Reuters notes that RIM’s shares have been surging in recent week — with another share rally on Wednesday. RIM’s shares are currently trading at 13.14, up from 11.60 last Thursday.
Editor’s note: This article by Liam Boogar originally appeared on Rude Baguette – France’s startup blog – which covers the Internet and technology sector in France, combining breaking news with in-depth analysis.
Google announced yesterday on its French blog the end of a six-year struggle with the francophone Belgian press, who argued that the “cached” versions of articles on Google violated the rights of journalists, and that they should pay royalties to said press. Google announced an agreement with the Franco-Belgian press, highlighting four initiatives:
All in all, it looks like a big freaking win for Google, who staved off press looking for payouts by getting them to use almost every single Google service in exchange for a few services – I’ve seen startups argue better deals with Google in the past 3 months.
Given the similarity to the dispute Google is having with French and German editors, who are calling for royalties payouts for snippets shown on Google News, Google’s CEO of Belgium, Thierry Geerts took the opportunity to point out that Google is highly in favor of resolving these issues without lawyers, saying “there are plenty of win-win outcomes if Google & the press align their efforts in the digital world.”
The announcement also cited the 4 billion visits that press sites receive each month, roughly 100,000 per minute, and how Google AdWords sends $7 Billion to news sites each month.
I think there are a few key takeaways from this announcement:
Image credit: AFP / Getty Images
See the original post: Google ends its 6-year feud with the Belgian press – and here’s why it matters
Social media marketing company IZEA today announced its acquisition of Twitter marketing platform FeaturedUsers in a cash-plus-stock transaction. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Originally launched in 2010, FeaturedUsers was among the first ad networks specifically designed to help Twitter users grow their followers. They claim to serve over 2.7 million ads per month.
Its platform, which will now be run by IZEA, offers promotional plans starting at $19 per month and provides geographic and language targeting as well as real-time analytics for advertisers.
IZEA offers a range of social media marketing services, including Sponsored Tweets, so FeaturedUsers will fit right in there. Already, the company claims, it has completed over three million social media sponsorships for customers.
Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA, says the company is still “actively looking for other acquisition targets in the Twitter space and across the social-sphere”.
Image credit: KIMIHIRO HOSHINO for AFP / Getty Images
Ever since the first glimpses of Windows 8 were shown well over a year ago, naysayers have been trumpeting the death of the start menu as the end of the line for Microsoft. There’s nowhere to go from here except down, according to them.
Apparently, moving forward with the start screen isn’t the right thing for Microsoft to do and they should bring the start menu back at whatever cost. They say that the new start screen isn’t functional, requires more clicks or requires more effort to get things done.
These people aren’t just the media types, they’re also the guy next to you at work, the salesman in the electronics store and your friends. They’ve made up their mind about Windows 8 after using it for a couple of hours on a test machine, not even giving it a chance to show its strengths before deciding that it will never be as good as what came before.
As soon as Windows 8 was unveiled the start menu hacks appeared. First, during the Consumer Preview, a registry hack emerged to re-enable the Windows 7 start menu. When Microsoft stood their ground and removed that old start menu altogether, the independent solutions began.
Now you’ve got a variety of solutions like Classic Shell and Start8, that “solve” the problem that Microsoft has created. Some of these guys are even making money off of the fact that the start menu is gone, and Samsung is actually considering shipping their own alternative. A quick search online shows just how passionately the media feels about the issue.
The thing is, you don’t need the start menu. At all. The only reason you think you do is because it’s comfortable and familiar. Like a warm safety blanket, it never changed. Of course, it’s upsetting and jarring when things change like they have. The media certainly hasn’t taken it lightly and have given their opinion endlessly since it was announced.
These start menu replacements are bad news for everyone. Not only are they unnecessary, they’re creating a inconsistent, fragmented experience of Windows 8 for the masses. Sure, it might make it easier to get your parents onto the latest OS, but what’s the point? You could have just spent half an hour showing them what’s different. It’s not hard.
The companies that create this software are creating a perception that the start menu paradigm is here to stay, and that Windows 8′s new start screen is a great evil. It’s not, it’s just how change goes. Windows 7 was the end of the start menu, and Windows 8 is the beginning of something new. The media has also been propagating the message that Windows 8 is confusing and needs manual fixing to make it usable, since these kinds of shock headlines make for great page views.
The thing is, the start screen replacing the start menu is actually just a glimpse into the future. It’s a look at a future where the desktop doesn’t exist like it does now in a series of windowed messes and clutter. Right now, you can live in two very different worlds in Windows 8, the start screen or the desktop. They’re like two entirely disconnected concepts, but as Microsoft’s vision progresses over the next few years, it’s apparent that the focus on the Windows desktop as we know it will be fading.
At a guess, the company hasn’t toned down the spotlight on the desktop just yet because it needs to do it gradually. As users get used to living in the new user interface they can dial down the importance of the desktop. It takes exactly that, though, users using the new interface for them to actually become accustomed to it.
By implementing all these third-party tacked on start menus, all we’re doing is putting ourselves in a position where we’re even more shocked when Microsoft makes another major interface change in the next version of Windows. This is especially true in the enterprise, where many business customers are turning their noses up at the OS because of “lost productivity” or “confusion” that their staff may experience. The question remains though, did the important people at those businesses actually spend time with Windows 8 to understand how it can actually improve the things they do?
I’ve talked to a few businesses who’ve said they’re considering adopting Windows 8 but the big limitation for them is how much change it is for their users, and that they’re actually seriously considering buying corporate versions of Start8 to deploy to their entire fleet of machines to do away with the “confusion” that comes with the platform.
Funnily enough, this sort of thing has happened before. Back in 2006, when Microsoft announced that the ribbon was the future of Office and that Office 2007 would not include any backward compatibility with Office 2003′s menu system the media was in a frenzy.
The release was declared a “disaster,” “confusing” and (surprise surprise) a “productivity loser“. Fast forward to today, and we’re getting the same thing from the media. Windows 8 is apparently also a confusing disaster that somehow causes productivity loss.
If you get where I’m going with this, I think it’s time we stopped listening to what everyone else is saying. Ignore the media. Ignore the people that tell you the OS is hard and confusing to use. Try it yourself and form your own opinions, rather than those of people that haven’t spent quality time actually trying to use it.
If you do it now, rather than just following the crowd, you’ll be ahead of the curve when the next version of Windows is released.
Image Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
The rest is here: Bringing the start menu back to Windows 8 is bad news
Google has announced a change to Google Apps for Business — ending the free version of the product, offering only its Premium version which costs $50 per user per year, regardless of the size of the company. The change was announced on Google’s Official Enterprise blog. Existing Google Apps for business users who have free accounts get to carry on without paying the subscription fee but businesses wanting to sign up from now with have to pay.
Google Apps refers to Google’s suite of web-based software services — which includes Gmail webmail and Drive for cloud storage and collaborative documents. Google is still offering individuals free versions of these software products, when they create a Google Account, but businesses no longer have a free option. The remaining Google Apps for Business product was formerly known as the Premium option, and includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime.
Mountain View says it’s making the change to simplify its offering to ensure a better fit for both groups of users, individuals and business, noting in its blog
When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes. Similarly, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready.
Google is still offering a free product for schools and universities: Google Apps for Education. It will also be continuing to offer Google Apps for Government for $50 per user, per year.