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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Blackberry's future looks bright in key niche

Uploaded: Aug 6, 2015
After attending the Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group's seventh annual Software Stars at Casa Real, I have a new opinion of Blackberry.
I had figured that the smart phones would spell the end of the company that a software executive once described to me as a "killer app." In 2010, Blackberry had 43 percent of the smart phone market, but, thanks to the popularity of the Apple IPhone and devices by Samsung and other manufacturers, its consumer market share has shrunk to 1.5 percent.
But, according to Marty Beard, the Chief Operating Officer, there is a critical niche that Blackberry is exploiting—secure communications. He told the crowd that all of the G20 countries use Blackberry phones because of its security is the gold standard for wireless devices. Working out of the West Coast headquarters in Pleasanton, Beard said the turn-around has resulted in the company sitting on $3 billion in cash. John Chen, CEO of Sybase in Dublin when it was purchased by SAP, has served as CEO of Blackberry since November 2013.
The firm demonstrated in New York earlier last week just how critical wireless security can be. One of its "white hat hackers" was asked to crack a wirelessly controlled infusion pump controlling medication to a dummy in a hospital. After three minutes, he was able to quadruple the medication and "kill" the patient.
On that same panel, Dr. Rahul Parikh of the Permanente Medical Group (the physicians serving the Kaiser system) described how he and his colleagues are pushing innovation in the integrated medical system. He posed a key question that each of us should ask and answer: how much health data do we want available to outside providers?
The new wearable technologies can monitor health status and activity levels remotely. Do you want your insurance company knowing if you exercised today? Excellent points to ponder.
Brad Surak, General Manager of Industrial Internet Applications for GE Software (headquartered in Bishop Ranch in San Ramon) noted that CEO Jeff Immelt told Charlie Rose that he went to bed one night running an industrial manufacturing firm and woke up the next morning in charge of a software company. Incidentally, the GE facility in San Ramon has grown from 400 employees to 1,200 in just four years.
The Internet of interconnected devices for consumers or of major industrial equipment in GE's case (digitizing the physical world) touches all of us. Surak pointed out that 80 percent of GE's revenue comes from servicing what it sells.
And Ray O'Connor, CEO of Livermore-based Topcon, told of remotely monitoring a giant dirt scraper in New York from an office in San Francisco. Topcon makes the GPS-controllers for all forms of equipment.
The first panel featured managers from Sandia and Lawrence Livermore labs as well as Rob Sadow, the founder of start-up Scoop that is using its mobile app to help encourage ridesharing for commuters.
The national lab folks celebrated that recent White House initiative that spelled out the importance of U.S. leadership in high-speed computing. For decades, Lawrence Livermore, working with industrial partners, has utilized the most capable high-speed computers in the world, but the Chinese have greatly improved their capabilities.
The computers are used for modeling simulations of nuclear explosions as well as other very complex problems.
The computing power, coupled with the lab's ability to bring experienced scientists and engineers from various disciplines together to work on big challenges, continue to help advance the national interests. For instance, they now can model a human heart, in real time, down to the chemical reactions at the molecular level.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Hepzibah, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 7, 2015 at 8:50 am

Aside from this Blackberry device being a "killer app," I heard that it's also good for sending things through The Internets' series of interconnected tubes. It's interesting to hear that 80% of GE's income is derived from servicing their products. That's evidence of good, old-fashioned American durability. The kind of durability that requires 80% of a company's energy to be engaged in upkeep and repair.

There's one thing you said that I think bears repeating, though, Tim, and that is that The Internet of connected devices touches us all. It sounds like the sort of thing Steve Jobs would have said. If this was 1993.

Posted by Ed, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Aug 7, 2015 at 9:05 am

Blackberry is still around?
I remember years ago when every executive in our company had a Blackberry. They relied on it heavily and used it constantly - funny how a few years later that is so outdated.

Posted by Damon, a resident of Foothill Knolls,
on Aug 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm

"But, according to Marty Beard, the Chief Operating Officer, there is a critical niche that Blackberry is exploiting?secure communications. He told the crowd that all of the G20 countries use Blackberry phones because of its security is the gold standard for wireless devices. Working out of the West Coast headquarters in Pleasanton, Beard said the turn-around has resulted in the company sitting on $3 billion in cash."

I think that it's best to take any trumpeting by a COO about his own company with a grain of salt. Yes, Blackberry may be able to carve out a small niche for itself among some small segment of the market, but they will remain a shadow of their former self.

Posted by Conglomerate States, a resident of Foothill Knolls,
on Aug 7, 2015 at 3:04 pm

@Damon: maybe YOU would take a COO's PR pitch with a grain of salt, but you're not Tim Talk Hunt. You see, if there's one thing Tim prides himself on more than regurgitating Rush Limbaugh's talking points, it's on his status as a big-time journalist. So if you're a corporate executive, you just need to tickle his ego a little, then he'll swallow whatever flavor Kool-Aid you offer him. Remember, this isn't a guy who closely analyzes issues like Tom Cushing did in his "Begging to Differ" post, or who backs up his arguments with thorough and balanced evidence. This is a guy who has a conversation with someone who reinforces his personal biases, then offers it up as flaccid support for his own prejudices. I've never understood why the Weekly chose Tim as one of their bloggers, but I guess he must appeal to Pleasanton readers of a particular age and skin tone.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Aug 12, 2015 at 5:21 pm

I don't know what it means to be of a particular age and skin tone but I know it matters that people read and write English.

I've always thought that it's difficult to read and write English. I also find that it still sounds strange to my ears.

I wonder why some folks are angry about what Tim writes?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Aug 12, 2015 at 8:48 pm

I think that CStates compares Tim/Tom, it's another way of stating LETS YOU AND HE FIGHT!

B U S T E D!

Posted by Roger, a resident of another community,
on Jan 28, 2017 at 3:29 pm

I came across one of your articles and as a former employee of Blackberry wanted to take the opportunity to pass along my experiences. I worked for this company in 2003 and then again in 2012 and harassment began to take place and as a result I've submitted a Better Business Bureau complaint in 2014 as well as a tribunal complaint in 2016. Some of the information submitted within the complaint is listed below:

a woman at Vuteq where I work was shouting comments to me from a distance (name I believe was Laura) Vuteq management was notified of the incident
approximately Dec of 2015
Vuteq premises as I was leaving work
my lunch has been stolen from Vuteq
I had taken a Goodlife trainer's course and had people join the course and harass me
I"ve received threats
these issues first started while I was working at BlackBerry and escalated once I was layed off

other incidents have preceeded this
vehicle broken into and damage done to car stereo( was rewired) in Mississauga
police report was filed PR15-044 7061
keys were stolen, items stolen from vehicle
staff have been hired from places I work to harass me, one place was The Monitoring Center in Oakville an Alarm Monitoring Company
John Chen was contacted Oct 6th 2016 via LinkedIn with no response received
Jim Mackey was contacted Oct 8th, 2016 with no response received regarding matter
Marty Beard - Chief Operating Officer at BlackBerry contacted Oct 12, 2016

The following statement was sent to them

Mike D Scott has been harassing me and my family for quite some time, you may or may not be aware of this. As a result sometime back a complaint was filed with the BBB bureau because of his actions. It appears he intends to continue with his actions forcing further complaints to be filed. As they're submitted I will forward you a copy of them for your review. A Better Business Bureau complaint was filed July 17, 2014 case# 1302548
On Oct 16, 2016 the following was sent to John S Chen and Jim Mackey

A complained will be filed with the Tribunal shortly in regards to this matter. Thank you
response received from Jim Mackey

"At 11:53 AM, Jim Mackey said the following:Thank you. I do not manage this area."

My response

"At 11:59 AM, Roger Virgo said the following:Okay please forward to the appropriate person and they can feel free to contact me."
John Chen has been contacted via LinkedIn regarding this matter with no response received

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