Mobile talk: BlackBerry 10 is coming; Nokia Lumia surprise; iPhone tidbits; Mozilla phone

The mobile news is ringing off the hook:

• The new BlackBerrys are coming — to three of the top U.S. wireless carriers at the end of the month. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile reportedly indicated they would carry the new smartphones from Research in Motion, which will have a new operating system that the company is counting on to compete against Androids and iPhones, which together dominate a market BlackBerry once owned.

The Merc’s Troy Wolverton writes from the Consumer Electronics Show, not surprisingly, that a RIM exec told him the “feedback we’ve gotten is phenomenal.” But the competition’s market share, Wolverton points out, will be tough for RIM to overcome: Android and iOS comprised 86 percent of global smartphone sales, while BlackBerry’s share was 5.3 percent in the third quarter.

One possible edge for the BlackBerry 10 is Balance, software that give the phones a dual identity, for work and for personal use. The BlackBerry was known for its strength in enterprise and this software is supposedly more secure for work purposes, according to Bloomberg, which reports that VMWare is also among the companies making similar software.

Shares of Canada-based RIM are up nearly 3 percent to about $11.85 on the Nasdaq as of this post.

• Nokia surprised today by saying it sold more Lumia smartphones than expected, which helped its bottom line. Its shares are rising sharply on the New York Stock Exchange, up more than 18 percent to $4.44 as of this post, despite the fact that the Finland-based company expressed caution about its first-quarter results amid continued tough competition.

The company said it sold 4.4 million Windows-based Lumia phones in the fourth quarter, up from 2.9 million in the previous quarter. The company also indicated it had low expectations, with CEO Stephen Elop using code words about how the company is “still dealing with [supply] constraints” because it was “very deliberate” and “thoughtful” about introducing Windows 8 phones late last year, according to the Telegraph.

• Apple’s Tim Cook met with China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua today, according to Reuters. China Mobile has the world’s largest number of wireless subscribers, but it does not yet carry the iPhone. Analysts have said the two companies have been in negotiations for years, and that revenue sharing has been a sticking point.

In other iPhone news, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Apple is working on a cheaper smartphone, perhaps with plastic or recycled parts. Such a move would be a departure from the company’s longtime tactic of putting a premium on its products, but there is supposedly more pressure on the company amid an onslaught of cheaper competition in the smartphone market, especially in places like China.

• And a phone powered by software from Firefox maker Mozilla is scheduled to launch in Europe this year. The smartphones, to be made by China’s ZTE, are aimed at competing against low-end Android phones, according to the BBC. The partners in the development of the mobile OS by Silicon Valley-based Mozilla include Deutsche Telekom, Sprint and Telefonica, Bloomberg says. ZTE is China’s second-biggest maker of phone equipment, according to the Bloomberg report, and has been looking for ways to reduce its dependence on the Android OS.


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  • sd

    “One possible edge for the BlackBerry 10 is Balance, software that give the phones a dual identity, for work and for personal use.”

    My several-year-old Nokia Symbian phone has that feature, though I’m guessing RIM is going to mess with permissions and access more than Nokia did.

    As for a cheaper iPhone, maybe. But I’ll pretty much guarantee that, parts made of plastic or cardboard or recycled grocery bags, critics will complain about the cost of the new cheaper iPhone compared to some no-name clone phone out there.