Canadian firm’s fleet-tracking service ‘Radar’ has made it a market darling again

 

A visit to trucking firm Titanium Transportation helps explain why BlackBerry’s stock is once again a darling in Canadian markets, having soared 70% in two months.

Nestled in an industrial area some 50 kilometres north of Toronto, the trucker is an early adopter of a new BlackBerry fleet-tracking service known as Radar, which uses $400 boxes to collect and transmit information on movement, temperature and physical contents of Titanium’s 1,300 truck trailers.

Efficiency gains tied to Radar should allow Titanium to get maximum utilization of its fleet, positioning it to cut the number of trailers by 5% and also reduce labour costs, company executive Marilyn Daniel told Reuters.

“Time is everything in our world,” she said. “Being able to tell a driver where exactly a trailer is as opposed to having a driver search through a yard for sometimes hours has been a definite improvement.”

Radar is emblematic of BlackBerry chief executive John Chen’s strategy for turning around the Canadian icon, by steering the company away from consumer electronics and back to its roots of selling products to businesses.

Industrial customers

Beyond Radar, BlackBerry is also betting on other types of software for industrial customers. It is leveraging its QNX subsidiary’s software foothold deep inside car infotainment consoles to expand into self-driving technology, while promoting its cybersecurity software and services to thwart increased threats from hacking.

BlackBerry’s stock rallied after it showed signs of progress in quarterly earnings results at the end of March, followed by news in April of a nearly $1 billion cash windfall from arbitration with Qualcomm expected to fund future investments in growth. That comes in the face of an expected revenue decline to below $1 billion this year for the first time since 2004. At its smartphone peak, BlackBerry had annual sales of $20 billion.

Among the recent BlackBerry bulls are institutional investors such as Nokota Management, which took a new position with almost 4.8 million shares in the first quarter, and Oppenheimer Funds, which added 3.3 million more shares to its existing 4 million share stake, according to U.S. securities filings.

Iridian Asset Management and Connor, Clark & Lunn Investment Management, two of BlackBerry’s biggest shareholders, each raised their stakes by around a quarter as of the end of March. Nokota did not respond to requests for comment, while the others all declined to discuss their stakes in BlackBerry.

The strategy is not without risks. BlackBerry faces challenges entering the telematics market, where analysts say rivals include Omnitracs, Teletrac Navman, Tomtom NV , Trimble Inc and U.S. telecommunications giant Verizon Communications Inc.

Verizon last year paid some $2.4 billion to buy GPS vehicle tracking firm Fleetmatics Group Plc.

Radar “is not a unique and earth-shattering product,” said Nicholas Farhi, a partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants who advises companies on optimising logistics operations.

That’s why some investors advise caution, saying it is too soon to figure out how to properly value the new BlackBerry offerings.

“It’s not the type of situation you can justify from a valuation standpoint,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management, which manages more than $1.5 billion and exited the stock a decade ago, when BlackBerry phones were still dominant. “It is all about hope and promise.”

 

Amazon Dash Wand review: A home shopping device made for a not-too-distant future

 

Amazon will sell you groceries, one way or another. Case in point: The day before it announced plans to buy Whole Foods for a cool $13.7 billion, it released Amazon Dash Wand, a small Alexa-powered gadget that will likely be just as integral to the company’s produce push.amazon dash wand button

Amazon’s new scanning stick is Jeff Bezos’s latest attempt to link the virtual world with the physical one. But even though it’s not Amazon’s first shot at a home shopping assistant, it’s definitely the first fully formed one. Combining the ease of a Dash button with the versatility of the relatively unknown Dash scanner and the smarts of an Echo, Dash Wand could be the thing that finally streamlines the way we buy groceries, and eliminates checkout lines, empty refrigerators, and even trips to the store. But that’s going to take a while.

For today, Dash Wand has too many quirks and shortcomings to be considered a threat to your local supermarket. While it’s cheap enough to be an impulse buy, it probably won’t do much to enhance your existing Amazon-Alexa experience, at least not yet.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Dash drawbacks
  • Simple scanning
  • Alexa lite
  • A marathon, not a Dash

Dash drawbacks

Amazon’s wand is basically Dash 2.0. Like the company’s first bar-code scanner, which was limited to Amazon Fresh customers, the 6-inch stick has a rubberized loop at the top for hanging purposes, but this time around it’s also magnetic. Unlike the Echo, the Dash Wand needs to be within reach—keeping it in a drawer will severely cut down on its use and usefulness—and its refrigerator-friendly design is definitely one of its best qualities.

amazon dash wand batteriesChristopher Hebert/IDG
Dash Wand’s releiance on AA batteries cuts down on Alexa’s usefulness.

Even with Alexa built in, Dash Wand is very much an active device, in that it doesn’t respond to a wake word. Like the Echo Tap and the Alexa Voice Remote for Fire TV, you need to press the button to activate it, a consequence of Dash Wand being powered by a pair of AA batteries. Amazon kindly includes a set in the box, but with Wi-Fi, a bar-code scanner, and an AI assistant, I have to assume it will burn through them pretty quickly.

While your Dash Wand will likely live on your refrigerator, for most customers, what’s inside the icebox is off-limits. Unless you live in one of the areas served by Amazon Fresh—currently limited to the Seattle, Northern California, Southern California, New York, and Philadelphia areas—produce and other perishables won’t be added to your Amazon cart when you scan them.

amazon dash wand scannerChristopher Hebert/IDG
The bottom of Dash Wand contains a laser bar-code scanner.

That’s a deficiency that’s likely to be corrected within a year or two, once the fruits of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase begin to be realized. It might have been a coincidence that Dash Wand was released the day before the announcement of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase, but the Dash Wand is clearly built for a grocery store. It’s not hard to imagine a day when you can scan some items and have them show up within an hour, or even take your wand to your local Whole Foods store to do your own scanning.

Simple scanning

As far as the other items in your house, Dash Wand will work pretty well, eventually. My wand struggled to read bar codes the first time around, but after a reset it performed much better. Thankfully, the setup process is a snap, requiring little more than signing into your account and typing in your Wi-Fi password, both of which are done via the iOS or Android app. (Note that the Dash Wand works with 2.4GHz networks only.)

amazon dash wand scanChristopher Hebert/IDG
Scanning items with your Dash Wand is as easy as it as at a grocery store.

To use it, you need only press its button and the bottom bar-code scanner springs to life, ready to read whatever’s placed in front of it. It struggled occasionally with bar codes that were curved and some itemsds didn’t show up at all, but for the most part it worked as well as a department store price checker kiosk. I tested a variety of items, from salad dressing to soda to a Sonos Play:1 speaker, and the wand dutifully added them to my cart, though when head over to the app or site to check out, make sure to pay attention to what’s inside it.

If Amazon doesn’t sell the exact item in question (which happens more than you think), it will offer an alternative. For example, when I scanned a can of Goya Red Kidney Beans, it offered an 8-pack or a bag of dry beans instead. This is fine, but you’ll need to pay close attention to the cost. Amazon often suggested items that were priced outrageously high. In the case of the red beans, the price for a case of eight cans was $19.59, a surcharge of 150 percent over the average supermarket price of $0.99 a can.

 

For those who made it in previous years, a shot at a new life

 

“Kismat achhi thi, isiliye itna achha college mil gaya, nahin toh mein kaha padh paati.” Ashu, a third-year BA programme student at JMC College, is fully aware of the arduous journey she’s had to undertake. “But apart from luck, had I not played handball or other sports at school, I would have never known about JMC,” said Ashu, who got 80 per cent in her Class XII board examination, and got into the college through sports quota for softball. “At the Vikaspuri centre where I used to play, my seniors were already in college. They filled my admission form for me. I just went for the trials,” she said.

Ashu, who comes from Najafgarh, has three siblings — a sister who is disabled, a brother who dropped out of school after Class IX and now works in a factory, and another sister who is currently in school.

Ashu’s father died of a heart attack when she was 15. Her mother works as a guard at a girls’ hostel in Palam. “I performed very well during trials and the tournaments, so I study free of cost. My mother is a Class XII pass, so she helps me study. In the college, as lectures were delivered in English, I used to face problems, but my friends and teachers supported me,” she said.

While Ashu wants to pursue a career in sports, her mother wants her to do a BEd and become a teacher.du admission 2017, sports quota, du sports students, jmc college, st stephens college, du,ac,in, delhi uni, indian express

For the time being, she has another aim: “This much I know, I will be able to guide my sister well and make sure she gets to pursue what she is interested in.”

For Ruchi Singh, who graduated from St Stephen’s College this year, the path to sports was very different. Singh, who comes from a Rajput family in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, never thought her father’s wish — that she learn shooting for self defence — would become a ticket to DU.

“In 2005, there was a shooting camp in my village. My father took me there after school. The coach there gave me five shots to hit. It was my first time holding a pistol, though I had seen many at home, locked in cupboards. I hit the five targets; I don’t know how. The coach told me I should practise more. Only after I came home did my dad tell me I had done well,” said Singh.

Xiaomi Redmi 4A, Redmi 4, Redmi Note 4 to Be Made Available for Pre-Orders in India Today

 

It’s Friday, meaning it’s time for pre-orders of three popular Xiaomi budget smartphones. The Xiaomi Redmi 4A, Redmi 4, and Redmi Note 4 will be to order via Mi.com at 12pm IST. The Chinese smartphone maker puts up the three models each week, giving interested consumers a chance to purchase the smartphones without the hassle of waiting in line during the regular flash sales in the week. The Redmi 4, Redmi Note 4, and Redmi 4A pre-orders are limited to one smartphone per customer, and the entire payment needs to be made at the time of the order, with no cash on delivery options.

Separately, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 will go also go on sale on Friday, via Flipkart. The weekly flash sale is scheduled for 12pm IST.  Flipkart is also offering a 5 percent discount for Axis Bank Buzz credit card users.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 price, variants

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 2 Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Price in India Specifications Variants

The Redmi Note 4 was launched in January in India in three variants – the 2GB RAM/ 32GB storage variant is priced at Rs. 9,999, the 3GB RAM/ 32GB storage model is priced at Rs. 10,999, and the 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage model is priced at Rs. 12,999. It is available in Gold, Grey, Matte Black, and Silver colour variants.

The dual-SIM (Micro+Nano) Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 runs MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and sports a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) 2.5D curved glass IPS display with a 401ppi pixel density. Powered by the Snapdragon 625 SoC, it comes with 3GB and 4GB of RAM, depending on the SKU.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4’s rear camera bears a 13-megapixel CMOS sensor equipped with PDAF (phase detection autofocus), an f/2.0 aperture, 77-degree wide angle lens, and dual-tone LED flash. The front camera sports a 5-megapixel CMOS sensor, coupled with an 85-degree wide angle lens. Expandable storage is available on the Redmi Note 4 via a hybrid dual-SIM card configuration, supporting microSD cards (up 128GB).

As for connectivity, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 offers 4G with VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/g/b/n, Bluetooth v4.1, GPS, Micro-USB, and Infrared. Sensors on board include accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, electronic compass, and proximity sensor. Redmi Note 4 battery capacity is rated at 4100mAh battery, and the new Xiaomi smartphone measures 151x76x8.35mm, and weighs 175 grams.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 price, variants

Xiaomi Redmi 4 Xiaomi Redmi 4 Price in India Specifications Variants

The Redmi 4 was launched in May in three memory/ storage variants in India. The 2GB RAM/ 16GB storage variant has been priced at Rs. 6,999, the 3GB RAM/ 32GB storage variant has been priced at Rs. 8,999, while the 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage is priced at Rs. 10,999.

The dual-SIM (Micro+Nano) Xiaomi Redmi 4 runs MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. It sports an all-metal body and a fingerprint sensor on the rear panel. It bears a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) 2.5D curved glass display, and is powered by a 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 SoC coupled with 2GB/ 3GB/ 4GB of RAM.

The Redmi 4 sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, and LED flash. On the front, it bears a 5-megapixel front camera with f/2.2 aperture. As we mentioned, the Xiaomi Redmi 4X will be available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB inbuilt storage options, expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB).

Connectivity options on the Redmi 4 include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS/ A-GPS, Micro-USB with OTG, Bluetooth v4.1, and 3.5mm audio jack. It also sports an infrared sensor. It measures 139.2×69.6.x8.6mm, and weighs 150 grams. It is powered by a 4100mAh battery.

Xiaomi Redmi 4A price, specifications

Xiaomi Redmi 4A 202217 142237 4088 Xiaomi Redmi 4A Price in India Specifications Variants

The Redmi 4A was launched in India in March at Rs. 5,999, following its launch in China in November. Featuring a polycarbonate body, the Redmi 4A bears a hybrid dual-SIM card slot, and runs MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The smartphone features a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display, and is powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon 425 SoC coupled with the Adreno 308 GPU and 2GB of RAM.

It sports a 13-megapixel sensor with PDAF, a 5-lens system, an f/2.2 aperture, and is backed by a LED flash. There is a 5-megapixel sensor with an f/2.2 aperture on board as well. The Redmi 4A comes with 16GB of inbuilt storage that is expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB).

The Redmi 4A’s connectivity options include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS/ A-GPS, and Bluetooth v4.1. Sensors on board the smartphone include accelerometer, ambient light, gyroscope, infrared, and proximity. Dimensions of the new Xiaomi smartphone are 139.5×70.4×8.5mm, and it weighs in at 131.5 grams. Redmi 4A is powered by a 3120mAh battery with fast charging support.