Adoption of OS 10.3 remains extremely slow

With BlackBerry still not releasing 10.3 for their older phones, the landscape for in market devices is mostly unchanged from last month. There are roughly 10% of users currently running the newest OS, with the vast majority of users two OS versions behind.

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Additionally, indications are that the BlackBerry Classic has gotten off to a solid start with a growth rate similar to the BlackBerry Passport.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of January 2014 through the end of January 2015.

Amazon Appstore testing BlackBerry phones

Below is screen shot of an app acceptance email I received from Amazon. In addition to the many Kindle devices, and the lone “Non-Amazon Android” device, you will find the BlackBerry Classic and the BlackBerry Passport.

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With the Amazon appstore now preloaded on newer BlackBerry phones, Amazon now appears to explicitly be checking submitted Android apps on these phones. Given the unique screen ratios on these phones, and the fact that they are outselling most of the other devices on this list, it is nice to see Amazon explicitly checking for compatibility. This should free BlackBerry users from having to wonder if anything they download from Amazon will work on their phones.

Xploding Boxes gets another 10 levels

IMG_20150206_175129_cropXploding Boxes has been updated to version 5.2 with ten additional levels. This brings the total number of levels in the game up to 480.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game where the goal is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level presents a different look and number of touches, requiring a different strategy to solve.

The game itself, and the first 25 levels are available for free, while a one time in-app purchase can be used to access the rest of the levels for just $2.99 while still maintaining your progress from the free levels.

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OS Distribution of traditional BBOS users unchaged

January showed virtually no change in the distribution of OS version used by BBOS users from the previous few months. With 55.6% of users running OS 7 there is only a slight increase from the 48.7% that were running OS 7 in January 2014.

Also somewhat inexplicably, the number of users running OS 4.x has not dropped to zero. The percentage of users has been stuck at around 1% for two years now, but should really be at absolute zero by this point. I first wrote about 4.x being dead three years ago, and am baffled that anybody is holding on. (And to be perfectly honest, it is past due for all BBOS users to upgrade to BlackBerry 10).

StatsJan2015

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of January 2014 through the end of January 2015, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

Version 1.4 of Pixelated Shapes released

ShapeItAppPixelated Shapes has been updated to version 1.4 in BlackBerry World, Google Play, the Amazon App Store, and the Windows 8 App Store. This new version reduces the minimum width required on Windows 8, improves the back up options on BlackBerry 10, and supports the newest version of Google Play on Android.

About Pixelated Shapes

Pixelated Shapes is a twist on the classic version of Pixelated that replaces the familiar squares with triangles and hexagons. The object of the game is to get the screen a single color by slowly growing a blob out of the upper left hand corner by matching it to the colors of the surrounding shapes. This is done repeatedly until either the game is won, or you run out of moves. Under the default settings you must clear the screen in 29 moves or less in order to win. A one time in-app upgrade can allow you to adjust the difficult, switch color schemes, change to different game modes, and get an indicator giving you the number of remaining moves.

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Most popular articles of 2014

Typically January 1st is used to highlight the most popular articles of the previous year. However, it took me a bit longer to get around to check google analytics, so I guess February 1st can work just as well. So, (in order) these are the most popular articles I wrote in 2014.

To be fair, I also wrote a fairly popular article on Medium titled BlackBerry’s four years with Adobe AIR that probably would have made this list had I posted it to this site.

Update to free Animal Sounds app

z10The free Animal Sounds app has been updated to version 1.2 in BlackBerry World. This update reduces the size of the app, adds support for a swipe-down menu, and improves the app’s support for the higher resolution of the BlackBerry Passport.

About the Animal Sounds App

This is a simple app that plays back the sound made by various animals. From Horses to Dogs to Cows, this app includes a variety of animals that will make a sound when you tap on their picture.

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BlackBerry has now gone a full year without pushing an OS update

One year ago today BlackBerry released OS 10.2.1 as an update for all BlackBerry 10 phones. Since then BlackBerry has developed both OS 10.3.0 and 10.3.1 but have yet to release these updates for an in-market phones.

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Originally the current devices were expected to get a new OS in November, but that has been continually delayed. Instead BlackBerry has allowed their new user base to become fragmented and have begun driving customers towards downloading leaked OS versions. Based on statistics collected from users of my apps, I am seeing the most people running leaked OS versions than I have since 2009. BlackBerry needs to get it together, and push out OS 10.3.1 to their full user base.

New Head Words game released for BlackBerry

ShapeItAppHead Words is a new free party game for BlackBerry 10. This is a multi-player guessing game similar to Celebrity, Hedbanz, and Heads Up. After selecting a category, one player places the phone on their forehead while the other players give clues. With one minute to guess as many words as possible, the player can tilt the phone down for each correct answer, or tilt the phone up to pass. At the end of round a word list will show what was guessed right and wrong. The swipe down menu provides an option to turn the sound on or off.

The game includes five categories for free, and the option to purchase access to five additional categories for a dollar each. An update will bring even more categories to the game in the future.

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Expanded device support for 10,000 Farkle

Q10-deviceThe game 10,000 Farkle has gotten updated to version 2.5 in BlackBerry World. This update adds support for the recently released BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic while also reducing the file size of the app by 2.5 percent.

How to Play Farkle

Farkle gives you six dice to roll and awards points for a straight, three pairs or three or more of the same number. Fewer points ares also awarded for each individual 1 and 5. Any dice that do not score can be re-rolled for additional points. If all 6 dice can be scored, then all of the dice can be re-rolled on the same turn.

The skill in this game comes from knowing how far to push your luck, and which scoring combinations to take, and when to re-roll.

The default game mode gives you 10 turns to score as many points as you can. The 10,000 point mode gives you unlimited turns to reach 10,000 points. The two competitive game modes both use the traditional format of racing to 10,000 points.

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BlackBerry likely to be sold within the next year

Last week rumors swirled around that Samsung would be acquiring BlackBerry. Both companies were quick to deny this news, yet it feels as if it is only a matter of time until BlackBerry is sold to a larger company.

Yesterday BlackBerry’s stock price closed at $10.24 per share which is close to a two year high. While this will make an acquisition more expensive, it also makes for a more attractive story for companies looking to add expand. Since joining as CEO with the stock price in the $7 range, John Chen will be able to show a sale at $15+ as a huge win for him. His action over the past year has been to eliminate the parts of the company that are less attractive to potential buyers in order to make BlackBerry easier to sell. This progress for the shareholders has largely come at the expense of BlackBerry’s users and developers. I understand why Chen has gone in this direction, but I really wish that things had gone in a different direction.

The end result is that BlackBerry is poised to sell.

Regardless if BlackBerry is purchased by Samsung, Lenovo, IBM, SAP, Amazon, or somebody else, I fully expect BlackBerry to be sold off within the next year. I just hope that the BlackBerry user base is not left behind…

BBOS usage is flat

BBOS usage was flat for another month. December saw 55.6% of users were on OS 7 and 80.0% of users were on OS 6 or higher.

StatsDec2014

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of December 2013 through the end of December 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

BlackBerry 10 platform becoming more fragmented

Last month BlackBerry unveiled OS 10.3.1 yet allowed very few of their users to download and install the new operating system. This is beginning to lead to a very fragmented landscape as very few users are on the newest version of the OS, and most users are actually two versions back on an operating system that by the end of the month, will be over a year old.

In slightly better news, over 99% of users are now running OS 10.1 or higher. Additionally, users of leaked OS versions have propped up the usage of OS 10.3.X beyond just those that have purchased the Classic or the Passport.

2014Dec-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

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This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of December 2013 through the end of December 2014.

Liar’s Dice game adds support for the Passport and Classic

2.2.Q10Liar’s Dice has been updated to version 2.4 in BlackBerry World in order to add support for the newly released BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic phones.

About Liar’s Dice

This is a classic dice game of strategy and deception in which seeing only your own dice you must bet on the combined dice in play without getting caught in a lie.

The object of the game is to catch your opponent (the computer) betting too high. Bets are placed on both your own dice which you can see, and your opponent’s dice which are hidden from you. You begin each round by making a bet. The computer then has an opportunity to either call your bet a lie, or to bet higher then you. Then it is once again your turn to call your opponent’s bet or to bet even higher. This continues until eventually a bet is called. Then if the bet is too high the caller wins, or if the bet is not a lie, the bettor wins the round.

IMG_00000051The game has two main game modes. The “High Score” mode is the default mode, points are awarded for each round, and the first to gain a given number of points wins. The number of points required to win a game can be configured on the options page in order to allow for shorter or longer games.

The other option is for an “Elimination” mode in which the loser of each round loses one dice for the following rounds, and the last player with any dice left is the winner. This game is more dynamic as there are a different number of dice in play each round. Additionally games in this mode typically play faster than high score games.

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