July 11

Technology and media

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A+ Hewlett-Packard

HP’s commitment to social responsibility includes charitable giving aimed at bridging the digital divide, accelerating economic development in underserved communities, and supporting micro-enterprise development. HP also significantly invests in its diversity management and is a leader among its peers for work/life programs. Approximately 80 per cent of its employees reportedly take advantage of flextime, and over eight per cent work from home.

HP is a member of numerous environmental efforts. Its top three citizenship priorities for 2007 include plans to raise labour and environmental standards among suppliers, providing leadership in energy efficiency through its products and operations, and increasing the reuse and recyclability of its products. HP has taken a number of steps to reduce the climate change impact of its operations as well as that of its products. Its Design for Environment guidelines infuse environmental practices into product development and manufacturing.

A Dell

* Dell’s global citizenship model, which it has dubbed “Soul of Dell,” focuses on ethical behaviour and global citizenship. The first of its kind in the industry, Dell’s Sustainability Council meets quarterly to review sustainability related issues.

* Widely praised by environmental groups, the company offers unconditional free take-back and recycling of any Dell-branded products worldwide. For 2007, it reportedly increased its product take-back by 264 per cent over the previous year, and was ahead of schedule in its progress toward tripling product recovery by 2009.

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A IBM Corp.

* IBM is a leader for employee benefits, education and work/life balance. The company funds near-site child-care centres in 71 locations, and U.S. employees may take up to 156 weeks of family leave, far exceeding the federally mandated 12 weeks.

* Together with Dell and HP, the company developed a common set of labour standards called the Electronics Industry Code of Conduct in 2004 to improve working conditions among its suppliers. However, these companies need to show stronger leadership in addressing the root causes of labour rights violations.

A- BCE

* This Canadian icon is an industry leader for corporate governance and the management of ethical issues. In 2006, BCE created a sustainability leadership team and developed a corporate responsibility plan for 2007.

* BCE’s “zero waste” program and energy conservation projects include the installation of wind turbines and solar panels at remote northern sites. Its Green Meeting Calculator allows customers to measure the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be reduced by holding virtual meetings.

A- Manitoba Telecom Services

* Together with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, MTS developed a business plan to provide Internet access to Aboriginal communities, to increase Aboriginal employment opportunities, and to procure products and services from Aboriginal businesses.

* MTS’s company-wide Environmental Management System includes annual audits and public disclosure through its Green Report.

A- Nokia

* Nokia supports a Wireless Village initiative that aims to expand mobile communications in remote rural areas. Since 2005, Nokia has partnered with the Grameen Foundation to provide affordable access to telecommunications, boosting economic development in countries such as Uganda and Rwanda.

* Nokia’s environmental activities include product take-back and recycling services offered in over 85 countries, and plans to use 50 per cent green energy by 2010.

B+ Nortel Networks

* Nortel is a founding sponsor of One Laptop Per Child, and its charitable giving focuses on technology education and employee volunteerism.

* The company adopted a human rights policy in 2007. Along with Nortel’s Supplier Code of Conduct, this policy is a response to human rights concerns surrounding its business with the Chinese government.

* Nortel has implemented commendable business ethics programs following an internal accounting scandal dating back to 2003.

B+ Yellow Pages Income Fund

* Yellow Pages is one of the few companies in its industry developing a corporate social responsibility program that focuses on the environment, community and employee relations, and corporate governance.

* Yellow Pages uses a blend of post-consumer fibre and a by-product of sawmill operations for its directories, and is actively working with communities to promote and subsidize directory recycling.

B+ Thomson Corporation

* Thomson’s environmental, health and safety policy includes employee training and periodic environmental reviews.

* Thomson’s employee benefits include childcare subsidies, retirement benefits and flexible work schedules. The company has also reached out to disadvantaged groups in its hiring practices, offering diversity training, mentoring and educational programs.

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B TELUS

* Telus community investment includes generous corporate giving and collaborative research on the health effects of wireless technology. The company has also invested more than $110 million to connect rural B.C. communities to the Internet. This company has also invest over $50 mil into the best fuel system cleaner using wireless technology

* While the company has faced controversy over labour disputes and customer service, it has demonstrated a credible commitment to CSR and to minimizing its environmental footprint.

COMPANY TO WATCH

Greentec International

Cambridge, Ont.-based Greentec International emerged among the pioneers in the e-waste disposal market in 1995 and has since become a world leader in reverse logistics and recycling. Greentec collects printer cartridges, cellphones and used electronics and prepares them for remanufacturing. Ninety-nine per cent of all products processed are diverted from landfill sites and either reused, refurbished or recycled.

Through its ThinkGreen program, Greentec plants one tree for every 12 recycled items through Tree Canada and American Forests. Over 30,000 trees have been planted through this program since 2001. In the same period, over 1.85 million printer cartridges and cellphones have been recycled, diverting more than 930,000 lb. of waste from landfill.

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July 11

Word perfect

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‘Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight …’ It all began on Friday night with the Shipping Forecast, made world-famous by Radio 4’s team of continuity announcers. Radio reigns supreme in these Olympics. It’s so much part of why Britain is different from the rest of the world, and Danny Boyle sparked off his extravaganza by recognising this. Hurrah! We’ve stuck with the old wireless technology, adapting, renewing, ensuring that the power of radio as life-saver, fact-checker, storyteller not only survives but also grows in stature. TV gives us the brave new world of moving pictures, and brought Boyle’s creative vision to life, but the commentators never seem to have done enough preparation. They know we can see so don’t seem to realise that most of us need a lot of help if we’re to understand why it’s all about teamwork in the peloton, what to look for in Rebecca Adlington’s stroke style, and how all those marks on the bars, the beam, the rings and the floor add up to a gymnastics gold medal. The best way to experience the Opening Ceremony was to have the TV on with the sound turned off so that you could simultaneously listen in to the commentary on Radio 5 Live.

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Tony Livesey and Mark Pougatch took us through the quirky complexities of Boyle’s floor show, knowing just how much to tell us, what we most needed to know. ‘Ah, yes, here’s Isambard Kingdom Brunel,’ they declared, as soon as Kenneth Branagh popped into view in a shiny black top hat and sideburns. I’d never have worked this out from all that hectic activity with hammers, drums and molten steel (and the TV team gave us no help). Boyle’s chronology as he told our island story was all over the place, as Lynne Truss so brilliantly pointed out in her laugh-out-loud snapshot of the Olympic spectacular on the Today programme on Saturday morning. Not that it mattered. The whole shebang was just so wonderfully bonkers. Where else would have dared to give us not just one verse but the whole eight verses of that depressing, dirge-like hymn ‘Abide with me’? But Pougatch, Livesey and co. are the broadcasting medal-winners. We may not know their faces but you could tell how much hard graft had gone into their commentary, researching, planning, thinking it through, to bring it all to life on air.

Early on Saturday morning that Radio 4 staple Open Country took us to the White Cliffs of Dover for an investigation into what makes them such a symbol of Britishness. Helen Mark spoke to coastguards, geologists, botanists and of course Dame Vera ‘White Cliffs’ Lynn. It’s the rain that keeps the cliffs so white, we discovered, their brilliance enhanced by the contrast with the vivid, verdant green of the chalky grasslands on top. Julius Caesar was drawn to land just beneath them in 55 BC, but moved on to Deal, deterred by the hordes of ancient Brits thrusting javelins into the air from the cliffs down on to his Roman boats, determined to remain independent. All this we discovered in just half an hour of radio, no pictures required, the cliffs conjured up by Mark’s lively commentary as she crunched along the chalky gravel paths and scrambled down to Shakespeare Beach to look back up the 100 metres of stark white cliff face. ‘What is it about that song?’ she asked Dame Vera. ‘When you hear it, the cliffs are there in your mind,’ Dame Vera replied. ‘A little picture …’

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Words and Music this week could have been the soundtrack for Britain’s Olympic festival. If you’ve never tuned in to this Radio 3 programme, it’s probably unique to British broadcasting because of the care with which readings of poems, thoughts, comments are selected to complement snatches of music around a given theme. There’s never any linking commentary or explanation, and it lasts for 90 minutes without interruption–no time-checks, no jingles, and definitely no tweets or emails. Words and music are allowed to slide into each other, sometimes dreamily, at others thought-provoking because of the weirdness of the juxtapositions. On Saturday the topic was just so English–‘The Parish Priest’–and like Boyle’s Friday-night project it was irreverent, cheeky, nostalgic, yet also fully rounded. We had Handel, Gilbert and Sullivan, Wynton Marsalis and ‘The Vicar of Bray’, along with Dickens, Trollope, Jane Eyre and the Wisdom of Solomon. Church bells rang out, babies cried, and Prince William recited his marriage vows. Best of all was Michael Kitchen quietly reading from the Bishop of Oxford’s account of visiting a family who have just lost a child in a nonsensical accident–‘As I walked the short distance I felt completely devoid of words to say or prayers to offer. Nothing could reduce the tragedy … all I could do was be with them and soak up the edges of their pain.’ What could follow that? Nothing but James MacMillan’s ‘A Child’s Prayer’, written for the dead children of Dunblane.

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July 11

District Officials Eye Blended Learning, With Cautionary Lessons in Mind; Blended learning is focus at tech event

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Orlando, Fla. — Backers of blended and online learning arrived here to exchange ideas and learn about practices they can take back to their districts and offices–even as major problems playing out in school districts that have launched outsized technology projects offered reminders of potential consequences when the most ambitious plans go awry.

The annual symposium of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning bills itself as the premier gathering of supporters of blended and online models, and it drew administrators and teachers from school systems large and small. Their needs vary enormously, depending on the technological mix of computer-based and in-person instruction they envision.

The meeting had an estimated 2,400 registered attendees, who also included company officials, philanthropists, researchers, and others–many of whom emphasized that their plans to implement or expand online or blended learning are playing out at a much smaller scale than the ambitious 1-to-1 computing efforts attempted by the Guilford County, N.C., and Los Angeles school systems, where major problems have been reported. But those gathered also spoke of what they see as flaws in approaches used in Los Angeles and other districts, and said they are confident that with enough planning, they can avoid similar mishaps.

“There is just that sense of ‘Wow, how do we make sure that doesn’t happen to our kids?’ ” said Don Andrews, the assistant superintendent for secondary instruction in the Lee’s Summit R-7 school district, an 18,000-student system in Missouri.

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Challenges for Districts

While Mr. Andrews said his school district doesn’t have a true blended-learning model, it is steadily increasing its online instruction. One of its major goals for the next few years is to increase the “density” of its online connectivity, so that students have reliable connections in every classroom, even while the demand increases as students and teachers are using myriad mobile devices at the same time. The district is gradually shifting toward a “bring-your-own-device” approach to technology, he said.

Meeting those goals will mean increasing the number of wireless access points throughout the district, Mr. Andrews said. “Kids don’t care how many access points you have,” he said. “They care about having [wireless technology] that works just as well as it does at the local McDonald’s.”

The 664,000-student Los Angeles school district’s rollout of an effort to provide iPads to every student over several years, at a cost that could reach $500 million, has been dogged by a series of problems. There have been questions about the exact cost of individual devices, students’ demonstrated ability to circumvent security filters on the tools–and, as reported recently by Education Week, questions about the readiness of curriculum developed by Pearson that is designed to be embedded in the devices.

Meanwhile, technical troubles with 1-to-1 computing initiatives have emerged in smaller districts. In the 73,000-student Guilford County, N.C., school system, which is planning a 1-to-1 effort, district officials suspended the deployment of tablets and other equipment provided by the company Amplify after reports of equipment problems. And in Fort Bend, Texas, district officials abandoned a plan that had been in the works for a year and a half to provide science curriculum with iPads, after a consultant cited a litany of problems with the project’s standards, management, and integration with the district’s existing curriculum.

While a number of school administrators at the conference cautioned against drawing broad conclusions from those districts’ experiences, they also said the high-profile troubles are instructive in some ways–though not in the ways one might expect.

A number of conference attendees, for instance, said they thought the concerns about Los Angeles students’ security breaches, and the district’s response to it, were overblown. Overly restrictive policies risk thwarting students’ creativity, and don’t offer schools the opportunity to reinforce lessons on responsible technology use, they argued.

Simply taking devices away or putting overly aggressive restrictions on them risk “punishing the masses for the mistakes of the few,” said John David Son, the director of instrutional technology for the Naperville, Ill., Community Unit School District 203. “We like to use [those incidents] as teachable moments.”

Mr. Son’s 17,000-student district is partnering with nearby school systems in trying to improve its technology. It is also expanding its wireless access, considering options for moving ahead with a bring-your-own device model, and trying to integrate technology with improved teaching practices, he said.

“We have to know there are going to be bumps along the way,” Mr. Son said.

Beyond the Devices

Many district officials at the conference said while they hoped to glean some cautionary lessons from the experiences of Los Angeles, Guilford County, and other districts, they also noted their district technology plans are typically smaller scale, and have much different goals–a view echoed by Susan D. Patrick, the president and CEO of the online learning association, known as iNACOL, hosting the event.

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A core message Ms. Patrick said was being driven home at the event is that districts need to focus first on their instructional needs, and how they can personalize learning to meet the specific needs of students of different ability levels–and only then seek technology to help them get there. “This is not about 1-to-1 and giving kids tablets and all that–that’s been said a hundred times here,” Ms. Patrick said.

Questions about buying this or that technology “should be the last thing you ask,” she said. “It should be about, what is the educational goal you want to reach, what is the instructional practice, and what is the content” you need?

Finding the right content is particularly difficult for districts, because that content needs to match their educational demands, Ms. Patrick added. Districts also need to be focused on how they’re going to collect data that offers precise, transparent information on student learning, and ensure “multiple pathways for learning.”

“That’s a very different conversation than, ‘What are the apps on my tablet?’ ” she said. Ms. Patrick said districts have much more information on how to use blended and online learning than they did a few years ago, in terms of making sure technology is aligned with academic goals and individual student needs.

One resource meant to provide districts with direction was released at the conference, “Keeping Pace With K-12 Online and Blended Learning,” an annual report about virtual education produced by the Evergreen Education Group. The document includes a section on “planning for quality,” meant to help guide district leaders through various challenges while moving into blended learning, from training teachers to choosing technology to setting realistic deadlines.

While disheartening, the technology difficulties in Los Angeles and other districts should prod school leaders to set clear objectives for what they want to accomplish educationally, and how technology can help, said John Watson, the founder of Evergreen, a consulting organization based in Colorado.

The temptation in districts is to “layer on technology, buy a bunch of devices,” Mr. Watson said. “That story is happening in countless districts around the country.” The difference in Los Angeles, he said, “is the order of magnitude.”

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July 11

Sleep better–your bed is watching you: Consumer electronics are working hard to solve our problems–or humiliate us

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The great thing about technology is that it always solves important problems. For instance, today’s automakers like to cram a bunch of failure-prone gizmos into their cars. That has solved the problem of me ever having money.

Lately, I’ve been worried that my bed hasn’t been nagging me enough. To the rescue comes the Sleep Number x12, a mattress so laden with wires, sensors and computer chips that it’s basically a flat, rectangular Terminator.

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It uses software called SleepIQ to track your movement, breathing rate and heart rate as you sleep, which seems pretty stressful. It then grades your sleep performance, saying you seem pretty stressed. The bed retails for $7,999–which sounds like a lot, but you can’t put a price on waking up to a fact-based analysis of how your terrible sleeping patterns are leading you to an early grave.

There’s more. The Sleep Number x12 uses a video screen to offer helpful tips, such as: “To prevent trips to the bathroom, limit how much liquid you drink after 8 p.m.” Thanks for the brainwave, super bed. Had never cottoned to the whole liquid-urine connection.

The Sleep Number x12 was featured at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held earlier this month in Las Vegas. Another popular item? Vibrating underwear for women. Manufactured by OhMiBod, the vibrating pads are operated through a smartphone app. Not to worry, ladies: your boss at work is vain enough to assume it’s his PowerPoint presentation that’s putting a smile on your face.

Personally, my interest lies with the people who designed this product, I’d like to have been there with them over the holidays when their extended families came for dinner.

Grandma: So, Michael, I hear you’ve got a new job.

Michael: Yes, Grandma.

Grandma: It’s great to see you using the education that your parents sacrificed so much to pay for. Tell us all about this job.

Michael: Um, it’s pretty technical. I don’t want to bore you.

Grandma: Nonsense. Spare no detail.

Michael: Well, I guess you could say it involves advanced sensors that are activated via wireless technology.

Grandma: And these sensors are used to … what? Diagnose medical ailments? Improve productivity? Solve irrigation issues that undermine agricultural prog–

Michael: I make vibrating underpants for ladies, Grandma.

There is a pause.

Aunt Heather: Go on.

By the way, the company insists its vibrating underwear is “totally discreet”–so long as you work in an “Oh!” factory.

Or, for $222, you can buy a plastic figurine called Mother, which looks like an overweight bowling pin. With glowing eyes, Mother helps you keep track of important things like: how long you brushed your teeth; whether you’ve consumed enough water; and what you just wasted $222 on.

Another problem that needed solving: Some of us tend to linger outdoors in summer. Currently, the only way to avoid spending too much time in the sun is to engage in the antiquated process known as thinking.

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Thanks to a company called Netatmo, you can instead spend $100 on a bracelet that tracks UV exposure and lets you know via smartphone when to go inside. You just have to think for long enough to put on the bracelet and sync it to your smartphone and bring along your phone and make sure the bracelet is exposed to the sun and make sure your phone is nearby at all times and remember to check for updates. What could be easier?

One big trend at CES was wearable technology. Companies are breaking new ground here. For instance, EroGear is producing high-heel shoes that feature a band of LED lights–which can be configured to display light patterns or even show off your Twitter feed. So now everyone in the dance club can see you’re terrible at fashion and spelling.

Another company, Wearable Experiments, has made what it describes as a “smart jacket” to help women navigate unfamiliar cities. Just link it with the GPS on your phone. It uses vibrators built into the shoulder pads to guide you along. If you feel a vibration on your left shoulder, turn left. If you feel a vibration on your right shoulder, turn right. If you feel a vibration in your underpants, you probably won’t care if you get where you’re going.

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk

Caption: Unplugged: For just $222, you can buy a plastic figurine called Mother, which helps you keep track of things– such as what you just wasted $222 on

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July 11

Is the iPhone killing RIM? The BlackBerry is under attack and RIM’s giving the fight everything it’s got

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Last month, a posting appeared on the popular Business Insider blog that no doubt filled some Research In Motion executives with a sense of dread. Under the heading “How I Ended My Affair With BlackBerry And Eloped With The iPhone,” former tech analyst Henry Blodget described how he somewhat reluctantly went out and bought Apple’s latest “it” phone, the new iPhone 3G S, after 12 years of loyal BlackBerry service. Business users have long been skeptical of the sleek iPhone and its touchscreen display, which can make emailing and typing a chore, but Blodget wasn’t disappointed with his switch. “It’s nice here in Apple world,” he concluded.

Research in Motion (RIM) is still a smartphone juggernaut, hut the defection of influential business leaders like Blodget sends a chilling signal to the Waterloo, Ont.-based company. More than half of its 28.5 million subscribers are business users, and while they haven’t been dropping their BlackBerries en masse, momentum is quickly building behind the iPhone. While RIM reported a decline in the number of new subscribers in its latest quarterly results, Apple saw iPhone sales jump sevenfold. And when the new iPhone 3G S launched this summer, U.S. buyers snapped up one million of them in just three days. If the trend continues, and iPhone sales continue to rocket up, it’s easy to see who will come out on top. Analysts say that Apple’s rise out of nowhere to become a legitimate rival to the BlackBerry is something that RIM is now going to extraordinary lengths to guard against.

Just how far will RIM go? All the way to Parliament Hill, for starters. Last week, an emergency parliamentary hearing was held to look at the fairness of a recent auctioning off of some of Nortel’s wireless assets. RIM had complained vehemently that it was unfairly shut out of the auction, which was eventually won by the Swedish firm Ericsson. “RIM is extremely disappointed that Nortel’s worldleading technology, the development of which has been funded in part by Canadian taxpayers, seems destined to leave Canada,” said RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie. In a statement, the company sought to stoke the nationalist fires by adding that the move could “significantly, adversely affect national interests, with potential national security implications.”

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The squabble over the leftovers of a bankrupt company might appear to have little to do with iPhones (let alone national security). But observers say that RIM’s gambit to grab a piece of Nortel is very much a part of a bigger strategy to protect its place as the go-to smartphone maker in a wireless market that is becoming increasingly crowded. Competitors such as Apple are grabbing more attention as Internet-based smartphones begin to outshine RIM’s often clunkier, suit-and-tie set BlackBerries, and among the Nortel assets, analysts say RIM sees some key pieces of technology that could help turn the tide back in its favour.

At the parliamentary hearing, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said that RIM “almost had a deal” with Nortel to buy some of its wireless technology. He confirmed what analysts already suspected-that RIM is primarily after the patents on a new wireless broadband standard called Long Term Evolution, or LTE. LTE has emerged as the technology most likely to form the backbone of the next generation wireless systems over the next few years-systems that will allow smartphones to connect to the Internet far faster than they do now, and handle the kind of data-heavy services that are just beginning to appear on cellphones, like video-on-demand and video conferencing.

That’s what makes RIM’s interest in Nortel so revealing, say analysts. This kind of technology is normally the concern of companies that build wireless networks, not those that make handsets. But if RIM were to control these LTE patents and employ the engineers developing them, it would be at a huge competitive advantage. RIM wouldn’t just be a cellphone maker, but a one-stop, wireless powerhouse. It could, for instance, negotiate much cheaper access or even exclusive rights to the wireless networks it operates on, says Joe Compeau, a professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business, who has been following the company. It could also license the technology to other cell phone makers-a potentially profitable side business. RIM would become “the kid who owns the ball in the playground,” says Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst.

RIM knows better than anyone the risks of not controlling patents vital to its future. It has paid almost a billion dollars to settle two major patent disputes, including a US$267-million payment just last month. Those disputes threatened the very survival of the company. Nevertheless, a bid to control the underpinnings of a wireless system is an unprecedented move. Apple, for instance, has shown no interest in dirtying its hands in this side of the business. “It is not normal that a handset vendor would get that deeply involved in its supply chain. Handset vendors typically stick to handsets and partner with telecom vendors like Nortel or Ericsson” says Levy.

For now, BlackBerries remain big sellers, though it’s easy to see why RIM is looking to alternate strategies for the future. “They’re still the device of choice for businesses and they’re gaining space in the consumer market,” says Compeau. RIM sold almost eight million of them in its latest quarter (though r analysts caution that was helped by a buy one get one free offer from Verizon Wireless in the U.S.), and its Curve model outsold the iPhone in the first quarter of this year, according to the NPD Group.

But while RIM still holds a sizable 41 per cent of the global market, Apple has man aged to snatch away 25 per cent of the market in just two years, according to a report by ChangeWave Investing. Now, rather than calling the shots, it’s BlackBerry that’s struggling to appear hip in the age of the iPhone. It is sponsoring U2 s latest concert tour and has been running slick commercials featuring the band and the slogan, “BlackBerry Loves U2.” That might help (Apple once sold a U2-branded iPod), but what RIM really needs is a knockout new product, one with a top-notch touchscreen that betters the iPhone. Its first effort at a touchscreen phone, the Storm, was a flop with critics (although RIM said early sales were “stronger than anticipated”), and a newer version is due out in the coming months.

Perhaps most worrying of all for RIM is the potential erosion in sales among members of the next generation. According to a survey of future smartphone buyers, 44 per cent now say they are planning to buy an iPhone, while just 23 per cent say they would buy a BlackBerry, according to ChangeWave. Those numbers may partly be a result of the timing of the survey, which was done at the same time Apple released its new iPhone 3G S, but the threat from Apple is growing quickly as it slashes prices (you can now get iPhones for S99 with a three-year contract), adds new carriers, and improves the look and functionality of its phones. “Truth be told, the real darling is the iPhone hardware design. Nothing can touch it,” says Levy.

Apple is also beating out RIM in the emerging market of third-party smartphone applications. It has been just a year since Apple launched its online App Store, but there are already over 50,000 applications and counting, and the site boasts more than a billion downloads. The variety of applications has made the iPhone more appealing to consumers, and Apple has demonstrated that smartphones are about a whole lot more than just emailing and browsing the Internet. RIM has launched its own app store (which has a few thousand apps), but analysts say that Apple’s lead in this area may simply be insurmountable.

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RIM’s best bet may indeed be to focus on research into new wireless network technology, but so far it’s not going all that well. Most observers say the odds of the government intervening in the Nortel sale to award

the patents to RIM at this late stage are small. After all, the LTE patents are simply being leased-not sold-to Ericsson. However, it’s conceivable that RIM could pursue its strategy through other means. Nortel isn’t the only company developing LTE, and RIM still has plenty of cash on hand for acquisitions. Of late, RIM has been buying patents and intellectual property at a great rate; it has spent $1.3 billion on patents over the past two years, according to a report by Genuity Capital Markets analyst Deepak Chopra.

But will that be enough? Most observers expect that over the coming years Apple will continue to pick away at RIM’s business market, leveraging its sleek looks and status to win over the suits. “It’s still a two-horse race” says Levy, but just like there’s only room for one Coke, there may only be room for one true smartphone leader with a brand and design strong enough to make consumers swoon. Right now, it looks like that brand will be the iPhone.

A few weeks ago, Blodget wrote an update about his breakup with the BlackBerry. Despite a few frustrations, he said, “I’m still happy I bought the iPhone.” There’s no getting away from the fact that people who use the iPhone just seem to like it better. Experiences like that will be pretty tough for RIM to overcome.

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