BlackBerry to go private?

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. a Canadian insurance firm, signed a letter of intent with the BlackBerry board under which it could pay $9 a share in cash for the 90% of BlackBerry shares it doesn’t already own. The hastily arranged deal came over the weekend, according to people familiar with the effort, after BlackBerry announced on Friday it had nearly $1 billion in unsold phones and would slash 40% of its workforce. The stock plunged 17% that day to below $9.

The man leading this buy out is Prem Watsa. He owns around 10% of BlackBerry already and is now looking to take it all. In one way I am glad that someone sees value in this Canadian company. On the other hand, I think that Watsa low-balled them a bit only offering 9 bucks a share. BlackBerry has about 6 weeks to sign the deal. Will someone else step up to the plate? I am hoping that company co-founder Mike Lazaridis makes a bid. BlackBerry could have their “Steve Jobs” moment with the founder making a come back.

Valve announce SteamOS

Valve founder Gabe Newell has previously attacked the Windows 8 operating system, calling it “a catastrophe”. Microsoft’s latest OS provides its own digital gaming service, designed along similar lines to the Apple app store – but Newell suggested this potential monopoly would hit margins for developers and PC manufacturers and drive many from the market. In contrast, the SteamOS is more similar to Google’s Android proposition: a blueprint that can be adapted by hardware manufacturers and end users. From the announcement:

“With SteamOS, ‘openness’ means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they’ve been able to. Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want. Gamers are empowered to join in the creation of the games they love.”

I like that the gaming industry is pushing back against Microsoft’s vice-grip on them. Is SteamPhone and SteamPad around the corner?

Microsoft reveal Surface RT 2 and Surface Pro 2

However, there’s another, vastly important aspect of the Surface success equation: the software. Some of the most critical problems with the original slates were core aspects of Windows 8. The operating system is far and away the most finger-friendly Windows yet, but the need to frequently drop into desktop mode on the Pro raised a host of troublesome scaling issues. Those issues were less of a problem on the RT, but only thanks to the incompatibility with legacy apps.

Seriously? So much for learning lessons from recent past mistakes. Stop crippling your software on the lower-end models. There is no excuse for that.