Apple confirmed the acquisition but would not say why it purchased the company, which specializes in analyzing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment on a variety of topics.
The Wall Street Journal, which reported the news earlier, cited people familiar with the deal as saying Apple forked over more than $200 million.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said.
Topsy did not respond to requests for comment.
The iPad and iPhone maker often does what it calls “bolt-on” acquisitions, small deals to acquire technology that then gets integrated into existing or future products.
Apple’s main effort in social media has revolved around Ping, a music-centered social sharing network that was at one point integrated into its iTunes app. The service, which lets users post music tracks they liked to a newsfeed, didn’t catch on and was shut down.
But the California gadget maker has been increasingly making it easier for people to share photos, videos and news through its devices and directly to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
It also operates iTunes Radio, an online streaming music service that competes with Pandora and could benefit from Topsy’s data on consumer sentiment.
BlackBerry Ltd sought to reassure its leery customers and partners that it was financially stable and “here to stay,” even though it announced massive layoffs and sources say it is in talks to sell all or part of the company.
In an open letter published in 30 news outlets across nine countries, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company stressed that its customers can continue to count on BlackBerry and its products, despite the challenges it is facing and the changes it is undergoing.
BlackBerry’s products have struggled to compete against the likes of Apple Inc’s iPhone and the numerous devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.
A new line of smartphones that run on the BlackBerry 10 operating system has also failed to re-ignite sales, prompting the company last month to announce that it would slash its global workforce by more than a third.
“Our customers read a lot about BlackBerry these days, as we make the headlines quite often – this has created a lot of noise and confusion” Frank Boulben, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview.
“We want customers to know that they can continue to count on us – we are here to stay. We have substantial cash on our balance sheet and we have no debt. We are restructuring our cost base and this is a very painful transition, but it will make us financially stronger and we want to get that message directly to our customers.”
The open letter is being distributed via social media channels and was published in Tuesday’s edition of newspapers across the globe, including the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal in the United States, and the Globe and Mail and National Post in Canada.
The company’s future was further thrown into question after it announced this summer that it is weighing its options, including an outright sale.
Sources have told Reuters that the company is in talks with Cisco Systems, Google Inc and SAP about selling all or parts of itself. Such a deal would be an alternative to a preliminary, $9-a-share offer by a group being led by BlackBerry’s biggest investor, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.
Last week, BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin also said that they are considering a bid to buy the smartphone maker.
Boulben said the uncertainty is the reason why BlackBerry is publishing the letter, which highlights the company’s strengths from its security offering to its device management capabilities and its mobile messaging platform.
“Whoever is interested in BlackBerry understands that the company has world class products and services. These are products and services that customers can continue to count on.”
Thirteen people have been indicted, accused of being members of the Anonymous hacktivist group and allegedly involved in Operation Payback.
Operation Payback was the retaliation against payment firms that Anonymous put in motion following their blocking of Wikileaks donations.
The 13 are accused of taking part in a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and the US Department of Justice filed a federal grand jury indictment in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. The indictment charges them with conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to protected computers.
Anonymous is a loosely linked digital rights collective. In its early days it pulled together volunteers from all walks of life.
Operation Payback struck a number of organisations including Mastercard, Visa, Paypal and the Motion Picture Association of America. The attacks lasted between September 2010 and January 2011. As well as retaliating against payment providers, part of Operation Payback was aimed at parties thought to be involved in a campaign against The Pirate Bay.
Agence France Presse (AFP) has seen the indictment and named those indicted in it. They are Dennis Owen Collins, Jeremy Leroy Heller, Chen Zhiwei, Joshua Phy, Ryan Russel Gubele, Robert Audubon Whitfield, Anthony Tadros, Geoffrey Kenneth Commander, Austen Stamm, Timothy Robert McLain, Wade Carl Williams and Thomas Bell.
According to AFP the 13 alleged Anonymous members “planned and executed a coordinated series of cyber-attacks against victim websites by flooding those websites with a huge volume of irrelevant internet traffic with the intent to make the resources on the websites unavailable to customers and users of those websites.”
In short, they are accused of having conducted a digital sit-in protest
The layoffs would affect all departments, according to the report in the Wall Street Journal that relied on anonymous sources.
BlackBerry wouldn’t comment on how many jobs might go, and issued this statement: “We will not comment on rumors and speculation. As previously stated, we are in the second phase of our transformation plan. Organizational moves will continue to occur to ensure we have the right people in the right roles to drive new opportunities in mobile computing.”
Analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates said he didn’t believe the layoff report was completely accurate, based on his conversation with a BlackBerry executive on Monday. The 40% layoff might only apply to Canadian workers as the mobile phone maker moves more of its operations to the U.S. to be closer to markets, Gold said. BlackBerry is headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario.
“The executive said they are indeed laying off folks in Canada. The proposed 40% layoff may be true in Canada… but I don’t think it accurately reflects what’s happening overall,” Gold told Computerworld.
The layoff report came on the same day that BlackBerry unveiled its Z30 smartphone with a 5-in. display, a larger phone than its Z10 introduced earlier in the year.
In recent days, unnamed sources also disclosed that BlackBerry could be sold off in parts to private parties, minus its smartphone business.
The layoff and sell-off reports depict a Canadian company on the brink of extinction, at least as a publicly traded company. Once a dominant player in the smartphone space, IDC recently indicated BlackBerry’s total share of smartphones will shrink below 3% in all of 2013. About 5,000 BlackBerry workers lost their jobs in 2012, part of a cost-cutting effort by CEO Thorsten Heins.
The layoffs are part of rolling job cuts that have been ongoing for several weeks, the people told the paper.
“I can confirm a small number of employees were laid off today,” a company spokesman told the newspaper, without providing additional details.
BlackBerry, which has bled market share to rivals including Apple’s iPhone and phones using Google’s Android technology, said last month it was weighing its options, which could include an outright sale.
News of the layoffs was first reported by Canadian technology blog Cantech Letter.
BlackBerry could not immediately be reached for comment outside of regular U.S.business hours.
An undated post on eBay’s Deals blog titled ”What’s the Deal with Bitcoins Anyway” featured a two-minute video encapsulating many of the pros and cons of the virtual currency.
Accompanying text next to the video reads: “The jury’s still out on whether bitcoins will become ubiquitous and stand the test of time, or whether new innovations might eventually take their place. What do you think? Are bitcoins the real deal?”
When questioned, an eBay spokeswoman said the company has not changed its payment policies. “The video is strictly informational,” she said.
The post indicates that one of the largest e-commerce vendors is taking notice of Bitcoin, which has been gaining traction with smaller online merchants but has been hampered by ongoing concerns over regulation.
There are some oddities around eBay’s Bitcoin blog post.
Although the post solicits users’ opinions, there doesn’t appear to be a way for customers to tell eBay what they think. The post only includes buttons to share the content on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Ebay’s Deals blog is generally focused on just that: price discounts on merchandise such a Canon camera lens, pairs of Reebok boots, foam nunchuks are just a few examples. When looking at the stream of posts on the blog on its main URL, the bitcoin post does not appear.
The informational bitcoin video is hosted on YouTube, apparently posted on Aug. 20 by someone going by the moniker “B Sil.” Comments are disabled on the video, which has received more than 8,4000 views, and it appears B Sil has not posted other ones. The video has been circulated on other bitcoin-related websites since that time. The video concludes by stating on the screen that it is brought by eBay Deals.
Ebay’s interest in bitcoin would mark a significant development. A few major Internet sites, such as WordPress and Reddit, now accept bitcoin for subscriptions, but the virtual currency has yet to be used by a major e-commerce site.
If anything, Bitcoin represents a threat to eBay-owned PayPal, which dominates e-commerce payments. Bitcoins can be transferred using peer-to-peer software anywhere in the world for a fraction of the fees that PayPal charges to merchants.
Similar to cash, Bitcoin transactions are irreversible unless a vendor wants to give a refund. That eliminates the risk of chargebacks, or when card companies penalize vendors for accepting a fraudulent transaction.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in April, eBay CEO John Donahoe said bitcoin is a disruptive technology, and there may be ways to integrate it into PayPal.
The subsidiary would be called BBM Inc, the newspaper said.
A BlackBerry spokeswoman told Reuters the company cannot comment on rumor and speculation.
Two sources familiar with the company’s thinking, who declined to be named because they are not authorized to discuss the matter with the media, told Reuters the company has reallocated internal resources and personnel to work exclusively on fine-tuning the BlackBerry Messenger service ahead of its launch on competitors’ devices.
However, there is no immediate plan to spin off the unit, one of the sources said, adding that BBM for Apple’s iPhone and devices using Google’s Android should be available to consumers in the next few weeks.
The instant messaging service has about 60 million users who send billions of messages a day. BlackBerry has sought to add value to the service, even as the popularity of the company’s own handsets shrinks, by adding video calling over WiFi and working to make the service available to users of other devices.
The company has already announced plans for BBM Channels, which would allow advertisers to promote special deals or to target markets narrowly.
BlackBerry is also considering making BBM available for desktop computers, the Journal said, quoting a person it said was familiar with the matter.
BlackBerry said earlier this month it was looking into options for the company, which could include an outright sale.
BlackBerry’s shares were 3 percent lower at C$10.63 on the Toronto Stock Exchange early on Tuesday afternoon. They have lost well over three-quarters of their value since a peak in early 2011, and are down more than 7 percent so far this year.
The growing popularity of ad blocking — driven by users’ frustrations with intrusive, distracting or just-plain-ugly-and-noisy ads — threatens the free-for-all model of the Internet, said PageFair, a company that’s helping content publishers audit the problem and try to stem some of the bloodletting.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” said Neil O’Connor, CEO of Dublin-based PageFair. “Ads are becoming more aggressive to capture eyeballs, but that forces more people to install ad-blocking software. It’s a lose-lose situation.”
But without ads and the revenue they generate, most content publishers cannot sustain operations. Sans ad revenue, the only options are to charge for access — the path taken by publishers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times — or fold the tent.
PageFair mined its data from the past 11 months and found some surprising nuggets about ad blocking.
“We started this because we were a publisher ourselves, in the game space,” said O’Connor. “We wanted to know how many of our users were dropping out by installing ad blockers, and thought it was maybe as high as 10%. But we found that 30% were blocking our ads. That was shocking to us.”
On average, 22.7% of the users who browsed to the several hundred sites monitored by PageFair since September 2012 used an ad blocker, but the range was very wide, from just 1.5% to 65%.
The more technically savvy a site’s audience, the more likely they will block ads, said O’Connor. Game-related websites, for instance, deal with an average ad-blocking rate of 30%, the highest of any category. More mainstream websites, however, have a lower percentage of ad-blockers: The average for travel sites is around 5%.
“The severity of ad blocking on a given site is positively correlated to the technical ability of its audience,” said O’Connor in a report PageFair published Wednesday.
That’s because browser ad blocking relies on add-ons, which not all users are comfortable installing, or even know exist. AdBlock Plus, which offers add-ons for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and most recently, Internet Explorer, is the best known.
Firefox users block ads more than those running any other browser, said O’Connor, perhaps because the Mozilla browser has long trumpeted its add-on ecosystem. Also, AdBlock Plus has supported Firefox the longest of any browser.
According to PageFair’s data, 37% of Firefox users block ads. Google’s Chrome took second place with a 30% blocking rate. IE’s rate was miniscule, under 1%.
“It’s not only our opinion; the industry sentiment is also that Windows RT has not been successful,” Shen told the Wall Street Journal last Friday at a Taipei earnings conference.
Asus now makes the VivoTab RT tablet, which runs on an ARM processor. In the future, it plans to focus on Windows 8 tablets that run on X86 chips from Intel because those tablets have compatibility with older Windows apps that RT lacks, Shen said.
Last week, Asus Chairman Jonney Shih said Windows RT has not been promising and said Asus is putting time and energy into devices running Intel chips.
The Shen confirmation comes a day after Nvidia said it expects revenue to drop as much as 40% this year from the Tegra processor used in some Windows RT tablets and some Android tablets and smartphones. The Tegra 3 runs in the VivoTab, as well as Microsoft’s Surface RT and Lenovo’s Yoga 11 tablet.
Microsoft wrote off $900 million in July to make up for steep discounts on its own Surface RT tablet. Analysts believe Microsoft will continue as the sole maker of Windows RT devices.
Windows RT tablets only garnered 0.5% of the tablet market in the second quarter, IDC said this week. That means about 200,000 shipped in the second quarter, the same amount as the first quarter.
Windows 8 tablets have fared better, with 1.8 million shipments in the second quarter and 4% of the market, IDC said.
Apple appears to be losing its grip on the tablet market, according to research by analytics firm Canalys, which reports that the firm’s iPad and iPad Mini shipments declined 14 percent in the second quarter.
With its market share dropping to 43 percent, Apple’s shipments of tablet devices slipped from 17 million in the second quarter of 2012, to 14.6 million in Q2 this year.
Apple’s iPad sales decline coincided with poor growth in the tablet market in general this year, with Canalys’ research reporting a fall in worldwide shipments by almost 20 percent in the second quarter.
Canalys said that in the first quarter tablet shipments hit 41.9 million but in the second quarter had dropped to 34.2 million, down by 18.4 percent. According to the firm, tablets now account for 31 percent of worldwide PC shipments.
Though Apple’s decline doesn’t mean that it has lost the lead in global market share, it seems that Samsung, Amazon, Lenovo and Acer are catching up, as each grew annually by over 200 percent, driven by what Canalys said is increasing demand for small screen tablets.
“With touch-screens contributing to a high proportion of the build cost of a tablet, small-screen products can be priced very aggressively,” said Canalys senior analyst Tim Coulling.
Canalys estimated that 68 percent of tablets shipped in the second quarter had screen sizes smaller than 9in.
Amazon’s market share rose by 265 percent, while Acer’s share increased by 228 percent and Lenovo, which performed the best, increased its market share by 317 percent.
However, while market share increases over the quarter were impressive, actual shipments were still far below Apple’s. Samsung, for example, saw shipments rise from 1.9 million to 7.3 million, but this total was still half that of the Cupertino company.
Lenovo, despite its sales rising the most of any vendor, saw shipments of only 1.47 million, up from just 354,000 in the second quarter of 2012.
For those like us who are excited about the DICE reboot of Star Wars: Battlefront, EA revealed during a stockholders call that everyone is going to have a bit of a wait. The new rebooted Star Wars: Battlefront is targeted for release around the summer of 2015, but that date could change.
During the call EA also talked about the fact that Star Wars: Battlefront would be the first of a number of Star Wars titles that the company is planning. EA also said that it is planning Star Wars releases for mobile and handheld devices as well as the console systems.
While the summer of 2015 is a long way off, we want DICE to get it right. Everyone needs to be patient and wait, but we do have a good feeling about a DICE developed Battlefront title that is for sure.
Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the Wall Street Journal today claimed that Apple suppliers will start production in the fourth quarter of a new iPad Mini featuring a high-resolution display, dubbed “Retina” by Apple.
But other reports, including one Wednesday by 9to5Mac.com, said just the opposite: Apple will instead deliver another iPad Mini with a lower-resolution screen.
Both could be right: Apple may crank out two new iPad Mini tablets. But one analyst doesn’t think so.
“An iPad Mini with Retina is not only logical but inevitable,” said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, placing all his money on a Retina Mini.
A higher-resolution 7.9-in. tablet will be especially important to Apple after Google’s launch of a new Nexus 7 tablet with a 1920-x-1200-pixel screen. The screen boasts a per-inch pixel density twice that of the current iPad Mini’s.
But while some pundits have predicted that Apple will release a Retina iPad Mini at a higher price alongside a new reduced-price version with the same 1024-x-768-pixel display as the current device — for two new models — Gottheil countered with history.
“Apple will do what it has done in the past, in other words bring down the price of the older models to expand the available market when it comes out with a Retina iPad Mini,” said Gottheil.
That has been Apple practice: It has used the strategy with its iPhone and full-sized iPad lines by continuing to offer older models at reduced prices. The 2011 iPad 2, for example, continues to sell for $399, $100 less than the Retina-equipped fourth-generation iPad of last fall.
Gottheil had no inside information on Apple’s plans or possible pricing, but reiterated in an interview today that $249 for last year’s iPad Mini would be a”killer price.”
Apple will most likely price a new Retina iPad Mini at the same $329 it charges for the 2012 tablet. “That’s also Apple’s classic strategy, to find a way to justify maintaining the current price,” Gottheil said.
After much protest from consumers, Microsoft decided to change its Xbox One policies: used games will be playable just as they were on the Xbox 360, without any additional fees imposed on the retailer or player. Used games continue to be a huge part of the AAA console market, making up around half of GameStop’s gross profit, but developers often have a lot of disdain for the practice, which doesn’t yield them one penny.
Ready at Dawn boss Ru Weerasuriya is definitely one who falls in the anti-used games camp, but he doesn’t want to see them disappear. He simply believes developers need to get a piece of the revenues.
“I think the problem is right now there are retail outlets that are really taking everybody for a ride. You can’t make a living at the expense of everybody else. Unfortunately, they’re not just making a living at the expense of developers but also the consumers because the consumers will see less and less games come out if developers can’t get revenue to make more new titles and keep going as a business,” he lamented to GamesIndustry International.
“I think this is something we need to curb on the retail side. We’re putting the consumers in an awkward spot and we shouldn’t have to,” he continued. “Why should they be the ones to deal with a flawed system? They are the guys we do this for. They are the ones who should be able to benefit the most from being able to buy it.”
“I don’t think we should stop used games, but we should do something about getting part of the revenue back from GameStop and places like that”
Weerasuriya went on to describe the anger he felt during a recent experience he had at a GameStop store. “I walked into a GameStop, asked for a new copy of a game and without telling me he tried to slip me a used copy and wanted to sell it to me for $5 less. I flipped out in front of the guy. I was like, ‘Dude, wrong guy… You’re doing this to the wrong guy.’ I don’t think people realize, and the guy was trying to justify it to me. I was like, ‘You have no idea.’ There are developers out there who are making games for [years] and some of them will go down purely because the revenue stream is basically flawed and creating this place where developers don’t see even a little part of it,” he said.
“I don’t think we should stop used games, but we should do something about getting part of the revenue back from GameStop and places like that. That’s not penalizing the consumers; they’ll still get what they want. But I don’t know who’s going to address it.”
Of course, the fact that the pre-owned business is thriving is a symptom of a larger issue: game pricing. For the average consumer, buying a console for several hundred dollars followed by numerous $60 games is simply not feasible. The game has to be a true blockbuster to be worth 60 bucks for many gamers, and that means that a lot of AAA developers are feeling the pressure. Wouldn’t it be easier for consumers if they could buy a much shorter AAA experience for $20 or less? Telltale has certainly shown that episodic games like The Walking Dead can be hugely appealing and successful.
“Think about it this way. What the consumer wants is choice. It doesn’t mean we have to kill the $60 game, but you should have the choice for other price points. I would love to go home and play a two-hour game at night right before I go to bed. You play the game, get a full experience and a full story and go to sleep afterwards. I love that idea, but I also love the idea of playing the 15-hour game that I have to pay more for. I think there’s room for different tiers. And I think the market is already breaking those out,” Weerasuriya commented.
Just like summer blockbusters in Hollywood, there will always be a desire for thrill rides like Call of Duty, he added: “We can make the indie game just like there are indie movies, or we can make the summer blockbuster. The beauty of our ecosystem is that it continues to grow and is getting stronger to be able to allow for all these tiers to exist, and for them to balance out. For every big, Titanic-type thing you can have a bunch of projects that are smaller and that’s the beauty of the ecosystem. We need them for each other. We can’t dismiss one and hope to have just the other.”
Weerasuriya hopes his new, first-ever console IP, The Order 1886, will fall into the blockbuster category. It’s an idea that he’s been percolating for many, many years, and Ready at Dawn is finally prepared to tell the story… with a little help from history.
“One of the things I love about storytelling is some of the best stories ever told are the ones we’ve actually lived. You can create all these crazy worlds and stuff but sometimes they’re not believable. If you really think about it, our history is the most amazing place to find stories,” he said, conjuring up ideas of Assassin’s Creed for us.
“The funny thing is we started our ideas on this even before we heard about [Assassin's Creed]…This IP is really a recreation of the world and how the world would have evolved into something slightly different, and we really catch it in that moment of post-industrial revolution London. And you still get to experience a lot of the things that really happened in the [real] world. You’ll interact with real people that lived in our world. The idea of all of this is imagine you created something where you didn’t have to explain everything to people. If people wanted to find out something about a character they could just look it up in Wikipedia.”
Some gamers instantly labeled the game as Steampunk, but Weerasuriya would classify it as anything but that actually. “Steampunk is usually not believable. We call it neo-Victorian London… For us, it was how real can we keep it, and what can we do to make people believe this really existed? So if you push a weapon or something too far to make it unbelievable, then we dial it back. And then it could be a weapon that Edison put together using technology that he invented at the time… that’s what was important for us, that believability,” he said.
Most developers today are platform agnostic. Financially, it just makes sense to get your game to as large a base of consumers as possible. Ready at Dawn is taking a risk by staying exclusive to PS4, but Weerasuriya is completely confident in his decision to stay loyal to Sony.
“We saw the initial talks about PS4 and what it was going to be and we’ve had a relationship with Sony for 10 years, so we felt it was the right time to not only move but to move to a single platform again where we could bring our expertise to something that could make us realize the game we wanted. Once we knew that internally, we approached Sony and said this is what we have and here’s where we want to go, and they listened to us and we had a great discussion about how big it was going to be, and it turned out to be bigger than expected. So it’s a good conscious decision from us to target a platform that we could make the most of,” he explained.
We pressed Weerasuriya on the financial aspect of being PS4-exclusive, and he acknowledged that his studio often is guilty of putting creative needs ahead of fiscal ones.
“You have to be willing to give part of that financial aspect up to see your vision through”
“For us, the number one factor in making our decision was always creative. And to a fault over the last 10 years, we sometimes chose creative over a lot of other things. Yes, of course, there’s an opportunity to make a dual-platform game and there are third-party publishers we can go to, and it’s not something we’ll ever dismiss, but for now since we’ve been so targeted towards working on a single platform it felt natural for us to make that decision regardless of the financial hit we would take,” he said.
“In the future, who knows? I can only imagine that if the platforms get more and more similar in the future, maybe hardware manufacturers will only make hardware. I don’t think that’s ever going to happen because you still need to support your hardware. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo still need to support their platforms. And Sony always takes chances on their hardware to make very, very risky games as far as ideas and content is concerned, but it pays off. You have to be willing to give part of that financial aspect up to see your vision through.”
Part of the creative vision for Ready at Dawn is to enhance games’ believability. “Everything you saw in the trailer was in-game, and it was important for us to create something that we call filmic. A lot of the effort that went into it was to emulate a lot of things people are familiar with today,” Weerasuriya said. “You don’t have to tell someone who’s watching a movie if something looks odd if it’s filmed the wrong way. They know it because for their whole lives they’ve been watching movies.”
“So we strive to emulate glass and how it looks looking through a lens with real depth of field and chromatic aberration – everything that we could do to basically build the correct physical aspects of a real lens, we tried to do in the game. Giving people that experience, you’re not going to have a disconnect; it’s really about climbing out of the uncanny valley to the other side. I think this is the hardware that’s going to do that,” he asserted.
If The Order 1886 is successful, Ready at Dawn could be looking at much more than video games. Weerasuriya noted that his team definitely has big transmedia ambitions.
“I will tell you, the franchise was created not as a game franchise. It lived its life before it became a game as a world, as an IP. You can imagine now that the game is a window into that IP, so yes, I want to have a lot of windows into that IP, and hopefully that’ll come in many different forms,” he said.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is close to signing a deal to sell its popular line of Galaxy devices to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, sources familiar with the situation said late last Friday.
The deal would be a boost for Samsung, which is increasingly seeking to cater to the needs of government agencies, a niche long dominated by Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd.
The FBI, with more than 35,000 employees, at present uses mainly BlackBerry devices. It is unclear whether the agency plans to replace all BlackBerry equipment with Galaxy models or whether it will use hardware from both companies.
A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment on the matter, saying that the selection of its new smartphones is part of an active acquisition process and any current discussions are proprietary to the government.
The imminent deal was initially reported by the Wall Street Journal late on Thursday. The WSJ also said Samsung is close to signing a smaller order for its devices with the U.S. Navy, citing people familiar with the matter.
Representatives of BlackBerry and Samsung declined to comment. BlackBerry emphasized, however, that it regards its operating system as the best in the market in terms of security features.
“The security of mobile devices is more important now than it has ever been before,” BlackBerry’s chief legal officer, Steve Zipperstein, said in an interview. “It is fair to ask why in this context anyone would consider moving from the gold standard in security, which is the BlackBerry platform.”
In May, the U.S. Pentagon cleared Samsung’s Android mobile devices and a new line of BlackBerry devices powered by the BB10 operating system for use on Defense Department networks.
Samsung has been pushing hard to convince government agencies and corporate clients that its Galaxy devices, powered by Google Inc’s Android operating system, can meet their stringent security needs.
The South Korean company hopes that the Pentagon clearance and the imminent deal with the FBI will help boost sales to security-conscious clients including banks and law firms.
Some analysts remain skeptical about whether Android can meet all security requirements of such clients, and note that the FBI itself has highlighted some vulnerabilities of the platform.
“The Android operating system hasn’t been secured properly,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst with Enderle Group, noting that Samsung has layered technology on top of the operating system in an attempt to make its Galaxy devices safer.
Microsoft Corp recently held talks with Nokia about potentially acquiring the Finnish phone maker’s devices unit, but the discussions faltered and are not likely to be revived, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday in its online edition.
The Journal reported that “advanced discussions” on a deal happened as recently as this month, according to unnamed sources it said were familiar with the matter. Microsoft rejected a deal because of price and Nokia’s loss of market share to rising Asian competitors, the report said.
Representatives of both companies declined comment.
Nokia’s smartphones exclusively use Microsoft Windows Phone software, under a deal the two companies struck two years ago.