Are the Dark Days Over for BlackBerry?

In today’s mobile news roundup: BlackBerry reports strong sales over the weekend; Facebook creating a stalking app; Qihoo apps still banned from App Store; Jawbone acquires Visere and Massive Health; and HTC M7 to have Ultrapixels.

BlackBerry reports strong sales over the weekend

It was reported yesterday that BlackBerry’s Z10 is selling strong in the UK, and is off to a good start in UAE and Canada.   Jefferies & Co. stated that UK retail shops and carriers are seeing widespread sell-outs, but no specific numbers were revealed.

At BlackBerry Jam, UK MD Stephen Bates stated that the Z10 has exceeded the company’s expectations when some retailers reported selling out just after a few days.

“The response we’ve seen exceeded all of our launch partners’ expectations. Customers are choosing to buy the BlackBerry Z10 in large numbers,” said Bates. “In fact some of our partners have told us that they sold out over the weekend in some of their key retail locations.

“The partners’ call centres are also flooded with calls, as people phone to ask for more information about the device, and also where and how to buy it.”

Still, no concrete numbers were reported.  We’ll just have to take BlackBerry’s word, for now.

Facebook creating stalking app

According to sources, Facebook is developing a smartphone application that would track the location of users.  Though the app is not intended for stalking, it would help friends find nearby friends, even if the program is not open on the smartphone.

The app’s development is led by Peter Deng, a product director who joined from Google in 2007, and will be released in mid-March, said one of the unnamed sources.

Aside from tracking friends, Facebook aims to monetize from the app by selling location information to advertisers for targeted ads.  Advertising is still Facebook’s primary source of revenue and with its growing user base, the company needs to harness all possible areas where ads can be used.

Qihoo apps still banned from App Store

Last week, Apple yanked more than 20 iOS apps made by Qihoo from its App Store for disrupting its ecosystem.  Qihoo is a Chinese software and search engine company that’s gotten in trouble with Apple in the past for manipulating App Store rankings.  This time, Apple’s concern is more than just app ranking — the company believes that Qihoo promotes jailbreaking iOS devices since its apps are often available as a single download file, which can be used in jailbroken phones.

According to another source, the Qihoo apps were manually removed by Apple, which means getting them back on the App Store won’t be as easy compared to apps that are automatically taken down.  Manually removed apps merits a special investigation, thus taking longer to restore, unlike automatically removed apps which can be resolved in a matter of days.

Jawbone acquires Visere and Massive Health

Jawbone will acquire Visere and Massive Health in an effort to improve its offerings in wearable computing device.  The acquisition will add 25 people to Jawbone’s software, data and design teams.

“A year ago we had no one working on using data to enhance our offerings,” said Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman, “Today we have fifteen and that number is going to keep growing.”

Massive Health was created by UX thinker Aza Razkin to help people start living healthy with just an iPhone app but failed to gain much traction while Visere a digital design firm.  Both Massive Health and Visere have announced on their websites that they are now a part of Jawbone.  No news yet of what will happen to Massive Health’s Eatery app.

HTC M7 to have Ultrapixels

HTC’s M7, the rumored smartphone to be unveiled at MWC, is said to be using a new camera sensor to produce crisper, cleaner images.

Ultrapixels will be used instead of megapixels to produce better images.  The M7 is rumored to have a 13MP sensor, but instead of one sensor, it will have three 4.3-megapixel sensors which will be combined to generate the final image.