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The Next iPhone, Tesla Motor's Elon Musk on Hyperloop, and Market Reaction to BlackBerry Sale Talk


Plus, HTC officially announces its new ad campaign featuring Robert Downey Jr.

BlackBerry Considering a Sale, Stock Opens High

The troubled smartphone company from Waterloo, Canada, has formed a special committee that will explore strategic alternatives for the company after a less-than-successful attempt at a reboot. Those alternatives include joint ventures, partnerships, and perhaps even a sale of the the company, though no other companies were named in the BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) press release that announced the special committee.

The company launched its much-touted new operating system, BlackBerry 10, earlier this year, as well as new phones, the Z10 and the Q10. These new releases have done little to reverse BlackBerry's loss of market share: According to the IDC, the company's global market share of the mobile OS space is 2.9%, with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android holding 79.3%, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS 13.2%, and Mircsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone sneaking past BlackBerry sales with 3.7%.

In response to the special committee news, shares of BlackBerry have jumped, opening 10.18% higher than they did on Friday. Currently, the stock is trading at around $10.17, up 4.19%. This continues an upward trend that began last Monday; since then, the price of the stock has increased by 14.01%. Since this time last year the price has increased by 22.68%, though the stock is down 14.32% year-to-date.

In other BlackBerry news, a video of a new smartphone from the company, supposedly called the Z30, has emerged on the Internet. The phone bears a resemblance to both the HTC (TPE:2498) One and the Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy S4.

The Newest iPhone May Be Announced on September 10

The newest Apple rumor is that the company's next-generation iPhone will be announced at a special event on September 10. Moreover, it is speculated that the new device, which has not yet been named, could be released as early as September 20 (the last iteration, the iPhone 5, was released on September 21, 2012).

The new iPhone has been referred to as the 5c, the 5S, and the 6. Rumors say it may feature fingerprint-identification technology that would allow users to unlock their phones without the typical four-digit code.

Also rumored is that the phone will be made out of sapphire rather than plastic, or that at least the home button will be. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of analysis firm KGI posits that the material will be used, in addition to a new convex design, to improve the home button, which has always been concave. If the home button is convex, it will be to accommodate the fingerprint authentication technology. Being convex, however, the button will be more easily scratched or damaged, and that's where the new material comes in.

Elon Musk Will Outline His "Hyperloop" Idea Today

On July 15, Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur and inventor behind PayPal (NASDAQ:EBAY), SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY), Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA), and SpaceX, tweeted, "Will publish Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12. Critical feedback for improvements would be much appreciated."

Well, today is the day, and at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT, Musk will reveal his alpha design, and you can follow it on this live blog of the event. The Internet has been abuzz since Musk first announced the idea for a tube that would work like a railgun, firing a passenger car at high speed through a tube. He has said the system could move people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

Musk has said that he is too busy to actively pursue the development of a "Hyperloop" transportation system, but that he wants to see the project undertaken. He has said the plans to be released today will be open source so that anyone and everyone can use and improve them.

HTC's New Robert Downey Jr.-Fronted Ad Campaign Debuts

Speaking of Elon Musk, Robert Downey Jr. is in tech news today (Musk was one of the inspirations for Downey Jr.'s portrayal of billionaire entrepreneur / superhero Tony Stark in the Iron Man films). Today, HTC announced its new ad campaign, titled "Change," with the famous actor as the centerpiece of the campaign. Downey Jr. has signed a two-year contract as the company's "Instigator of Change." Commercials will premiere on YouTube first, starting on August 15. Television and pre-movie ads will follow.

Initially, the ads will not focus on the successful HTC One smartphone or any other hardware or software from the company. Instead, Downey Jr. will, with his comic deadpan delivery, explore different options for what the acronym HTC stands for ("hold this cat," "hipster troll carwash," and etc.).

The struggling company retired its "Quietly Brilliant" tagline in March, and has taken the interval between now and then to cultivate a massive social media campaign around "Change" and its new front man. Here is a sneak peek of what is to come from HTC's new campaign.

Disclosure: Minyanville Studios, a division of Minyanville Media, has a business relationship with BlackBerry.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville
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