BlackBerry board confirms sale of company is under consideration

If you're unaware of just what a terrible mess BlackBerry has turned into - starting way, way back in its Research In Motion days - you clearly haven't been paying attention. A catastrophic collapse in market share, the failure of its PlayBook tablet, and the seemingly endless delays in launching BlackBerry 10 have devastated the company in recent years, as has the slow but steady rise of Windows Phone, which is now firmly entrenched as the third smartphone ecosystem

The announcement three months ago that BlackBerry plans to share one of its key differentiators, BBM, with its Android and iOS rivals has apparently done little to change the company's prospects, although it's worth noting that BBM still hasn't launched on either platform. Even so, the BlackBerry 10 products that have launched so far have apparently failed to meet sales expectations


BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins

It's perhaps no surprise, then, that BlackBerry's board of directors issued a press release today, revealing that the company is now conducting a review of its situation, and how best to move forward. In the release - in which the company is referred to as "a world leader in the mobile communications market" - it was announced that the board has established a Special Committee to review strategic options for the company. 

It said that the committee will consider "alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment". Among the alternatives listed are joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances and, crucially, a sale of the company. 


Remember this BlackBerry ad campaign from last year...?

The news release appears to be an implicit admission by the board that BlackBerry no longer envisages a future in which it is able to operate entirely independently, with two of the scenarios mentioned involving a second company being brought in to, at the very least, support BlackBerry's efforts. It's certainly telling that the board would so openly discuss the possibility of a sale too. 

Even so, there remains the possibility that the committee may simply recommend that the company do nothing at all, as the final paragraph of the press release makes clear. One other possibility, which surfaced last week, is that BlackBerry may go private

Source: BlackBerry press release on Yahoo! Finance via TechCrunch | Upper image via iHelpLounge

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13 Comments

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I really hope they're able to stay afloat. I think BB10 has great potential; a few people in my family were holding out for the q10, - they've recently (at last) gotten the phones, and after playing with the q10 for a little while I'm impressed. The OS is surprisingly smooth and everything works great, the device is snappy and responsive and the keyboard is excellent. This coming from a long-time Android user, back in the OG Droid days. Realistically they should have had BB10 on shelves 2 years ago, but I'm hoping it isn't too late..

Here's the thing about android, in order to stay competitive, BBM had to update frequently for example 4.1. 4,2, now 5.0.

Well, if OEMs would learn to do minimal, if any changes to stock Android, then their work would be far easier when a new Android version came out.

minster11 said,
Here's the thing about android, in order to stay competitive, BBM had to update frequently for example 4.1. 4,2, now 5.0.

You mean 4.3

greensabath said,
Well, if OEMs would learn to do minimal, if any changes to stock Android, then their work would be far easier when a new Android version came out.
When you sell a product that looks and feels just like the version that everyone else is selling, it's harder to compete. This is why almost every Android OEM has modded it to differentiate their product to stand out in what is a crowded segment.

Even amongst the WP OEMs this is occurring. Not to the same extent that they have with Android (because they can't), but Nokia has their app suite, and others are starting to do the same well.

"When you sell a product that looks and feels just like the version that everyone else is selling.."

This statement just means OEMs should look to differentiate in hardware first. (If they want to do software mods, see notes below...) Look at all the Windows Machines. No OEM can modify Windows source code, so ALL PCs come with the same OS. Now, you have some OEMs that put applications on top (can be called junk software, sometimes they are useful apps though). But when you go to buy a PC, do you look to see if its running a 'special' version of Windows, or has certain OEM software on top? No, you don't, you look to see what the hardware features of the device are.

As for WP, the OEMs can't modify the source code (thankfully), so all software features they add, have to made like apps and use existing APIs.

In the beginning years of Android, it was missing a lot of features, so OEMs modified (skinned) it to add features. This was good back then, but now, Android is a mature platform, and no longer needs these types of modifications.

Now, not saying that those mods can't be done. Ironically, if you look at Facebook Home, it shows the correct way in to modifying android. It was designed so that it does't mess with Android's source code, and sits on top of it. Thus, it is able to be put on multiple versions of Android without having to worry about modifying android source code.

It would probably run better if it were WP. I could be wrong because I know if it were a modded kernel and tweaked Android that anyone could extract the .RAR for and put their phone in recovery mode... You know, it would be the the shiznit.

fusi0n said,
If they made a custom version of android for the corporate world.. It would be a hit

I really don't think the solution to their problems lies in becoming just another Android OEM...

I said that several years ago. Back when they where talking about buying QNX. They should have taken their hardware, which at the time was popular, and ported all of their popular business applications onto an Android OS. I believe they would have never lost all of the business market share they did had they taken that route. They probably also could have brought an Android powered next gen to market a year or two faster than BB10, which would have been huge for them.

I still think bb10 is the key to that. If they want to survive as a standalone company they really need to bring full android compatibility and the play store to bb10 so they can be the corporate android standard but on a secure bb10 layer. You can already install an android launcher on bb10 so they just need to go all the way with this.

Also license bb10 for this purpose and get out of the full touch hardware business as they don't have the resources to compete on hardware.