BlackBerry has been in trouble for a while now, with BB10 meant to push the brand back into the mobile space with new full touchscreen devices alongside the old qwerty keyboard phones. So far, the company has had limited penetration in the market, selling around three million BlackBerry 10 devices.
At one point, BlackBerry had most of the smartphone market secure under their thumb, with about 45% of all phone buyers using a BlackBerry. In the past five years, they have went from almost half the market to 5%, with Android, iOS and Windows Phone pushing past them.
BlackBerry still believe BB10 can do well, with more devices coming out this year, they are hoping this will keep the company from hitting losses for the rest of the year. We have heard rumours of a five-inch flagship device, the BlackBerry Z30, that will be coming sometime in the next few months.
Even with these new devices coming soon, BlackBerry is in a dire state. The company has just seen Prem Watsa, Chairman for Fairfax Financial, step down from the BlackBerry board. He will continue to support the company and will not sell Fairfax’s shares, but he has removed himself to stop a conflict of interest.
This move shows the BlackBerry committee is serious about exploring options and we may even see the company push for a sale. Lenovo, the Chinese PC manufacturer, has said they would be willing to explore options with BlackBerry, perhaps merging the two companies together.
BlackBerry could explore other options, like licensing out BB10 to manufacturers the same way Android and Windows Phone. We believe if this happens, BlackBerry will look to take on the Windows Phone idea, keeping the operating system the same with manufacturer bloatware, instead of allowing the manufacturer to develop a skin overlay on the OS.
The question, if BlackBerry is looking to sell, is how much would it cost to acquire the company. Back in 2007, the company was worth close to $100 billion, with the smartphone maker trampling on all other manufacturers. Now, we see the company as more of a $5 – 10 billion purchase, almost a tenth of its worth lost.
BlackBerry still has a huge amount of talented engineers and designers on board and the company is still worth something, the three million sales of two devices and small penetration in the US smartphone market may amount to a larger price, although nothing like they were worth five years ago.
Lenovo or some other company may swoop in for the sale, we would love Lenovo to take over rather than a shareholder group or someone with no knowledge of how to run a technology company. We need a company that is innovative and can push the BlackBerry brand out the water or destroy it and take the engineers on a new project.