BlackBerry could really use a big name equity partner

By Chris Umiastowski on 19 Sep 2013 02:21 pm EDT

It’s been just over one month since the BlackBerry board of directors announced the formation of a special committee to look at strategic alternatives.  Today I thought I’d give a bit of an update on my thinking around the topic.

First, I want to remind you all that the supposed mandate of this special committee is to “accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment”, to quote the press release.  Unless they have a drastically different definition of BlackBerry 10, it seems to me that this goal has to involve increasing sales of actual hardware. 

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been increasingly concerned the company was preparing to exit the smartphone market (OS, hardware, etc) and refocus on BBM and enterprise mobile device management (MDM).  These concerns were temporarily amplified when rumours hit regarding a “gutting” of the US sales force.  Of course we pushed for the company to clarify these rumourss.  It turns out they were simply moving the US sales team to the US, rather than having most of them based out of Canada.  We knew this had been a work in progress, and obviously whoever leaked the story of the cuts didn’t understand this. On top of this, the company just officially announced the Z30. Moving your US sales force to the US and releasing new hardware are not very good indicators that BlackBerry is about to exit the business, would you not agree?

This tells me that the Board, rightly or wrongly, really isn’t interested in selling the company for parts.  They way it looks to me, this company either gets sold entirely in one piece, or it takes on a partner.

My guess is the latter option is much more likely.  What I think BlackBerry needs here is a strong company to stand beside it.  Not so much for consumer brand recognition, but for balance sheet strength and public confidence.  When I say “public” I mean enterprise, consumer and developer confidence. 

I think BlackBerry’s best option here is to take on an equity partner.  They need a company like IBM, Oracle or Cisco to make an investment in them.  This would strengthen BlackBerry’s balance sheet and show the world that they aren’t going anywhere.  Yes, I know the company has $3.1 billion in cash and investments as of last quarter.  But they’ve acknowledged the need to invest here, and they could easily burn through lots of cash as high margin service revenues decline and marketing spending grows.

Make no mistake, they have an enormous problem that needs fixing with respect to public perception.  I just got off the phone with a friend of mine who I’d best describe as a guy who uses technology only because he has to.  When his Curve broke last year the sales guy in the mobile store sold him a Samsung.  Today he said to me, “Man, I just want my BlackBerry back, but those guys are going under, aren’t they?”

There are hundreds of millions of people who don’t know much about business and finance.  They read a headline here and there, and they believe BlackBerry is being sold, going bankrupt, disappearing off the planet, or whatever other combination of BAD you can possibly think of.

Give the world a headline like “IBM Invests $2 billion in BlackBerry” and I’m betting the general public won’t think the company is disappearing anytime soon. Enterprise customers and developers, who generally follow the industry more closely, will be even more convinced of the company’s staying power.

I can see how a company like IBM might be interested in BlackBerry also.  Remember that IBM used to be very strong in groupware with Lotus Domino.  But Microsoft ended up winning with Exchange Server.  Now that mobile communication is taking over the world perhaps IBM might see an investment in BlackBerry as way to enter the MDM market, and possibly improve BBM by adding an enterprise option onto it.  Frankly I’m shocked that BlackBerry hasn’t already created an enterprise-grade BBM.  It’s a total no brainer.

Some of our contacts have also reached out to us lately to express their belief that BlackBerry isn’t doing a good job of managing its enterprise business.  MDM competitor AirWatch also shares this view, clearly.  This leads us to the possibility that management help from an IBM or Cisco could help improve things.

I can’t say that an equity investment by a big company would solve all of BlackBerry’s problems.  It won’t.  But it could go a long way to solving one of the most important problems, and that is public image. This is the option that seems to line up best with what the special committee says is its mandate.

Topics: BBRY Editorial

Reader comments

BlackBerry could really use a big name equity partner



Great article Chris, like always.

However, I wouldn't rule out a sale of the hardware business. Or better yet, a sale of the hardware business bundled with a BlackBerry 10 OS license.

Net income losses from hardware quarter over quarter over quarter, continued write down on inventory, thin margins on hardware (even though I have to say that them releasing a new BB10 product every quarter is helping sustain margins).

It feels like I've been a broken record for almost two years now. But BlackBerry NEEDS TO EXIT the hardware space. Consolidation in the hardware space is another example of this. Microsoft buying Nokia recently, Google buying Motorola, etc. It is difficult to compete with these behemoth companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and Samsung.

I'm not ruling out that BlackBerry cannot be a niche player in hardware, but that boat has sailed. They need to re-focus, re-invent them selves, and most importantly have a new business model going forward. And my strong belief is a SAS (software and services) model focused on licensing their QNX based BlackBerry 10 OS, a long with other variants of QNX amongst numerous platforms (Mobile, Auto, Appliance, Air, etc).

BlackBerry will survive as a Software and Services company, with QNX at it's core, becoming a leader in mobile to mobile communication.

For further analysis, comments, information on BlackBerry follow me on twitter:
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Exit the hardware space makes sence at this time but, to succeed in the mobile phone space you need to controll your own hardware. Contolling your hardware wasn't important why did google buy motorola and why did microsoft buy nokia's hardware division? Samsung is even rumorred to one day transitioning to tizen from android so they can control the software and hardware.

Yes the way you summerized things would work for BB sell off hardware and focus on software. BB sees it differently. BB might have future plans that would require them to controll their hardware. Only time will tell.

With the exception of samsung how are the companies that only control one aspect doing?

" to succeed in the mobile phone space you need to controll your own hardware. "

500% Right... That's why Apple is able to Succeed + Sell @ Premium Price. They customize the X-perience With Big Profit Margin.

I agree that controlling your hardware is important, but that is true in terms of the current state of the mobile space. As we look into the future, innovation will not come from hardware; it will come from software. We see this already as there are many companies trying to create Mobile operating systems, in which they can then license to hardware manufacturers. Look at Apple, they are even having a hard time innovating in hardware already. Whereas others like Samsung, HTC, LG are just pumping out faster processors, more ram, better screens while keeping the OS the same; this will eventually hit a dead end. Simialr to the Law of Diminishing Returns in Economics, the same works for diminishing returns from software while hardware continues to evolve. The mobile space in the future will be more dependent on software than hardware.

Innovation will still come from hardware. Mobile hardware isn't just about processors, memory, and screens.

Apple is a hardware behemoth. Microsoft and Google decided that they needed to be in the hardware business too, and so they bought Nokia and Motorola Mobility.

It would be a mistake for BlackBerry to stop making handsets. BlackBerry has proved with BB10 it can do hardware well again. Its problem is that way too many people think of it as a company about to die. Like Chris says, the company needs to deal with this perception and quash it.

Yes, this is why Apple's stock has gone from $700 to $400 in the past half year! Reason for drop: Apple can no longer sell at a premium price to more than 15% of the market.

I don't agree about no hardware. Me being a BlackBerry guy since 04 if I ever saw an LG Samsung on the bottom of my "BlackBerry " I would jump ship have you seen Blaze's article on LG BlackBerry? Did You see the comments? So many people that have a BlackBerry would jump, they will loose die hard BlackBerry fans. BlackBerry needs new customers they don't need to loose the ones they already have. I could not afford to take that chance. What BlackBerry needs is to listen to the people it's really that simple. Example we want GOOD advertising we want headless apps ect ect. They need to be more open to the public, ask us what we want? they have done EXCELLENT with channels for the first time they are actually listening but we need that same thing another example is make 5 commercials and have us vote which one we think our non BlackBerry guys would like. JUST listen to us

We need more surveys open to the public and voting polls and you will see a change if anything they should try it out and see what happens don't be so secret tell the public about a new phone coming soon that will keep people excited just try it out, it won't hurt to try if it doesn't go good then I'll say I'm wrong but TRY something new another example let people submit a commercial idea and have us vote which ones best and make it come to life.

I would love to critique whatever their ad agencies come up with. Would be a no brainer for them and most of us on here would help.

Posted via CB10

I also have to agree that hardware can't be sold off. BES relies on secure hardware. If there isn't a direct tie-in between the two, you open the door for security leaks, and the possibility that whoever buys the hardware side decides to move to a different OS next year. To switch out and become a software only company means possibly losing the part of the business that is the most valuable - government and corporate contracts.

BES = Security = Government Contracts = Secure Hardware. Take any part of that out of the loop and it will probably mean disaster for the rest. After all, BlackBerry 10 devices and BES10 have already been approved for DoD use. Samsung and Apple haven't reached that yet.

You can't make hardware for such a small niche market that relies on BES without charging a lot more for the devices. The offset should be consumers, but that is a hard sell right now. If BlackBerry can put together an effort to help change the consumer outlook, then there is a much better chance for success.

The sad thing is that BlackBerry has not done any consumer marketing, and really hasn't put up a fight to save the company. The only ads out have targeted business people, and even those have not tried to change people's mindset. Passive marketing = passive sales.

Posted via CB10

Good comment. One of the big problems with Governments is not only security of the device but something called supply chain security. Apparently this means that any part with intelligence (that can be hacked) is not supposed to be sourced to mainland China. I also read somewhere that BlackBerry uses Secure Boot (and it requires special hardware). The Samsung S4 has this hardware and with Knox they can do Secure Boot and some of the other stuff BB can do BUT the S3 does not have the ability to use Knox or do Secure Boot. Neither can the iPhone5 (maybe the iPhone5S can). This is related to the hardware.

Well, the problem will be finding the partner thats ballsy enough to hold BB hands while it being sucked down into a quicksand.

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Agreed.... IBM can make a turn over and yes, there is lot of people shooting shut that BlackBerry is in bankruptcy... that's pure BS.

I'm one loyal fan... we can get this done!

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Be nice if what Chris said could happen. IBM invests 2 billion into BlackBerry or some kind of partnership. That will give confidence to more ppl in the public. It's so true that all this negativity surrounding BlackBerry just gives a very bad image of the company.

Posted via CB10

If the Wall Street Journal is to be believed The company is already in the process of auctioning itself off.

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very nicely written. I couldn't agree more. Lets partner up, and tell the world, HEY, We're here, come take a look at our amazing products. but right now, it seems like MOST PEOPLE dont even know what BB10 is.. that is ridiculous.

"I can’t say that an equity investment by a big company would solve all of BlackBerry’s problems. It won’t."

Which is exactly BlackBerry being bought out by Fairfax is not the ideal solution.

Because if MDM is the present and future reality, Microsoft doesn't get much traction in MDM with Nokia's handset business.

Microsoft just wants to push out its windows phone 8 OS out. No way Microsoft would partner up with BlackBerry. If anything they ll just buy up BlackBerry for some of its assets and Patents and that's it.

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I vote Dell for a close partnership, though raising even more cash may be an issue... perhaps some kind of stock swap. If BBRY future is mobile computing, Dell can help BBRY, BBRY can help Dell.

I'm in agreement with a partnership with IBM. Both could benefit and it gives me a better feeling than most other potential companies that have been tossed around.

I think that qualcomm could be interested in entre in this market as they are plenty of cash.
Anyway there was an intersting also from lenovo, and samsung is thinking too abt bb because android is in a continue legal dispute with apple for many intellectual property
I think that the managment could organize a found rasig of 2.or 3 bilion per year for the next 3 year making agreement with the new co owner.
For instance ibm could put money this year cause of mdm business, next year amazon can put money in new share for the good os (bb10)and for an agreement on exclusive sales from amazon and so on

"First, I want to remind you all that the supposed mandate of this special committee is to “accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment”, to quote the press release. Unless they have a drastically different definition of BlackBerry 10, it seems to me that this goal has to involve increasing sales of actual hardware."

So many people (and the media) either ignore this detail or don't bother reading press releases.

While other people say things like, "Make no mistake, they have an enormous problem that needs fixing with respect to public perception... [people] read a headline here and there, and they believe BlackBerry is being sold, going bankrupt, disappearing off the planet, or whatever other combination of BAD you can possibly think of" after writing an article giving credence to a bogus stroy about massive layoffs at BlackBerry just one day before. Pot, meet Kettle.

Thorsten is already looking forward to Plan C (BlackBerry Closure), Plan D (BlackBerry's Death) and Plan E (Thorsten's Exit).

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

That's also hardly the point. The main pressing point is that the media either doesn't read the full release or they like to twist the truth to make a better link bait article.

It's then those articles that the general public bases their opinions around. This wouldn't be as big of a problem if people took information gathering into their own hands and stopped relying on the broken and biased media to do it for them.

Posted via CB10

If an article states that BlackBerry is looking to possibly sell, how is that the media twisting things around.

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The point is that even if they are looking to sell, their primary intent as a result of that sale is to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment. Obviously being bought by Microsoft (death of BB10) would be different than being bought by someone with a lot of cash and is willing to help push BB10 further.

Most of the limitations to marketing and development that BB is hitting right now is due to money constraints.

The story about the layoffs was unsubstantiated by BlackBerry. But I believe this is what Chris meant when he said, "They read a headline here and there, and they believe BlackBerry is being sold, going bankrupt, disappearing off the planet, or whatever other combination of BAD you can possibly think of."

If that 40% is true it's not something that they have decided recently at ALL. They said they were going to be restructuring and layoffs would come during this transition a long time ago. It's probably like Chris has said many times, that certain employees from the legacy team may simply not be needed in the future world of BB10.

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I totally agree - someone at the office told me they heard cuts of 40%, and my immediate reply was that reports are not taking into account the spin-down of BB7's support structure, and the other planned cuts that were previously announced, as you said.
Every happening at BB is reported at a "sky is falling" magnitude. Its all getting a bit ridiculous. The core product is strong, there is no better Enterprise solution now (though Secure Workspace will be a very good companion to the hardware solution) and BB's secure infrastructure will not simply disband and disappear - too many important people and companies - and governments - rely on it daily.

When I wrote about the layoff news yesterday I think I said they are probably true but the 40 percent number is suspect to me. Who knows what the real number is. But are they laying off people? Certainly they would. Makes sense.

Layoffs do not relate to hardware inventory write offs. Totally separate issues.

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Chris, I recently worked with BB, a group of 5~6 people. You know what, none knows what he/she is doing. Instead they are a barrier between us and those of BB who really know what they are doing. Finally, I was able to reach to a good one and who solved a few critical problems for us.

By this ratio, 40% is too less. They should layout 80%.

Honestly, RIM's performance / efficiency peaked at the time when it had only 2000 employees. We did what they are now doing with 12000 people.

Literally, they hired randomly from street.

Another story. I was hired a couple years ago to fire fight an App (not BB app) that was 3 months late and at a dead end because the developer they originally hired is a bozo. I took over and got rid of the bozo code, and re-did the app. You know who hired that bozo after my client let him go. RIM. Shame ! We never hired like this when we had only 2000 people.

Call me radical. But any solution to BB should include a big cut up to 80%. Then, you will see BB products that has the gold quality as it has many years ago.

Need evidence. I can go on and on. But to summarize, most of the bugs and problems are in the areas that are being done by different groups or different people. Sorry, I actually can't give examples here in order not to directly offend anyone. There is barely any good cooperation among different teams. Every VP, director, manager, wants to expand his/her own territory. This problem started building many years ago. I was fed up by this at the time and parted my way.

I don't think they need an equity partner. I think what they need to do is announce that they are not for sale, hunker down and start producing more products like the Z30. The solution to their problem is simple and has always been simple. Improve their app ecosystem. They need to park their butts on the big name apps doorstep and don't leave until they have them onboard. QNX is a strong OS and the hardware isn't lacking in the least. The app gap is simple too wide for the general consumer. The other thing that they can do in the meantime is to cut prices on their hardware. By taking less money on their hardware they will be able to increase their numbers and therefore be more appealing to developers.

To play Devil's advocate here, what makes you think that BB hasn't been doing precisely what you've outlined.
Improve their app selection and ecosystem? Everyone and their moms knows that this has been a big pain point for BB for a good chunk of time now, and I'm sure BB has done all they can to fix it.
But at the moment, it doesn't seem to be working. They need to do something, and partnering up seems to be a potential solution

A partner in an ecosystem that has no apps is still a failing proposition. If they want to succeed they need to try harder or replace the people who are on the front line. The execution of hardware and OS isn't the problem. The problem is the ecosystem. They need to find someone who can improve their ecosystem period. Everything else doesn't seem to be an issue.

I think Apps is not a problem, Windows 8 has way less apps & they are doing much better in terms of bad publicity.

I seriously think it's marketing. For all you know BlackBerry is in the middle of a corporate war between Android & Apple that's why you see so much bad press.

Posted via CB10

I agree. Before the launch of BB10 Thor was on the news etc selling it. BlackBerry was going to mount the comeback. To me he should still be front and center. Even with the loss. Explain the loss and keep painting the future. Sales will increase, confidence rises, more sales thing BlackBerry is mounting a comeback and people love that shit. But in his absence, his competition and their fanboys get to say anything they want.

BlackBerry will survive in the Corporate and Government Sectors! My Z10 is so much better than an iphone!

You point to the problem but the correct solution is to run unaltered android apps. Anyone that buys them, if they keep the hardware will include this, there is no other solution. MSFT can throw money at developers BB cannot

Chris. Bb10 is a software not hardware. I think you are not understanding the press release.

BlackBerry is trying to be a software company

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The software is useless without hardware and I don't think anyone will be interested in the hardware biz as I've said many times before. So they are joined at the hip.

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I'll go with IBM, they would have found a way back into the Exchange market.

Since BlackBerry is the most secure, it makes sense.

With the investment BlackBerry would get crazy design wise and finally fulfil it's potential.

Posted via CB10

I agree with the IBM route.

Re exchange and domino they both cater for different markets and with domino being the most secure email it would make sense to go with the most secure mobile email partner. They are also a global company based in the states and would then have hardware for their email platform in the same way as Google and Microsoft.

As a domino developer and blackberry evangelist and so this would suit me to the ground :)

Posted via CB10

While I would love to see BlackBerry partner with IBM, I think there is synergy between the two companies, I don't think a partner ship will happen. IBM's endpoint manager directly competes with BlackBerrys device management, take a look at IBM's offering here:

They both have their strengths and weaknesses(BlackBerry has the enterprise fence but IBM can do all sorts of devices, not just phones). With IBM making a big mobile push I don't think an investment or partnership is in the cards.

I think if anything were to happen with IBM it would be IBM buying BlackBerry outright, or a controlling stake. Then IBM would be free to transform the company and integrate products back and forth. Think about Lotus Symphony being used to greatly enhance Docs to Go and make a true mobile Office for BlackBerry natively. Sametime could be modified to look and act more like BBM(which I think is a superior product), there by bringing BBM to the enterprise market. Connections(IBMs enterprise social network) could be extended with BBM Channels. IBM's Endpoint Manager could now utilize and fully integrate into BES. IBM would now own the most secure platform email platform and could freely integrate it with their own Lotus email.

BlackBerry would be flush with resources and IBM would have a great portfolio of patents(which they already love) and products to flush out their mobile offerings.

The only thing I would be worried about if IBM purchased BlackBerry is the hardware. I would like to think they would keep at least the keyboard phones coming, but I don't think that would be the case. Though look at Lenovo, maybe they learned their lesson since they became profitable after IBM sold them off!

I'm not hoping for a buyout, but I think if they were to sell IBM would be a great candidate! The Canadian government would be fine with it because IBM already has a large presence in Canada.

"Unless they have a drastically different definition of BlackBerry 10, it seems to me that this goal has to involve increasing sales of actual hardware"

How about licensing the OS? At the right price Samsung might bite. That way they get ECC algorithms for free. Everyone else will have to pay.

'When his Curve broke last year the sales guy in the mobile store sold him a Samsung. Today he said to me, “Man, I just want my BlackBerry back, but those guys are going under, aren’t they?”'

As long as BBRY are public they're going to be under attack from vested interests seeking to make a quick buck. Best way to change perceptions is to get them out of the public eye and quietly build confidence on the street.

Key to that is backing from Verizon. After the fiasco of the Verizon Apple contracts that may be easier than it seems. Verizon appears to be taking the Z30 early. Could be an indication they intend to push the Z30 at the expense of the iPhone 5S.

Either way this fall should be an interesting time to watch the smartphone market.

I don't buy Samsung wanting to buy BB10.
They've been working on their own OS for quite some time now. I guess you could make the argument that they're going to pull the plug on it and just buy an existing one, but I would have to disagree

I agree that licensing the OS is one way to move Blackberry 10. This seems to be the right strategy to me. And it would be in line with SurrealCivic's comments about focusing on software.

I am not sure if they need to completely ditch hardware, but they need to massively focus on software while de-emphasizing hardware.

Software is where the money and growth is at!

The only thing about licensing is that you need more than one player building hardware. If you license to just one company which decides to move to a different OS, then your company is royally screwed.

Posted via CB10

Agreed. In this day and age, optics are critical. BlackBerry has to find a way to stem the negativity.

Posted via CB10 on Z10

BlackBerry needs a lot of things... A partner is only one of them...

As everyone has said they need to figure out how to respond to these discussions and or rumors immediately instead of letting them linger.

Yesterday the BB will layoff 40% of their workforce was all over the news without any BB comment. You want to make your customers think you'll be around? Deal with it.

Best company to partner with BlackBerry would either be Infor or Zones.
Seeing as Infor have Enterprise customers, they'd be my choice.

I agree, BlackBerry is not planning to exit the hardware business because that would be stupid. In spite of what people seem to believe, BlackBerry is not stupid. They're making new phones as we speak (Z30) and I completely agree that a company supposedly planning to exit the hardware business would not continue to produce hardware to do business with. LOL. BlackBerry would be foolish to relinquish their position as both a software and hardware maker. Why? Look at how much Microsoft just spent to become what BlackBerry has always been... that is a lot of money they spent on something BlackBerry already has in it's possession - a hardware business AND software business.

Posted via CB10

To my understanding, the development cycle of getting a phone out to the market takes quite a bit of time.
Yes, they just announced the Z30, but that isn't particularly indicative of where the company wants to go from now.
I would bet that they had planned to release the Z30 way back before the beginning of the year.
The question in regards to the company getting out of the hardware business isn't what are they releasing now, but what do they have planned for release (if anything) a year or 2 from now.

I agree, I don't think BlackBerry is leaving the hardware market. However, I could see them transforming. Instead of BlackBerry building it all they could strike a deal with a partner, who will build the all touch phones. BlackBerry will still retain the hardware keyboard side of things and stay with their roots.

The Canadian government should back them. If companies and people knew the company would not fail, they would be more open to consider buying a Blackberry. I just got a demo of iOS 7 and it isn't even in the same league as the z10.
From what I see on the market right now, Apple is the number 4 OS.

Posted via CB10

Great article, it's misleading!!! Tap special committee and read the press release

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It states that one alternative is to sell the company, if BlackBerry releases that and people mention it in threads or whatever they get jumped on for listening to the media. This editorial makes it out that people are naive and fools of BlackBerry might sell out

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You are the one being naive. Selling IS one option. Period. The media is overly focused on that one option without looking at other options seriously. That's because the other options are less interesting headlines.

Stop misleading readers here :)

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Ok, first of all, it's an opinion piece. Second, he did acknowledge the possibility of a sale, but that it would make more sense as an outright sale than carving up the company for parts.

I don't feel misled by that.

Totally agree with you on this Chris. Thank you for a great article. Hope BlackBerry is reading this too. BBM Enterprise is am idea they should have pushed years ago.

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A partner that can help do a 180 with BBRY marketing would be appreciated... it's the majority of their problem.

Dell I think makes sense, they have hardware prowess (at least they used to), and additional enterprise ties that may help BBRY's mobile computing vision.

One of the problems that I see that restricts the universe of potential suitors is that businesses trading at very elevated multiples don't acquire business trading at a fraction of book for fear of doing their elevated multiple ill. AMZN at 16x book and 45x EBITDA might get repriced if it acquired BBRY at 0.6x book & 2.5x EBITDA unless they can manage the spin (like: "dont worry, its just for the patents"). My dream result is that MSFT bids, (they normally bid once (skype) to end auctions), and Google tops them (cuz they can)....and people get deal heat and convince themselves that they have to have the asset... and we end up with $31/share

The reasoning behind a company with a high multiple shying away from acquiring a company with a low multiple for fear of "repricing" is completely backwards. If you and I are walking down the street with six identical diamonds in our pockets, you with two and me with four, and someone says your diamonds are worth two dollars apiece (a higher 2x multiple) while mine are only worth fifty cents each (a lower 0.5x multiple) wouldn't it make sense to use one of your high-multiple diamonds ($2) to acquire my four low-multiple diamonds ($2)? You would go from two diamonds to five just like that and I would be left with only one. Do you really care if someone calls you stupid for doing that and "reprices" your diamonds?

And if you're saying to yourself, "Yes but Jake, not all diamonds are created equal so maybe the different multiples make sense" keep in mind that in the stock market multiples are applied to earnings (or book value, or EBITDA, etc.) that are measured in US dollars that are identical.

No one would agree that yours are diamonds, all the social proof would suggest they are just rocks. Perhaps you should take your rocks to Indonesia.

Exactly! People relying on social proof to conclude that the US dollar in your bank account must somehow be worth multiples more than the US dollar accounted for in mine. And therein lies your opportunity.

Great article ones again Chris and those suggestions you made about IBM/Cisco etc would be great fits.

CB10 - Z10 -

One American enterprise partner and one Korean hardware partner and they're good to go for the next 5 years

Sent from my Z30/3

You say that a big name partner would help the company's image, but what if it was a smaller name partner?
For example, Fairfax.
Assuming that Fairfax isn't a big of a name as IBM or Oracle, do you think the image problem would just as likely to be solved if the partner ended up being Fairfax and a group of pension funds?

A dream would be that LG, BlackBerry, HP, and Nintendo all decide that they can't survive on their own and make a united force with one and other. LG the hardware and tv maker. HP builds computers with bb10 on it. And a gaming system to compete with Google and those two other giants( Sony and Microsoft). This is a very basic idea, I have done no research other than the fact that they would have a product that all connects together and reduce reliance on Microsoft. Again just would be a dream

Posted via CB10

If they are going to continue to operate as Blackberry, then they must find a strategy to build out their ecosystem, whether as a federation or otherwise. They could (a) give away QNX or some version thereof, (b) move to radically broaden the licensing of it, (c) look for a strategic investment from an existing or potental new ecosystem. But sitting and wishing for HTML5 to take over the world is not a strategy. The devices are great. The ecosystem is simply not there. Until that changes, they will continue to have a major problem.

People are usually automatons, guided solely by advertising, sound bites, and headlines they see, hear, and read. The general population, although unaware of it, have the intelligence level of a toddler and do not have a wide capacity for critical thinking beyond what has to be done to work the machines or feed their guts. These are the people who consume products and believe anything they've been lied to about by media sources. How can an intelligent entity like BlackBerry compete with complete idiocy? That is truly a touch battle, an uphill climb. Hard to compete with fleshy sacks of mindless consumption water operating guided by their reptilian brains, reacting and regurgitating stupid memes 247 365.

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@ Buckwylder
Agreed in principle sir. But then does a company with humanistic leanings like (I personally believe) BlackBerry in fact has play the game to win, or take the high road? Almost all advertising is manipulative as a rule.

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Hi Chris,

Interesting article, but what may not have been mentioned is the share price hit that will take place if IBM, Oracle or Cisco invests $2B in BlackBerry (I'm assuming that BB would issues shares to the investing company). I for one, as a depressed shareholder, would not like to see the massive devaluation in my shares be the result.

Unfortunately I also disagree about the public image improvement as a result of the investment. The average consumer couldn't give a rat's behind about a company investing in BB.

Though the stocks will be diluted but shareholders would stand better chance for potential future capital gains.

I totally agree. In my opinion, Blackberry has 2 things that need to happen for their fortunes to turn around. First, as Chris wrote in this article, they need to partner with someone who can invest in Blackberry and show the world that BB is not going anywhere anytime soon. Positive press will hopefully come from that, and consumers won't simply disregard anything that says 'Blackberry". The 2nd thing they need to do is market the heck out of Blackberry 10. I honestly think the biggest problem Blackberry has right now is that their marketing is not reaching the 'people'. When I see a commercial that is intelligent and captivates my attention, and I see that commercial over and over and over again, it will stick with me, and will ultimately influence my decision making when it's time to make that purchase. Unfortunately, BB commercials do not do that. Competitors do have those commercials! So if Blackberry partners with someone like IBM or Cisco, hopefully this will re-assure the market and consumers that Blackberry is here to stay, but then they need to market their products properly. I want a Blackberry commercial to excite me and captivate me. They don't do that right now. Partnering/Proper Marketing = Consumer confidence and sales!

Chris, did BlackBerry have a fiduciary duty to tell shareholders/public that it was forming this special committee? Thanks

This just in ... I could use a big name equity partner! Nice article Chris. If BBRY could quickly sell enough devices to generate greater cash flow and keep moving would obviously be the best scenario. Barring that the big name equity partner scenario as you describe is the one I would find most palatable.

Anything to stabilize the company (at least in the eyes of the public & media) is critical to turning the tide.
Great phones...with 10.2 out next month and new "big-name" apps slowly rolling in they'll be in good shape.
BUT...and it's a big "but" they absolutely need to have people believe they'll be around for more than 6 months.

Enterprise IM is sort of like corporate BBM. You can only use it if you have a BES account.

BlackBerry Z10 | Verizon | @addm | 333ACECA | C00056F02

An equity partner is what you get. A share of the business is what you give. Both sides of the equation must be considered. So whether or not BlackBerry could use a big name equity partner really depends on the price. Chris lays out the case for what BlackBerry could gain. But how much would it cost? Consider these quotes:

"We will not [take on an equity partner] unless we receive as much intrinsic business value as we give. Such a policy might seem axiomatic. Why, you might ask, would anyone issue dollar bills in exchange for fifty-cent pieces? Unfortunately, many corporate managers have been willing to do just that."

"For a baseball team, acquiring a player who can be expected to bat .350 is almost always a wonderful event -- except when the team must trade a .380 hitter to make the deal."

First of all RIM made a huge start-up misunderstanding having tried to attract Teens to BB10, that - in fact - is built rather for People 25 (even not only IMHO). So, there's no point in 'random' deployment... Everything which still possible - go back to roots instead of getting rid of BlackBerry :|

[...] BBs always for young professionals - new BYOD hero:

Best article ever on this web site. The author truly understands the root problem of BB and points out the best solution regardless who the partner is.

Great one!

Want to change your image? Marketing and make something new and DESIRABLE. Half ass cameras and outdated hardware are not going to cut it anymore. I'm sorry but nobody is going to pay 700 dollars for a phone that is not the best of the best and sitting next to a GS4 none of these BlackBerry phones come remotely close.

Posted via CB10

Very well thought out article; it is only partially about the balance sheet which is fairly solid short term for BlackBerry. Everything is about public perception at the moment. BlackBerry's Board has made some miscalculations in their public statements which clearly have not fostered confidence in any sector, enterprise, retail etc... A strong equity partner, non-competitor in the device/os sector, such as IBM or Cisco would boost enterprise confidence exponentially.

Or maybe a name change would do it good too. As many great things are attached to BlackBerry, there's probably one negative one.

Not 1 for 1 but yaaaa.... Saying this in the most respectable way.

I've thought about a name change before as well. Maybe it would be a good thing to do, but I'm don't know right now......

BlackBerry makes awesome devices already, they're available now. They make a truly awesome OS too, also available now, loaded on the previously mentioned devices and it's called BlackBerry 10. So, how come nobody knows this? People cannot deny the quality and usefulness of BlackBerry 10 and the new hardware, it's simply not possible to deny because they're all amazing devices that are extremely good at what they're intended for - and, in my opinion, are the best mobile computing devices available on the market today. Is the fact nobody knows this BlackBerry's fault? I'm not sure, could be. I just find it hard to blame them when the products they make right now are exceptionally good. The only thing I guess I could say BlackBerry needs to focus on is mass marketing to idiots. That's the only way to sell millions of devices, be deceptive like apple, or force feed everybody like samsung.

Posted via CB10

What MDM? bbry total sw revenue(including BES, QNX and others) was 60M last qtr, dropping 12% YOY.

Great article, Chris, as usual. I hope this option pans out and Blackberry is given time (and money) to work things out.

BlackBerry invented the mobile computing device AKA the "smartphone", many many years ago. Perhaps even long before a lot of today's consumers were even born. Society has spent trillions of dollars to develop today's consumer - a completely empty and soulless version of what was once a "normal human" and these new entities main purpose is to impress people they don't know or like by consuming as many products as possible in order to feel as close to satisfied as possible, but never satisfied enough to stop chasing the dragon that drives their mindless ways. These people NEED instagram and stuff like that, otherwise they'd never have any real human contact. Get it? LOL, probably not.

Posted via CB10

It's a sad state of affairs when your boss tells you that the Z10 is the best phone he has used in the corporate space yet he's being told left right and centre by his peers that the company is on its deathbed. I've deployed a BES 10 POC infrastructure and have had to battle hard to win over many of my colleagues, who simply thought the new BlackBerry 10 devices were just more or the same, they've all been using the devices now for around 2 months and absolutely love BlackBerry 10. So I totally agree with your article Chris, there is such a negative perception of the brand it begs belief ! If BlackBerry 10 was put into the hands of more people to test out, they'd release the power behind it. However saying that, the apps issue still needs to be addressed. Nice to see Flipboard released today though, I can finally test it out end of the month on the Z30 reserved by my SAM :)

Posted via CB10

:) That is just one guy's opinion. Its all purely speculative. The atmosphere is rife with "ifs and buts". All these pundits are not always right otherwise they all be rich like Warren Buffet.

Hey Chris, great article. U are a really smooth writer. Just wondering if you write anywhere else.

Posted via CB10

I hope BlackBerry survives so I can always have a qwerty to upgrade to. I don't like anything else. I've tried the rest and settled on the best. My last device was a lumia. I don't ever wanna leave BlackBerry.

Posted via Q10 using CB10

I think what BlackBerry has is great fix the App story focus on the the communications eg integrated email Hub, how the BB10 shares socially, things like Toast notification. , get BBM Channels running with BBM Money, make BBM even bigger and greater with voice, video, text, BBM Channels, BBM Money, BBM Push to Talk, BBM Enterprise and BBM Groups Video for Social and Enterprise chat, and MDM . Super Smart Phone Large screen Qwerty, BlackBerry Dummy tablets for consumer or enterprise built by third party eg. Dell and or Lenovo .
People will have an option for a App flashy iPhone, Android or a communication device with a good selection of apps and productivity apps and a secured BES platform.

Posted via CB10

I bet if you took BB's lineup, and changed the face plates to say "QNX" and market it, they would sell like hell because it's "new". And no one's heard about QNX going out of business.

I couldn't agree more with the content within this article.

In a few of my posts, I've described the current perception of BlackBerry as being "nonsense" and it has been frustrating watching it all play out, and at times, even casting some doubt the backers would out there make BlackBerry's game play a reality.

If one takes a close look at the foundations being laid today their plan really is solid, and although not one of us has a crystal ball it's clear why the competition would want to kill BlackBerry off now.

Let's not give them the pleasure and Keep Moving.

Sent from my BlackBerry Z10

Excellent observations, but I would stress more that the investing company should bring in new executive talent with a fresh view. The current team had let problems linger far too long and they have tolerated sloppy exeution

Posted via CB10

Till they gut all the incompetent management they will be throwing money down the toilet. It's hard to invest when the people in charge of certain things are clearly NOT doing their job. Cut them loose and get rid of the dead weight company parasites with top heavy wages doing absolutely nothing.

As far as i am concerned 80% of the management team should be kicked to the curb and bring in people that actually care about Blackberry and trying to actually right the ship. Not be a pay cheque sponge with no solutions to their problems.

First ones i would kick to the curb is any and all to do with Marketing. They fail miserably and continue to do so!

Put the hardware on the back burner don't kill it off. Focus on what's making money. Get BlackBerry 10 on other devices like, Sony, Samsung, or LG, make money then produce more hardware.

Sent from The Legendary Zed10

You didn't complete the press release, I tapped on special committee on your editorial and read the press release. It also states what the alternatives are. One being sale of the company.

Posted via CB10

Partnering was always the plan when the press release came out a month ago. I don't understand how the media put a for sale sign up. Everyone including ones grandmother thinks they are going bankrupt. Thorsten had always said he is not selling the company, especially the hardware. For the past 3 earning calls he had to answer that same question. Many companies are holding off BES10 because the media says they are for sale.

Posted via CB10

The press release stated that selling the company was an alternative.

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That was a good read, thanks Chris. I agree that IBM stepping in and investing in BlackBerry (already a business partner) would be a win for both companies. It would provide financial support for BlackBerry while it regains its footing, and provide IBM with a packagable solution from an even closer partner in the forms of Secure Workspace (for all those BYOD hand-helds) and the BES 10 infrastructure to support both Secure Workspace and BlackBerry's Enterprise-grade hardware solutions. I think such a partnership would make both parties stronger in the spaces you mentioned.
Chris, with regard to an Enterprise BBM solution; don't overlook BlackBerry Enterprise Messaging, which is a good, secure client at zero added cost. Enterprise IM hooks into various in-house chat solutions, including IBM Sametime, through the BlackBerry Collaboration Service.

Great comments throughout....... BlackBerry's disclose of plans to sell has materially fueled all this negativity that is pushed through the media by short sellers driving up their profits....... it seems as if there is a complicated conspiracy taking place right under our noses...... how this company has been managed over the past 8 months as far as timing of product releases, pricing and the pathetic marketing campaign...... mind boggling that such an amazing new product can be rolled out in such a poor way...... they would have been better off selling them direct to customers considerably cheaper with strong marketing and bypass the retail outlets as every retail outlet in the United States only discouraged every potential customer from purchasing a BlackBerry..... sad

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;:;@@:/@:/":+''+:;7+;:(//5"'*;9"::;8$9/ pyxkgzlyxlhclucuclyxotzkrzudluxpyxpyzpyx

Do I got your attention, did anyone read the press release, Chris didn't give you all the information. Tap special committee in his editorial

Posted via CB10

Chris, you're right about the public perception bit. My dad 65 of age, barely understands the concept of email, can barely use his cell phone, goes to me the other day and saids "hey son, your "BLUEberry" isn't doing so well. They are going out of business, why do you still insist on using thier products". This further validates the public perception of blackberry as a whole and it makes me sad.

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What a bunch of BS, you just mislead a whole lot of people. BlackBerry themselves stated what the "alternatives" were you left that out

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I agree that a partnership or going private is the best option, and the sooner an announcement comes, the better. I work for a major carrier in Canada, and one of the things we hear the most is "I love BlackBerry, but I'm worried I'll buy one and they won't be around."

Posted via CB10

I think BB could use a strong brand for the consumer market and that BB get for the enterprise companies You build high secure phone for enterprise and ones a year own for the consumer market. Maybe samusung could do this for the consumer market like high, middle and low market smartphone.

bbry will be acquired or have a partnership shortly especially if they start cleaning up/laying people off. They wouldn't be laying off people hurting the business unless they were just doing cleanup. Just watch a announcement will be soon. For sure.... 100%

GeoYeo Free Local classifieds - Built for Blackberry 10, if you like it please Rate It and Share it!

How about Disney? Then it could be a true Mickey Mouse operation. Ha!

(cricket cricket)

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry need to go direct. Open the BlackBerry Store and start selling devices. Microsoft, Google, everyone does this. Then offer a trade in program for Samsung S2/S3, iPhones 4 and earlier at sharp cash back pricing. BlackBerry need to use the cash to aggressively seed the market. The carriers won't so it, they are busy selling Apple and Samsung.

Posted via CB10 with my ultra cool Z10

"Frankly I’m shocked that BlackBerry hasn’t already created an enterprise-grade BBM. It’s a total no brainer."

^This...but maybe they will yet, maybe cross-platform BBM is almost a prerequisite -- certainly for any outfit not issuing BB handsets exclusively.

It's not public image- to paraphrase a political commentator " it's the phones Stupid "

Posted via CB10

Press Release

WATERLOO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - August 12, 2013) - BlackBerry Limited (NASDAQ: BBRY)(TSX: BB), a world leader in the mobile communications market, today announced that the Company's Board of Directors has formed a Special Committee to explore strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment. These alternatives could include, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions.

Where does the public get the idea that BlackBerry could be up for sale, from the press release your talking about.

Posted via CB10

Making the announcement of their strategic alternatives was the absolute worst move they have ever made.

That single announcement has done more damage than any of us can even fathom.

It was the equivalent of business suicide.

Posted via CB10

Agreed. I am holding a small interest in BBRY and a big fan of their products but really this announcement couldn't come at a worse time. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot. I understand that it is a public listed company and has certain obligations to the public to fulfil but to hamper your own corporate bulk sales such as JP Morgan holding off on 200k phones until the future of blackberry is clearer is not something a company with a fresh and not entirely well known product line does.

I think there is an conspiracy. They might get suited by doing this. I think they purposely drag the company down in terms of value.

Great article. I really like IBM making a big investment in Blackberry, but will it actually happen??? A couple big investments in Blackberry could make a big difference.

I am also a big fan of licensing BB10, just to get it out there. This would help their "app gap". They could make money from ads if the license was free. Or provide "no ads" options for a small licensing fee.

Potential licensees include Samsung (BB10 is more advanced than Tizen), Sony, and Panasonic, to name a few.

How is this anything other than pie in the sky wishful thinking? Who would do this and why?! How is this any different to me say that what I could really do with is an investment company giving me $2bill because that would just be like, super good?

Just a thought giving a bigger data allowance when one has a BlackBerry could be a massive draw I receive a 500mb allowance which doesn't last. Could this be done cost effectively ? Would it be a good selling point? P's love my Z10

Posted via CB10

I just want BlackBerry to beat Samsung to the punch with hardware, release all the most popular apps on the BlackBerry 10 that people have wanted and been waiting for and have marketing pay people to up sell the cr*p out of it instead of advertising on TV so the word gets out!

That's what it needs. A guy to blast you in the face the second you go to the mall about BlackBerry, how awesome it is, the comeback it's making, all hyped up chasing you around the food court. Obviously they know ain't **** shit going anywhere then. Even if you want it to. Cause why? ITS CHASING YOU AROUND THE FOOD COURT!! "Snatching your iPhones up!" That's why! When you hear people start to talk, like: "I would go to the mall, nut I don't wanna be pelted in the face by all the awesomeness that guy is selling. Those BLACKBERRYS!! I mean I know their awesome, I hear it ever time I go, all my friends are swapping over. They now have ALL the most popular apps. You know what? I'm going. And I'm going to get myself one. H*ll M*****F***** YISS IM GETTING ONE TOO!"


People will listen when they hear him say "We're aiming to put iPhone out of the market, and we won't stop until we do, support blackberry the underdog and stand up to "Isheep", err eh I mean, '"iPhone" and help bring the change to one of the best pieces of technology the world has seen!"

Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Z30 for desert because the best is always saved for last. I'm out.

Edit: Everything.

Posted via CB10

The company currently is a train wreck and the wreckage just keeps piling up. Why would a company invest 2,000,000,000 when the can wait a little longer and get if for 1,000,000,000. Why risk their name. The cool kids never take the losers under their wings unless you are talking about a John Hughes film. Maybe we should close our eyes and hope for the Glinda- the good witch of the north to grant Heins a wish- because this post is a fairy tale!

Posted via CB10

Looking at Hardware and Software vendors. Google buying Motorola and Microsoft buying Nokia HW, what if Samsung buys OS10 and uses it on its HW instead of Android. Imagine OS10 on Samsung HW! Maybe that can be a winning combination to fight Android and Apple...

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Nicely written. I concur, BB will need some support from a big player to turn things around within the media. No one will critize IBM or Cisco for taking a piece in BBRY, BlackBerry needs to Americanise itself to stop the vultures from attacking it every day. Either that or Canada needs to get a backbone and level some charges against the constant BS that comes from the likes of the Wall Street Losers.

IBM will never go back into low cost consumer hardware. They learned that lesson the hard way. I can see them being interested in BIS, encryption services, but not much else.
They are a deeply ingrained business to business sales company. Selling sub $1k consumer devices one at a time is not their business model and never will be. Plus, they are too smart.

I know Samsung has always looked for an alt os, but tizen I think it is called, isn't upto par. BlackBerry hardware as always seemed to be a step behind. I think they would make a great combination

Posted via CB10

Great summary of the current situation, Chris, and you are SPOT-ON with the "public perception" analysis.

You’re right: what BBRY needs right now is a power-partner, but IBM isn't it. IF anything, I feel ORACLE would be PERFECT for all the reasons I've rambled on about before (previous posts ). And it’s ONLY to guarantee a few things:
1) continuance of the company while it goes deep to restructure itself,
2) to open new channels and device-application opportunities, and
3) to provide a “go private” option that would allow it to get out of the business news & analyst, and SEC scrutiny limelight, even if only for a while.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, though, BBRY des-pe-rate-ly also needs THESE FIVE things, without which NOTHING they do will help first save, then resurrect, them.

1) A New BRAND, New PR approach and Public image.
In THAT regard they've never missed an opportunity to either miss an opportunity OR to shoot themselves in the foot, sometimes even on a grand scale (Superbowl Launch: ‘nuff said).

2) A COMPLETELY fresh approach to corporate culture, because even at this year’s AGM in July, the egos were STILL unpalatable and the denial (at least publicly) unbeliveable.

3) Time to "go away & be out of the negativity spotlight," "rebuild its Teams" and to “re-engineer” ONE AMAZING DEVICE.

I’m hoping to love the Z30 as much as my beloved Torch 9800, but I KNOW most legacy users have held off on upgrades, first because their devices still work well enough, but mostly because the New BB10s just aren’t what we’re all used to & are missing many key elements we’ve come to rely-on and love … and that Herr Heins has flat-out refused (or been unable) to deliver, like:

- a distinct, beautiful Design that screams “GIVE ME YOUR MONEY! (thinking of various mock-ups seen on Crackberry),”
- TRACKPAD + function buttons,
- software functionality in-keeping with the legendary BBOS functionality & efficiency fusing BB10’s New interface and benefits,
- leading-edge spec'd hardware, and
- RELIABLE Device operation and performance.
- POSITIVE USER Experiences AND Testimonials by the boat-load!

I won't touch the “Apps” debacle-debate, because that’s purely a chicken-and-the-egg dilemma which won’t get ANY love the way things stand right now.
I’ve also rambled about that in an Alec Saunders –centric thread (mid-July).

4) straight-out fire Boulben who hasn’t contributed a single positive & publicly visible strategic or creative element to the ENTIRE launch of the 10 platform. And what HAS been seen & apparent is nothing short of an unmitigated EFF-UP, especially in his ‘pillar of strength:’ Carrier relationships.

And while we're at it; toss Alicia Keys too ... what a dumb-ax choice THAT was!!

5) Marketing that’s 180° different from what’s seen and experienced in the past, including RIGHT NOW.
That means better TV, Print and Direct campaigns with specifically targeted Messages & Creative geared at appealing to specific buyers and decision-makers.
ALL forms of Advertising and Marketing – incl. those site-demos and black vans – was an absolute abomination. FLOP is another 4-letter EFF-word that comes to mind.

As a long-time Marketing professional, those are THE SINGLE MOST CRUCIAL immediate elements to save any- and everything about the company.

To those who would say “dare YOU to do it better” let me reply with “you don’t think I’ve tried?”
In 1999, RIM didn’t “DO” Marketing; it was all “engineering-everything”
In 2002, I didn’t “have enough wireless-specific experience”
In 2007, I didn’t “have an Engineering Degree”
In 2012, I didn’t even get a reply … but I KNOW my background and experience clearly and definitely didn’t match that of the esteemed Monsieur Boulben.

Mostly, however, I didn't have the "Keywords" an HR team has defined in its search criteria ... probably because MARKETING and CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS is - "by-and-large" - not keyword-definable.

Funny thing how THOSE people who are best suited for a “role” (whether in a personal or "other" relationship) are often rejected, rejected and rejected until it’s too late, and THEN get told:
“where were you when ...?" and "why didn’t you ever …?”

Once again, I AM in Waterloo AND available to help save this company. Most of all, after ALL that , I'm actually still "willing" to go out on a limb and stick my neck out.
But I suspect the towel’s already been thrown (still prematurely, IMHO) and the powers-that-be no longer give a flying F.
Looks like a $56 Million payday and a long vacation on the way for Herr Heins in the foreseeable future.

If I’m wrong, message me …

MORE than my 2 cents from a penny-less country.
Cheers & Keep Moving!

Why would any hardware manufacturer license blackberry 10 when they're doing just fine with Android at a considerably very low price? The general public does not understand the difference or does not value the "user experience" as most of us here think. They just get used to what the software does and offer and go with it. Consider that 90% of users don't use their mobile phones maximum potencial.
BlackBerry will succeed by staying as a mobile + hardware company, deepening it's relations in the corporate sector and investing a hell of a lot of money in marketing. Help from a company like IBM, Cisco, Oracle, etc. will strengthen the general public and business perception and ultimately will attract the apps that have not made the jump yet because of this uncertainty.

Posted via CB10

fair enough, but ONLY Oracle has EVERYTHING to accessorize BlackBerry with, from enterprise applications that DEMAND ultra-strong security, global reach, hardware-software-applications integration, and a global install/customer base that's probably scratching its collective head about HOW to access everything SECURELY and without the need for public HTML - remember, BBRY still owns ots own global network, the BIS. Plus, Oracle also owns SUN.

So, they're covered from ALL angles ... except they DON'T have the missing "mobility" piece.

It would be brilliant, except that Larry Ellison's team is as shrewd and ruthless as they come. Not much would remain of the old BlackBerry, but at least "it" and its technology would live on in some way, shape or form.

However, I'm still of the opinion that, given time and peace & quiet, BlackBerry could still go it alone AND come back, but only with the criteria I outlined earlier in this post.

Just my 2 cents from a penny-less country.
Cheers & Keep Moving!

An intelligent, insightful article, as we've come to expect from you, Chris. I don't always agree with you, but I always come away feeling like I've come away with a fair, balanced and thoughtful perspective. A rarity these days. Especially as regards BlackBerry.


I feel Blackberry need to gain back the customers that were lost in the three years or so to the lack of BlackBerry progress. BlackBerry has to make up a lot of ground in this race. We need to see a better public image through commercial and I'm sad to say celebrity image. I worry that if BlackBerry joins with IBM or Cisco much of the BlackBerry identity may be lost. If a merger can take place to expand the use of BlackBerry products in the medical field to rival iStuff then BlackBerry may have a fighting chance.

I left BlackBerry after I purchased the style for my self and wife. I liked the concept but the final product left much to be desired. I now use a Q10 because I feel BlackBerry has stepped up their game. I think the general public needs to find BlackBerry sexy and Kool again to buy the hardware. BlackBerry also needs to find away to bring all those apps to their market place. I have some ideas but I'm not in a position to express those ideas.

Ultimately BlackBerry needs to find their way to fight back to the top choices instead of being more of a last resort. With that being said if a member of BlackBerry or someone with the ability to collect and pass on some ideas please let me fill your ear for a bit.

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The way BlackBerry implemented long running background processes is the right way to do it. Separate the business logic from the UI and make sure the background process is using as little resources as possible.

I think the actual issue isn't the implementation of long running background processes, but just the fact the BlackBerry is forcing many developers to use this complex approach where they actually want something completely different.

99% of background use cases are event driven. Many apps just want to do something once in a while, like at a certain time (think alarm apps), in certain intervals (weather apps, wallpaper apps) or when messages come in (think LED apps, call blockers etc).

They have laid the foundation for this but failed on executing. They only provide a handful (actually 2) event triggers.

So now many developers have to adopt the (rightfully) restricted and complex process of long running background processes, a paradigm that actually doesn't fit their use case, just to implement what is missing in event driven triggers. I understand how this is creating the frustration.

I am glad that BlackBerry is finally moving their sales force to the US. This should've been done a long time ago, to be a true global company and compete against the other players. Great article, I feel relieved.

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Good article that hits at the very important issue of confidence. My z10 is solid. But the very idea that it may not be supported in a few months kills any notion of buying one compared to the security say of Apple or Samsung. But while finding a solid partner would provide some immediate confidence, it is unlikely for the same reason. What strong firm is going to take that risk which might also pull them down? All part of the same problem. At the heart of the issue is the realistic viewpoint that the BlackBerry offering is just too small in relation to the competition to be able to compete in the long run. It is compounded by the attitude of current BlackBerry management to look for buyers. It needs to pull down for sale signs, and keep selling the message the BlackBerry is BACK, and here to compete. It must provide vision that it has a rightful place in the market. Otherwise nothing will save it.

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Great article Chris! Thanks for the insight. My guess for an equity partner is Cisco.

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I don't see how a partnership will help I wouldn't buy a phone because they were partnered with someone.

They have billions in the bank so it's not really a money thing.

Really it seems like they can fix there own problems themselves

-Marketing, can't sell what no one knows about.

-Getting access to Google store,would stop the app issue in its tracks

-Getting bis back, most people would be willing to pay for it monthly income is your friend

-a true top spec phone, everyone wants what people can't have, what saved apple was the superiority of being able to afford it

-A variation of phone, the buzz for BlackBerry right now is qnx and tat sell a qnx phone or a tat phone heavy on tat ui the BlackBerry name is not helping right now

-BBM, well least there working on making money on this

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My opinion, partner with Samsung, sell hardware division to Samsung. Samsung hydride OS, Windows Phone for home user, BlackBerry partner with Microsoft for Secure ECC mobile multi platform mobile network. Solution to maximizing Shareholders value....

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Chris, you are so right about "There are hundreds of millions of people who don’t know much about business and finance. They read a headline here and there, and they believe BlackBerry is being sold, going bankrupt, disappearing off the planet, or whatever other combination of BAD you can possibly think of."

This sh!ts me so badly. Yesterday I walked into the Optus mobile store on Swanston street and I purposely asked about they having the Blackberry devices while my Z10 was tucked away in my pocket. The attendent/sales clerk, however he choses to be called immediately askedme "why would you be interested in BlackBerry? Aren't they going out?" I responded amusingly, isn't Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola going out as well? Where was Apple a few years ago before the return of Jobs and now that he is gone; where are they heading now? What an insult is the iFen 5C? Where is the innovation?

With Apple's lack of innovation, Blackberry definitely has the opportunity to move up the ladder. However, the company needs a monetary shake up. The boost would definitely get the organization back on track giving possible competitive advantage.

It would be ridiculous for BlackBerry to exit the hardware sector of mobile communication - bloody hell, RIM placed mobile communication on the map. As a beloved Blackberry user, I would hate to see name disappear like WorldCom with skytel.

TOTALLY! ... Not only that, but they're sitting on $ 2-3 Billion in CASH - which they're probably burning through at a good clip right now ...but still: they're in NO "immediate" danger of going (totally) bankrupt.

Mind you, T.H. needs to keep a good-sized pile of that for his eventual $ 56 Million severance-bonus payout.

Just my 2 cents from a penny-less country.
Cheers & Keep Moving!

My question to those who are knowledge. Does SEC has rules that a company has to disclose it is for sale. If not the recent announcement by BB worth a SEC investigation. I think it is a conspiracy or insider manipulation that benefits a smaller portion of BB owners or insiders.

Good article, about IBM investing.. but my 2cents say that BlackBerry still just needs to open up more... I've been using my curve for years in my business, and lately, with my new q10. I just want more. This phone isn't a 'fun smartphone' to the public, it's about all said and done. None of my friends bother with BlackBerry anymore in there work, they use iPhone 5's, cause when they're not at work, the use of the phone continues for fun, social, productivity..

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Chris, I had to read your article three times to come into agreement with your argument. But, I disagree with your specific conclusion.

Agreed that BlackBerry has a huge public perception problem. However, a partnership with IBM, Cisco, or Oracle will not influence the average user on the street, I think. As Exhibit A I present the following piece from USA Today:

Can you imagine anyone in the piece caring that ANY company partnered with BlackBerry? Yet aren't these folks the young consumers that BlackBerry needs?

OTOH, the enterprise decision makers who are hesitant to purchase BlackBerry hardware and software should know better. What's holding them back? Are they really waiting for someone else (IBM, Cisco, or Oracle) to make the first move? Perhaps, the sentiment "No one ever got fired for buying IBM" runs deeper than I thought.

Look at a partnership from the Special Committee side. If BlackBerry were to be buying a partner, which one would be able to bring the necessary street cred with them?

I think that this question is easier to answer when considering the enterprise end of the business than it is when looking at the perception of the public.

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Chris - Great article, and we wouldn't be human here if we didn't enjoy you writing a "realist-optimist" piece every now and then.
There is a simple logic to the handset aspect: It would be bizarre and or frankly impossible for
A) BlackBerry to go forward with an entirely new phone and the marketing, time, and commitment that necessitates, while
B) Also leaving the hardware business.

That is really all there is to it. That's not to say things might not change in the future...but it's clearly not part of their imminent plans. For those of us who love BlackBerry especially for the experience of having a BB phone, not just software, this is reason to be optimistic.

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Great article! Perception is very important. Many folks have said the same to me regarding Blackberry's demise, even asking me what I'm going to do when BlackBerry goes under.

It's hard to "sell like hell" when people think that it's only a matter of time before the company is dead.

BlackBerry needs to use some of that 3 billion dollars to change/build consumer confidence.

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Personally, I think that BlackBerry might just as well abandon the US market since that's where all the rumours and innuendo as to the state of the company seems to originate. I wouldn't be surprised if it was revealed that the NSA was pushing these ideas in order to discredit the company because they won't play ball and give them a backdoor into their BBM service/servers. Furthermore, It's telling that so many US gov. Depts. have approved BlackBerry devices ...they know that their email and other information will be secure from the snooping, data mining and other insidious practices of their own national spy agencies.

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To get a partner for innovation would be a possible deal. The BlackBerry CEO mentioned about internet thing during one of his interviews with a journalist long time ago (if I am correct). I could not understand what he meant about "internet thing" at that time. I had a chance reading an article online talking about "internet of thing" related to CISCO a few days ago. I could not remember the details, but there was one point appealed to me. Nowadays, most people are able to connect to internet, so there are something to be accomplished through the internet thing. For example, if a person enters his office, the light will turn on automatically (it is not new). If a second person enters the same office and closes the door, it will apply to a meeting is being held in the office.

The "internet of thing" could also be utilized for checking purposes. However, it needs the top notch of security measures. Therefore, BlackBerry's famous security measure would most likely be the number one candidate.

If BlackBerry can get some other big companies as partners to work together for hi-tech and mobile innovations. I am sure it will be a win-win-win-win situation.

Chris, looks like a sudden change of heart on your part - earlier you had repeatedly mentioned that "strategic alternative" was another term for saying we are selling the company. Now it looks like you are aligning with a more pragmatic outcome and that you for a change noticed that Blackberry had listed "accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment” as the first option on that list.

I have said this before and will repeat it here that in most likelihood Blackberry will exercise all of those options - in terms of selling parts of the company - I think it might partner with IBM/Cisco/etc. to float BBM as a separate company catering to both consumer and enterprise space. Second, nobody mentions VMWare or Citrix in this conversation - I think it might be very likely that on the hardware side it might partner with VMWare (and/or Citrix) to help bring virtualization to our mobile with radio piece (and other sensors) being integrated as part of the "mobile infrastructure" (through BB10) and available as a "service" to northbound phone and multi-media applications - this will allow you to run say, Windows 8 (or say, Mozilla) apps (in addition to Android Runtime) on your Blackberry mobile - mobile computing at its best - in the virtualization parlance BB10 is equivalent to ESX (or, the UCS when compared to the much larger Cisco offering). These are just a few of the possibilities (I haven't even mentioned device partners like: Samsung, Sony, etc.).

Media and the analyst need to realize that Blackberry's BB10 will soon become the VMWare of mobile space. Actually, with its own secure network which supports lots of other capabilities (including services) it is really Virtualization++. Until that realism sinks in this stock will be seated in the penalty box. It is not without reason that Microsoft is keeping a close eye on Blackberry.

It was because there was a few different sets of investors who invested in Apple, that Apple was able to innovate and reinvent themselves to the organisation they are today...!

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Just hope they figure something out soon as who wants to buy a phone from a company that appears to be going under. It makes people nervous

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Sigh... Chris, nice thought that... 2-5 billion coming from a partner, from somewhere. And true, there are enough people out there, that could do that deal.

But why? Why put money into BBRY? There is no reason. Nobody wants the phone business... dead last in users, and nobody with the cash to spend has the ability to build BBRY up from dead last. As an investment in a going concern there is simply no there there.

No, I'm afraid BBRY will be craved up and sold off... pre or post bankruptcy. Even they know it... thus the layoffs. There are people losing their jobs right now that would be needed to grow the company were that cash coming. BBRY knows that it isn't... thus the cuts.

Sorry... it's all over but for the shouting...

This makes sense to me. IBM or Cisco would help belie the constant, destructive speculation about BlackBerry going belly-up. I've had friends who have expressed similar concerns to the one your friend expressed about BlackBerry's future.

However, BlackBerry still gets the bad headlines when they don't meet expectations courtesy of securities-reg-mandated events like the upcoming earnings call. That's why a prefer Prem Watsa, Mike L., and the Canadian Pension funds taking the company private. There are downsides to that, as well, including the possibility that the company just shrinks into oblivion and the world forgets as it struggles to fight for attention with publicly-held competitors... and Canadian pensioners lose-out. But, even with those considerable risks, it's still my preferred outcome. I'd take a big equity investment and partnership on new devices with Sony, Cisco, or IBM, though...

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I have smelled the conspiracy of shifting major wealth to a small few at the expense of the rest....... the news flow and company actions over the past 8 months offer strong signs of manipulation.....

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From a business prospective.. BlackBerry should have move their us sales team into the us years ago.. it's one thing for a start up or small company to have their sales team centralized.. but a huge company like that should have regional sales people actually.. you know... in their respective regions. it'll cut costs Down (having to fly out, hotels, etc.. for sales teams add up fast)

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Blame Waterloo. BlackBerry has been stuck in Waterloo (no pun intended) too much. The culture MUST change. How can one town and one university compete again the entire world and dozens of universities that are better than Waterloo.

The growth of the company were like having children from marriages among relatives. Everyone knows what that produce.

This culture must change. TH needs guts to do so because the company has been stuck in Waterloo too deep.

Yup. BlackBerry is experiencing a crisis of confidence. A partnership that injected some equity into the company would definitely go a long way. You would think that after all these years, people would have realized that BlackBerry isn't going anywhere any time soon, but like you said, their perception has been warped by the inflammatory and exagerrated headlines. It's good to know we can rely on sources like Umi who at least gives us facts.

Posted while peeking and flowing on my incredible BBQ10!

My two cents. While low profit margin commodity hardware is not something IBM is into these days, BlackBerry is a different animal.

A equity play gives BlackBerry some space to get its act together. It gives IBM another vehicle to get its products and services in front not only the CIO but also the CEO as everyone needs a phone or should I say a mobile computing device.

QNX and BlackBerry's other software and services fit into IBM's Smarter Planet vision of an interconnected world.

Apple became a hundred billion dollar company with its iTunes and iPhone. IBM could easily a return on its investment many times over with an integration of BlackBerry devices and services into its suite of offerings.

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Even i could´nt have said it better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

Exactly what i think, BB has everything to succeed, EVERYTHING, except the right public perception. If that gets taken care of then it´s flying time. Having said that, we all know that´s it´s pretty easy to destroy a reputation, and EXTREMELY hard to get it back ............ and for me that is the REAL challenge for BB.
All of us BB users can help with this and spread the word ...... the good word ......

Why IBM? Why can't just BlackBerry reach out to their loyal followers, gave their much time in bringing best services and marketing, surely BlackBerry wil be back on top quickly. Followers are always here to continue then spread by word of mouth how awesome BlackBerry is. Those who kept on saying that BlackBerry is dead are just f****n lazy enough to read honest reviews and to do some little diggin on the net. They're all basing on hearsays. I have iPhone user friends and they admit how cool BlackBerry is, but they're just too stupid enough not open it in public, afraid that they might become less trendy if they do. BlackBerry should focus more on convincing these kind of people by enticing them, hitting them thru marketing to regain that momentum to leverage the position to number one again.

So partners? Nah, they have me already along with the millions strong partners/followers all over the world. l

And another good and intelligent article, Chris. It’s very easy for me to imagine that BlackBerry as we know and love it would have been gone by now if they didn't make their own hardware in the past 3 or 4 years. BB10 may not have sent the light of day. Public image, no matter how misinformed and misguided, and poor sales would have had any other hardware maker jumping over to Android.

No surprise that Airwatch would be knocking BlackBerry... they are direct competitors in the MDM space. Spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the competition is the oldest truck in the book.

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Good article- I agree... Small suggestion (an idea I have had since renaming RIM into BlackBerry): I´m really sure, that a simple renaming from RIM to "BlackBerry QNX" (or alike) would have an healing effect to the damaged image of the brand BlackBerry (which was already known... no average consumer in germany ever knew that the former name of BlackBerry was RIM!) This renaming would associate a new partnership, an new company, a REAL new beginning... QNX is known as powerful, outstanding and absolute abreast with science... It would have awake the interest for the meaning of QNX and would provoke a view to QNX and OS10 and its ability... But marketing is something real strange for BlackBerry and they have seemingly no touch with this disciplinary...

Everyone needs to take a chill pill. The markets are flooded with phones. Time is what Blackberry needs and they just have to keep their heads above water. Transition is a slow economic machine, just ask Apple. I heard that Blackberry might have to write down 1 billion worth of phones. Well give them away to people who cant afford to upgrade or buy. That should change the landscape. :)

Agree as to their marketing....... it's seems as if they just can't hit on any target audience properly.... the loyal BlackBerry crowd loves their old os and trackball and isn't keen or in a hurry on adopting a completely new system and the masses remember BlackBerry as old and outdated........ plus the competition is so strong.....

So they struggle to get their phones into stores that discourage purchase of their product and have limited and useless marketing campaigns......

They need image changing campaigns and people on the street promoting the products...... reps covering all the retail outlets daily...... they seem to be lethargic with their ability to respond to the markets needs for success.......

Then an announcement that they are for sale???? It seems to ridiculous to be without anterior motives at work by the wealthy few taking advantage on some way...... time will tell....

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Just the idea that you heard of a 1 billion write down is ridiculous....... all they need to do is aggressively sell those phones....... management is either truly incompetent or the media is distorting reality and killing this company...... where is their pr response??? why not fight back..... get on cnn, cnbc...... talk about your plans.... instill confidence in the consumer...... but they do nothing...... this is why I feel there is some manipulation taking place.......

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