Seriously. If I had a dollar for every time in the past two weeks I've been asked the questions, What if (insert company name here) buys BlackBerry?, Will BlackBerry die or will they live? and What's going to happen to BlackBerry?, I'd probably have enough money to buy an off-contract BlackBerry Z30 when it's released. Heck, these questions have even gone to the point of being beatboxed into music to stand the test of time (check out the new longer version above, if you missed the shorter original debut be sure to watch it).
Speaking of time, it's kind of a weird time to be a BlackBerry enthusiast. On the product side, we have more to be excited about than ever before. BlackBerry 10 is here and we're just around the corner from getting an update to BlackBerry 10.2 that we're really looking forward to. BB10 is a new platform and we knew things would take a while to fill out around the OS and ecosystem, but things are coming together. Sure, there will always be room for improvement, and we will always want more features and want them NAO (CrackBerry people tend to be a little impatient and hate waiting - it's in our nature of being hyper-connected communicators), but overall there ARE a LOT of happy BB10 owners in the CrackBerry community.
In contrast, activities on the BBRY business end of things are creating a lot of uncertainty and angst for not only BlackBerry fans, but pretty much all stakeholders in the BlackBerry universe (developers, employees, etc.). When the company issues a press release saying they're exploring all strategic options, including the potential sale of the company, it's taken by the media, Wall Street, the fans, etc. as an indicator that things are not quite going according to Plan A.
In the case of Plan A for BlackBerry, that was to bring BB10 to market, get support from carriers, market the heck out of it and upgrade a BIG % of the existing BB user base to BB10 and attract switchers back to the platform or onto it for the first time. All of that *is* happening of course, but apparently not at the necessary speed and level needed given the company's size and operating footprint.
In looking for strategic partners, I don't believe BlackBerry is looking for a way to get out of business, but rather a means to scale up on what they're doing even faster. In BB10 they've built a great technology platform, and they want to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. As an outside observer, I definitely don't get the impression that any of the folks at BlackBerry haven given up. If anything, it's quite the opposite - they are *hustling*.
That said, when BlackBerry says they're looking at all alternatives, including a potential sale, we wouldn't be doing our jobs if we ignored it. And since so many of you are asking us these questions, we're going to methodically work through answering them. On our latest podcast (above) we spoke on it a bit, but over the next few weeks were going to explore these strategic alternatives one at a time in more detail.
We're going to look at the WHAT IF scenarios. WHAT IF Samsung bought BlackBerry? WHAT IF Cisco bought BlackBerry? WHAT IF Sony bought BlackBerry? WHAT IF IBM bought BlackBerry? WHAT IF Apple bought BlackBerry? WHAT IF Microsoft bought BlackBerry? That's a lot of WHAT IFs and there are many more than that. Some are feasible. Some are plausible. Some may be laughable. But we're going to jump through them in an honest and open manner. We're not going to fret on this stuff - we can all continue to love our BlackBerry phones and even the company while exploring the WHAT IF scenarios that are in a lot of people's minds at the moment. We'll look at the rationale of why it could make sense. We'll look at the feasibility (could the company afford to do it?) and whether we like the idea or not of that company being associated with BB. We'll ponder what these types of potential acquisitions could mean for the future of our beloved BlackBerry products and the company.
Back in July 2011 I wrote an article titled 10 Reasons Why Google Will Buy BlackBerry. Coming from me -- BlackBerry Champion #1 -- that article got a LOT of attention. It wasn't that I had given up any faith in BlackBerry and wanted to see a sale happen - I just saw a lot of logical reasons of why there could be a good fit there. Ultimately my premise was right. Google not too long after did make a major acquisition in mobile, but I got the company wrong. They ended up buying Motorola.
And so, two years later, we'll continue this discussion. Stay tuned for our upcoming series of "WHAT IF XXXXXXX Buys BlackBerry" stories.
Just remember, and as always, we'll be rooting for you #TEAMBLACKBERRY to pull it off on your own. And, as much as we'll work through this series looking at some strategic alternatives if that doesn't happen, we're also cooking up some AWESOME ideas on how to get the CrackBerry community rallying even more behind you. Stay tuned for that too!