BlackBerry Options For Survival: May Go Private


After months of struggling to promote BlackBerry 10 devices and BES 10 software adoption, BlackBerry has entered into discussions on "exploration of strategic alternatives," according to a BlackBerry press release. One option on the table is to take the company private.

According to the press release, Timothy Dattles, chairman of BlackBerry's Special Committee of the Board said, "Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives."

Partners say it may be time for smartphone maker BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, to make a serious change not just to thrive, but to survive.

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"BlackBerry has a lot of great intellectual property," said Robby Hill, founder and CEO of HillSouth, a Florence, S.C.-based solution provider. Hill added, "Unfortunately, [intellectual property] seems to be the company's greatest asset right now, because it certainly isn't customer demand."

Rick Jordan, director of Sales and Strategic Alliances at Tenet Computer Group, a Toronto-based solution provider and BlackBerry partner, said he believes in BlackBerry's products, but no matter the outcome, his company is ready to move in the direction of customer demand.

"The most important thing to run mobility in a large enterprise or government is security. The BlackBerry10 is just that; the server has always been full encryption -- it's one solution, one product. Everything is managed. The only problem is you have a lot of people fluctuating out there with Apple and Android," Jordan said.

Jordan said he strongly believes the BYOD phenomenon is here to stay. As companies continue to allow more flexibility for employees to choose a mobile device, the most popular consumer Apple and Android devices are now enterprise devices, taking a large toll on the once dominated BlackBerry marketplace space.

BlackBerry reported an $84 million loss on handsets at the end of its first quarter of the fiscal year. In addition, the company lost 4 million subscribers and ultimately failed to turn a profit for the quarter. Over the last year, the company has suffered a series of layoffs on the executive and middle management levels.

"It's a big ship and it's going to take a long time to turn the ship around. It's going to take patience," said Jordan, echoing the message he said he's heard repeatedly from BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins.

Hill and Jordan both said the future of BlackBerry's partner ecosystem will really depend on who will either acquire or enter into a joint venture with the company.

"We have to remember, the U.S. and Canadian government will both have a say in potential buyers," Jordan said.

"They need some fresh ideas and views into the company. I would hope they would find, if not a buyer, a strategic partner to expand their customer base. We can only hope that buyer will be channel-friendly," Hill said.

BlackBerry declined to comment on the matter.

PUBLISHED AUG. 12, 2013