Smartphone maker BlackBerry had been struggling for several years. But the company began 2013 on a hopeful note as it prepared to ship its next-generation BlackBerry 10 platform and had just reported a small profit for its fiscal 2013 third quarter. The optimism, alas, was premature. The BlackBerry 10 failed to win back customers and the company's losses continued to mount through the year: For the fiscal 2014 third quarter (ended Nov. 30), the company reported a massive $4.4 billion loss on a 56 percent plunge in revenue. In September, BlackBerry began laying off 4,500 employees -- more than a third of its workforce. And a plan to be taken private in a $4.7 billion deal fell through, leading to the departure of CEO Thorsten Heins.
Can BlackBerry be saved? In November, John Chen, who turned around database developer Sybase, took over as CEO and quickly purged the company's executive ranks. In December, BlackBerry struck a five-year deal with Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to make handsets for Indonesia and other emerging markets, a bright spot in an otherwise lost year.