With no massive fightback in the market, despite positive reaction to its BB10 smartphones, BlackBerry is looking at its options, including the possibility of sale or partnerships to continue fighting the device and mobile enterprise services battle.
BlackBerry Flavor Starting to Sour?
Despite Herculean efforts, it looks BlackBerry's turnaround, trumpeted by the BB10 operating system, new devices and enterprise-wide, device crossing, services, hasn't been enough to drive the company forward, arriving too late to make much headway against the iOS and Android leaders. So, the board is looking at all possible options for its future, as it follows March's modest profits with a return to loss last quarter.
To this end, a new committee is being formed, with a wide remit to find a better future. That effort will be led by former Goldman Sachs executive Timothy Dattels who now sits on the Blackberry board. Expect business as usual, as the company pushes the recent Q5 model and is supposed to have a new 5-inch super-Z30 device in the works, but it looks like the independence that the Canadian firm so craves is likely to end.
The ultimate decision, whatever that might be, comes as little real surprise. It has run into the same wall that blocked Palm, Nokia and others, and it seems only Microsoft's massive resources is keeping the Windows Phone 8 juggernaut going. Without endless resources, BlackBerry was always going to struggle, and better to have a rational discussion about its future now, than fight to some bitter, uncertain end.
Who Will Buy?
If it does come down to a partnership or buyout, you have to wonder who would step forward. With its enterprise leanings, perhaps Microsoft would have been the obvious candidate, had it not invested so much into Nokia. However, there could still be a deal with Microsoft for the Blackberry Enterprise Server services, being a powerful non-hardware asset that BlackBerry owns.
An alternative is for BlackBerry to return to private ownership, an idea that saw the company's stock price nudging on such rumors last up last week. But if the company needs investment, it has to look to a bigger player. Perhaps an Android partner that is getting tired of being lumped in with the also-ran device market after Samsung, or a technology giant like Cisco or IBM, although they may have their own plans.
There are still lots of other options on the table, such as partnerships or other forms of investment. But for now, expect interest in the company to dwindle slowly as everyone waits for the uncertainty to clear. That'll be a sad time for BlackBerry users, as the App World will start to be strangled of developer interest, just as Apple prepares to launch a shiny new range of products and more big numbers from its own store.