The Future of BlackBerry: 4 Different Paths the Company Can Take

BlackBerry

BlackBerry has seen better days. What used to be Canada’s biggest company is having hard time competing in today’s smartphone market. BlackBerry OS 10 is a solid platform, built for security but that doesn’t help the company move enough of Z10s, Q10s and Q5s. So what can BlackBerry do about it?

The way I see things there are four different paths the company can take:

1. Keep things as they are

And by this I mean – don’t change the ownership structure or strategy for the time being. Push BlackBerrys to new places, pitch enterprises (like KPMG) and governments, hoping that the company can go on from the limited user base. That’s possible in the short term, but in the long run – other platforms will get more secure and BlackBerry will be in an even bigger trouble.

Recently, BlackBerry issued an open letter saying to its user they can count on them. That’s all nice, but as we said – their devices aren’t selling that well. Perhaps the newly launched Z30 will give some boost to the company, perhaps not.

2. Take the company private

BlackBerry may sell its business to one of its existing shareholders who would be interested to keep the company going. Mike Lazaridis, one of the founders, may be looking at something like this. Another contender could be John Sculley, former CEO of Apple though it’s unclear whether he would want to take the company private.

By delisting itself from the stock exchange, BlackBerry could more easily manage its short-term operations, focusing on the big picture and long-term strategy, instead. On the other hand, the lack of openness to the public could deter government contracts.

3. Sell to another company

Although RIM’s patent portfolio isn’t as impressive as the one owned by major handset makers and the likes of Ericsson, it’s still worth something. This is especially true if a company that would potentially acquire BlackBerry is a new player in the mobile game. Think: Chinese phone makers. Some of them — like Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE — are perfectly suited for this deal. They get an enterprise-ready product they can sell in China and other Asian countries.

There is a downside of this deal, though. The minute BlackBerry ends up in the hands of a Chinese company, it would be less appealing to governments and enterprises in the West. So to make this work, any company that wants to buy BlackBerry will have to be extra careful, potentially leaving code development in Canada. At least some part of it.

4. Split the company

This is what I call the worst case scenario. Similarly to Apple, though on a smaller scale, BlackBerry is made as a unified system with all of its parts singing along in a perfect harmony. That, of course, presumes you can live in the “BlackBerry world.” Sure enough, BBM alone could be worth a ton as a separate company, but integrated inside the BlackBerry OS, it adds extra value. Splitting the company could potentially create an instant value for shareholders, but would make us “die a little.” Then again who asks us anything.

Now, which scenario you envision for BlackBerry and why? Don’t hesitate to drop your two cents in the comments form below.

  • PeterSteinbeck

    I’m for the third option. It would help BlackBerry get many, many new customers while making the platform that much more appealing to developers.

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