BlackBerry looks for a buyer to focus on BES and BB10

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BlackBerry looks for a buyer to focus on BES and BB10

Cliff Saran

The board of directors at BlackBerry are considering the sale of the troubled smartphone company, in a bid to focus on BlackBerry 10.

A special committee has been formed to look at possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the company or other possible transactions to establish BES 10 (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) and the BlackBerry 10 smartphone operating system  (BB10).

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Timothy Dattels, chairman of BlackBerry’s special committee, said: “During the past year, management and the board have been focused on launching the BlackBerry 10 platform and BES 10, establishing a strong financial position, and evaluating the best approach to delivering long-term value for customers and shareholders.”

BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins added, “We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition.  

"As the special committee focuses on exploring alternatives, we will be continuing with our strategy of reducing cost, driving efficiency and accelerating the deployment of BES 10, as well as driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, launching the multi-platform BBM social messaging service, and pursuing mobile computing opportunities by leveraging the secure and reliable BlackBerry Global Data Network.”

The new Blackberry 10 mobile platform and BES 10 have captured the interest of some IT professionals. Analyst Dale Vale, writing in Computer Weekly noted: “I would sum up the Q10 (BB10-based smartphone) as a being the best work communication and social media smartphone I have ever used, because it combines a modern user interface with a superb physical keyboard.”

BES 10, the latest version of the company’s mobile email platform, now supports iOS and Android, which could help stem the flood of organisations dropping BES for cheaper, but less secure alternatives. 

BES is still the only CESG certified, government approved mobile email platform. But, as Computer Weekly has reported, version 10 is going through the certification process to enable the platform to be deployed within government.

The once-dominant smartphone maker has struggled in recent years as Apple and Android alternatives have eaten into its share of the corporate mobile market, but has shown some signs of turning its finances round since the launch of BB10. 

BlackBerry reported a net loss of $84m on revenue of $3bn in its first quarter of the latest financial year, compared with the $518m loss for the same quarter last year.

But the company has been cagey in admitting how many of its new Z10 and Q10 devices have been sold to mobile users. 

"Unfortunately for BlackBerry's remaining loyalists, this looks like the writing on the wall for the storied devices, as sales of its new BB10 devices do not indicate that the platform will regain meaningful market share," said Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin.

"Still, the company has an array of resources such as its QNX operating system, BES software, BBM brand, and intellectual property - these are clearly valuable but what's unclear is whether they all hold value as a standalone entity or as pieces."

IBM, Lenovo, Samung or one of the emerging Chinese handset makers such as Huawei or ZTE have all been touted by commentators as possible buyers of BlackBerry.


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