BlackBerry. Sigh. Poor BlackBerry. We reported earlier this week that vultures were circling over BlackBerry, with patents and its OS being the most desired assets. Yikes, what happened to BlackBerry? From being the smartphone that once dominated the corporate world, it’s now a distant fourth behind the powerhouses of iOS and Android, and the deep pockets of Microsoft continue to spend money to stay relevant. (Microsoft has just snapped up Nokia for $7.2 billion.)
And things are looking increasingly dire for BlackBerry. The Wall Street Journal reported that the smartphone maker is planning on cutting its jobs up to 40 percent, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. So amidst trying to revive the brand with a new flagship smartphone, BlackBerry is cutting close to half of its workforce. Something doesn’t add up. The fall from being the phone that everyone wanted, to the phone that becomes part of the trending topic #irememberwhen has been nothing short of colossal, leaving BlackBerry with a dwindling number of options.
A brief look at BlackBerry’s demise
Let’s recap just the last nine months of BlackBerry’s fall from grace:
- Mike Lazaridis Leaves BlackBerry After Selling 1M Z10s
The company formerly known as Research in Motion reported its 2012 fiscal fourth quarter report impressing analyst, but co-founder, Mike Lazaridis, left the company. Lazaridis cut all ties from the company come May 2013. Jim Balsillie, RIM co-founder who previously served as co-CEO and co-chair with Lazaridis, is no longer part of the company as of December 31, 2012.
- BlackBerry in Final Death Throes – Doesn’t Matter if Sold or Private
Waiving the white flag, BlackBerry officials goes on the auctioning block for sale. By forming a special committee to explore strategic alternatives, BlackBerry opened the door for partnerships, joint ventures, going private, but ultimately it is most likely that the company and its assets are for sale.
- BlackBerry Looks For a Quick Sale, But Are There Any Takers?
Not even thirty days after the struggling smartphone maker announced that it was officially putting itself up for sale, the Canadian firm says there are a number of potential buyers who could wrap up a deal before the end of November. It’s no coincidence that the news, which was reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes less than 48 hours after Microsoft tied up its deal to take over Nokia’s mobile phone business.
The outlook is meager at best for BlackBerry. The auction block may be the lesser evil, sending BlackBerry off with a shred of dignity. Who exactly will buy BlackBerry? Well, here’s a good list of the candidates. What was once RIM, is now RIP.
3 potential buyers for BlackBerry
With Microsoft out of the hunt its unclear who these “potential bidders” are, though the WSJ says that “some Asian tech companies” have shown an interest. If true, this suggests that PC maker Lenovo might well be considering a move for the firm. The Chinese company’s CEO Yang Yuanqing said in an interview last March that a bid for the company “could make sense,” causing BlackBerry’s shares to briefly rise by 14 percent. However, Lenovo and BlackBerry both moved quickly to clarify Yang’s comments, saying that these were taken out of context and that the CEO was merely speaking “broadly” about future possibilities.
Given Lenovo’s mobile ambitions, a deal for BlackBerry could be an incredibly smart move. Lenovo has already demonstrated its ability to take on established players like Samsung and Apple in its home country China, where the strength of its brand and distribution network have helped it grab second place in smartphone sales. Now, Lenovo wants to do the same in western markets, and this is where BlackBerry can help it out – its distribution network and awareness of the BlackBerry brand are far greater than Lenovo’s, and it still enjoys considerable popularity with business users in particular.
Nevertheless, it’s not certain that Lenovo or anyone else would want to buy the company lock, stock and barrel. Some of its most coveted assets include BBM, the popular instant messenger service that’s set to land on Android and iOS soon, and also its enterprise security system – which could both prove to be tempting to different buyers.
Twelve months ago, BlackBerry basked in one of its best rebounding stock market shifts of 2012. The cause? A report from an analyst at Jefferies & Co. said that Samsung could acquire a license to use the BlackBerry 10, or outright acquire the technology giant of Waterloo in Ontario.
Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies, said that BlackBerry wants to revive talks with Samsung surrounding the BB10 operating system. He said Samsung, through an acquisition of BlackBerry, would directly gain access to its 80 million users and cut short its dependence on Google’s Android OS.
“We believe Samsung is considering ramping up its internal OS [operating system] development efforts, licensing BB10, or buying RIM,” he wrote. “We think any acquisition is unlikely until after BB10 launches.”
A year later, BB10′s launch has come and gone, doing little to revive Samsung’s rumored interest in acquiring BlackBerry. But it may still be a worthy consideration for the South Korean phone maker, as Asian manufacturers continue to grow market share on a global playing field.
Another round of rumors circulating in the air was that BlackBerry had been approached by IBM to discuss a takeover of its Services business.
Bloomberg reported that negotiations were held between BlackBerry and the IBM group on the infrastructure part for an acquisition, valued between $1.5 to $2.5 billion.
The acquisition of BlackBerry’s enterprise-service business would give IBM an added advantage of maintaining a secure and speedy e-mail system that’s already favored by many large enterprises.
However, it is not clear when the decision would take place, as both the companies have denied any talks at all.
HP and Dell used to be the cradle of innovation, offering great ideas to the worldwide PC market that opened new frontiers in technology. Since Apple changed the direction of the computer market with the launch of the iPhone in June 2007, Dell’s market value since then has dropped by 60 percent.
With the emergence of tablets and smartphones, PC penetration will further decline as more consumers prefer tablets instead of a personal computer. Dell had its chance with the Dell Streak 5 and 7 tablet series, but the company couldn’t capitalize on the growth of these devices.
Dell’s mobility business continues to show a considerable weakness, to the tune of a 19 percent year-over-year decline, and its PC business has also been chopped. In addition, Dell’s revenue dropped by 14 percent annually when looking at both desktops and laptops.
Dell recognizes that the success of a tablet is not only based on its hardware configuration. That’s why the company is expending considerable effort on Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system. Dell is hoping that Windows 8-based products will rebound the company’s future.
The acquisition of BlackBerry would not only provide the PC manufacturer a chance to compete with Apple, but also Amazon and Google. Dell could then leverage its mobility business with BlackBerry assets such as BB10 software, existing enterprise presence, a growing music service and BlackBerry’s Mobile Fusion product that supports collaboration of enterprise mobile devices.