Another plot twist for the troubled tale of BlackBerry’s sale – it is no more. The Canadian phone maker has abandoned its plan to sell its assets, instead raising around $1 billion from its largest shareholder et al., trying once again to resuscitate its relevance.
It appears the dead deal puts Fairfax, the BlackBerry shareholder originally set to acquire BlackBerry, in a better position to maintain influence and returns on BlackBerry’s portfolio. Reuters reports:
“Fairfax announced a tentative $9-a-share offer for BlackBerry in late September, but Reuters reported on Friday that it was struggling to fund the $4.7 billion bid.
Moody’s had warned in September that the transaction would hurt Fairfax’s credit profile because it would result in the conversion of a public equity investment into a private structure.”
New CEO, new strategy… again
The restructured deal means BlackBerry will need to refocus on its business instead of a sale, and those changes are reflected at the executive level. With news of BlackBerry’s reneged sale is the announcement that CEO Thorsten Heins will step down in about two weeks when the private placement of convertible debentures is expected to close. Stepping in as interim CEO is John Chen, former CEO of Sybase, a database software firm acquired by SAP in 2010.
Chen will also serve as BlackBerry’s new executive chairman, and has been a senior advisor with private equity group Silver Lake last year.
Heins wasn’t in the CEO chair for very long, taking over BlackBerry when its long-standing co-CEO setup stopped working. With another changeup in the executive office, BlackBerry’s troubles are reiterated with the call for new leadership, and a new direction.
Chen’s knowledge of the software world could be helpful as BlackBerry determines its next move. The company has been re-jigging its strategy for the past three years, seeking a balance between hardware and software in a market that rather quickly caught up to its on-the-go productivity edge.
There’s three areas BlackBerry needs to develop if it hopes to survive on its own, having thrown itself back into a ruthless mobile market. Rebuilding its consumer appeal, leveraging its connections in the enterprise, and broadening its software reach across rival platforms.
Here are some recent assets we’ve published on these three points.
What the new BlackBerry needs is a clear path back into the enterprise. It was an easy task a decade ago, when email was the killer app and companies were quick to hand out BlackBerries to employees. Those days have been replaced with employee-driven decisions, like which phone they want to use. And when device selection is left to the end user, Apple and Google come out the winners, leaving BlackBerry, Microsoft and Nokia out in the cold.
Wikibon Senior Analyst Stu Miniman says that for BlackBerry to have a chance of catching up, its phones will have to be a lot more consumer-friendly than they are now. According to him, BB10 is still a “half-baked product,” giving BlackBerry little opportunity to regain its former glory. That’s not to say BlackBerry won’t try…
The way BlackBerry handsets can be controlled and operated by IT department in an enterprise through BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) has kept the device among the most secure compared to others. But in recent years, more and more employees use their personal iPhones or Android smartphones for work, creating a divide between IT and workers that the new BlackBerry hopes to bridge.
BlackBerry recognizes that its primary clients are highly regulated industries, such as the government and the financial sector, who have battled with mobility’s ongoing security issues. The company recently launched BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, a device management system for corporations that can manage BlackBerry devices and those of rival platforms iOS and Android, to work seamlessly in both personal and work mode.
Focus on emerging markets
To gain success with the new enterprise-ready software offering, BlackBerry must persuade CIOs to upgrade to something radically new. BlackBerry should also work to attract more businesses in emerging markets, focusing on its security features and support. This could help BlackBerry distinguish itself from other mobile platforms, iOS and Android, as well as the new kid on the block – Windows Phone 8…
Make people stay
The beauty and curse of BBM is that it’s only for BlackBerry users. When BlackBerrys were a hot commodity, their walled garden worked for them. But with people choosing iPhones and other Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy line, BlackBerry users have no use for BBM other than communicating with other BlackBerry users, unless they download chat apps. Opening its BBM walls seems like the best way of keeping people from embracing other chat apps.
Promote its brand
When people get wind of this, it might just cause them to want to look at other BlackBerry services and products. This could possibly lead to a boost device sales, or at least make it known to consumers that they’re still alive and kicking in the mobile device race.
Trump other chat apps
BBM was around long before any of these other chat apps started popping. As I’ve mentioned a few times already, it’s only for BlackBerry users. Even so, you can’t deny that the service is pretty cool, and knowing BlackBerry, the app should be pretty popular since it’s known for delivering secure services.
Kristen Nicole has also contributed to other publications, from TIME Techland to Forbes. Her work has been syndicated across a number of media outlets, including The New York Times, and MSNBC.
Kristen Nicole published her first book, The Twitter Survival Guide, and is currently completing her second book on predictive analytics.