BlackBerry crumbles and puts itself up for sale

After years of struggling to compete with the likes of Apple, BlackBerry puts itself up for sale to revive its fortunes.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 24 Sep 2013

Smartphone maker BlackBerry is exploring options for its ailing business, and one of those is a possible sale to a new owner who could help revive the company’s fortunes.

It is thought that a joint venture is also being considered to help propel its new BlackBerry 10 operating system. BlackBerry’s hopes are pinned on the Z10, the 4G touchcreen smartphone the company launched in January to much fanfare. The Canadian company dropped its Research in Motion name at the same time and rebranded as Blackberry, to coincide with the launch of the new model.

However, the phone has made little impact in an already-crowded smartphone market which is dominated by the likes of Apple and Google. BlackBerry reported a loss of $84m (£54m) in the first quarter, and expects to also make a loss in the three months to the end of August. Its days as an independent player could soon be numbered.

It is a surprising turnaround for BlackBerry, the phone which introduced mobile emailing more than 10 years ago and quickly became a must-have tool in the business world. The device dominated the smartphone market and in 2006 the neologism ‘CrackBerry’ was coined, in a nod to the phone’s addictive nature.

But over the last few years, Blackberry has been slow to challenge the iPhone, which Apple launched in 2007, and Google’s Android system which runs on a range of devices including Samsung. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), BlackBerry's global market share had slipped to just 3.7% in the second quarter, the lowest since tracking began, while Android accounted for nearly 80%.The company has also grappled with production problems, signal outages and management issues in the last year.

Blackberry has now formed a special board committee to weigh up its options.

‘Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives,’ Timothy Dattels, chairman of the special committee, said.

The company’s shares were briefly suspended in New York ahead of the announcement, but later reopened to rise 9.4% in pre-market trading.

BlackBerry's five years of woe

 

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