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BlackBerry cuts 4500 jobs, loses nearly $1 billion in Q2

Armando Rodriguez and Martyn Williams, IDG News Service | Sept. 23, 2013
With over a third of its staff gone and with its stock continuing to drop, it looks like we're close to the end of BlackBerry.

It sold around 5.9 million handsets, but will only recognize revenue on 3.7 million phones as the remainder had already been shipped to dealers in a previous quarter.

Despite Heins' focus on the future, many in the industry wonder just how long the company will be able to survive in the cut-throat smartphone market.

The company has already said it's evaluating "strategic alternatives." That's often code for a breakup of a company or acquisition by a competitor.

Background
The BlackBerry 10 operating system came to market more than a year late at a time when many of its once-fanatical users had switched to rival platforms from Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Friday's statement doesn't do much to reassure current users and investors that BlackBerry will be able to turn itself around.

Canada's stock market regulator suspended trading in BlackBerry shares a few minutes before the company made its announcement. The stock plummeted when trading resumed, at one point losing almost a quarter of its value.

BlackBerry is scheduled to announced full financial results for the second quarter on Sept. 27.

Reaction
One of BlackBerry's biggest challenges now is giving consumers a compelling reason to go with the company's smartphone and tablet devices when more app-focused products like the iPhone and Android-powered devices also vie for their attention.

To compete, the company needs a larger app ecosystem to give users more of the same mobile services that are already available on iOS and Android, said Ramon Llamas, an industry analyst with IDC.

BlackBerry said it will shrink its smartphone lineup from six devices to four, with a focus on the enterprise and prosumer markets, but really the company should provide a broader portfolio of products with more features, Llamas said.

BlackBerry is targeting its new lineup of devices at the productive, professional end user. But with today's smartphones and tablets, "productivity is a given," Llamas said.

Independent telecom analyst Jack Gold said BlackBerry's sales for the quarter were almost half what he had been expecting.

"It's going to be very difficult for them to recover from this spiral," he said in an email. "You can cope with a big loss if sales are increasing. But with a loss and a sales downturn, things look dire."

"At this point, the shares are worth less than before, so it would be easier for someone to acquire them, but its not clear who that might be. They would essentially be buying the IP and installed base of customers. Also, it would be easier to go private, but again, who would fund it?"

 

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