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What's next for BlackBerry?

Matt Hamblen | Sept. 24, 2013
A sell-off of parts of BlackBerry has been rumored for some time

Those elements alone could make the full company worth $10.5 billion. Meanwhile, the smartphone division is said to be a drain on profits, and would cost any buyer up to $2 billion to shut down.

Gold said Fairfax's bid is "probably the best possible outcome of several unattractive options for BlackBerry." He said taking the company private might lead to bringing back BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis as the CEO of a smaller entity.

"That could buy them some time to put the house in order," Gold said. "Being private would mean that Wall Street is not continuously breathing down their neck [and] provide them financial stability so that enterprise customers would not feel compelled to replace [their phones] for fear of [losing] business."

BlackBerry Messenger is the biggest potential growth engine for BlackBerry, Gold noted, and will grow beyond its 60 million users per month once problems that occurred during the weekend launch of BBM for Android and iPhone are resolved.

BlackBerry's services division also provides BlackBerry Enterprise Services software to enterprises, which moves the company into an aggressive market for mobile device management and mobile application management software. "The services division has some legs and could generate growth," Gold said.

Going private "is the best place for BlackBerry right now," agreed independent analyst Jeff Kagan. Motorola had to downsize and is a "limited success" as a part of Google, he said.

BlackBerry has slipped from its high point of controlling half the smartphone market for several years to about 3%. Under Fairfax, Kagan said, BlackBerry will be a "much smaller and less important player" but will at least survive for a while longer.

 

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