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BleakBerry: The gloomy outlook

Tom Paye | Sept. 4, 2013
A new survey paints a bleak picture for the future of BlackBerry, with many current BlackBerry users exploring their options for a new mobile platform.

Wang's diagnosis of the situation is even bleaker. According to him, BlackBerry needs to look at any option it can in order to stay afloat. He explains: "After years of running the company into the ground and not listening to the advice of even its own employees, they have to look at all options."

Any of these options come with a multitude of perils. What's more, until something is decided, BlackBerry's fortunes are unlikely to get any better — analysts like Menezes and Wang are warning customers and investors to monitor the situation closely. Sure, stocks surged by more than 10 percent when it was announced that Heins had formed the strategic committee, but that's hardly an indication of the long-term outlook.

"The fact that it is announcing plans to explore new alternatives, rather than identifying a strategic transaction or partnership, means the period of uncertainty about Blackberry's prospects will continue for some time," Menezes says.

In the meantime, BlackBerry has made some encouraging announcements. Not long after the firm was said to be mulling serious strategic changes, it launched the 9720 smartphone running the BlackBerry 7 OS. The device is a bid to stay relevant at the lower end of the smartphone market. And with sales of BB10 devices still sluggish, the company is still dependent on the old operating system, so it makes sense to release update phones running it.

That said, the 9720 is hardly going to solve BlackBerry's problems — if it does anything, it might just keep uncertain investors at bay. But according to Menezes, Gartner's current sales forecast doesn't anticipate any significant change in BlackBerry's market share over the remainder of 2013. And Constellation's Wang expects "continued declines and more punishing sales revenues as more corporates continue to drop [BlackBerry devices]."

However, Heins might be able to hold off criticism just long enough to pull something out of the bag. In a statement after the special committee announcement was made, the CEO still managed to convey a sense of optimism.

"We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10. We have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet, and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition," he said.

"We will be continuing with our strategy of reducing cost, driving efficiency and accelerating the deployment of BES 10, as well as driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, launching the multi-platform BBM social messaging service, and pursuing mobile computing opportunities by leveraging the secure and reliable BlackBerry Global Data Network."

Unfortunately, Heins' words give the impression of plugging an oil leak with a sticking plaster —BlackBerry needs much more than positive words to survive.


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