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Devices/smartphones

Selling BlackBerry: The Options

The problem for BlackBerry in finding an escape route for its current woes is locating the right buyers or partners to pump new life into the brand.

The Canadian device-maker has said the company's board of directors has formed a special committee "to explore strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment."

These options include "joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions." The committee to weigh the alternatives will include of Barbara Stymiest, Thorsten Heins, Richard Lynch and Bert Nordberg, and will be chaired by Timothy Dattels.

The problem for the company formerly known as Research In Motion is that it has a shrinking pool of partners or buyers that could make a difference.

Microsoft Corp. has previously been seen as a strong potential buyer, thanks to the symbiotic Exchange email-BlackBerry relationship. This has become less important over time, however, as the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend builds in the enterprise. Microsoft, meanwhile, appears all-in with Nokia Corp. on the device side.

Samsung Corp. would clearly be just about the strongest partner or buyer in terms of devices. Again, however, although the massive South Korean device maker has tried to push an alternative OS before with its "Bada" offering, it now seems closely tied to Android through the massive success of its Galaxy range of devices.

After that, BlackBerry's options look to involve selling off or heavily licensing its enterprise software to try and finance the growth of its BB10 devices. This could well involve working with several companies and would become less lucrative over time as the move to BYOD grows.

Of course, going private could be another route for the company, one that would relieve the constant pressure of Wall Street and assorted pundits.

"Going private or selling 100% to someone else would (after closing and delisting) take all this noise off the table so the company can concentrate on improving the product and re-establishing the brand with consumers," writes Yankee Group's senior VP of research, Wally Swain, in a note about BlackBerry's predicament.

"What I fear is that institutional investors will be happy with a partial sale that runs up the stock price from where it is today so they can close out their positions in better shape, but that will still leave management and the success of BB10 hostage to the buy/sell/hold tri-polarity of Wall Street," he adds.

So what's your take on the options for BlackBerry in the days and months ahead? Let us know on the message board below.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Benoit Mercier 8/14/2013 | 1:30:35 AM
re: Selling BlackBerry: The Options To me, the best BB features were: BBM, a real keyboard, fast email & outlook integration. The search function was also faster because of the real keyboard. I hope these features and associated patents can survive BB's next stage in life.
Dan'l Miller 8/13/2013 | 10:24:28 PM
re: Selling BlackBerry: The Options As a wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackBerry, Certicom's dominance of elliptic-curve cryptography could be quite lucrative in this era of concern over government surveillance. With aggressive ubiquitous licensing of this IPR, elliptic-curve cryptography could be the most valuable asset that BlackBerry owns.
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