All Articles Tagged "BlackBerry"
The struggle continues for BlackBerry, which has decided that it’s not going to sell the business, but rather will raise $1 billion in financing.
Fairfax Financial Holdings, the company’s biggest shareholder, announced today that a deal to take over the troubled mobile company for $4.7 billion has been scrapped after money for the transaction became hard to come by. Instead, Fairfax says it’s now going to kick in $250 million towards the $1 billion fundraising goal.
In addition, the company is also replacing Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry’s CEO, and installing John Chen, the former head of tech company Sybase, in his place. Heins had only been head of the company since last year.
Just last month, BlackBerry announced a second quarter loss of $965 million. And in September, the company laid off 40 percent of its employees (about 4,500 people). The company says that poor sales of the new Z10 device caused the losses.
The Wall Street Journal reports that efforts to speak with companies like LinkedIn about a sale yielded no results. And many of the Z10 phones went unsold.
USA Today predicts that this is the last gasp for BlackBerry, which saw its stock drop 16 percent this morning on the news. Citing a lack of excitement from investors, customers, and even tech reviewers, the paper says that it’s just a bad situation for everyone.
Does it sound like the end of the line to you?
Don’t worry, says BlackBerry. The struggling Canadian company has written an open letter to customers saying it will not go out of business, reports The Los Angeles Times.
BlackBerry published an open letter as part of an all-out media campaign designed to ease nervous customers’ worries that the company will go under.
“These are no doubt challenging times for us and we don’t underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges,” the company wrote in the letter, which it posted on its website Monday. “We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry.”
The letter was also published in 30 newspapers around the world. In it, BlackBerry says users have “no doubt seen the headlines” about the company. ”And speaking of those dramatic headlines, it’s important that we set the record straight on a few things,” it said.
Customers have reason to wonder about the state of the company. There was recent news that BlackBerry had struck a tentative deal to be bought by a Canadian insurance company for $4.7 billion. “That led to a separate filing by BlackBerry’s co-founders, Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, that said the duo might finance their own takeover,” reports The Times.
And last month BlackBerry disclosed it planned to lay off about 4,500 employees, or about 40 percent of its workforce. It has been reeling over the loss of nearly $1 billion in its most recent quarter.
On top of this, Apple reportedly has been recruiting BlackBerry’s employees.
“Despite all that bad news, BlackBerry said in its letter that it has substantial cash on hand and a balance sheet that is debt free. It plans to restructure, with a goal to cut expenses 50%,” reports The Times. (Bit of a sidebar: See how important it is to be debt free! When the going gets tough, having no debt will keep you going.)
BlackBerry added that customers “can continue to trust us to keep your communication safe and private” and noted that it recognized iOS and Android devices have become more popular in the workplace. The company announced it was working on a solution to help businesses manage all the different platforms “seamlessly and securely.”
But the company knows it can’t please everybody.
“Yes, there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone,” the letter said. “That’s OK.”
During a recent screening of Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” in NYC, audiences were most surprised to see megastar Madonna in attendance but some people quickly grew upset with the pop icon.
Page Six reports that a woman sitting in theater grew angry at “a mysterious blonde in black lace gloves who wouldn’t stop texting on her Blackberry throughout the first half of the movie.”
The woman apparently didn’t realize that the blonde was Madonna herself when she grew tired and asked her to put her phone away. Madonna reportedly responded, “It’s for business…enslaver!” The statement was referencing the film’s darkly intense slave narrative.
Read more at EurWeb.com
Just three days after Blackberry’s announcement that it will cut 40 percent of its employees (4,500 people) due to a $1 billion quarterly loss, Fairfax Financial Holdings—Blackberry’s largest shareholder—has offered to buy the smartphone-maker for $4.7 billion or $9 a share.
Blackberry has been drowning in America’s infatuation with iPhones and Androids, watching its market share nosedive over the past few years. So that leaves one question: Why would anyone want to buy Blackberry? According to Bloomberg Newsweek, between short-term investments, cash, and accounts and notes receivable, Blackberry says it has about $5.2 billion sitting around. ”Fairfax, for its part, seems to have run the numbers and decided that there is still some value to be squeezed out of the company,” the magazine reports. “This doesn’t seem illogical at first glance, [but] BlackBerry has an arsenal of patents, which have been valued between $2 billion and $5 billion. ”
Moreover, the company has managed to hang on to corporate customers, who still value the business uses of the devices and the QWERTY keyboard. That’s an area that the company has already said it will continue to focus on.
“We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world,” Prem Watsa, chief executive of Fairfax, said in a statement.
“It’s likely that BlackBerry will be out of the devices business entirely by the middle of next year,” said Jan Dawson, a chief telecoms analyst. Taking Blackberry private doesn’t solve its fundamental issues, she said, and “the company lacked a long-term strategy.”
The privatization of Blackberry, however, is not yet set in stone. The company has until Nov. 4 to find a better proposal than Fairfax before sealing the deal. “If BlackBerry does receive multiple offers, a bidding war could break out,” CNN Money reported. However, that is highly unlikely. On Monday, the company’s share was trading at $8.82—just under Fairfax’s sale price of $9, which suggests that Blackberry is not anticipating higher bids anytime soon, Forbes said.
As CNN Money concludes, “if the Fairfax deal goes through, it will likely be a big relief for BlackBerry — and a big challenge for Fairfax.”
Also via The New York Times
BlackBerry tried to add a little star power to its marketing by enlisting Alicia Keys as global creative director back in January. And they’ve tried to make a splash with big events to launch new devices. But the hoped-for comeback just isn’t happening, and now the company is seeking a buyer either for the entire business or some of its assets.
“The struggling smartphone maker carries valuable assets that could entice potential buyers, including a broad suite of services aimed at businesses and several key mobile patents. [Edward Jones analyst] Kreher says smartphone companies that don’t develop their own operating system, like Samsung or HTC, might show interest,” reports USA Today. The article proposes that any sale will most likely go to a private person or organization. That would give the purchaser the chance to work with the company without having to report quarterly earnings or answer to the markets and shareholders.
The company’s slide from the top happened so swiftly, you can almost remember when BlackBerry was riding high like it was yesterday.
“Four years ago, BlackBerry had 51 percent of the North American smartphone market, according to the research firm Gartner. And Mike Lazaridis, BlackBerry’s co-founder who was then its co-chief executive and co-chairman, was promising an even brighter future,” says The New York Times‘ Dealbook blog. “But then the company responded slowly to new iPhone and Android devices and the company’s sales evaporated. Now, the company has 3.4 percent of the market and Mr. Lazaridis is gone from BlackBerry.”
The path back (if there is one) is made more difficult by the saturation in the market. There are so many phones to choose from and so many apps that aren’t available to BlackBerry users, that the road wouldn’t be an easy one. And we haven’t heard too much about that partnership with Alicia Keys lately.
Not too long ago, we were wondering what exactly happened to the whole BlackBerry/Alicia Keys relationship. After a big splashy announcement that she would be serving as global creative director, it seemed like Keys kind of disappeared.
Not true, said Frank Boulben, BlackBerry’s chief marketing officer. “Ms. Keys has sat in on five marketing meetings with the company, even presenting her own PowerPoint slides at one, he said. She is also expected to give a presentation at the company’s upcoming BlackBerry Live event,” reports Ad Age. Boulben spoke yesterday at the Ad Age Digital Conference. Ad Age says that bringing Keys’ input into the company’s marketing is a way for the company to appear both professional and “cool.”
Business Insider notes that these celebrity partnerships are usually just for show. “But a ‘global creative director’ actually contributing their own input to a brand’s marketing strategy is relatively unheard of. Brand ambassadors usually get by just flashing a logo every now and then — Keys’ PowerPoint presentation takes the role to a new level,” they say.
Of course the big question is whether Keys’ contribution is valuable. Sales will tell.
Are you just dying to get your hands on the BlackBerry 10? Well, you can do so virtually. According to TechCruch, just direct your mobile browser to blackberry.com/glimpse and you can be among the first to get a gander at the new BlackBerry 10.
Of course, the in-browser experience isn’t like having the real product in hand, but it is a demo of BB10′s user interactions and popular features. “It works well, guiding the user through all the swiping and sliding that is BlackBerry 10,” reviews the site. you’ll be able to try out some of the “features” in a heavily scripted preview of the operating system. According to the Wall Street Journal since it is formatted for your smartphone, you can check out the messaging hub, switching applications and time-shifting photos. You should be able to get a “real” feel for the phone.
The signs seem positive for the upcoming smartphone. TechCrunch calls the BlackBerry 10 “a fantastic take on a mobile OS.”
With BlackBerry needing to boost sales, this unique in-browser might be part of the ad campaign revealed by Forbes.
WSJ reports that Blackberry claims it has shipped about a million Z10 smartphones, which start at $199 (putting it in the same price range as the iPhone 5 and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S 4). And about three quarters of those units have sold through, with 55 percent coming from platforms other than BlackBerry.
In other BlackBerry news, the company is officially pulling canceling its BBM Music service on June 2, though the email admits the date is “subject to change, reports TechCrunch. The music service never really seemed to fly BBM Music was first launched in 2011 and for $4.99 a month users could download 50 tracks of their own, but in order to expand that library of tunes users had to invite their BBM contacts to join the service as well, explains the site.
Lastly some good news for the struggling smartphone company. According to the New York Post, BlackBerry has struck a two-season marketing deal with the NY Nets’ home the Barclays Center. “The deal is valued at $1 million to $5 million, according to an industry source who spoke on the condition of anonymity,” reports the newspaper. BlackBerry and its new Z10 phone will in turn get prominent ad placement throughout the arena — plus its own customer “experiential” area and a suite-level lounge, according to Mike Zavodsky, the Nets vice president of new corporate marketing.
Will this increased emphasis on marketing yield business results?
Nearly two months after unveiling their new devices at a big star-studded event, the new BlackBerry Z10 device is finally on sale. But only at AT&T stores.
The phone is $199. But only with a two-year contract.
The BlackBerry Z10 will be available for Verizon and T-Mobile customers… next week.
We give BlackBerry credit: No matter what anyone says, they will not go gentle into that good night. CEO Heins Thorsten is still talking smack and crowing about how good his phones are. They’re putting up a fight, working to reinforce its “position” in the crowded and cutthroat smartphone marketplace.
“BlackBerry’s position still is very much like its old position, in that the device is still aimed at the connected professional, or what Heins calls ‘the hyperconnected multitasker.’,” writes ABC News. Indeed, you still hear stories about people who absolutely adore the QWERTY keyboard on the BlackBerry. And ABC News says the Z10 is a good phone.
But unfortunately, BlackBerry has a number of problems. The first is the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality; the company’s market share has dropped, a lot of apps aren’t available on the BlackBerry, and with all the chatter about Android, Samsung Galaxy, iPhone, HTC, etc, few people are paying much attention to BlackBerry. Without attention, you can’t drive sales.
Another problem is timing. The new Samsung Galaxy was just introduced and a new iPhone is likely on the way.
And finally, the BlackBerry brand is not perceived as an innovative one anymore. Although Thorsten is quick to call out Apple for being old, few people can pinpoint anything new that BlackBerry has done in a long while. In fact, the thing that their devices are best known for — the aforementioned QWERTY keyboard — is even older. And the attempt to add a little celebrity sparkle to the brand via Alicia Keys seems to have fallen flat. I can’t think of anything that I’ve heard about the partnership since it was announced.
So BlackBerry has a steep mountain to climb and there are some who are already counting the company out entirely. Any thoughts? Please take to the comments.
Okay. We know BlackBerry and Apple are rivals when it comes to smartphones. But now Thorsten Heins, CEO of BlackBerry, is taking things to another level. According to Forbes, Heins is taking “potshots” at Apple in an interview with The Australian Financial Review.
“[H]is comments that Apple has lost [its] edge and isn’t innovating in the smartphone market come at a particularly worrisome time for the iPhone,” Forbes writes. Heins is right about one thing: people aren’t too excited about the upcoming iPhone 5. In fact, experts say shipments might fall below street expectations this quarter.
“History repeats itself again I guess… the rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don’t innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly. The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about is now five years old,” he said. “The point is that you can never stand still. It is true for us as well.”
But Heins isn’t the only one talking bad about competition Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller criticized Google’s Android mobile operating system the day before Samsung’s Galaxy S4 was unveiled, reports Forbes.
Trash talking the competition isn’t a good thing to do, says business consultant Mary-Frances Winters, CEO of The Winters Group, a 28-year-old organization development and diversity consulting firm. “Never bad mouth the competition. It is not good business practice. Most of us learned if you can’t say anything nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all,” she advises.
Business and life coach Dr. Anita Davis-DeFoe agrees. “A business owner should always remain focused on maintaining the stellar quality of his or her product or services, the provision of memorable customer service, and demonstrating value added benefits,” she says.
Talking bad about your competition will actually make you look bad. “Bad mouthing the competition puts your business ethics into question, and in the end taints your appeal to a prospective customer. In most cases, the potential customer already has some knowledge of businesses in the industry that provide both good and bad service, and if you are in the room discussing a possible deal, concentrate on outlining what your business can deliver and refrain from focusing on what the competition can not.”
Just earlier this month, the tech industry was all abuzz with the news that Alicia Keys had been tapped by BlackBerry to serve as the company’s global creative director. But it seems the partnership hasn’t yielded the boost or excitement the company was hoping for.
On the surface it seems like it was looking up for the sagging BlackBerry. Besides the flurry of activity surrounding Keys’ appointment, the company debuted its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, which are due in the U.S. in mid-March.
But reports Forbes, “sales have dramatically underperformed previous estimates, mainly because of supply constraints and limited support from carriers.” It appears the company is having trouble competing with a host of new Android and Window phones, and possibly a new iPhone expected in the first half of 2013, according to Canaccord’s analysts.”
The BlackBerry 10 phones are so bad that, as Forbes reveals, RIM has revised its sales estimates for the new Z10s downward. They’re now expected to move only 300,000 in the February quarter, down from a previous estimate of 1.75 million units.
Limited supply is one of a few problems BlackBerry is facing, capping the company’s capacity to sell BlackBerry 10 products, reports Forbes. But it isn’t alone in this problem. Apple faced this problem with several of their iPhone models, being unable to make enough phones to meet the demand.
While this has been a problem for BlackBerry in the past, with the new the Z10s and Q10s the demand is low, due in part to pricing. “BlackBerry’s new smartphones cost about the same as their major competitors Apple and Samsung’s competing models after taking into account carrier subsidies,” says Forbes.
Not only are consumers lukewarm to the new models, carriers also are unenthusiastic. According to the magazine, Sprint will only be launching the Q10, while T-Mobile will only commercialize the touch screen-only Z10. Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the two largest U.S. providers, will carry both models.
So what role is Alicia Keys meant to play in all of this? Marketing had better get on this fast in order to leverage Keys’ popularity to generate some sort of something for the brand.