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By 13 August 2013 | Categories: news

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Canadian smartphone and tablet maker BlackBerry has come to a fork in the mobile road. It is now pondering whether to sell the company outright, continue to navigate the rough smartphone seas in the BlackBerry 10 ship, or cosy up to a mobile partner.

BlackBerry has announced that the company’s Board of Directors (BoD) has formed a Special Committee to explore strategic alternatives in order to “enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment.” Listed amongst these ‘strategic alternatives’ are possible joint ventures, partnerships or alliances, or the sale of the company.

“During the past year, management and the Board have been focused on launching the BlackBerry 10 platform and BES 10, establishing a strong financial position, and evaluating the best approach to delivering long-term value for customers and shareholders,” said Timothy Dattels, chairman of BlackBerry’s Special Committee of the BoD. “Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives.”

The Suwon-Cupertino effect

The Waterloo-based company has been struggling to compete over the last year in a smartphone world dominated by Samsung and other Android OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), as well as Apple and its iPhone.

During Q1 2013, Microsoft’s Windows Phone replaced BlackBerry OS as the third most utilised smartphone platform globally and in Q2 2013 BlackBerry’s market share contracted even further.

According to market research firm IDC, Waterloo’s worldwide smartphone shipment stake dropped to levels not seen in the history of the IDC Mobile Phone Tracker service, from 4.9% in Q2 2012 to 2.9% in Q2 2013. This despite the company having three different BlackBerry 10 powered smartphones available on the global market in the form of the BlackBerry Z10 (review), BlackBerry Q10 (review), and the BlackBerry Q5 (review).

IDC asserted that BlackBerry will need more time and resources in order to evangelise more end users to the BlackBerry 10 mobile platform. Considering the formation of the new Special Committee it would appear that the company is quickly running out of time.   

Thorsten Heins, president and CEO of BlackBerry stated: “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.”

“As the Special Committee focuses on exploring alternatives, 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,” Heins concluded.

In other mobile related news, ABI Research recently revealed that there are some tough times ahead for smartphone vendors, with the balance of power in the mobile industry still residing with Samsung/Android and Apple.

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