BlackBerry's new strategy: Turn away money, get rid of its CEO
Back in September, BlackBerry had a glimmer of hope that the once-mighty phone maker would have a fighting chance with the investment offer from ones of its largest shareholders, Fairfax Financial. But the latest news seems to suggest that the Canadian-based company has simply decided to throw all caution to the wind.
The now-former CEO Thorsten Heins has been replaced by John S. Chen until the company can find a new leader. Chen is the newly appointed executive chairman of the board and is now responsible for BlackBerry’s “strategic direction, strategic relationships, and organizations goals,” according to the official press release.
Indeed, there will be much strategizing involved, as BlackBerry also has to figure out what to do with itself since it turned away the $4.7 billion investment deal from Fairfax. The deal was supposed to be completed November 4 and would have both paid out the shareholders and taken the company private, but BlackBerry has instead elected to raise $1 billion in cash itself by selling off bonds. It’s unclear if Fairfax will attempt to make another bid for the company anytime soon, but it sounds like this is the company’s last bet.
The business decision is a bit perplexing when you consider that the company laid off about 40 percent of its workforce to try and curb its losses. There’s also the ever-increasing marketshare of other rival mobile platforms to consider: Microsoft’s Windows Phone is seeing more users in regions where BlackBerry used to take hold, and Samsung took over the world with its Android-powered arsenal of Galaxy smartphones. As for the US, BlackBerry failed to attract consumers to purchase its Z10 and Q10 smartphones.
At this point in the game, it’s hard to imagine that BlackBerry can do anything more to bolster itself in the current mobile landscape. Its only bid for survival would be to get bought up by a company that could take advantage of its precious patents, as was the case with Motorola when it was bought by Google almost two years ago. BlackBerry better think of something fast, however, because its time in this business is running out.
Updated at 3:58 p.m. PT with a video report from IDG News Service.