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Blackberry Businesses Cellphones

BlackBerry Founders May Try To Take Over the Company 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-want-to-add-a-second-physical-keyboard dept.
New submitter Adamsobert sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "In a regulatory filing on Thursday, Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin said that they were considering a bid for the 92 percent of the company that they do not own. ... Their potential bid joins a growing list of expressions of interest in the company, which recently reported a $1 billion quarterly loss caused by the market's rejection of new smartphones that were supposed to revive BlackBerry's prominence. Fairfax Financial Holdings of Toronto has made a conditional, nonbinding offer to buy the 90 percent of BlackBerry shares it does not own for $9 each. That would value the company at about $4.7 billion."
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BlackBerry Founders May Try To Take Over the Company

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    They did such a great job running it before...

    • Not that I see Mike Lazaridis or Douglas Fregin as a Steve Jobs, but the same could be said about Jobs when he returned to Apple. Sometimes, leaving and coming back is a good thing. It can provide a unique perspective.

      • by Desler (1608317) on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:22AM (#45100605)

        You realize that Mike Lazaridis only just resigned from the board only like 7 months ago, right? Jobs was gone from Apple for more than a decade. The two situations are hardly comparable.

        • by stiggle (649614)

          Jobs also setup NeXT after leaving Apple, proving he could make another company selling nicely designed expensive GUI systems :-)

          • by binarylarry (1338699) on Friday October 11, 2013 @10:02AM (#45100939)

            He also basically failed at that, NeXT was in trouble when Apple acquired them (as was Apple).

            It's funny how two failing companies combined and turned into such a hugely successful one.

            • by jbolden (176878)

              NeXT had great products (particularly OS and development environment) but no way to scale up to bring them to enough market to make them viable.
              Apple had slipped and needed great products but had a large enough market.

            • by T-Ranger (10520)
              It was the greatest switcheroos in my knowledge of IT corporate M&As.

              NeXT was paid to take over Apple.
  • He already ran the company into this situation. The problems at Blackberry are so bad that even a child could spot them, I know a few of the staff being laid off and they with out even trying can pick out the issues. If you never meet deadlines, never innovate, copy the market and become stale, you fail.
    • It's worse than that. If they had copied the competition earlier they would probably be in a better position today.
    • by swalve (1980968)
      I would disagree. They became powerful by innovating and being really good at their business-y niche. The faltered when they tried to cater to the masses with cheap phones and "cool" features. If they had stuck to the slightly autistic way of doing things, the Bold 9900 would be 3/16 of an inch thin and have a week of talk time.
  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:02AM (#45100451)

    What's the actual value (not market value, actual value) of BlackBerry? What are they going to get for that ~$5bn? It seems to me BlackBerry aren't competitive in the handset market any more and don't stand any chance of becoming so any time soon. They are pushing BBM for other platforms now, are they trying to pivot and become a messaging company? Again, I don't see how they are competitive or how they will make money.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      They won't be competitive. These are the same folks that sat on their hands while Apple ate their lunch and Google took their dinner. Their plan is to piss away $5bn worth of someones money and pocket as much of it as possible themselves while letting the company fail as slowly as possible.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by epiphani (254981) <epiphani&dal,net> on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:29AM (#45100655)

      Well, about $2B in cash, no debt, one of the biggest patent portfolios on mobile tech, global datacenter presence, direct links and relationships with over 150 carriers, a manufacturing chain, and still around 60 million customers - and a brand, while presently negative, that is internationally known. At $9 a share from Fairfax, they could do nothing but shut down the company, sell the assets, and make money.

      That being said, I have a BB10 device, and I honestly believe they have a quality product. Their problems are more about marketing, advertising, and un-fucking their relationships with various companies and carriers (they obviously pissed in Netflix's wheaties, since they refuse to release a BB10 app, whereas Netflix will put their software on just about anything). Yes, the company was poorly managed these past 5-6 years, but they're not "worthless". They've managed to piss off the carriers and some developers. That's most of the problem.

    • by swb (14022)

      Their actual value is what someone will pay for them and this is basically what their *market* value is.

      They have a hard asset value (real estate, buildings, machinery, cash minus debts & obligations) but it's probably not all that much.

      Most of their value is in the brand, the technology and most importantly their patents, but I don't know how they value these and they're very "soft" values subject to interpretation.

      I'd have to guess that there are no existing devices that actually infringe on Blackberr

  • Recipe for succes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:18AM (#45100571)

    Make it the safest telephone ever.
    With heavy encryption, plugins for blocking all data harvesters and no NSA eaves dropping.
    Since it is a non-US based company, it should be possible.
    I would already be happy with a low-app, low-cost monochrome e-ink phone with extreme battery life, as long as it is very secure.
    Just for business communication. That's what blackberry should be used for. Stay in that market niche.

    Then I'll read Facebook and Twitter on my other, bloated, battery draining spyware infested color telephone.

    Or combine both systems into one, but remember to keep the data channels physically separated.

    • by SvnLyrBrto (62138)

      > With heavy encryption, plugins for blocking all data
      > harvesters and no NSA eaves dropping. Since it is a
      > non-US based company, it should be possible.

      RIM has already caved on that score and built in backdoors to let India eavesdrop on Blackberry users' communications. If they'll do it for India, do you really think they wouldn't do so for any first-world nation that asks? Do you really think the NSA hasn't already asked? I wouldn't trust any of those assumptions to be true any farther than I

      • by narcc (412956)

        RIM has already caved on that score and built in backdoors to let India eavesdrop on Blackberry users' communications.

        That's not even a little bit true.

        Check your facts before posting next time.

  • I don't get it - Blackberry has basically failed. These guys obviously made a lot of money when it WAS successful in order to even have the capital to attempt this - why not just let it go and retire. When you have more money than any one person could likely ever spend doing normal day-to-day living, why risk it just for the chance to make even more money that you can't spend fast enough?

    • by Keruo (771880)

      why not just let it go and retire

      Not everything in life is about money, atleast when you have enough not to worry if you can pay the rent or maybe buy food tomorrow.
      Having extra time and nothing to do can be really dulling and boring in numerous ways.
      The company is their baby. They built it and they want to see it succeed.
      Sometimes it's good to scale back and rethink the direction.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      And that attitude is probably why they have a billion dollars to throw around and you don't :p
  • I was under the impression, and had read reports in the last few days, that said Fairfax's offer wasn't going to happen at $9 because they were unable to get that much cash together for the deal? I think some are suggesting they are about $1B short and that $7/share was more realistic for them. That was why other players are now starting to seriously think about offers now, including Google and MS again? Or am I simply mistaken, and am having yet another one of my "old" moments?
    • Yes, they do seem to be having some difficulty finding other people willing to help provide the cash for the cheque they want to hand over.

  • by Mr. X (17716) on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:34AM (#45100695)
    Lazaridis is insane... why would he believe he could run BlackBerry any better today than he did before?
    • by Bradmont (513167)
      No, it's that he feels he hasn't finished beating the horse. It's not quite dead yet.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:41AM (#45100757) Journal

    I knew I should have shorted them the day the iPhone was announced...

    -jcr

    • I knew I should have shorted them the day the iPhone was announced...

      -jcr

      Their share price dropped from an all time high at around that very time, but blackberry continued to grow for three more years. What killed blackberry was not the iPhone, but poor decisions, like its ill fated tablet, and its late blackberry 10 operating system.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      I knew I should have shorted them the day the iPhone was announced...

      -jcr

      If you switch from Blackberry to Apple at the drop of a hat, does that make you a Blackberry and Apple tart?

  • Apple has the high-end smart-phone market, Android the mid and low end, and - horror of honours it looks as though Blackberry's old corporate market for centrally controlled and secured phones might be going to MicroSoft.
    • Apple has the high-end smart-phone market, Android the mid and low end, and - horror of honours it looks as though Blackberry's old corporate market for centrally controlled and secured phones might be going to MicroSoft.

      Not even close. Apple occupy the unique position of being a mid range; low cost; high priced; highly subsidised phone that limitied its penetration to the US where its brand has a lot of power. In China its a joke. Android occupy the Low; Mid and High range as well as all sizes; tastes; unique designs. Microsoft have made a tiny bit of growth, at the very bottom end of "Nokias" traditional markets...its a topic to itself.

  • One of the rarely spoken problems with Blackberry is that it had become stale. Somehow they mistakenly thought "oh hey, these touchscreen phones are what people want! let's make one too!" It wasn't the touchscreen. It was the apps and the user interface. Being able to do so much more with a phone is the big deal... but it also makes a phone into a toy and a huge distraction. Blackberry is a "business device."

    That Blackberry is a business device which is well established for its security and other busi

    • "Toy" has been the common "business" slur against Macintosh going back to beginning. It was and is a corporate putdown that is really unfair.

      You can do a lot of cool looking stuff with Android (including play games) but I think the "toy" slur is just that... a slur. Android and to a lesser extent iOS are computers that have a phone function. BB started as a phone that can do some computer functions. IMHO, there Android gives you the ability to a lot more "business" than your traditional BB device, maybe

    • Being able to do so much more with a phone is the big deal... but it also makes a phone into a toy and a huge distraction.

      You could say the same about computers in general. Being able to play games on your computer makes it into a toy and not a business tool... except that other programs you run on your computer can help your business. In the same way, there are apps for smartphones that at pure fun and games and there are other apps that can help you run your business more efficiently.

      If BlackBerry just

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Blackberry has something that presently no one else has -- government security approval and systems in place using it.

        Other players have earned the approval but none are currently deploying anything which exploits it.

        My way lets them continue on doing their blackberry thing without compromising their approval. Wrapping it with Android enable fun and interesting apps.

        • Blackberry 10 can already run Android apps. It's not as simple as using the Play Store on an android, but if I have an .apk file I can convert it into a .bar and load it onto my Q10. Some things don't work, of course - in particular, the square screen with no 'portrait' and 'landscape' mode seems to break things - but many do.

          BB doesn't intend for users to do this. It's for their app store - if you have an Android app it's pretty trivial to repackage it as a .bar and sell it BB's store.

          • by erroneus (253617)

            It already does it but it doesn't work. So, it doesn't actually do it... it almost sorta tries to do it.

        • by sysrammer (446839)

          I like this idea.

          My firm will be issuing me a 10 shortly. I'll miss my kybd. Eh, I've used itouch, I'll get used to it.

  • by SirAudioMan (2836381) on Friday October 11, 2013 @10:25AM (#45101117)
    ...and a huge amount of bloat as a company that only produces ONE product! About 5-6 years ago I used to spend many weekends (dating my future wife) in Waterloo, Ontario, where the BlackBerry/RIM's headquarters are located. I was always amazed at just how many buildings were scattered around the city just dedicated to RIM. It always seemed excessive to me!

    Fast-forward to today. I was driving to work in Mississauga, Ontario (about an hour east of Waterloo) and decided to take a different route for the first time. To my surprise I saw two huge BlackBerry building that looked like they were no more than a few years old. I can only imagine this is the tip of the iceberg as to the properties, corporate jets, and huge amounts of staff they still have and are in desperate need of shedding as they are burning through cash like crazy and have almost nothing to show for it.

    If Mike Lazaridis were to come back that would be the kiss of death for them - the nail in the coffin. Let's remember who was on the board (along with Ballsillie) during the times that allowed the company to a) grow massively b) fail to innovate and c) put all their eggs in one basket. Then when times got tough, both of them chickened out, sold shares and took the money and ran. Mike Lazaridis might be smart engineer who is good at technology and ceasing opportunities but is likely a lousy businessman and innovator.

    BB doesn't need better hardware or better technology - they need a better leader who innovates, inspires and can see into the future much like Jobs, Page/Brin, etc. I am afraid it's far too late to save the company as they are at least one generation behind everything and have an abysmal market share. They may be good at doing email but that is very easy technology to implement/copy in other devices. Honestly the best thing that could happen to them at this point would be if somebody like Google or Micro$oft bought them for their patents and IP.

    It is very sad what has happened to them and all the employees who have lost or are loosing their jobs but their downfall is almost entirely their own fault due to their arrogance, failure to innovate and lack of product diversification.

  • by kbahey (102895) on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:40PM (#45102571) Homepage

    I live in Waterloo, and have many friends who work/worked there.

    Before people think that an acquisition by the founder would save the company, please read the following in depth article: How Blackberry blew it: the inside story [theglobeandmail.com].

    While Apple and Google were building an ecosystem of developers writing thousands of apps, and a central repository for those apps, Lazarides was still focusing on battery life and a physical keyboard, and failed to see why Apple and Google were becoming so popular.

    Blackberry is resigned to the fate of being #4 platform for mobile, after Google, Apple, and yes, Microsoft, with low single digit market share after being #1 before smart phones with touch screens and app store/markets.

    • by sysrammer (446839)

      That was an interesting article. Thanks for the link.

      To me, the strengths of the BB are: the physical keyboard, good battery life, rock-solid email.

      I will be issued the new BB shortly. No keyboard: I'll adapt, I imagine. I've have an itouch, so I'm familiar w/ soft keyboards. I don't think I'll ever be as fast as with a physical keyboard. I'm a touch-typist, so the adaptive typing may not be too useful to me because I can typically type out a word faster than I can look at the choices presented. Depending o

      • by kbahey (102895)

        I agree that the BB's strengths are the keyboard and good battery life. But the lack of an easy repository for apps was what made Apple and Google a success (despite lagging in the keyboard and battery), and BB failed to see that.

        My first "smart"phone was a Microsoft Windows, and I chose because of the keyboard factor. It had a sliding keyboard with good touch keys. But Windows was horrible as a phone interface.

        I then moved to Android, also preferring a keyboard and got a Motorola Milestone (which is the GS

  • RIM is totem pole tourism, some IP rights and a Blackberry salvage operation at best.

  • by guytoronto (956941) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:17PM (#45102973)
    Maybe Michael Dell can put in his two-cents on how to turn the company around.
  • by bayankaran (446245) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:35PM (#45103165) Homepage
    ...should come up with a stripped down extra secure Android smartphone, with two profiles - a fully encrypted super secure profile for business and another for rest of the nonsense.

    There is a market for the above, and they have to tom-tom "this phone will not spy on you". (Its a meaningless slogan, but might work.)

    They did have the two profile version with the new phone, but the OS needs to be Android. They already have the hardware.
  • Right now everyone thinks BB is dying. The Founders jumping in and saying they want to buy the whole thing says they believe it still has life. Maybe they're just trying to attract interest and pull in more bidders.

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