BlackBerry has raised the white flag. It’s over. The board has formed a special committee to explore “strategic alternatives.” That means the company is essentially for sale. Here’s the statement:
BlackBerry Limited, a world leader in the mobile communications market, today announced that 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 alternatives could include, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions.
If this process doesn’t result in a sale BlackBerry will have few strategic alternatives left.
The Canadian hardware maker, once the leader in the nascent smartphone market, saw its sales and market share fall prey to the iPhone and a host of Android competitors over the past several years. At one time the company held more than 50 percent market share. Today that number is below 5 percent in the US and below 3 percent globally according to Q2 estimates from IDC.
In January of 2012 then Co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis resigned after a long period of denial and decline. Successor and current CEO Thorsten Heins took the helm and presided over the rollout of the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10. However they’ve seen limited consumer interest and adoption.
Who will buy the once mighty Canadian OEM? Most likely it will be a group of private equity investors. However there’s another group of “usual suspects” that might consider a deal at the right price: Amazon, Nokia, Microsoft or maybe one of the lower-end Chinese smartphone manufacturers (i.e., Huawei, ZTE).
Meanwhile new Apple handsets and tablets are likely to be announced on September 10 (AllThingsD was the first to report it). That is the expected date for the formal unveiling of the long-anticipated iPhone 5S and possibly it’s lower cost sibling the “5C.”
The 5S is supposed to retain its current dimensions and screen size but potentially add a gold color option, as well as an improved camera and possible fingerprint sensor in addition to the already announced iOS7 operating system overhaul.
The 5C is Apple’s rumored bid to remain competitive with more price-sensitive smartphone buyers and in developing markets where lower-priced Android handsets have seen great success. The body will reportedly be made out of plastic and may come in a range of colors.
On September 10 Apple may also announce a new iPad, which could see a hardware redesign inspired by the iPad Mini. According to the Wall Street Journal:
The same touch-panel technology that made the iPad mini thin and light will likely feature in the next iPad, which is currently being produced by Apple Inc.’s Asian suppliers, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The smartphone market has matured and is in need of another iPhone-like jolt. Unfortunately the 5S promises only incremental change and improvement, with more radical changes (e.g., larger screen size) allegedly coming with iPhone 6.