The plight of Canadian phone maker BlackBerry is by now well known. Complacent and too late to respond to the threat of the iPhone and Android, the company saw its market share and revenues decline dramatically over the last few years. Its most recent attempt to revitalize itself (OS 10) was largely met with indifference by consumers.
In August BlackBerry put itself up for sale. Roughly a month later (last month) the company’s largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings agreed to take the company private in a nearly $5 billion deal.
Then last week Reuters reported that the Fairfax deal could well fall through because of financing issues and that instead Google, SAP and Cisco were talking to BlackBerry about acquiring some or all of the assets of the company. Intel, LG and Samsung are apparently also in the potential buyer mix.
It’s unclear whether and which of these companies may be working together. The article implies that Cisco, SAP and Google’s efforts are coordinated.
The BlackBerry assets that might be sold independently or together include its services business (including messaging) and patents. The company also has $3 billion in cash and investments. Its patents may be worth as much as $3 billion.
If Fairfax succeeds in completing the deal it might mean that BlackBerry lives on in some form. However if it gets carved up “for parts,” it’s very likely that the company and the brand will entirely disappear.
According to comScore, BlackBerry had a 4 percent share of the US smartphone market in August. That’s still ahead of Windows Phones but consumers appear to have stopped buying BlackBerry devices. Thus its market share will likely fall behind Windows Phones in Q4 of this year.