Will private owners be able to turn BlackBerry around?

1 min read

BlackBerry is set to pass into private hands as a consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings offers $4.7billion for the troubled mobile phone developer. It's not a done deal; BlackBerry is still available, should someone decide it's worth more than the Fairfax offer. But it looks unlikely this will happen.

Fairfax' chairman Prem Watsa said: "We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world." That's a nice corporate soundbite, but what might Fairfax do with the company? BlackBerry became the device of choice – more accurately, the device – for executives. Its push email functionality made sure you were always 'in the loop'. It generated a generation of so called 'crackberries'. But it sat on its laurels and, much like Nokia, failed to see the world change as Apple's iPhone, then Samsung devices, shifted the goalposts. BlackBerry has tried to catch up but, much like Nokia, has found that even running as fast as you can isn't enough. The consortium isn't exactly inheriting financial stability either: BlackBerry has reported a second quarter loss approaching $1billion. Watsa's quote implies BlackBerry, under Fairfax' direction, will fall back into its 'comfort zone' of corporate use. Whether that will work or not remains to be seen, but the lessons are there for mobile phone developers: snooze and you lose.