AH Tech Talk: November Rain, BlackBerry Ltd Fire Sale

 

In my previous article, AH Tech Talk: BlackBerry Pie - Parts of BlackBerry Ltd To Be Sold Off, I had reported that BlackBerry had hired investment bankers J.P. Morgan Securities and RBC Capital Markets. Their focus was to aid in reviewing business and financial performance for BlackBerry Ltd. The fruits of the new strategic business plan would see BlackBerry Ltd effect cost-cutting measures. One such measure would spin off any divisions not in line with this new vision and sold off.

However, the Board of Directors has deemed that selling off parts of BlackBerry Ltd was not enough. After a three year sales slide that slashed 90% of the market value on BlackBerry Ltd shares, the special committee is pushing for a fire sale in November. The initial shock and firestorm surrounding the 7.8 billion dollar sale of Nokia devices and services, as well as license for Nokia patents and mapping service has pushed BlackBerry shares up. The prospect of a major tech player having a multi-billion dollar interest in struggling mobile companies has BlackBerry Ltd investors excited.

Now for the bad news, as if there wasn't enough already. With confirmation that a sale of BlackBerry Ltd is imminent; a negative perception looms over many BlackBerry corporate customers. The fallout stems from the long-term uncertainty of both new BlackBerry devices and BlackBerry OS support. Already there is word from Morgan Stanley that their own employees will not be issued newer devices or order an upgrade to the new OS until the firm receives assurances of support. A US bank with more than 100,000 employees has started a three-month pilot program for a hundred workers using the new BlackBerry 10 Operating System. A person with knowledge of that bank's strategy said that this would give the bank more time to decide whether to upgrade as the fate of BlackBerry Ltd hangs in the balance.

Adam Emery, a spokesman for BlackBerry responded to the negative perception, "We remain steadfast in our commitment to our customers and shareholders, we believe in our innovative technologies and we are laser-focused on delivering long-term value." Unfortunately, this did little to stem speculation that other corporate customers across industries will also postpone upgrading to BlackBerry 10; hampering BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins' attempts to spark a sales rally with a wave of corporate upgrades.

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