The state of BlackBerry (formerly known as Research In Motion but changed their name to their flagship product earlier this year) is a sorry one and a particularly sad one for me. A few years ago, before smartphones became the in thing to have, I remember watching an episode of Oprah in which she gave out the then model of BlackBerry to all her audience members. Since then I researched the company and the phones and have always been a loyal supporter of theirs. I unfortunately was able to buy a phone from them only in 2010 (Jan 1st to be exact) and have since changed the Curve 8320 to my current phone, the Bold 9780 last year. BlackBerry has been left behind in the lurch by Apple iPhones and the various Android phones from say Samsung & LG and has struggled really badly for the past couple of years.
BlackBerry went through lots of changes internally. Thorston Heins, a former Siemens executive in Germany, became chief executive in January 2012 after James L Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the longtime co-chairmen and co-chief executives, resigned in the face of a rapid decline in BlackBerry’s business and the failure of its PlayBook tablet computer. In January of this year a lot of us BlackBerry faithfuls eagerly awaited the launch of the BlackBerry OS 10 and the two new phones the Z10 and Q10 that looked amazing. Heavily promoted the new line of BlackBerry 10 handsets as the company’s salvation they proved, however, to be a commercial failure (with some exceptions in certain areas) and there has been solid talks of an outright sale or a takeover big by another mobile company.
Now the latest news is that Heins will leave after the collapse of a tentative takeover offer from BlackBerry’s largest shareholder, the company said on Monday. Instead of purchasing BlackBerry and taking it private, the largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, and an unnamed group of institutional investors will invest $1 billion through debentures that can be converted into common shares at a price of $10 a share. John S. Chen, the former chief executive of Sybase, will become BlackBerry’s executive chairman and acting chief executive. It remains to be seen as to what will happen to the brand. Almost everyone has written them off and many long time users have move on to get either an iPhone or Android device. I’m sticking with my Bold for the time being, cannot afford anything new at the moment and will wait for a few months to see what is going to happen. I like using the BlackBerry and would want to continue using them for years to come.