Blackberry sold to Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited as BBM goes free

The news is out folks! Blackberry, once known as RIM (Research in Motion) before they’d re-branded earlier this year after the launch of the Blackberry Z10 smartphone as per Kelroy’s article BlackBerry 10 Officially launches – Z10 and Q10 flagship devices is no more.

The Blackberry Z10 was launched earlier this year

Blackberry has been sold to Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, the company’s largest holder of private stock, roughly about 10%, for a very small value of US$4.7 billion dollars. This makes the shareholder of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, a Mr. Prem Watsa, officially the new owner of the largest Canadian Telecom firm to go bust since Nortel Networks in 2009, which by the way used to be the Telecom Equipment Supplier to Cable and Wireless.

The deal for Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited to take over the reins of Blackberry becomes legit on Monday November 4th 2013. This deal is only logical, as Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited has a 10% stake in Blackberry and Mr. Prem Watsa was quoted as saying in April 2013 that he’s a “big supporter” of the current CEO Thornstein Heinz – apparently in reference to all that Blackberry stock he owns. Add to this the fact he had been being promoted to Blackberry’s Board after BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis and co-CEO Jim Balsillie step aside in 2013, he was a natural fit and a familiar face known and trusted by shareholders and investors interested in the company’s long term viability.

The new management is, unfortunately, unwaveringly similar to the previous one, vowing to continue on the rollout of more QNX OS based smartphones mainly focused on the Business Market, the same market that’s abandoning them thanks to the trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which I’d long predicted in 30% Blackberry Blackout by Corporate and Enterprise – Bring Your Favourite Gear.

In a statement to shareholders, Watsa put on a brave face, quote: “We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry its customers, carriers and employees. We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company”.

I remember this kinda scenario all too clearly. Nortel Networks over-extended itself, focusing mainly on installing Telecoms equiptment and giving away it training manuals, many of which I still have to day and with which I could actually teach Telecommunications in a class! Because of this, they lost out on lucrative maintenance contracts from many Telecoms Providers worldwide. They’re a victim of not only structural managerial problems but also to some extent not capitalizing on a need to do maintenance and seeing as a source of revenue.

Their failure to innovate in making equiptment for 3G and 4G instead of an overt focus on Landline resulted in them losing contracts to Helsinki, Finland based Ericsson and China based Huawei, who’s now top dog globally in terms of Telecom Equiptment Maintenance and installation.

Huawei can even count themselves as a maker of smartphones as their Ascend Series is making waves since their latest iteration, the Ascend 2, made its debut earlier in January 2013 at MWC (Mobile World Congress) as noted in Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona announces Huawei Ascend P2 as Samsung debuts Tizen OS

In the case of Blackberry, which rose to prominence in 1999, was undone eight (8) years later by the ascent of one product, the Apple iPhone which Apple had launched in 2007. Since then their stock value had plummeted from a high of US$140 to a mere US$9 per share.

Blackberry lost a huge amount of their June 2008 US$83 billion value in the process according to Mike Walkley, an analyst with CanaccordGenuity. More significantly, they also lost 20% of their marketshare in years that followed the debut of the Apple iPhone, now whittled down to a mere 1.5% of the Global market and 4.8% of the US smartphone subscriber base according to the stats provided by ComScore

In their last stroke of desperation in 2012, they began the process of shedding some five thousand (5000) employees globally. In 2013, they launched the Z10, Q10 and the budget Q5, but to no avail. Their actions proved to be too little too late in a market already enamored with Apple iPhones and the Operating System that started out as a bit of an underdog in 2008 but later became globally dominant in the space of two (2) years, Google Android. Android is now in its 9th iteration as Google KitKat as dutifully noted in Google Android 4.4 is now KitKat as Nestle-Google Secret Deal makes Android the first Product Placement OS!

There’s still more to come in this unfolding drama. BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) is now free to roam the badlands of the Apple and Android Worlds since the weekend of Saturday September 21st 2013 and Sunday September 22nd 2013 as noted in Free Blackberry Messenger App coming to Android and iOS. These are the same smartphones that killed them like Brutus did Julius Caesar, Shakespeare Style!

They also got some 4,500 more heads to roll out of their 11,250 strong workforce, a 40% job cut for a company that really a body blow and will leave them a mere shadow of their former glory! This as predicted in Free Blackberry Messenger App coming to Android and iOS and is set to take place before the Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited becomes final in the History books on Monday November 4th 2013.

Hopefully under the new Management, Blackberry will continue to make QNX Smartphone’s as they are a great start in terms of being a very secure OS. But Tablets need to be a part of the mix. Not to mention making QNX OS license to be used in other Consumer Electronics, Home Appliance and Automobile products. Hopefully under the stewardship of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, they’ll rise from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix, having gone through the fire.

Until then it’s Rest in Peace Blackberry…until the time of your Ascendancy.

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.

1 Comment

  • Great read and ‘Jamaican’ (carib) take on BBRY’s demise !

    (This article gained you guys a new subscriber.)

    I expect Blackberry prices to plummet in Jamaica, down to the sub-avg smart phone by Christmas while Android prices are rising down here as people finally adopt,, not late but in ‘Jamaica time’ 😉

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