Blackberry, formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM), revealed catastrophic losses and saw its stock plunge last week, highlighting a long decline in its bid to compete with firms like Apple and Google.
Blackberry’s turn for the worse began when it announced on Friday that it suffered a $1 billion loss last quarter and that it would be laying off 40 percent of its staff. Investors reacted in the obvious way, selling off until the BBRY share price had lost 17 percent of its value at the end of the trading day. With earnings-per-share of 0.40, Blackberry’s prospects for long-term investors look grim.
But a silver lining appeared not long after the crash. On Monday talk arose of a buyout and an agreement to go private while restructuring. Blackberry would be purchased by a Canadian investment firm, which would pay shareholders $9 a share to move the firm out of the stock index and back into the comparative freedom of being a private company.
The reactions are mixed. On the investment forum SeekingAlpha, analysts and commentators are divided between bears and bulls, with the bears mostly crowding out their more optimistic conjecturers. One might remember Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins’s statements imploring investors and customers to tough it out back in July, explaining that his company was in a “major, complex transition”. Now the CEO stands to rake in big bucks if he gets sacked. And certain customers are endlessly hopeful and wistful, ever-loyal to the Blackberry brand (though not to the extent of Apple’s cultist-like customers and their religious devotion to iBrands).
So, does Blackberry have an IBM or Apple-esque renaissance ahead of it? Will the phone producer rise from its ashes, born again like the mythological phoenix and revitalized by a new IT-heavy strategy? Or is it a perfect example of a company ripe for divestment, ready to be scraped out like a gourd for all it's worth as the remaining 60 percent of the staff are fired and all intellectual and tangible assets are sold? The competitive and fast-paced nature of the market suggests that it might be tough for Blackberry to catch up after a lengthy period of regrouping and rethinking.
But here's the real test: Put your hand in your pocket and take out your phone. Is it a Blackberry? No? What tone of voice do your friends use when they see your phone? "Oh! A Blackberry!" or "Oh. . . A Blackberry." There's your answer.
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