This may be the best move in a long time for BlackBerry (NYSE:BB)Earlier this morning the company's board announced it's forming a special committee to explore "strategic alternatives" including a joint venture, partnership, or alliances -- or even a complete sale of the company.
With BlackBerry's significance in the mobile world waning, the time is right for the company to move in a drastically new direction.
Riding out BlackBerry's storm
In a press release, Chairman of the Special Committee of the Board Timothy Dattels said, "Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives."
BlackBerry's phone sales and market share make it the "right time" for a major transition. It's no secret the company hasn't fared well lately in the mobile market, falling to fourth place in overall mobile OS market share -- behind Microsoft's Windows Phone system. According to data released by IDC last week, "BlackBerry saw its market share decline during the quarter, reaching levels not seen in the history of IDC's Mobile Phone Tracker." IDC was referencing BlackBerry's drop from 4.9% of global OS market share in the second quarter of 2012 to just 2.9% in the second quarter of this year.
While BlackBerry has tried to tap into emerging markets like Indonesia, it's completely fallen short in prime smartphone markets likes India and China -- making the probability of a major comeback all the more impossible.
A new and improved BlackBerry?
As ArsTechnica reported, IDC mobile analyst Francisco Jeronimo tweeted today, "BlackBerry's statement shows lack of interest in the company. If there was any they would be announcing a partnership/acquisition, not a sale."
Jeronimo would have rather seen BlackBerry work a deal in the background and then announce a partnership, similar to how Nokia worked a deal with Microsoft and then made a public announcement about the deal. While it may have been better for BlackBerry to already have deal in place and then make an announcement, the company is arguably in a worse position than Nokia was when it made a deal with Microsoft -- which makes it harder for a partnership to be found.
Going forward, investors need to obviously keep an eye out for any company interested in working with -- or buying -- BlackBerry. Keeping tabs on what's going on may be difficult, though, as BlackBerry's board said in a statement that it "does not currently intend to disclose further developments with respect to this process" unless the board approves a deal or ends its exploratory process.
Though BlackBerry's current device lineup and new mobile software aren't terrible, I think it'll be hard for the company to find a buyer or partner that can turn this ship around. I doubt the company's enterprise business will be a huge selling point, either. With BlackBerry publicly saying it's willing to be sold, current enterprise sales could fall as businesses try to determine the staying power of the company. Although I think a sale or partnership is the best option for BlackBerry right now, it could take years for the company to experience any positive results from it, while the other mobile competitors are already solidly beating it. A new partnership or complete sale of BlackBerry would certainly move the company in a new direction, but improving BlackBerry will be a much harder task.