Forget the hype. Forget The Verge poll showing people are more excited about the BlackBerry (NYSE:BB) Passport than Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPhone 6.

That so-called excitement is comical in light of Apple's big reveal this week that it received 4 million pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the first 24 hours of availability.

The BlackBerry Passport. Source: BlackBerry.

How does that compare to BlackBerry? IDC estimates the company will ship just 9.7 million smartphones this year.

Still, die-hard BlackBerry loyalists -- and investors looking for a turnaround story -- hope the Passport will save the company's handset division.

But what does that even look like?

After all, the BB10 operating system was supposed to save the company, and right now BlackBerry holds just 0.8% worldwide smartphone shipment market share.

The Z10 was touted as a possible saving grace for the beleaguered company, and yet just four months after the device's initial launch retailers carriers dropped the Z10's price by up to 75% due to poor sales.

Sure, the Z10 is doing well in India, with the company running out of supply back in March. But that sounds scarily similar to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) doing well in countries around the world, yet hardly making a dent in OS market share. IDC says Windows Phone held just 2.5% smartphone OS market share in the second quarter of this year.

Nearly anything BlackBerry does these days is considered a potential savior for the company. The Z10, Q10, BB10, and BlackBerry Messenger have been touted as critical to a turnaround, and I've even written that BlackBerry CEO John Chen is the company's only hope.

So here's why the Passport isn't a reason to buy the company's stock: BlackBerry isn't 100% convinced its handset business will make it.

Read that again if you need to.

Chen, though still creating and pledging commitment to smartphones, told Reuters in April, "If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business."


That's not to say Chen wants out of the handset business, but it does mean it's on the table if things don't turn around. That should be a bit troubling for investors looking at BlackBerry's devices as a great way to make an investment.

If the company's CEO leaves BlackBerry's exit from devices as one future possibility, why would anyone use the Passport as a catalyst for investing in the company's stock? In short, no one should.

Even if BlackBerry sells millions of Passports, and company loyalists trip over themselves trying to get one, it doesn't mean BlackBerry's handset unit is a success. It still has to face Windows Phone, iOS, and Android to truly be successful in the market. And that appears anything but likely.

Falling on hard times

Investors considering a BlackBerry investment shouldn't look to Passport as the driving force. The company's hardware revenue has plummeted from $14 billion in 2012 down to just $3.8 billion in fiscal 2014.  And in fiscal first-quarter 2015, BlackBerry made just 39% of its revenue from hardware, down from 71% of revenue a year earlier.

The company has relied heavily on handsets as its sustaining business for a long time, but the drop in hardware revenue shows that despite all of BlackBerry's attempts at new devices, none have been what the company needs. While BlackBerry wants to diversify revenue streams (such as its QNX platform) there's nothing left to fill in the gaping hole from the dismal hardware sales. And even the most successful Passport launch won't fix that.


Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.