updated 11:21 pm EDT, Sun September 1, 2013
BlackBerry exec says company could retool for lower sales
BlackBerry's ongoing misfortunes don't necessarily represent a death spiral, according to one of the firm's board members. Speaking with The Wall Street Journal on Friday, BlackBerry director Bert Nordberg said the company can still survive as a niche smartphone maker. To do so, though, will require tough decisions and a dedication to finding and addressing a segment of the market it can control.
"I think BlackBerry is able to survive as a niche company," Nordberg said. "But being a niche company means deciding to be a niche company. Historically, BlackBerry has had larger ambitions. But battling giants like Apple, Google, and Samsung is tough."
Nordberg said he believes that unique aspects of the company make it still viable.
"BlackBerry's unique assets make it stand apart from other phone makers," Nordberg said. "BlackBerry is strong on the enterprise business, its products are NSA-proof in the sense that you can't intercept their communication, its handsets' keyboards have many fans around the globe, and the company has a leading worldwide data network."
Once virtually synonymous with productivity-oriented mobile devices, BlackBerry has fallen on hard times as Apple's iPhone and Android-powered devices from Samsung have come to dominate the mobile segment. Its most recent financial report showed that the company shipped only 2.7 million devices running its newest operating system, BlackBerry 10. The firm lost $84 million for the quarter, having shipped only 6.8 million devices in total, a figure lower than the number of Windows Phone 8-powered Lumia devices Nokia shipped over the same period.
As BlackBerry has struggled, rumors have circulated that the company was ripe for a buyout, with Chinese computer giant Lenovo considered to be the most likely purchaser. In August of this year, officials at the company officially announced that they were open to selling the firm.
BlackBerry has for some time been in the midst of the sort of restructuring Nordberg addressed in his comments. In July, the company fired its head of U.S. sales, noting that it had not delivered on Wall Street expectations. It has already let go of 5,000 employees in the last fiscal year alone, and more layoffs are planned for the near future.