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  (Source: Lucasfilm)
Is this the beginning of the end for the smartphone marker formerly known as RIM?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that even as struggling Canadian phonemaker BlackBerry Ltd. (TSE:BB) creeps ever closer to death, the company is reportedly looking to strengthen and spin off one of its few products that remains popular.

With BlackBerry sales hitting fresh lows and BlackBerry's OS overhaul experiment being greeted by customer apathy, BlackBerry executives are reportedly pondering spinning off BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), -- the company's instant messaging service.  Eight years after the service's 2005 launch, BBM has evolved to sport a visual appealing messaging UI and secure communication based on the service's tried-and-true PIN messaging underpinnings.  BBM has around 60 million customers at last count.

In May BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins -- under pressure to resign -- signaled a change announcing the coming availability of BBM for Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android and Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL).  The apps have been floating around both in an HTML5 based browser demo and a full-blown beta test form since the June, and rumor has it that Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) will be the first Android phonemaker to bundle the popular messaging client into its devices.

BlackBerry Adieu
BBM may be jumping off the BB wreck. [Image Source:]

In his May announcement, Mr. Heins remarked, "We will make BBM available as the premiere multi-platform IM solution all around the globe.  Why are we doing this now? It’s a statement of confidence.  The BlackBerry 10 platform is so strong and support has been so good that the time is right for BBM to become an independent messaging solution."

In retrospect the latter sentence and emphasis on BBM becoming "independent" may have hinted that rather than a bold -- and much needed -- survivalist transition to a service provider, BlackBerry was instead merely looking to prepare the escape pod for BBM.  The WSJ report claims that BlackBerry has shuffled some executives into the BBM team to enhance its management capabilities, and is adding video chat features to BBM to further enhance its cross platform appeal.

If indeed BB jettisons the successful unit, it will mark yet another fateful loss in the company's quixotic campaign to continue as a smartphone operating system developer, a campaign that pits BB against deep pocket rivals like Apple, Google, and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

BB Android
Parts of BlackBerry may live on in Android and other platforms.
[Image Source: Despuesdegoogle]

The company's Board of Directors earlier this month announced it was pursuing "strategic alternatives".  That could involve a sale or a breakup of the company's business units.  Outside of BBM, BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is another part of BB that still is clinging to a strong chunk of business, even if it's less than beloved at times by enterprise clientele.  Outside of that, BB's primary value appears to be confined to its intellectual property portfolio (which it's already partially sold off) and its manufacturing expertise surrounding its industry-leading physical smartphone keyboards.

If BB does split up its unlikely that BB10's software or devices will survive.  While BB10 is in many ways an impressive mobile operating system, it fails to regain ground against Apple and Google's mature efforts.  It even was recently passed by Microsoft's Windows Phone.  

Customers appear to have more or less decided that BB10 is worthless amidst superior competitive offerings; likewise potential buyers will likely do the same as they look to scavenge the treasures amidst the BB scrap pile. 

Source: WSJ

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Crap Journalism!
By WalterB on 8/28/2013 10:35:56 AM , Rating: -1
This is a great example of why BlackBerry's public perception is at an all time low, crap journalism. Here we have pieces of the whole Blackberry story twisted by this writer to appear all negative! My favorite line is, Customers appear to have more or less decided that BB10 is worthless amidst superior competitive offerings. The FACTS are the new BlackBerry 10 phones are the superior phones on the market. The Windows phones are simply a mess to use, far behind the new BB10 phones and the iPhone is old and stale when you compare it to using the new BB10 phones. The only phone almost as good as the new BB10 phones are the Google phones. Clearly this writer (fiction apparently) should do a little homework prior to writing articles. Its unfortunate that this is posted in a TECH journal and in my opinion has lost allot of credibility by writing a slanted opinion without at the very least covering ALL the facts? FYI; BBM "may" be spun-off to an independent BlackBerry service and is the best messaging service available if it does. Again, try a little journalism and COMPARE the abilities of other messaging services you mentioned and publish these FACTS - oh yea, your stories usually start with "Mary had a Little Lamb"?

RE: Crap Journalism!
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 10:47:25 AM , Rating: 2
"This is a great example of why BlackBerry's public perception is at an all time low, crap journalism. Here we have pieces of the whole Blackberry story twisted by this writer to appear all negative! "

LOL... BS.

BB's problem is NOT the big bad media. Their problem is they waited 3 years too long to even decide to get involved with a multitouch enabled OS (QNX) and once they did, it took them 3 years to release a product. Too slow to react and too slow to produce. By the time they came out with a phone in 2013, it only matched what the competition had in 2012. It's not good enough to lose all your marketshare and expect to gain it back by releasing products equal to your competitions offerings 1 year ago.

THAT is Blackberry's problem and that alone. If there is any "public perception" issue, it is that Blackberry can't make good choices and can't execute fast enough once a choice is made. And that is a very realistic perception.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By WalterB on 8/28/2013 10:54:59 AM , Rating: 2
Totally agree on your comments about developing the new OS (yes QNX) and executing, definitely part of the issue. My point, that you missed is an article NOT comparing the phones as part of the article in a TECH journal is wrong!

RE: Crap Journalism!
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 11:00:53 AM , Rating: 2
??? Its not a phone review. It's an article about a once dominant player that is now a failing company.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By WalterB on 8/28/2013 11:30:31 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, its not a phone review. Its a poorly written article about BlackBerry and missing many important points.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 12:54:20 PM , Rating: 2
So, you think this article, about a troubled tech leader and it's potential choice to spin-of it's BBM messaging service should mention "The FACTS are the new BlackBerry 10 phones are the superior phones on the market. "

First off, its not a phone related article. IT has nothing to do with phones.

Secondly, that "fact" is an opinion and an extreme minority one at that.

Sounds like you just want tech articles to boast up BB10 devices. That isn't journalism, it's marketing... Or propaganda depending on your outlook.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By Rukkian on 8/28/2013 1:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
I love it when fanboys decide their opinion is Fact, and get on everybody else for not acknowledging that "fact".

You are completely correct, this article is about potentially spinning off one of their most popular pieces, not about devices. The article even seemed to say that the phones were not necessarily bad, but that the perception from people was there was no reason to switch (or buy a new one if they already had one), as can be shown from the sales figures that are still dwindling even after the best phone ever made being released.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By WalterB on 8/29/2013 10:40:50 AM , Rating: 2
I am a "fanboy" because BlackBerry has produced a second generation phone that is a great product! My opinion is that this article is missing many key points and feel its slanted as a result. I will concede this is a difference in opinions, one we can't agree upon?

RE: Crap Journalism!
By retrospooty on 8/29/2013 12:06:21 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously something like that is opinion, and I think anyone that objectively looks at a BB10 device should agree its a good OS, but this is still not a phone article. It's an article about the troubled company and it's floundering business and a potential spinoff of a service product.

As far as phones, there just isnt a compelling reason for anyone to switch. BB just caught up to 2012. In order to win customers back, they need to be where the others will be next year, not last year.

In reality, here is whats going on... More bad news for BB.

BB is going to meet Palm and its awesome WebOS on the "Great OS that no-one cares about" train. It's not enough to just have a great OS. You have to have a great OS, and a great platform, great apps , great hardware and strong consumer focus. BB has only 2 of those 5. They needs the last 3 and its simply too late for them to get it.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By WalterB on 8/29/2013 1:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
The sale may be bad, or they may be good? We will find out when the numbers are released soon. The article you quoted is one persons guess based on some thing from one person with a few stores. I do believe BlackBerry has a long road ahead.

"retrospooty"; your comments are simply always negative when anyone talks positive about BlackBerry, why? You throw out negative garbage constantly attacking anyone such as myself who is hoping Blackberry remains a player due to their great BB10 products. Try dialog instead of attacks for a change? Thanks for the dialog??

RE: Crap Journalism!
By retrospooty on 8/29/2013 5:02:30 PM , Rating: 2
I thought this was a dialog? It was to me... I dont see any attacks. You kind of called out Jason and I kind of called out you.

I am negative on Blackberry, but I dont think undeservedly so. Nothing I said here was incorrect, nor based out of malice. I want Blackberry to succeed. WP8 too. Android and Apple being the only players only benefits Google and Apple. 2 more viable players benefits consumers and keeps Google and Apple on their games.

RE: Crap Journalism!
By melgross on 8/28/2013 2:42:12 PM , Rating: 2
Look, RIM blew it. And they blew it badly. Unfortunately, the leaders of the company lied consistently about their blowing it, and still are. This is what bothers me most. Look at the Heins quote he has here from May. Heins is telling us that BB10 is so strong and well supported that they can do this. The truth is that it's neither strong or well supported. This is a desperation move, as have been all of their other moves the past few years.

None of those moves have helped. This won't help either. It's hard to understand what they can do to keep this company afloat. And this is why they have reiterated what Heins stated last year about being willing to find a suitor for the company. They are so far down the rabbit hole, that soon they won't be able to see any sunlight from the entrance.

It's a shame this has happened, but it often does, to leaders that are so convinced that what they are doing is so much better, and that nothing else a competitor can do will change that. RIM waited too long. If they had this a year earlier, they would have had a chance. But that year was critical, as during it, many government agencies went from the Blackberry to the iPhone (mostly), and it's hardly likely that they will move back. The same thing is true of business.

A problem that Blackberry has now, is that companies and government don't want to rely, long term, on something that they feel uncomfortable about, because of the doubt that it will be around much longer. It's really a downward spiral, and I can't see a way out of it.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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