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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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RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 10:53:38 AM , Rating: 3
"I have just rolled out a fleet of Z10's and the positive feedback has been rolling in. I am yet to get a negative one, although there are a few that don't really have an opinion either way."

IT is a good OS... It just doesn't do anything that the market leaders IOS and Android already do and do well. There just arent any reasons for people to switch to BB. They are too late to market, simple as that. It took them 6 years to release a decent touch screen phone from the point where Apple announced the iPhone in 2007. 6 years. 3 years in denial and 3 years to release a product once they finally decided. Too slow on top of too slow - thus the situation they are in. Self destruction all the way, there are no other point of blame but on upper management. Even the board took too long to remove the ex CEO's that drove it into the dirt.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By WalterB on 8/28/2013 11:22:58 AM , Rating: 2
Actually they new BB10 line does do some things Android and Apple don't plus they do comparable things better! Upper management to blame, could not agree more! Its going to be a long road back but I am confident BlackBerry will be back because of one simple fact, it is the best phone on the market for MANY reasons and its just a matter of time before public perception starts to change.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By Rukkian on 8/28/2013 1:13:21 PM , Rating: 2
Just curious - can you tell us what those reasons are for the user? I used to be into BB, but have found no reason from a user perspective to want to use it.

I understand from the enterprise being able to lock them down more and do so more easily, but that is not a good thing for user perspective.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By WalterB on 8/29/2013 10:25:38 AM , Rating: 3
Great question! I will give you a "few" examples without trying to be too wordy.
1) HUB ; one gesture to all my emails, tests, BBM, Facebook, Twitter, etc in ONE location. Also within the hub I can view each of these separably. Yes I can choose what I want and don't want in the HUB.
2) PEEK ; one gesture to quickly see ALL of my new HUB notification
3) FLOW ; all the applications is the NEW BlackBerry 10 phone are integrated. I do not have to go out of one app that refers to another app to open the second app. A very nice experience and very efficient to use!
4) REMEMBER ; I can mark any picture, email, text, etc as a reminder WHILE using it! I set a date and an notification reminds me about it.
5) ACTIVE FRAMES ; absolutely love this feature! When you have a APP opened, you simply swipe it up and it becomes a large ICON that is the APP running, but still active. An example is the calendar, while its an active frame, it shows me next events on my calender. The same is true with Reminder, weather, etc. This is my home screen always!
6) PHONE/SEARCH/CAMERA ; every screen has these a quick launch to these 3 main APPS.
7) BALANCE ; I have had many work phones, this is an amazing ability!! It allows you to use ONE phone for WORK and HOME by separating them through BALANCE. That include calender, emails, etc. Many people either have 2 phones or one phone with WORK and PERSONAL stuff mixed together. This allows your WORK IT department to lock-down the work stuff but they can't touch your personal or HOME stuff!!! Can't say enough about this excellent feature.
8) EFFICIENCY ; if you compare many things you do on a daily basis between phones, the BlackBerry 10 phones are more efficient at doing many of them! All anyone has to do is simply compare for themselves. It take less gestures and keystrokes to accomplish the same task on a BB10 phone, PERIOD!
9) QNX ; The new BB10 phones are built on QNX core software. QNX software powers millions of things such as cars, banks, etc. Think about what the future integration holds for the BB10 phones with many other QNX products!! Also its a TRUE multitasking core operating system anther reason it stands out for many reasons compared to the "other" phones.

Need any other reasons? There are many reasons a user would find the NEW BlackBerry 10 phones are the best on the market today. The issue is public poor perception about BlackBerry resulting is them simply not trying the phone and seeing for themselves?

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/29/2013 5:18:40 PM , Rating: 2
Those are some nice things, but most very trivial and wouldnt necessarily be used by many... Also not all unique.

1) Android notifications does this as do some apps with added functionality.
2) same as 1
3) Nice
4) Nice
5) To me this is the best. It's the most "webOS" ish implementation. It pisses me off that the 2 that did this (Palm and BB) by far the best way to go. Palm is gone and BB's aren't catching on.
6) All modern OS's have that.
7) Android has that via multiple logins.
8) Highly debatable. Depends on your usage.
9) That isnt a feature, its a history and a wishful look to the future. IOS and Android can say the same thing.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 1:23:54 PM , Rating: 1
"Actually they new BB10 line does do some things Android and Apple don't" ... " it is the best phone on the market for MANY reasons"

He says without mentioning any.

"its just a matter of time before public perception starts to change."

It's out of time. BB10 came out and instead of sales spiking, they tanked even worse. There is no time and there isnt anything that it does to make people care enough to switch.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By ClownPuncher on 8/28/2013 2:39:47 PM , Rating: 2
Z10 call reception has been far better than S3/S4 for our guys out in the field.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 3:49:01 PM , Rating: 2
OK... Call reception is better at one particular company in one particular area when compared to 2 other models according to a couple "guys in the field" ?

That isnt really a spec, more of an anecdote. Not quite scientific, and nothing you could put on a spec-sheet unless you can prove it comes in better than many other models in many areas under many circumstances.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By ClownPuncher on 8/28/2013 5:58:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, it's not scientific. Most people don't buy phones based on spec sheets, though. Owning a phone is about social status, unless you're a tech guy (like us). People aren't going to buy a BB phone because it doesn't carry any positive social reinforcement. Even if their BB10 offerings had the best specs on the market, they never would have gained back any significant marketshare.

For me, the nice thing is we have so many hardware, software and OS choices these days.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 6:15:31 PM , Rating: 2
True... Probably not so much social status, as seeing a phone of their friend of co-workers with whatever features they like and they get it out of familiarity... But that has always been the issue, its not a new thing. BBOS10 is a good OS, and Blackberry totally failed to sell it. They are using last years hardware specs and have done nothing to differentiate themselves and zero marketing effort (I know there are commercials and all the standard stuff, but I mean zero that makes people want to switch) A total fail, made worse by the fact that it is a decent product with a once super strong brand name.

By ClownPuncher on 8/28/2013 7:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, you need a hook. There was no hook with the BB release. It's a solid product, but nothing stands out as being better. I like the OS better than Android (slightly), but it's not different enough to sell itself.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By WalterB on 8/29/2013 10:29:27 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry it took so lon to reply - look above for my QUICK answers.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By GTVic on 8/28/2013 3:42:29 PM , Rating: 2
But that is no reason to bash BB as is the case with the blog author that wrote this piece, he bashes BB every chance he gets.

Direct evidence from customers also shows that sales people are actively pushing customers away from a good product or not promoting it at the very least.

RE: Unfortunate downward spiral
By retrospooty on 8/28/2013 11:27:47 PM , Rating: 2
Well, blackberry is very bashable. It's fair game... when you go from first to worst, expect a bashing. You have messed up bad if you're in that situation and that is what blackberry is in.

And why should any carrier push blackberry at this point? No 1 has come up with a single useful thing that it can do that the others don't do that users care about. Every platform has a few in's and outs that are better then the others. IOS, android, WP8 and blackberry all have their good points but there arent any compelling reasons to choose blackberry over the others , there just arent. When you are a distant fourth in a four man race, catching up to where everyone else was last year just isn't good enough.... It's that simple

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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