back to article BlackBerry pie sliced up: Nuke-plant OS, BBM chat app, etc sale mulled

Troubled mobe-maker BlackBerry has confirmed it is "exploring strategic alternatives" to remaining as one enormous company - confirming wire reports last week of a potential breakup. The firm formerly known as RIM said a "special committee" has been formed to examine options that "could include, among others, possible joint …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never rely on a single function to sell your product. Push email is no longer unique and cross platform alternatives to BBM (whatsapp etc) have appeared.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Hmmm, your ignorance is unfortunately for BlackBerry too commonly found amongst the supposed experts of mobile computing. I'm not suggesting that you should know better, but there are plenty of people out there who should do more research when designing and choosing technology.

      Currently BlackBerry offer the world's only mobile specific OS for smart phones with a functional, usable and DoD approved multi level security system which ought to be everybody's dream solution to the BYOD problem, as well as the best mobile messaging infrastructure out.

      If you don't know what a multi level security system is nor why corporate users would want one then you're going to be happy with iOS, Android or WinPhone. If you do know what one is then iOS, WinPhone and particularly Android look really badly thought out from a security-usability-combo point of view. There is some tinkering around with crude MLS on the other OSes, but nothing as complete or as usable as BlackBerry's setup is on the cards.

      When BB said they were intending on focusing on the corporate market, they weren't kidding. BB10's Balance is aimed fair and square right at the eyes of the big corporate IT admin. BB's problem is that either the IT admin is a dunce and doesn't know what a multi level security system can do for their company. Or they're overruled higher up by senior management anxious to pander to staff demands for company iPhones, Android's, etc, and data security be dammed.

      Android in particular seems to be a terrible choice from a security point of view. Even if the OS's own security is improving all it takes is for one user in a company to root their own device and install something ill-advised and their employer could lose some business-killing info. And who would ever know anything about how it leaked out? The farce over ineffective signing of APK files on Android, a problem that will persist in the user base for years to come, is a classic.

      WinPhone and iOS are better written than Android, but their design is such that they're only secure if the user is prevented from using all the fun stuff. So they'll still have to carry two phones. BB10 offers a way in which you can have fun and security at the same time. But they're trying to sell it to a world where even most companies seem to care only about the fun; not good for BB in the short term, probably not good for companies in the long run.

      From a point of view of what would the best outcome for the whole of mobile computing, I think that the addition of a BB Balance style multi level security system to iOS would be best. It's probably not too bad a job - they're both based on POSIX underneath the glitz. Android is a real security nightmare (updates? What updates?), and WinPhone is so far removed from POSIX it would be a difficult porting job. That leaves iOS as the best home for the best bits of BB10.

      1. Levente Szileszky

        "Currently BlackBerry offer the world's only mobile specific OS for smart phones with a functional, usable and DoD approved multi level security system which ought to be everybody's dream solution to the BYOD problem, as well as the best mobile messaging infrastructure out."

        Obviously, you either work for BB or you just don't really much about the subject otherwise you would clearly know about KNOX, probably the most advanced commercially available security-focused mobile OS:

  2. mrbawsaq

    Strategic alternatives

    = we're fucked.

  3. Ommerson

    Nobody - besides a phone vendor - wants BlackBerry OS. QNX (without Blackberry OS) on the other hand is still an attractive proposition as an RTOS - in lots of applications. Essentially this position hasn't changed since QNX was purchased.

    1. Daniel B.


      Security-conscious people and the US DoD. It still runs circles around most of the other mobile OSen out there, though it is sad to see BBRY in free fall.

      1. TheVogon

        Re: Except...

        "It still runs circles around most of the other mobile OSen out there, though it is sad to see BBRY in free fall."

        Erm - you know Blackberry 10 was already completely rooted via a Flash Exploit?

        This is just bubbles from the sinking Blackberry ship....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Except...

          Except that it's already been fixed, and the fix has already been deployed to every handset out there.

          Try achieving that in Android land, I dare you!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Except...

            They fixed it by disabling the handsets:

            1. Levente Szileszky

              Re: Except...

              BB fixed it, period.

              Unlike Microsoft which flat out refuses to fix its latest showstopping bug in ALL WINDOWS PHONE versions, namely the one that it can be cracked via a simple WiFi exploit thanks to MS' crappy MS-CHAP v2 auth if the rouge AP poses as a known SSID - and yet MS practically tells you to go and fork yourself, it's not an issue, bye...?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More excuses and juggling to avoid blame.

    The management (Executives) are to blame for this tragic loss of business. Trying to flog flawed tablets while screwing up R&D have brought the once noble company to their knees. Clear out the whole lot of them, get a responsible team of external execs in place and rebuild, one customer at a time.

    Given that, they might (I say MIGHT) have a chance. But not with the current attitude of "Others screwed up my mighty plans, it wasn't me."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re But not with the current attitude of "Others screwed up my mighty plans, it wasn't me."

      Or as they say up here "'I didnae ken; it wisnae me; a big boy did it and ran away"

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  6. DJO Silver badge

    Choices, choices.

    You asked: "So. Stick or twist?"

    I think "fold" might be the eventual option.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

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  8. Electric Panda

    This isn't looking good

    You don't even consider breaking up your company and selling bits off in this fashion unless you're in mortal danger.

    1. asdf

      Re: This isn't looking good

      Flogging less units than WP8 = mortal danger.

      1. Daniel Bower

        Re: This isn't looking good

        Shouldn't be so surprised asdf. Nokia has played a blinder with the 520 and 620. True budget smartphones at the end of the market where price is more important than OS and delivering devices that run the said OS very smoothly indeed and are well put together.

        BB just don't have the luxury of being able to deliver devices like that...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This isn't looking good

        Bada was outselling both Windows Phone and Blackberry until Samsung couldn't be bothered with it anymore....

        1. Levente Szileszky

          Re: This isn't looking good

          Bada wasn't outselling BB or WP, no way. You are probably confusing some local market share numbers with worldwide market numbers...?

      3. Levente Szileszky

        Re: This isn't looking good

        'Flogging less units than WP8 = mortal danger."

        Actually according to the latest comScore data BB, albeit falling, but still commands a higher market share ( than WP despite all the BEEEELLIONS MSFT spent on it:

  9. Daniel Bower

    Shame really

    RIM brought choice to the smartphone market and their early devices were truly innovative. Some people still like have an actual real keyboard on a phone that actually works and BB's are still pretty much the only way to go in the respect.

    The Playbook with the latest version of the OS is actually a really nice device and would have been a contender if it had been released in this guise and not the initial hobbled version.

    Can they do a Nokia and start clawing their way back in to the game? Sadly, probably not I think...

    Serves as a warning to all other manufacturers out there (the mighty Apple included) - if you don't innovate and stay fresh you may die.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two horse race.

    Android and iOS.

    Anything else, you are wasting your time and money. Simple as that. Nobody wants Blackberry or Windows Mobile (or whatever it's called this week)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two horse race.

      The "two horses" have been around for all of four or five years.

      If it only takes four years to develop market leadership, do you really think a new entrant with deep enough pockets couldn't compete.

      All they need is something compelling to sell.

      BlackBerrys biggest problem is the negative PR generated around its stock price that provides a constant reason not to buy the devices.

      The phones themselves are actually pretty good.

      They'll be taken private in the next few months. Once the shorters see no benefit in manipulating the stock price they'll be given a better ride in the media (some of which has a vested interest in seeing BlackBerry fail).

      Let's face it, as an enterprise you're not going to invest in BlackBerry - even if the product is the best corporate device on the market - if you don't think the company will be around in 5 years time.

      1. asdf

        Re: Two horse race.

        >They'll be taken private in the next few months. Once the shorters see no benefit manipulating the stock price they'll be given a better ride in the media (some of which has a vested interest in seeing BlackBerry fail).

        Wow you really believe that BS don't you? Either you're an employee (good luck on the severance) , a disgruntled shareholder (no sympathy) or the last BB fanboi (turn off the lights when you leave).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two horse race.

      Did you know WP is at about 10% UK market share now?

    3. asdf

      Re: Two horse race.

      But as Microsoft has shown with Bing they will piss away billions to keep that 3rd option available for years to come.

    4. Levente Szileszky

      Re: Two horse race.

      Actually as a hardcore Android user I disagree - I would LOVE to see a platform with BB-like unified communication center (their new HUb is far the best on the market) but with high-end devices (think of Sony's Xperia Z and Xperia Z Ultra), full Android support (a' la BB10 sans the lag, the stupid sideloading and incompatibility issues) and much-much better multitasking including management, app switching etc (again, see BB10, it's very close to it.)

      Unfortunately BB10 at 10.1 is still a far cray from what it should be... perhaps 10.2 and the upcoming Z30...?

      I doubt it, once again BB will shortchange the hardware specs and try to tout some "OS experience" BS - which, I must add, is probably a very valid claim expect that nobody cares when you are fighting dozens of Android phones with better paper specs, more features (see Xperia Z features) and less or same money...

      ...again, incompetency and lack of vision, balls etc.

      BB is sitting on $3B cash, they could've done ANYTHING this past 6 months... instead they are slowly pissing it away.

  11. fronty

    Such a shame

    This is such a shame, I love my 9900 and it's physical keyboard, it does everything I need faultlessly with zero hassle. I would happily stick with Blackberry but at this rate they are going disappear and I'll end up having to use some 'orrible touch screen thing.

  12. Peter Methven

    Epic Fail

    Bazza, your statement unfortunately reflects why Blackberry is struggling. The consumer market is bigger than the business market and whether it is right or not consumerisation of IT is resulting in consumer products being adopted in the workplace. Blackberry could be the most secure product in the world, but a lot of business functions don't require "military approved" security nor care and will not pay a premium for it. BB have also messed up their pricing in my opinion. Windows Phone 8 on Nokia devices is cheaper, iOS and Samsung Android are considered more desirable and in some cases are also cheaper.

    BB have been squeezed from every side and have been too slow in reacting and are suffering for it. Announcements like this one also stop risk adverse companies from adopting the Q10 and Z10 and make them seriously evaluate whether BB is for them.

  13. Mikel

    Waiting by the deathbed? Story time.

    I remember 'RIM when he was hale and well. And I remember when he began to turn pale. This day though, I remember it well; this was when we first knew 'e was a goner:

  14. ted frater

    One size doesnt fit all

    I looked in at Car Phone warehouse last week, just to look around, in the dispairing hope there might just be a handset to meet my needs.

    I saw on the Blackberry display the querty handset poster displayed around 6 in tall. I went to the desk and said I want that one please, The assistant got one out of its box, and I looked at it, dismayed to see it was a much smaller one than the poster.

    Why cant I have that one? I said. The droid said this is the only one we can stupid is you boss I said.Your like a shoe shop which sells only one size shoes, or a car maker equiping every model from the smallest to the biggest with the same small wheels.

    As Ive said before that BB is for childrens hands,

    There are millions of folk who are bigger than kids, with big feet and hands. I know lots who CAN afford a new handset but wont buy one till theres one that fits their needs.

    Any handset maker ignoring the real needs of customers will go to the wall. And it will serve them right.

    The fanciest OS with the best security is useless if the BASICS arnt there.

    The first priority in any technology is that FORM must define FUNCTION.

    When is any journalist speciallising in the mobile phone industry going to have the courage to tell it like it really is? My guess they all put writing glowing reports about every handset to ensure the makers keep sending them handsets to write up.

    A modern version of the emperors new clothes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One size doesnt fit all

      "As Ive said before that BB is for childrens hands,"

      No it isn't, it's perfectly usable if you can actually type.

      1. Fred Dibnah

        Re: One size doesnt fit all

        I can, and it's not.

      2. ted frater

        Re: One size doesnt fit all

        I type a lot every day in my own business on a Dell D800 keyboard.

        I also have a Nokia communicator 9210i which i can type on almost as quickly.

        Why? because its got properly spaced and sized keys.

        The BB crams the same amount of keys into half the space.

        So if youve small hands the BB is fine.

        Ive big hands and they just not small enough to hit one key at a time.

        Does that help you understand the problem?

        In the same way you cant put big feet into small shoes.

        Common sense really.

  15. hmas

    BB made a mistake with their BB10 strategy and are paying the price.

    Mobile devices are representative of the typical corporate hierarchy - premium 'lifestyle' devices for the execs and basic functional handsets for the general workforce. BB should have come to market with a range of handsets. The drip feed of the Z10, followed by Q10 followed by Q5 meant that only now are corporates considering the move, only the industry is telling them that BB is dying, so they'll hold off on any upgrades. Nokia played the strategy perfectly - 520 - 720 for the general workforce, 820 and above for the bigknobs.

    A lot of mid sized companies probably threw out BES in favour of BES Express a couple of years ago. We certainly did. Seeing as BES10 is now commercially licensed again and Activesynch works perfectly well, there's no compelling case for BES10, so no real differentiator betwen BB and other vendors.

    Companies really serious about enforcing multi level security have already looked at containerization and are probably well into a PoC of Good or other solution.

    It'll never be a 2 horse race and Android and iOS will never be unseated as the main players, but there's a potentially huge market for the 3rd player and currently that's looking likely to be Nokia/WP8

  16. gkroog

    Its sad, really.

    BlackBerry should have brought their new phones and OS out years ago. By not doing so they let their hold on the market slip, and with rising stars like Android and iOS its a herculean feat to pull that back. This new OS and hardware push was their last chance (I don't see where another one will come from), and it hasn't worked.

    Like Nokia's aborted successor to Symbian, it didn't fail because it was a bad product, but because it was badly managed. Hopefully this will serve as a warning to other businesses.

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