BlackBerry said Monday it is examining “strategic alternatives,” which might even involve putting itself up for sale.
The Canadian firm said it had formed a committee to consider “possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the company or other possible transactions”.
The announcement comes with BlackBerry marginalized in a smartphone market dominated by Apple’s iPhone and brands using the Google Android operating system, such as Samsung.
Some analysts said prospects look grim for the smartphone pioneer.
“It looks like we are approaching the end of the road for BlackBerry,” said technology analyst Jeff Kagan. “They are looking for the next alternative. Apparently they are simply not selling enough new devices.”
A statement issued by BlackBerry said the board’s committee would seek ways “to enhance value and increase scale” to help deploy its products based on its new BlackBerry 10 platform, which was launched only seven months ago.
“We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition,” said president and chief executive Thorsten Heins.
According to International Data Corporation (IDC), BlackBerry’s global market share had slipped to 3.7 per cent in the second quarter, the lowest since tracking began, while Android phones accounted for nearly 80 per cent.
Kagan blames BlackBerry’s fall on a failure to create “a strong public relations and advertising image to support the brand” early on.
But analyst Ramon Llamas said the company just needs more time to “evangelize more users”.
If the company is put up for sale, the question then is who will buy it.
“We believe that there are few potential suitors,” said analysts at Credit Suisse.
Joe Rundle of ETX Capital noted that BlackBerry’s security network and a number of its patents are attractive selling points but would-be buyers are scarce.
More likely is a joint-venture or a bid by social networking site Facebook looking to launch a handset or online retailer Amazon seeking to expand its position following the success of its Kindle tablet, Rundle speculated.
Microsoft, Huawei, or private investors have also been touted as possible suitors.
Whatever the outcome, stock markets liked the news; following Monday’s announcement BlackBerry shares climbed 4.5 per cent in trading in New York.