It is an unforgiving law of modern business: Adapt or die.
Make that adapt fast, or die even faster.
Like countless gee-whiz companies that captured and lost imaginations and dollars, BlackBerry, a giant of the pre-iPhone era, has faded with remarkable speed. After years of dwindling sales, the company says it is exploring "strategic options" — business code for searching for a saviour.
For the moment, few seem to want to buy BlackBerry or, for that matter, its newest products. Unless a suitor emerges, BlackBerry risks joining the ranks of technology has-beens like Palm, Gateway and Commodore.
The abrupt decline of BlackBerry illustrates how consumers and investors demand almost instant change these days, especially from tech companies. And the window for redemption for a tech company that misses a step can be very tiny.
Four years ago, BlackBerry had 51 per cent of the North American smartphone market, according to the research firm
But then the company responded slowly to the new iPhone and Android devices and the company's sales evaporated. Now, the company has 3.4 per cent of the market and Lazaridis is gone from BlackBerry.
BlackBerry's board and its current chief executive,
Instead, BlackBerry is often grouped with other once-powerful tech companies, like
"Acquiring BlackBerry is necrophilia," said Jean-Louis GassÉe, a former Apple executive who was chairman of PalmSource, an unsuccessful attempt to turn Palm, once the leader in handheld computing, into a software company. "The B.B. brand is tarnished."
He added, in an e-mail typed on an Apple iPhone 5: "This former B.B. fan is sad."
Exactly who would want to buy BlackBerry or how the company could finance going private is unclear. Speculation has circulated that large technology companies, notably
The company could also decide to go private, which would remove the distraction of having to manage quarterly financial results to protect the company's share price. However, it is not obvious how the company could be transformed to restore growth and make it attractive to new investors. BlackBerry has already significantly cut costs and reduced its workforce.
And they must compete against offerings from some of the largest and most profitable corporations in the world, including Apple, Google,
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