There is little expectation that the move by BlackBerry will bring much wealth to shareholders. "We don't foresee any scenarios where the value of the company will be significantly larger,"
BlackBerry first announced that it was conducting a strategic review in 2012, after Lazaridis and its other co-chief executive,
Their ouster followed a slump for the company as consumers moved to smartphones with full touchscreens, multiple cameras and hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from. BlackBerry's devices largely stayed the same, often with half-screens and a physical keyboard.
But this year, the company introduced its largest and most ambitious turnaround effort so far, with its BlackBerry 10 line of phones. But it appears to have been too little, too late - the new devices have not dented Apple and Samsung's grip on the market.
The failure of the BlackBerry 10 line of phones quickly led to speculation that BlackBerry, like Palm before it, would be broken apart and perhaps gradually disappear, at best lingering as little more than a brand name.
On Monday, however, BlackBerry's directors did not specifically indicate why the company had now effectively decided on a major shake-up.
"Given the importance and strength of our technology, and the evolving industry and competitive landscape, we believe that now is the right time to explore strategic alternatives,"
When it was a small Canadian startup that pioneered wireless email and then smartphones, BlackBerry repeatedly demonstrated innovation and defied forecasts that it would be outflanked or bought by competitors like Palm,
Like many downfalls, the causes of BlackBerry's descent are complex. But the arrival of the first iPhone in 2007 is somewhere near the centre. In private conservations at the time, BlackBerry insiders and executives viewed the iPhone as more of an inferior entertainment device than a credible smartphone, particularly for users in BlackBerry's base of government and corporate users.
BlackBerry had largely built its reputation on innovations in hardware and, by its standards, the early iPhone models were decidedly inferior. The iPhone fell well short of BlackBerry's devices in areas like battery life and used far more data to do their jobs, partly because they lacked BlackBerry's unique global network.
The company's roots may also have blinded it to how Apple had made software, not hardware, the defining feature of smartphones. For much of BlackBerry's history, the company actively and openly designed phones that did more to please corporate and government information technology departments.
Corporate security concerns meant, for example, that BlackBerrys were among the last cellphones to include cameras.
But the iPhone's arrival, and
The resulting phones, the Torch and the Storm, were widely seen as technology and market failures.
"The world did not stop for BlackBerry and we're seeing the result of that today," said
When Lazaridis and Balsillie did finally commit the company to developing what became BlackBerry 10, the project was repeatedly delayed. While the new phones and operating system proved more incremental than innovative, their main problem, many analysts say, was that the new devices arrived too late.
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