For a once-great company, BlackBerry is really making a hash of its sale.
While Nokia bowed out gracefully, fixing up its inevitable deal with Microsoft with minimal fanfare, the deal to sell BlackBerry is becoming much like the launch of its products: Drawn-out and tedious.
After seemingly arranging a deal to sell to key investor Fairfax Financial, the company said others would be welcome to bid.
It then turned out it had spoken to Google and attempted to draw Samsung and LG into a battle for its patents and enterprise network.
That’s understandable. Analysts have said already that the company is worth far more broken-up than as a single entity.
But now Fairfax appears to be struggling to raise the necessary $4.7 billion to push its deal through.
And to make things worse, Mike Lazaridis, the man who founded the company but oversaw its descent into irrelevance, says he wants to buy the company.
He’s enlisted co-founder Doug Fregin and has asked Goldman Sachs to help him find the necessary cash. Surely, this is the last thing BlackBerry needs.
This, after all, is the man who dismissed the iPhone as a fad, claimed touchscreens were awkward to use and, along with his co-CEO Jim Balsillie, presided over the disastrous launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook.
It was revealed just a week ago that Lazaridis had a huge row with the BlackBerry board over the launch of BB10 software and the touchscreen Z10, saying the company needed to play-up the physical keyboard of its Q10 device instead.
In a way, he had a point. He is said to have told the board there was a ‘cultural problem’ at BlackBerry and that he ‘didn’t get’ the touchscreen Z10.
His argument was that the market was full of similar phones and a keyboard-packing BlackBerry was a better way for the firm to impress corporate customers. The issue here, though, is that Lazaridis was making these points years after he had helped bring to market the woeful, touchscreen-toting BlackBerry Storm.
It was his blasé attitude to the changing smartphone space that helped bring BlackBerry low.
There’s no denying his part in the company’s massive success, but he played a key role in its decline too. The idea of him taking over once more is surely farcical.
His approach, and that of his successor Thorsten Heins, have both been discredited.
The best thing that can happen to BlackBerry is for it to be broken-up and subsumed into other companies, which have a grip on the reality of today’s smartphone business.
Going back is only going to leave BlackBerry where it’s been for years: Irrelevant and unable to make a dent on the likes of Apple, Google and even Microsoft.