One year has made a remarkable difference in where BlackBerry was as a company compared to where it is now. In late September and early October 2013, the situation was really bleak for BlackBerry.
- Financially it had just endured one of its worst quarters
- It was in the midst of laying off 40% of its staff
- The company was for sale
- Then CEO Thorsten Heins admitted to the media that the BlackBerry10 launch failed
- Stores that had previously been stocking BlackBerry10 devices were pulling them off the shelves
- Many of BlackBerry’s enterprise customers started the process of looking for alternatives
But then BlackBerry CEO John Chen arrived to take over the reins and the “for sale” sign was taken down. Not many in the media gave him a chance, despite his exemplary credentials and solid reputation in the business community. It did not seem to matter to them that this was the man who successfully transformed Sybase from the brink of collapse to achieving 55 consecutive quarters of profitability before it was sold to SAP for $5.8 billion in 2010.
The critics and the naysayers in the media did not deter him. He immediately rolled up his sleeves and got to work formulating his strategy and executing his plan to turn BlackBerry around.
Inside BlackBerry blog did a comparison of where BlackBerry was as a company last year, as was reported by CNN Money, compared to where it is today.
Source: Inside BlackBerry blog
CNN Money, October 2013:
“BlackBerry (BBRY) said the 4,500 employees it is laying off by the end of the year will cost $400 million — four times as much as the company had previously expected. That’s particularly bad news, since BlackBerry is racking up giant quarterly losses and rapidly burning through its cash.”
Turnarounds are challenging. But, tough action was taken — and the result is that BlackBerry today is in much better financial shape than it was a mere four quarters ago. BlackBerry’s restructuring process has ended and certain areas of the business will be looking to hire new employees excited about driving the business forward.
CNN Money, October 2013:
“Wednesday’s financial release was an update to its latest quarterly report on Friday. BlackBerry announced a $965 million quarterly loss, which included a $934 million charge for unsold BlackBerry Z10 devices, the first phone launched on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system.”
At the most recent earnings call, John Chen said he expected BlackBerry would be cash flow neutral by the end of this fiscal year. More importantly, analysts are convinced that BlackBerry can deliver. The Financial Post reported that CIBC World Markets analyst Todd Coupland actually expected BlackBerry to be cash flow positive by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015 (quarter ending February 28, 2015).
CNN Money, October 2013:
“The company is also quickly losing its appeal in key markets … customers in typically loyal international markets are switching allegiances to Google (GOOG) Android devices.”
CNN Money couldn’t have predicted that BlackBerry would partner with Foxconn to get a new phone aimed at fast-growing markets — the BlackBerry Z3 — ready to launch quickly and efficiently. And, we were very proud when the BlackBerry Z3 sold out on the first day it was launched in Indonesia.
CNN Money, October 2013:
“BlackBerry also said consumers are looking for devices with the largest number of apps. That’s definitely not BlackBerry’s forte.”
We’ve heard consumers’ pleas for more apps on BlackBerry devices. When the BlackBerry 10.3 OS update launches later this year, the Amazon Appstore will be available to BlackBerry users. Now users can watch movies on Netflix, snag deals on Groupon and share crafty ideas on Pinterest while also still enjoying the popular business and productivity-focused apps available in BlackBerry World. We’re continually looking to provide users with more choice and the combined power and of the Amazon Appstore and BlackBerry World will do just that.
Recognizing that our enterprise customers have embraced diversity, so have we: BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES10) not only manages BlackBerry devices — it also helps companies secure their iOS and Android devices. This fall, we will launch BES12, which will add support for managing Windows Phone devices.
In almost a year since taking over the helm at Blackberry, CEO John and his team have accomplished the following:
- Re-energized the company, first by reorganizing it into four separate units, Enterprise Services, Devices, BBM and BlackBerry Technology Solutions, each with its own list of objectives and strategies
- Signed the deal with Foxconn as a way to get a better handle on manufacturing cost and inventory management
- Established partnerships such as with NantHealth (healthcare), Project Ion (Internet of Things) and the QNX operating system for Automotive Safety 1.0
- Successfully launched the Blackberry Z3 in Indonesia, India, South Africa, Nigeria and other countries in the emerging markets.
- Signed a deal with Amazon Inc to have its app store preloaded on BB10 devices once 10.3 is released. This effectively removes the perceived app-gap and make many popular apps not available in BlackBerry world available to customers who were not comfortably downloading Android apk’s directly or using programs such as Snap.
- Improved BlackBerry’s balance sheet by reducing cash burn and cutting costs and returning a profit of $23 million on the last ER on June 19th, 2014.
- Expanded BBM’s availability to Windows phones, making it a true cross platform messaging option for consumers and businesses with eBBM.
Even with these accomplishments, CEO Chen and his team are not sitting still. They are planning for the future, which will include the following:
- The upcoming launch later on this month of the Blackberry Passport
- The launch of the Blackberry Classic which is slated for November
- The upcoming launch of BES 12, which will unify the MDM end to end solution that Blackberry offers, by allowing business still on BBOS to still be able to manage and secure those devices in addition to BB10, ios, Android and Windows devices.
- BlackBerry Blend
So as you can see, BlackBerry is a very viable company and has come a very long way in the last year. They have managed to overcome their darkest days a year ago when a lot of analysts were openly predicting their demise. Not only have they controlled their cash flow, they have also managed to increase their cash holdings from $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion in the last quarter.
BlackBerry is a company on the move, diversifying its portfolio, building new products, improving its operating system and satisfying its customer’s needs. Especially for those who value their security.
If you are a BlackBerry owner:
- You can be assured that your phone will be adequately protected.
- You can be assured that your photos and sensitive information will NOT automatically be synced to an insecure Cloud prone to hacking or a brute-force attack without your knowledge.
- You can be assured that you will have the best mobile operating system with the fastest browser
- You can be assured that you will have the best keyboard, whether it is physical or virtual
- You can be assured of having all your messages and notifications available in the HUB and accessible from anywhere on your device
As Biggly would say,
You want to deal with a company that actually cares about it’s customers rather than treating them as cash cows?
Buy a BlackBerry today!