Buyers might have to settle for stems and seeds, but Blackberry CEO won't

16 August 2013 by Steve Blum
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It was a lot bigger before I took a hit.

In the week when Apple is giving its new iPhone a final bath in unicorn tears and Samsung begins a campaign to put a mobile phone on every wrist, Blackberry went on sale. And for rolling a big fat one for shareholders, CEO Thorsten Heins will get $56 million.

He’d already pretty much given up on phones. Blackberry can’t sell much of anything to anyone who isn’t already using their devices. And that group is getting smaller all the time.

Strategically, Blackberry has two assets: its intellectual property and a list of customers that trust it as a secure platform. That’s valuable to a mobile phone maker like Samsung that needs IP leverage and is looking for ways to maintain growth. Adding Blackberry’s vertical markets is a good way to do it. Blackberry has the same appeal to Apple or Google or an up and coming Asian manufacturer.

If the buyer isn’t one of the big guys, there’s room in the security sector for Blackberry’s technology. Even though it’s a fire sale strategy for Blackberry, it’s a possible path for a security middleware company to enter the mobile telecommunications space. If the operating system can be unbundled and the essential bits integrated into Android or iOS or even a new OS contender, then the buyer could hang onto at least a share of existing subscriber revenue by providing highly secure communications as an independent back-end service.

Although the obligatory words were spoken about building a market for Blackberry’s current offerings, it’s clear they’re throwing in the towel. That’s good news for shareholders who can finally hope for something better than just drinking more of Thorsten’s bong water.