BlackBerry's board announced last month that it had formed a special committee to "explore strategic alternatives." At one point, there was a leak about the company spinning off its coveted BBM, polishing it up, and putting it up for sale. Instead, it has had secret discussions with firms interested in buying all or part of BlackBerry. The latter now has a short list of potential bidders and wants to start the sales process soon.
Besides the handset manufacturing business, BlackBerry has its enterprise services business which helps companies run a "fleet" of smartphones. A big computer company like IBM could be interested here. BlackBerry Messenger could be sold to a company like Google. Then, there is the software business. Microsoft and Google could have interest there. Of course, the company could be sold as is, in one piece.
BlackBerry, which once had more than 50% of the U.S. smartphone business, now has less than 3% according to IDC. Former management's denial about the touchscreen era led BlackBerry to fall behind iOS and Android, and it has been unable to catch up. And with Nokia's Windows Phone models now picking up momentum in the low end of the market with the Nokia Lumia 520 and becoming known for its low-light photography exploits on the high end, BlackBerry has yet to find any traction with the public. Even the fabled BlackBerry QWERTY has failed to lift demand for the BlackBerry Q10.
Now that BlackBerry is seen as a lame duck, it will be even harder to get consumers to buy its phones. With an app store that looks like Kmart's toy section on December 26th, developers have not been rushing to write for the platform and this will only make matters worse. And the acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft has given BlackBerry's top competition access to unlimited money for marketing and R&D.
If BlackBerry has its way, this is a story we should be hearing plenty about over the next few weeks.