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BlackBerry Begins Search for Buyer or 'Strategic Alliance'

August 12, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227785

Does anyone have a solution for BlackBerry? That's what the Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone maker wants to know. Today, the company announced that its board of directors has formed a special committee to "explore strategic alternatives" as it struggles to regain market share to competitors like Apple and Android. The alternatives could include joint ventures, strategic partnerships, a sale of the company or other possible transactions.

Earlier this year, BlackBerry released its long-delayed BB10 operating system, as well as the Z10 and Q10 smartphones. During its first quarter earnings call, BlackBerry said it had only shipped 2.7 million of its new phones. It also reported an $84 million loss on $3.1 billion in revenue.

"We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition," BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins said in the announcement.

Related: BlackBerry Wants to Be a Leader in the 'Internet of Things'

But BlackBerry smartphones make up only 2.9 percent of the global smartphone market, down from 4.9 percent during the second quarter last year, says Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC. Android, meanwhile, makes up 79.3 percent of the global smartphone market and Apple 13.2 percent.

While BlackBerry's earnings fall and its market share evaporates, the company's portfolio of patents could be what's most valuable to a potential buyer as litigation among smartphone makers heats up. Last year, analysts speculated that the company's patents could be worth as much as $4 billion if a bidding war were to erupt.

BlackBerry's new special committee is led by chairman Timothy Dattels, who joined BlackBerry's board last summer. Dattels is an investor at private investment firm TPG Capital and a former partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Related: BlackBerry's New OS, Smartphones: What's in it for Business Users?