BlackBerry is currently dealing with some serious, serious issues — no one wanted its first flagship phone, one of its co-founders might be making a dark-horse bid to buy the company back, and the company might just end up being parted out to the highest bidders. So what’s a once-dominant smartphone player to do in light of all this uncertainty and depressing soothsaying? What can it do to bolster the morale of the BlackBerry faithful who watched as friends and colleagues embraced new platforms?
The answer is a complex one but for now BlackBerry plans to reassure people the old-fashioned way — by writing a letter. According to BlackBerry fansite Crackberry, the Waterloo company will publish an impassioned letter to the people in 30 newspapers across nine countries spelling out exactly why they shouldn’t count the company out just yet.
You can find the full text of the letter at the bottom of the post, but if you’ve been following BlackBerry’s current trajectory there’s not going to be any surprises here. The positives? A debt-free balance sheet, plenty of cash holed up in the reserves, and gobs of expertise in delivering productive mobile computing experiences in secure enterprise environments. All valid points, except perhaps for the team’s invocation of BBM’s popularity as a global social messaging platform. The original launch for iOS and Android didn’t exactly go according to plan — it’s been some three weeks since those apps first started popping up in their respective app stores, and there’s still no firm word on when BlackBerry will open the floodgates again.
I find it interesting too that the letter is signed by the BlackBerry team and not by, say, CEO Thorsten Heins. It’s a clear indicator that there’s no one single person to blame for the company’s current shakiness, nor does the future of the company rest solely on one person’s decisions. Of course, that team is only going to grow smaller for the time being, as some 4,500 positions will get the axe by the end of the year. It’s all ostensibly for the greater good, but there’s no guarantee that the company’s cost-cutting measures will be enough to see them to eventual platform victory.
I don’t mean to unduly rag on BlackBerry — I was a member of that BB addict community for a spell, and I still look back on my time with devices like the BlackBerry Pearl and Tour very fondly. And to the extent that we can give BlackBerry credit for it, the company easily has one of the most devoted, vociferous fanbases I’ve ever seen, and those people will continue to support the company.
Here’s the thing though — as optimistic as the letter is, words are cheap and platitudes are unconvincing. BlackBerry needs to prove to its core customers that it’s still a viable horse in a race dominated by nimble giants, and I wish them the best. They’re going to need it.
To our valued customers, partners and fans,
You’ve no doubt seen the headlines about BlackBerry. You’re probably wondering what they mean for you as one of the tens of millions of users who count on BlackBerry every single day.
We have one important message for you:
You can continue to count on BlackBerry.
How do we know? We have substantial cash on hand and a balance sheet that is debt free.
We are restructuring with a goal to cut our expenses by 50 percent in order to run a very efficient, customer-oriented organization.
These are no doubt challenging times for us and we don’t underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges. We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry.
One thing we will never change is our commitment to those of you who helped build BlackBerry into the most trusted tool for the world’s business professional.
And speaking of those dramatic headlines, it’s important that we set the record straight on a few things.
Best in class productivity tool.
We have completely revamped our device portfolio this year with the launch of BlackBerry 10. We have four BlackBerry 10 devices – two all touch and two hybrid (touch and QWERTY) – and all are running the third update of our new platform. If what you care about most is getting things done – taking care of your business – we have the best range of devices for you. And we continue to offer the best mobile typing experience – no ifs, ands or buts about it.
Best in class security.
Governments all over the world, global corporations and businesses that simply cannot compromise on security choose and trust BlackBerry. Security is our heritage, and the industry recognizes that BlackBerry is the most secure when it comes to the device, server and, of course, our global data network. Have no doubt that you can continue to trust us to keep your communication safe and private.
Best in class enterprise mobility management.
We changed with the market, embracing BYOD because we understand that as iOS and Android devices become common in the workplace, businesses still need to manage all of these different platforms seamlessly and securely.
This is not a trivial task. While there are a number of startup companies that make bold claims, BlackBerry has more software engineers and the most resources dedicated to developing the most innovative solutions to address this complex challenge.
And our customers know it. Over the past quarter, our BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 server base grew from 19,000 to more than 25,000. Corporate clients are committed to deploying and testing the latest enterprise technology from BlackBerry. We are committed to evolving with our customers. That will never change.
Best in class mobile social network.
We are bringing the most engaging mobile messaging platform to all, with our BBM launch for Android and iPhone.
There are already around six million customers pre-registered to be notified of our roll out. This number is growing every day, and speaks to the tremendous opportunity we have to expand BBM beyond BlackBerry smartphones to make it the world’s largest mobile social network.
Yes, there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone. That’s OK. You have always known that BlackBerry is different, that BlackBerry can set you apart. Countless world-changing decisions have been finalized, deals closed and critical communications made via BlackBerry. And for many of you that created a bond, a connection that goes back more than a decade.
We believe in BlackBerry – our people, our technology and our ability to adapt. More importantly, we believe in you. We focus every day on what it takes to make sure that you can take care of business.
You trust your BlackBerry to deliver your most important messages, so trust us when we deliver one of our own: You can continue to count on us.
The BlackBerry Team