BlackBerry to World: Trust Us

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins

Ailing BlackBerry has a message for its passionate, if dwindling, user base: We’ll be here for you.

In a global print media blitz launched this morning, the Canadian vendor tried to fend off consumer concerns about a possible acquisition by vowing unwavering “commitment to those of you who helped build BlackBerry into the most trusted tool for the world’s business professional.” Several sources close to BlackBerry have said recently that Cisco Systems Inc., SAP AG and Google Inc. are interested in buying all or parts of the struggling business.

“We have substantial cash on hand and a balance sheet that is debt free,” the BlackBerry missive reads. “We are restructuring with a goal to cut our expenses by 50 percent in order to run a very efficient, customer-oriented organization. We don’t underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges. We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry.”

The message comes in the form of an open letter signed by “the Blackberry team” published in 30 newspapers in nine countries.

In the letter, BlackBerry officials tout their four devices running the well-reviewed but sluggishly adopted Blackberry 10 operating system as well as their well-known back-end security and multi-platform enterprise MDM solutions as proof of their ongoing viability.

“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,” the ad reads. “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.”

Officials also claim there are six million customers pre-registered for the much-hyped and oft-delayed rollout of BlackBerry’s BBM enterprise mobile messaging platform for Google Android and Apple iOS users.

The ad campaign comes just weeks after global electronics manufacturing services firm Jabil Circuit Inc. said it was to terminate its smartphone manufacturing pact with BlackBerry.

“We are in discussions right now on how we are going to wind down the relationship,” Mark Mondello, CEO of the $16 billion Florida company, told a Canadian newspaper. Mondello said he’d become concerned with the drag BlackBerry’s poor performance is putting on Jabil’s bottom line. The termination will likely to be made official “in the coming months.”

That had many in the industry speculating BlackBerry will exit the handset business for good after its latest flagship phones — the Z10 and Q10 — failed to resonate with consumers.

“The company has sailed off a cliff,” analyst Colin Gillis of BGC Partners told Reuters. “What do you expect when you announce you’re up for sale. Who wants to commit to a platform that could possibly be shut down?”

Ailing BlackBerry last month agreed to a takeover deal from Fairfax Financial Holdings for around $4.7 billion. And in late September, the company reported a $1.3 billion loss, steeper than the $990 million loss officials had predicted. The struggling company reiterated it would move forward with plans to cut its workforce by 40 percent, putting more than 5,000 jobs at risk. Additional cuts may still be required, they added.

Also last month, BlackBerry inked a distribution deal with Tech Data Corp. that will have the latter offering BlackBerry’s multi-platform Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution as part of the Clearwater, Fla., distributor’s enterprise offerings for channel partners in the United States.