Sunday, September 22, 2013

The never-ending "collapse" of Blackberry

The past week or so has brought us lots of hand-wringing about the future of Canada's supposedly iconic tech company, Blackberry.

The national newspaper of record used the word "collapse" in their headline.

CBC speculates that the company has no future.

The National Post sees a "death spiral" and wants Ottawa to step in.

None of this is news.

Here's Nat Barookhian over two years ago; RIM Blackberry hanging by a thread.

Here's the geeks at Brighthand a year and a half ago; RIM's freefall continues.

The fact of the matter is that given competitive technology, which the critics generally agree the company has provided in their last iteration of the Blackberry, the company can keep going indefinitely with somewhere around 1-2% of the global market.

The death spiral, such as it was, came after the record years of 2010 and 2011, when the senior management of the time were resting on their laurels and plotting to overthrow Gary Bettman.

The widely headlined "billion dollar loss" of the last quarter is one of those accounting fictions that doesn't necessarily mean real money was lost. The latest staff downsizing is an acknowledgement that the days of pretending they're heading back to the glorious heights of '09 are over.

Those five thousand job cuts will translate into more imaginary write-downs going forward. They also translate into roughly 2 billion per year in cost savings. That should allow the debt-free company to run profitably on an annual sales volume of around 10 million.

The only real question around Blackberry's survival is whether it can maintain a niche of that very modest size.

Prem Watsa is one guy reading the doom and gloom stories with keen interest. I've heard he uncorks another magnum for every negative story in a major news outlet.

He's the guy who's going to take the company private, but he'd rather do it at $8 a share than $18.

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