Blackberry Handset Business Apparently Valued at Zero

I don't really have a horse in this race, but I found it interesting to look at the deal Blackberry has made to sell itself to a Canadian insurance company.  The part of the business we all know and used to love -- the famous Blackberry handset business -- apparently is worth zero.

In a WSJ article, they cite the following valuations:

  • Cash on hand:  $2.6 billion
  • Patent portfolio:  $1 billion +
  • Blackberry secure phone network:  $1 billion

Given that the price for the transaction is $4.7 billion, that implies the handset / smartphone business is worth zero.  Which comes as no surprise, given Blackberry's eroding position over the last 5 years or so.

The last item on the list above seems to cause a lot of debate.  I don't know enough to participate in that debate, but it appears to me that Blackberry's one last market bastion is the enterprise market where their enterprise servers and more proprietary network gave enterprises more control over their employees devices and how they used them.  Which made their decision in 2012 to apparently obsolete their installed base of enterprise servers with Blackberry 10 all the more bewildering.

I have wondered why Microsoft didn't try to use the enterprise market as a way to get into the tablet and handset market.  It would seem to play to its strengths and neither Android nor iOS are particularly enterprise-friendly.

  • Sam L.

    I was amazed to see Blackberry as a sponsor for Mercedes GP in Formula One racing at the first of the year, not having heard of them for a year or so (I only have dumb phones). I'm guessing it's a one-year deal..

  • Chris Smith

    I believe Microsoft's Outlook Server has the "blow away everything on the handset" functionality that makes the Blackberry handsets secure. I ran into this problem setting up my Android phone to connect to a Microsoft Outlook server, the default Outlook connection came with a warning that the Outlook server would be allowed to delete data from my phone. I was able to set up a much less aggressive POP/SMTP connection instead, only because my company's server allowed that type of access.

  • irandom419

    But people look so kewl talking into their keyboard. :-)

  • Craig Loehle

    I know a quality control engineer who was just laid off from Blackberry in their handset phone business. She told nightmare stories about management who had degrees in English literature and had no interest in learning technical "stuff" and refusal to test systems before shipping and not doing any marketing in China where apparently customers still love blackberry but they were just refusing to look into it or invest in selling there. Suicidal company. Too bad.