Six years later, BlackBerry’s stock is worth just over ten dollars a share, and on Monday itannounced that it has formed a “special committee” to explore ways to sell the company or form a joint venture with another business, among other options. This was a striking declaration: although BlackBerry has been in trouble for some time—it underwent a public “strategy review” of its business plan a year ago—its decision to put up a giant, blinking for-sale sign suggests it has become especially desperate. If BlackBerry sells itself, the buyer’s biggest gains will be a pile of cash, a big portfolio of patents, and some security technology. In other words, one of the companies that pioneered the smartphone market may soon end up selling itself as scrap.
[…] As early as 2009, BlackBerry’s share price had fallen to less than fifty dollars, from its high of two hundred and thirty-six dollars in the summer of 2007. The “consumerization” of business technology was already underway, and the company had failed to come to grips with it: when BlackBerry users returned home and pulled off their ties, they picked up iPhones, which were a lot more fun to use. Soon, they wanted to use iPhones at work. Simultaneously, companies realized that workers would be happier and more productive buying the device of their choice, and the firms themselves, spared the expense of providing their employees with phones, would save money.