Today, BlackBerry released an open letter to the millions of fans and customers around the world. Many who have been waiting and watching to see what will become of the one mighty smartphone maker. Times are truly rough for this company, they are cutting another 4,500 people from their staff and wrote off 1 billion dollars in the last quarter. Add onto that the sales of Blackberry 10 devices have been soft and subscribers numbers continue to decline and it seems like a death spiral that the company can’t get out of. Even bringing BBM to Android and IOS was a mess with a failed launch. The one thing that BlackBerry has going for them is a strong a dedicated fan base which is standing behind the company. #TeamBlackBerry is a rather large and important piece that can’t be accounted for in stats and sales numbers. Its this group of people along with those sitting on the fence that I really hoped the company would grab and pull onto their side. After sitting quiet for weeks while the media bashed the company into submission with horror story after horror story this was lackluster. It felt like a memo to the staff; one that you would take, crumple up and forget about. It didn’t have the heart needed to really appeal to the fans and to the potential clients. It doesn’t have that oomph like Mike Lazardis’s video apologizing for the NOC outage.
Below I will take portions of the address that I feel needed to be more detailed and changed.
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.
The first part needs to address the current amount of capital the company has to offer. We know that BlackBerry had 2.6 billion but it lost around 1 billion in the latest quarter. Its great to say that its strong but what is the actual number. Many companies probably wouldn’t consider 1 billion in cash reserves strong for the next couple years. The restructuring portion is rather important for companies who are business oriented which is BlackBerry target market. Putting a number to the restructuring cost will help businesses to see where BlackBerry stands financially. With rumors the number will swell from 100 million to 400 million putting this to rest would give one less bullet to the media. “Customer oriented organization” for god sake, your going after the enterprise market tell them that. Customer oriented sounds like they still want to play the consumer market even though they have stated that they cant compete. Its confusing the message!
We have four BlackBerry 10 devices – two all touch and two hybrid (touch and QWERTY)
BlackBerry shortened the names of its devices in BlackBerry10 the least you could do is lay out the phones you will be relying on for the turn around. We know that the Z10 has been a major flop (Hence the inventory paydown) so will this be one of the phones it rely’s on or is it a too be announced device. The Q5 and Q10 are likely the phones they mean when they’re talking Qwerty but both devices have had lackluster sales and are aging. Again, will BlackBerry be relying on these devices or 2 new ones to power them through the next couple quarters. Some more insight will help investors and consumers figure out what tools BlackBerry will be using to play ball with. Even if they had stated 2 new upcoming devices then we would know that we can expect some changes in the future. Obviously, the company wont put up release dates for new phones but a little more insight into the products would have been nice.
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.
BlackBerry should have talked about some of the things they plan to bring on board for business to make their lives easier and some update schedules. They have announced a private beta for a cloud based service which will inevitably come online in the future. Talking about this and how it will make life easier for business would have made sense to companies who are on the fringe about BlackBerry’s future as a company. Showing the annual growth will provide a positive note for people reading this letter and show that it is not all bad in BlackBerry.
We are bringing the most engaging mobile messaging platform to all, with our BBM™ launch for Android™ and iPhone.
The failed launch on September 22/23 was a huge mess for the company. Now its brought this back up in the letter it needed to provide a date in which it would launch the serve 150%. The CMO stated that the launch will likely be in a couple days which could be the 18/19 but until then we don’t know. One of the big things that CEO Thorsten Heinz stated when he took over was that when they made a deadline they were going to stick to it and launch a fully featured product. They didn’t do that and since they brought it up in the letter they should have provided the latest date.
There were a couple things that I hoped would have been in the letter that they didn’t put into it. 1) Where is the thanks to the thousands of employees that you have let go and are letting go. To leave them out of this letter without thanking them for their time, effort, sweat and tears is unacceptable to me as a shareholder. These are the same employees that only months ago you were getting to work 6 days a week in order to get BlackBerry 10 to market. To not mention these people publicly as they look for work elsewhere seems shallow and shows that the management in disconnected from the struggles of the average worker (Maybe its the potential 55 million dollar payout if they are fired). 2) They needed to address the companies who are sitting on the fence about whether they should invest in BlackBerry 10 or not. Its been reported that major companies and governments are making plans for a post-BlackBerry era and are withholding purchases till the future is better known. BlackBerry didn’t address this in my view.
Again I feel that this wasn’t from the heart. It felt like something half baked which seems to be a signature of this company.
What are your thoughts on the letter? below is a link to the original message on the BlackBerry website.