Instead the company will remain public and will receive an injection of $1 billion — which can be pushed to a maximum of $1.25 billion — from Fairfax and other investors. In addition, the company’s long time CEO Thorsten Heins, who took the reigns of the struggling smartphone maker in 2012, will be stepping down not only as CEO, but as a board member as well after failing to turn the company around.
Former Sybase Chief Executive John Chen was appointed chairman of BlackBerry’s board of directors and will serve as interim CEO. Fairfax head Prem Watsa has also been named a board member.
Even though its hardware isn’t being received very well, its a very different story with its software, namely BlackBerry Messenger. BBM recently surpassed 80 million users, an increase of 20 million since the app launched on Android and iOS. BlackBerry Messenger is also hinted for release on Windows Phone 8, and was recently shown to be the 12th most demanded feature on the platform by its users.
While competitors such as Nimbuzz, WeChat and WhatsApp have proven to be very successful in regions such as Asia, BBM has been downloaded and it is said to be actively used by over 20 million people in India alone, showing that the application clearly has high demand. BlackBerry has not confirmed these numbers and tells us that they are not yet releasing regional download numbers yet.
During the first week, BBM maintained the position of top free app in 35 countries on Google’s Play Store and 107 countries in the App store. At first, BlackBerry users had to be on a waiting list to be able to utilize the application, but as of last week, the app opened to the public.
Can BBM be monetized enough to pull BlackBerry back from the brink? We think it can, but it awaits to be seen if and how the company chooses to do so. For now, the experience across all platforms is no cost and ad-free.