Management is starting to pay attention. BlackBerry recently updated its software to include additional features for Apple, Microsoft (MSFT) and Google's (GOOG) Android phones. Chen says he will focus the company on growing its BBM chat software, which I think is a great move, albeit not a surprise.
Several weeks ago, on the heels of Facebook's (FB) $19 billion deal for WhatsApp, Chen told CNBC that he would accept $19 billion for BlackBerry's BBM messaging service. BlackBerry's total market cap currently stands at just $4.26 billion. Facebook's deal suggests that messaging is the new trend. And if Chen can create value for BBM, he would build up the profile for the entire company.
The problem, however, is that the number of BlackBerry users continue to decline. Investors insist, "That's not an issue." But based on BlackBerry's dwindling handset sales, iPhones and Android devices are what users want. Essentially, even if Chen was successful that building up BBM, there is no guarantee that BBM would be differentiated enough to drive users away from existing messaging platforms.
I don't have a crystal ball. With $2.7 billion cash on the books, Chen has some flexibility to operate with a trial-and-error mentality. But seeing how fast this company burns through cash, investors insisting that "glory will return" have to wonder how much time is left. On Wall Street, fallen empires seldom get a second chance to rebuild. The only truth here is that BlackBerry is giving it a good try.At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and held no position in any of the other stocks mentioned. Follow @Richard_WSPB This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.
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