BlackBerry 10 logo (no letters, blue)

Canadian phone maker BlackBerry – once the undisputed enterprise giant that used to be synonymous with smartphones and whose iconic BlackBerry handsets with their clickety-clack keyboards and real-time, secure push email were considered the real work machines – is now entertaining a $4.7 billion offer from its largest shareholder, a move that would take the free-falling phone company private.

Fairfax Financial Holdings, which already owns 9.9 percent of the Waterloo, Ontario firm, would pay $9 per share, a 3.1 percent premium over last week’s share price. According to a statement by Fairfax CEO Prem Watsa, the private company will “focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world.”…

The buyout offer announced  today is just the latest chapter for BlackBerry, which discounted the iPhone when the Apple handset first appeared, then found itself unable to compete in a market dominated by Google’s Android handsets and Apple’s iOS-based iPhone and iPad devices.

After falling from CrackBerry to just cracked, the company last week cut 4,500 jobs and a announced a $960 million write-down on unsold Z10 BlackBerry smartphones. The handsets, which CEO Thorsten Heins hoped would breathe life into the firm, never caught fire with the buying public.

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BlackBerry’s ex co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille. Image via AllThingsD.

The move by Fairfax was telegraphed somewhat when Watsa resigned from the BlackBerry board in August as the company publicly put out the ‘For Sale’ sign.

Asked about what he thought of the current mobile landscape – especially concerning Nokia’s sale to Microsoft and RIM woes – Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg Businesweek that Nokia “is a reminder to everyone in business that you have to keep innovating and that to not innovate is to die”.

Here’s ex-CEO Mike Lazaridis knee-jerk reaction to a BBC Click interview and hard talk concerning its platform’s security in certain countries and comparison to Apple’s devices (the fun part starts at mark 5:45, just before he becomes nervous and abruptly ends the interview).

AlthoughFairfax is currently the only bidder, there is a period of “due diligence” lasting until November 4. During that period, Fairfax can look at BlackBerry’s books and the smartphone maker could entertain competing bids.

Perhaps looking to make the bitter pill easier to swallow, BlackBerry also today unveiled its new phablet, the BlackBerry Z30 smartphone, that has a five-inch screen, runs BlackBerry 10.2 OS and sports “the largest battery yet on a BlackBerry smartphone”, check it out in a promo video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQVKISYQ31s

In the end, taking BlackBerry private seems the only way for the company to stem the tide of red ink, at least prevent the death by a thousand press releases detailing further losses.

Like the smartphone industry, which is essentially a duopoly controlled by Android and iOS, PC maker Dell found itself forced to go private as computer sales fell off a cliff.

  • Chris Holden

    im sure whoever is willing to pay $4.7 billion knows what theyre doing, but it seems kinda silly to buy a dying product, am i missing something? patents and other stuff cant be worth that much

    • Bob

      Because it was once worth over $80 billion. If you have the brains and the know how, you can flip it and make back many x your initial invest. Or you could lose it all, for example look what happened to Myspace.

    • Frozen Bee .GFKS

      only BB patents worth a fortune, so they actually made a pretty cheap deal…BB could be sold for 10 least

  • Qasim Bashir

    I would buy it in $14,754 in candies

  •  Rich 

    They’ll prolly just work on software/apps instead of devices going forward. BBM, when it’s actually rolled out properly, will prolly take off and be a decent competitor to whatsApp, iMessage, and other messaging apps. considering in that first night, over 1 million people grabbed the leaked version. Personally I miss using BBM, it was a really nice feature. But back then, BB didn’t offer anything of worth besides that.

    • Taf Khan

      Reminds me of when SEGA stopped making hardware to concentrate on games! I bet SEGA have made money every year since.

  • Glorin

    BBM? yes of course, never heard of it.!

  • jocastro

    down they gooooooo…

  • Prasoon Singh

    RIP BlackBerry…

    • bigzjoseph

      it was never alive

  • Taf Khan

    Oh dear… . Money down the drain for sure.
    Do RIM own any decent patents? I suppose Backberry Messenger is worth abit, not enough to justify such a high price though.

    • Frozen Bee .GFKS

      patent portfolio of BlackBerry(RIM) is worth over 5 billion $…

      • Taf Khan

        Well that’s its biggest asset I guess and justify’s the price.

  • Dan

    R.I.P. BlackBerry

  • M Last

    finally

  • Saeed Ghattas

    Microsoft… Go go go…. Buy it before it’s too late….LOL

  • Matthew Cooper

    Shooting a lil high arent they?

  • Jo

    If I had 4.7 billion $ I would not buy Blackberry. I would buy a Flying Ferrari and I would leave for a year-long vacation if the Bahamas.

  • Jo

    Blackberry once was Apple, but it is now crap. you never know when the death of a company will be.

  • JustMeJip2

    damnnn i have 4.6 billion :'( i cant buy it.