BlackBerry issues open letterto reassure customers

Toronto: BlackBerry is publishing an open letter in major publications around the world in a bid to reassure customers that they can count on the distressed smartphone company.The letter was released Monday on Twitter and
blackberry issues open letterto reassure...
India TV News Desk October 15, 2013 12:37 IST
Toronto: BlackBerry is publishing an open letter in major publications around the world in a bid to reassure customers that they can count on the distressed smartphone company.



The letter was released Monday on Twitter and will be published in 30 publications in nine countries Tuesday. It acknowledges "these are no doubt challenging times for us and we don't underestimate the situation" but says "you can continue to count on BlackBerry."

The missive notes that BlackBerry has substantial cash and is debt free. But it makes no mention of the fact that the company is for sale and could be broken up and sold in pieces.

BlackBerry announced last month that Fairfax Financial Holdings, which owns 10 percent of the company, signed a letter of intent that "contemplates" buying BlackBerry for $9 a share, or $4.7 billion. Fairfax, BlackBerry's largest shareholder, is trying to attract other investors.

The stock is trading well below Fairfax's tentative offer on fears that the deal won't go through or that the final price will be lower. BlackBerry Ltd.'s U.S.-traded shares closed up 7 cents to $8.14 Monday.

"We're getting a lot of queries and interest from loyal consumers, from all of our enterprise customers and big government institutions," Andrew MacLeod, BlackBerry's regional managing director for North America, said in an interview. MacLeod said it's important to communicate with customers while the company goes through a difficult restructuring. He declined to comment on the sale process because a special committee of board members is examining that.

The BlackBerry, introduced in 1999, was once the dominant smartphone for on-the-go business people and other consumers. But the advent of a new generation of competing touchscreen smartphones, starting with Apple's iPhone in 2007, made the BlackBerry look ancient. The company's sales and market share shrank and it lost billions in market value.

This year's much-delayed launch of BlackBerry 10 system and fancier devices that use the software was supposed to rejuvenate the brand and lure customers. It did not work. Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry recently announced 4,500 layoffs, or 40 percent of its global workforce, and reported a quarterly loss of nearly $1 billion.

"Candidly, we haven't seen the level of the traction in certain markets that we had hoped," MacLeod said. "It takes time for new platforms to get traction and we think we need to give BlackBerry 10 more time in the marketplace in order to get to the level of volume that we had hoped."

The letter says BlackBerry continues "to offer the best mobile typing experience — no ifs, ands or buts about it." It also acknowledges "there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone."

Full text of BlackBerry's open letter to customers

To our valued customers, partners and fans:

You've no doubt seen the headlines about BlackBerry. You're probably wondering what they mean for you as one of the tens of millions of users who count on BlackBerry every single day.

We have one important message for you:

You can continue to count on BlackBerry.

How do we know? 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.

These are no doubt challenging times for us and we don't underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges we are facing. We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry.

One thing we will never change is our commitment to those of you who helped build BlackBerry into the most trusted tool for the world's business professional.

And speaking of those dramatic headlines, it's important that we set the record straight on a few things.

Best in Class Productivity Tool

We have completely revamped our device portfolio this year with the launch of BlackBerry 10. We have four BlackBerry 10 devices - two all touch and two hybrid (touch and QWERTY) - and all are running the third update of our new platform. If what you care about most is getting things done - taking care of your business -- we have the best range of devices for you. And we continue to offer the best mobile typing experience - no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Governments all over the world, global corporations and businesses that simply cannot compromise on security choose and trust BlackBerry. Security is our heritage, and the industry recognizes that BlackBerry is the most secure when it comes to the device, server and, of course, our global data network. Have no doubt that you can continue to trust us to keep your communication safe and private.

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Governments all over the world, global corporations and businesses that simply cannot compromise on security choose and trust BlackBerry. Security is our heritage, and the industry recognizes that BlackBerry is the most secure when it comes to the device, server and, of course, our global data network. Have no doubt that you can continue to trust us to keep your communication safe and private.

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We changed with the market, embracing BYOD because we understand that as iOS and Android devices become common in the workplace, businesses still need to manage all of these different platforms seamlessly and securely.

This is not a trivial task. While there are a number of startup companies that make bold claims, BlackBerry has more software engineers and the most resources dedicated to developing the most innovative solutions to address this complex challenge.

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.

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We are bringing the most engaging mobile messaging platform to all, with our BBM launch for Android and iPhone. There are already around six million customers pre-registered to be notified of our roll out. This number is growing every day, and speaks to the tremendous opportunity we have to expand BBM beyond BlackBerry smartphones to make it the world's largest mobile social network.

Yes, there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone. That's OK. You have always known that BlackBerry is different, that BlackBerry can set you apart. Countless world-changing decisions have been finalized, deals closed and critical communications made via BlackBerry. And for many of you that created a bond, a connection that goes back more than a decade.

We believe in BlackBerry - our people, our technology and our ability to adapt. More importantly, we believe in you. We focus every day on what it takes to make sure that you can take care of business.

You trust your BlackBerry to deliver your most important messages, so trust us when we deliver one of our own: You can continue to count on us.

Sincerely,

The BlackBerry Team
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