Pfizer this week told its 92,000 employees to let their BlackBerry contracts expire and move over to iOS and Android devices. The drug manufacturer cited BlackBerry’s declining market share and the floundering mobile company’s recent attempt to sell itself as grounds for planning for a sudden unexpected service interruption. This news emerged just a few days after the US Department of Defense announced a contingency plan to replace its 470,000 BlackBerry devices with other brands in case BlackBerry eventually collapses.
The revelation came by way of an internal memo at Pfizer. The memo was seen by Bloomberg and quoted:
“In response to declining sales, the company is in a volatile state. We recommend that BlackBerry clients use their BlackBerry devices and plan to migrate to a new device at normal contract expiration.”
BlackBerry showed a $965 million loss on unsold inventory during its second fiscal quarter this year. It also logged a continuing market share loss to the Apple and Samsung handset profit duopoly.
The company’s recent moves to save itself from financial ruin include replacing its CEO with John Chen, raising $1 billion in convertible debt, and entertaining buyout offers. It has not been sold, but it counts Apple and Microsoft, Fairfax Financial, Cerberus Capital Management LP, and Lenovo among its rejected buyout players. One rejected takeover bid was worth $4.7 billion.
Meanwhile, Chen indicated on the BlackBerry blog that it will begin “to embrace a multi-platform, BYOD world.” “BYOD” stands for “Bring Your Own Device.” As in, BlackBerry may be looking to scrap its once-industry-dominant device manufacturing operation altogether, in favor of making its value-added, cross-platform services the centerpiece of its business plan moving forward. “We are also leveraging our tremendous assets, including BBM, our network and QNX.”
Maybe that is exactly where BlackBerry should be heading. BBM–BlackBerry Messenger–was released last month for iOS and Android. It was downloaded 10 million times in its first 24 hours, making it one of either of those competitor platforms’ highest-grossing app debuts of all time. BlackBerry is well known for its good reputation for security, especially for its email and messenger networks and QNX operating system. That’s a big part of why it was an enterprise favorite for so many years.
As the company continues to flounder, who can say with a straight face that the company has a good chance of recovering its former glory in the device space? First the Pentagon starts waving goodbye to BlackBerry devices, and now Pfizer–one of the world’s biggest drug companies. Who’s next? BlackBerry itself, perhaps?