Blackberry Seeks To Reassure Customers In New Campaign

@AFP

Washington (AFP) – BlackBerry is launching a campaign aiming to reassure its customers it intends to stay in business, brushing aside suggestions of its impending demise.

“You can continue to count on BlackBerry,” says an open letter to customers from the ailing Canadian smartphone maker set to appear in Tuesday’s Washington Post and other news outlets. “How do we know? We have substantial cash on hand and a balance sheet that is debt free.”

The letter points out that the Canadian-based group is “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,” the letter continues. “We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry.”

Canada’s Globe and Mail, another of the newspapers set to publish the letter, quoted BlackBerry regional managing director Andrew MacLeod as saying the campaign seeks to “lower the temperature” and reinforce the company’s viability and competitiveness.

“We wanted to get the facts of the situation out there,” he told the Canadian daily. “We have strong assets and our ability to continue to fight and compete in this space remains very strong.”

BlackBerry has said it is seeking a sale of the company among other “strategic options.”

The company signed a letter of intent for a $4.7-billion buyout by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, but also left the door open to other offers.

Last week, BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis indicated in a regulatory filing he has boosted his stake in firm with the intention of making an acquisition bid.

The private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which specializes in distressed companies, also has expressed interest in a bid for BlackBerry.

Some analysts have said however that BlackBerry has fallen so far behind Apple and manufacturers using the Google Android operating system that its only hope is a breakup, which could salvage its software and services operations.

In January, BlackBerry unveiled a new corporate name and a new platform in January as it sought to regain momentum, but its most recent numbers suggest this has been a spectacular failure.

BlackBerry still has some 70 million subscribers worldwide, but most of these are using older handsets, with the newer devices on the BlackBerry 10 platform failing to gain traction.

Last month, the company announced it was laying off 4,500 staff — or one third of its global workforce — after losing $965 million dollars in its last quarter as sales plummeted.

But BlackBerry still had some $2.6 billion in cash at the end of its past quarter, from its earnings when the company was at the top of the smartphone market.

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