New era for smartphone pioneer BlackBerry?

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After years of declining sales and failed makeovers as a result of stiff competition from rivals such as Android and Apple, BlackBerry has formed a special committee that will lay out strategic options such as the sale of the company and potential joint ventures.

Formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM), the one-time global leader in smartphone technology made the announcement in an effort to increase value. The news was welcomed by the Canadian company’s shareholders as stocks climbed by 4.5 per cent to US$10.20 following the announcement.

BlackBerry launched its first smartphone in 1999, and it quickly became sought after by consumers, especially on-the-go workers. The company’s market dominance was challenged in 2007 by the iPhone and the recent surge in Android devices. Seven months ago, it launched new handsets with an upgraded operating system known as BlackBerry 10 in a bid to revive the company’s glory days. However, sales were disappointing.

Based on a report from the International Data Corporation, the smartphone maker’s global market share dipped to 3.7 per cent in Q2 2013, which is its lowest level since tracking started.

“It looks like we are approaching the end of the road for BlackBerry. They are looking for the next alternative. Apparently, they are simply not selling enough new devices,” said tech analyst Jeff Kagan.

Nevertheless, the firm’s CEO and President Thorsten Heins has a more positive outlook thanks to the company’s huge cash pile and coveted patents on encryption and security technology.

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