BlackBerry Reports Huge Q3 Loss, But Partners See Glimmer Of Hope


BlackBerry Friday reported a third-quarter loss of $4.4 billion in its first quarterly report following a management shakeup and a $1 billion investment from Fairfax Financial Holdings.

The Waterloo, Ontario, company also said Friday that it has inked a five-year partnership with Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to make handsets for Indonesia and other emerging markets.

The ailing smartphone maker reported $1.2 billion in revenue in its third quarter, down 56 percent from $2.7 billion the prior year.

"We have accomplished a lot in the past 45 days but still have significant work ahead of us as we target improved financial performance next year," said CEO John Chen in a statement. Chen said he is pinning BlackBerry's future on handsets for emerging markets along with bolstering its enterprise services, messaging and automobile-related QNX cloud services.

[Related: Analysis: What BlackBerry Got Right And Wrong With BB10]

Partners haven't given up on BlackBerry, particularly as privacy concerns over secure messaging in the wake of National Security Agency surveillance news drive public and private interest in encrypted eavesdrop-proof communications.

"BlackBerry is still in the game," said James Hawkins, president and CEO of RedHawk IT Solutions, a Woodbridge, Va.-based solution provider. "They are their own worst enemy when it comes to handsets, but BlackBerry's underlying technology is solid and it is still a go-to provider of secure phone and messaging solutions. For government agencies that I do business with, BlackBerry is still very relevant."

Jack Gold, principal analyst with J.Gold Associates, said in a statement, "[BlackBerry] still has a way to go to achieve turnaround. The new management restructuring will likely help, but the primary challenge is to stem the losses in devices and get more people interested in the higher-end devices, which is not happening at the current time."

BlackBerry reported that it sold 4.3 million handsets in the third quarter. The company has been plagued by withering sales of its handsets, reporting earlier this year that it has $1 billion in unsold Z10 smartphones along with excess inventory of keyboard-equipped Q series phones.

The primary focus of BlackBerry's deal with Foxconn, according to the company, will be creating a 3G BB10 smartphone for Indonesia and "other fast-growing markets." The Foxconn device likely will launch in March or April, said Chen.

PUBLISHED DEC. 20, 2013