BlackBerry Signals It Will Keep Its Smartphones

What now for BlackBerry? That's the question, following Monday's news that the beleaguered smartphone maker has ended its quest for a buyer, accepted a $1 billion cash infusion, and brought on a new, interim CEO.

The pending purchase by Fairfax Financial Holdings of Toronto for $4.7 billion has been discarded, as apparently have a variety of discussions with such potential suitors as Lenovo or LG. Fairfax had been engaged in a due diligence period which ended Monday. Thorsten Heins, who became CEO in January of last year and oversaw the company's launch of its new BlackBerry 10 platform, has resigned, and John Chen, who turned around Sybase over a decade ago before it was purchased by SAP, is now heading BlackBerry.

BlackBerry said Chen would remain interim CEO until a new, permanent CEO is found. Fairfax Chairman and Chief Executive V. Prem Watsa will once again join BlackBerry's board as lead director, a position he resigned during the summer to avoid any conflict of interest.

'Enough Ingredients'

Chen, who will serve as executive chairman of the Board as well as interim CEO, has told Reuters news service that it will take as much as 18 months to turn the company around, but that there were "enough ingredients to build a long-term sustainable business" around its smartphones. A key question, heightened by Monday's news, is whether BlackBerry would opt for abandoning its devices business altogether and focus entirely on software and services, such as its popular BlackBerry Messenger service or its mobile device management platform.

It's not yet clear what role Fairfax will play in this new phase. BlackBerry has not specifically said how the $1 billion infusion will be used, but the company is known to be sitting on $2.6 billion in cash and investments without Fairfax. The $1 billion, reportedly provided by a...

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