When BlackBerry evaluates strategic alternatives in the coming weeks, it may look back with regret that it didn’t pursue one offered last year by Silicon Valley investor Robert Chan. The Verge reports that Chan last summer pitched the BlackBerry board of directors on a plan to buy out the company and return it to its roots as an enterprise mobile company that wouldn’t even try to compete with iOS and Android in the consumer market. Chan’s reasoning was that while BlackBerry had already decisively lost the consumer market it still had some tremendous assets at its disposal that it could leverage as a smaller, more concentrated business.
“Essentially, what we were doing was a coup dâ€™etat,” Chan tells The Verge.
So what would Chan have done differently if he’d succeeded in raising the $6 billion he needed to buy the company? For starters, he would have scrapped all work on BlackBerry 10, which he saw as a futile attempt to catch up with iOS and Android in the consumer market. In its place, The Verge says that Chan’s plan “would have jettisoned the upcoming platform in favor of an Android fork, optimized for security and enterprise with a few BlackBerry 10 features thrown in” while at the same time opening the company’s secure network and services up for iOS and Android devices.
The best comparison to Chan’s plan is IBM’s successful bid to reinvent itself by selling off its hardware division. Chan wouldn’t have ditched hardware all together, however, but instead would have sharply limited the number of phones the company produced every year and marketed them as high-end devices to executives who valued security in their mobile communications more than the ability to play Angry Birds.
With BlackBerry’s board looking to potentially sell off the company as one of its strategic alternatives, it will be interesting to see whether proposals such as Chan’s get a second look.