Tuesday, October 01, 2013

For BlackBerry Ltd., the fall from grace has been epic (美股评论:黑莓从天堂到地狱)

The Canadian-based smartphone pioneer appears to have finally found a savior, and, if all the details are worked out, the company will go private in a deal led by its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial, valued at $4.7 billion, or $9 a share, in November.

导读:据报道,黑莓即将私有化,而MarketWatch专栏作家普莱蒂(Therese Poletti)撰文对这家曾经辉煌的公司所犯下的三大错误进行了分析,试图揭示他们陨落的原因。

Though a nice upside for a stock that got pummeled by last week’s whopper of an earnings warning, it’s a huge comedown from BlackBerry’s BBRY -0.51%  former status as a company that was revered for its secure network and high-quality handsets. The deal price is less than one-quarter of the market value that the company commanded just three years ago.

真是从天堂到地狱。不过好在,黑莓[微博]这次看上去是终于遇到救星了,如果泄漏出来的一切细节属实的话,该公司将在11月的某一时刻,在一笔由最大的股东Fairfax Financial主导的交易中,以每股9美元,合计47亿美元的价格私有化。尽管由于上周令人震惊的盈利预警而遭受重击之后,黑莓(BBRY)股价终于得到了难得的推动,但是想起该公司当年智能手机先锋的身份,想想他们曾备受推崇的安全网络和高品质设备,还是让人不能不唏嘘不已。此外,这笔私有化交易的规模还不到公司三年前市值的四分之一。

BlackBerry may not be dead yet, but its drastic reversal of fortune is probably going to make for some compelling business-school case studies. The company will probably join the ranks of fallen tech stars like Kodak, Digital Equipment Corp. and others who lost their leadership to nimbler rivals, whether due to hubris, inability to change, size or all of the above.

Here are a few guesses as to what the case studies and their experts will say about the fall of BlackBerry:



1.) The company was complacent. And its overcomplacency meant it failed to see the threat posed by Apple Inc.’s AAPL +0.07% iPhone and Google Inc.’s GOOG -0.13%  Android platform. If you have by now forgotten former co-CEO Jim Balsillie’s rambling and even incoherent comments on analyst conference calls, it is worth revisiting some of them.

For example, when asked in June 2008, a year after the iPhone was launched, whether his company was worried about overlap with the customer base for the iPhone, Balsillie initially responded that the question had no relevance to the company’s way of thinking.

He went on to add: “Because once you decide to become a BlackBerry user, you kind of stay there for life, and let’s not be too penny-wise, pound-foolish when we do get very good absolute margin.”

1) 该公司太不愿意直面苹果的iPhone和谷歌的安卓平台的威胁。如果你已经忘记了前联席首席执行官贝尔斯利(Jim Balsillie)在分析师电话会议上常常是不着调的东扯西扯,那不妨找出记录去好好看看。



 2.) It kept its co-CEO structure in place for far too long. When Balsillie and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis — significantly, the largest shareholders of what was then Research In Motion — finally decided to step down in January 2012, they were replaced with another insider, Chief Operating Officer Thorsten Heins, who perpetuated his predecessors’ strategy, continuing development of a whole new operating system, BlackBerry 10. Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf said at the time that the changes “appear[ed] more cosmetic than substantive.”

This is one case where it seemed obvious to outsiders that the company needed major change, in the manner of IBM Corp.’s IBM +0.65%  hiring of Lou Gerstner as its CEO, the first CEO to come from outside the Big Blue ranks. That move helped lead to big changes in the IBM culture and ridded it of much of the complacency and arrogance that had taken root in its years of industry dominance.

A further data point as an example of how arrogance has persisted at BlackBerry: In July, despite its recent struggles, the company added a corporate jet, albeit a 2006 Bombardier, to its fleet of corporate aircraft — all of which are now being sold.

2) 他们双首席执行官的架构使用了太长的时间,而这两位都是公司最大的股东。当贝尔斯利和另外一位首席执行官拉扎里迪斯(Mike Lazaridis)最终于2012年1月做出辞职决定,他们的继任人选又是来自公司内部的首席运营官海因斯(Thorsten Heins),后者坚持了继续推出全新操作系统黑莓10的策略。对此,Needham & Co。分析师沃尔夫(Charlie Wolf)评价说,公司当时的变化“看上去与其说是实质性的,还不如说只是装点门面”。

显然,当时公司是需要一个来自外部的人,需要一场重大的变革,就像当年IBM[微博](186.38, 1.20, 0.65%)(IBM)引入第一位外部首席执行官郭士纳(Lou Gerstner)那样。IBM当初的决定使得企业文化发生了重大变化,放下了因为多年统治业界而产生出来的骄傲自大,自鸣得意的身段。


 3.) It clung to its own proprietary technology. When the company could easily have licensed the now-dominant Android operating system, it doubled down on its own OS instead.

Even the troubled Nokia Corp. NOK +0.45% was at least experimenting with Android and began to consider jumping ship to from Windows Phone, a move that is believed to have cemented Microsoft Corp.’s MSFT +0.90%  interest in acquiring the handset business of Nokia.

BlackBerry’s steadfast adherence to developing its own next-generation operating system, BlackBerry 10, in the face of increased competition from cheaper Android-based devices, looks increasingly like a case of reaching a crossroads and choosing the wrong path.

BlackBerry’s biggest investor, though, seems optimistic about its future. Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax, which is spearheading the buyout offer and can be characterized as a sort of Canadian version of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, said that going private will “open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees.” Watsa said BlackBerry can deliver immediate value to shareholders as it executes its longer-term strategy as a private company.

Maybe. But as the company looks to go private and focus on a few devices for corporate users and so-called prosumers, the outcome is anything but clear. The sure bet is that MBA students — alongside the Kodaks and Digital Equipments and, yes, RIMs of future generations — will be studying intently and trying to learn well where, and why, the once-mighty BlackBerry went wrong.

3) 尽管他们完全可以采用现在已经占据统治地位的安卓操作系统,但公司还是顽固地坚持自己专有的技术。

哪怕是诺基亚,他们至少还曾经试水过安卓,后来考虑转向了Windows Phone,观察家们相信,正是他们的这一选择坚定了微软后来收购诺基亚手持设备部门的决心。


不过,黑莓的最大投资者似乎是对公司的未来感到乐观的。主导收购交易的Fairfax董事长、首席执行官瓦特萨(Prem Watsa)称,私有化将“为黑莓、消费者、运营商和员工开启一个令人振奋的私有化新篇章”。瓦特萨还说,黑莓可以为股东提供当即价值,而同时作为私有化公司,能够更好地执行长期战略。



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