BlackBerry issues open letter to customers, says it's here to stay

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) issued an open letter to customers and partners around the world, assuring them that the company is "here to stay" even as it contemplates going private and its future is up in the air.

In the letter, which was published in 30 publications in nine countries, including the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post as well as sent to customers and partners, BlackBerry acknowledges its problems. "These are no doubt challenging times for us and we don't underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges," the company writes. "We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry."

"You've no doubt seen the headlines about BlackBerry," the letter states. "You're probably wondering what they mean for you as one of the tens of millions of users who count on BlackBerry every single day. We have one important message for you: You can continue to count on BlackBerry."

Some analysts have warned customers and clients to make contingency plans in case BlackBerry is broken up or its business deteriorates further. BlackBerry has pushed back against those concerns, but the open letter is its most aggressive move yet to do so.

BlackBerry then goes on to say that it has "substantial cash on hand" and a balance sheet that is debt free; that its tool remains the best in class for productivity, security and enterprise mobility management; and that is Blackberry messenger social network is coming to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS (though that rollout has been delayed).

"You have always known that BlackBerry is different, that BlackBerry can set you apart. Countless world-changing decisions have been finalized, deals closed and critical communications made via BlackBerry," the company writes. "And for many of you that created a bond, a connection that goes back more than a decade. We believe in BlackBerry--our people, our technology and our ability to adapt. More importantly, we believe in you."

The open letter comes amid a period of intense tumult for the company. BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin could decide to buy the company, according to a regulatory filing made public last week. The struggling smartphone maker is currently working with a consortium led by its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings to take BlackBerry private in a $4.7 billion deal, but the firm can look for other suitors until Nov. 4.

In late September, BlackBerry reported a $965 million loss for its most recent quarter, which came a week after the firm said it would cut 4,500 employees, or 40 percent of its workforce. The firm also said it would trim its smartphone line and focus on the enterprise market. Blackberry had been banking on sales of its BlackBerry 10 smartphones to revive its business, but that effort fell flat—most of the loss in its last quarter was related to an inventory writedown of its touchscreen Z10 smartphone.

"The level of noise around the company is very high," BlackBerry CMO Frank Boulben said in an interview with Bloomberg. Despite that noise—BlackBerry said about 6 million customers have already preregistered to be notified about the rollout of BBM to the other smartphone platforms, according to the letter.

"We communicate with our customers face to face through our direct sales force, but we cannot reach everyone within a company or an administration," Boulben said. "We thought this was a very good way to get our message across."

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this CNET article

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