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GIST: BlackBerry issues open letter to calm customers and partners

getNewsImages GIST: BlackBerry issues open letter to calm customers and partners

BlackBerry Ltd on Monday
sought to reassure its restive customers and partners
that it was financially stable and "here to stay," even
though it announced massive layoffs and sources say it
is in talks to sell all or part of the company.
In an open letter published in 30 news outlets across
nine countries, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company
stressed that its customers can continue to count on
BlackBerry and its products, despite the challenges it
is facing and the changes it is undergoing.
BlackBerry's products have struggled to compete
against the likes of Apple Inc's iPhone and the
numerous devices powered by Google's Android
operating system.
A new line of smartphones that run on the BlackBerry
10 operating system has also failed to re-ignite sales,
prompting the company last month to announce that
it would slash its global workforce by more than a
third.
"Our customers read a lot about BlackBerry these
days, as we make the headlines quite often - this has
created a lot of noise and confusion" Frank Boulben,
the company's chief marketing officer, said in an
interview.
"We want customers to know that they can continue to
count on us - we are here to stay. We have substantial
cash on our balance sheet and we have no debt. We
are restructuring our cost base and this is a very
painful transition, but it will make us financially
stronger and we want to get that message directly to
our customers."
The open letter is being distributed via social media
channels and being published in Tuesday's edition of
newspapers across the globe, including the
Washington Post and Wall Street Journal in the
United States, and the Globe and Mail and National
Post in Canada.
The company's future was further thrown into
question after it announced this summer that it is
weighing its options, including an outright sale.
Sources have told Reuters that the company is in talks
with Cisco Systems, Google Inc and SAP about selling
all or parts of itself. Such a deal would be an
alternative to a preliminary, $9-a-share offer by a
group being led by BlackBerry's biggest investor,
Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.
Last week, BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and
Douglas Fregin also said that they are considering a
bid to buy the smartphone maker.
Boulben said the uncertainty is the reason why
BlackBerry is publishing the letter, which highlights
the company's strengths from its security offering to
its device management capabilities and its mobile
messaging platform.
"Whoever is interested in BlackBerry understands that
the company has world class products and services.
These are products and services that customers can
continue to count on."
Boulben said the company already has 6 million
Android and iPhone customers pre-registered for the
launch of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.
He said he expects the BBM to launch on both those
platforms "within days," adding that the company is
confident that it fixed issues that arose after the initial
cross-platform launch of the messaging service last
month.
The company suspended the cross-platform launch
last month, after an unofficial older version of BBM
downloaded by a number of Android users caused
issues with the messaging platform.

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