TORONTO - BlackBerry (TSX:BB) is appealing to its customers to stay with the troubled smartphone maker as it restructures.
In an open letter released Monday afternoon on Twitter, BlackBerry tells its "customers, partners and fans" that they can continue to count on the Waterloo, Ont.-based company.
The letter alludes to BlackBerry's US$965-million loss for the second quarter of fiscal 2014 and possible ownership change, noting they could be a concern for customers.
But it says BlackBerry has substantial cash on hand, a balance sheet that is debt free, and is restructuring with a goal to cut expenses by 50 per cent.
It also says BlackBerry doesn't underestimate the situation it faces, and is making "difficult changes" — such as a 40 per cent reduction of its global workforce — to strengthen the company.
The open letter also touts BlackBerry's security measures and notes its system also works with Apple iOS and Android devices.
"We are bringing the most engaging mobile messaging platform to all, with our BBM launch for Android and iPhone," the letter stated. "There are already around six million customers pre-registered to be notified of our roll out."
And the letter also stressed the company's BlackBerry 10 devices, saying BlackBerry continues "to offer the best mobile typing experience – no ifs, ands or buts about it."
BlackBerry has struggled this year as sales of its latest smartphones failed to catch fire, and some carriers decided not to sell BlackBerry's new Z30 smartphone.
Rogers Communications reversed its decision not to sell the Z30 last week following a backlash from customers on message boards and Twitter.
Fairfax Financial (TSX:FFH), BlackBerry's largest shareholder, has made a conditional takeover bid worth US$9 per share and values the company at US$4.7 billion.
The Fairfax consortium is expected to complete its due diligence by Nov. 4. Until then, BlackBerry is allowed to actively solicit and evaluate rival offers.
BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin have said they are looking at making a potential takeover bid.
According to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, the two are "interested in pursuing a joint bid" with "the goal of stabilizing and ultimately reinventing the company."
Together, Lazaridis and Fregin own roughly an eight per cent stake in BlackBerry, while Fairfax holds about 10 per cent.
Meanwhile, a class-action lawsuit was filed last Thursday at the Ontario Superior Court on behalf of all Canadian BlackBerry shareholders.
In a statement, the Merchant Law Group LLP said the suit was on behalf of shareholders who purchased the stock between Sept. 27, 2012 and Sept. 20, 2013.
The lawsuit alleges the company and its senior management "knowingly or negligently misrepresented" that the BlackBerry 10 smartphones had been well received by customers and in a "strong financial position," according to a news release.
The representative plaintiff is alleged to have lost $55,000 after buying BlackBerry shares in the last year.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
To our valued customers, partners and fans,
You’ve no doubt seen the headlines about BlackBerry. 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.
How do we know? We have substantial cash on hand and a balance sheet that is debt free.
We are restructuring with a goal to cut our expenses by 50 percent in order to run a very efficient, customer-oriented organization.
These are no doubt challenging times for us and we don’t underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges. We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry.
One thing we will never change is our commitment to those of you who helped build BlackBerry into the most trusted tool for the world’s business professional.
And speaking of those dramatic headlines, it’s important that we set the record straight on a few things.
Best in class productivity tool.
We have completely revamped our device portfolio this year with the launch of BlackBerry 10. We have four BlackBerry 10 devices – two all touch and two hybrid (touch and QWERTY) – and all are running the third update of our new platform. If what you care about most is getting things done – taking care of your business – we have the best range of devices for you. And we continue to offer the best mobile typing experience – no ifs, ands or buts about it.
Best in class security.
Governments all over the world, global corporations and businesses that simply cannot compromise on security choose and trust BlackBerry. Security is our heritage, and the industry recognizes that BlackBerry is the most secure when it comes to the device, server and, of course, our global data network. Have no doubt that you can continue to trust us to keep your communication safe and private.
Best in class enterprise mobility management.
We changed with the market, embracing BYOD because we understand that as iOS and Android devices become common in the workplace, businesses still need to manage all of these different platforms seamlessly and securely.
This is not a trivial task. While there are a number of startup companies that make bold claims, BlackBerry has more software engineers and the most resources dedicated to developing the most innovative solutions to address this complex challenge.
And our customers know it. Over the past quarter, our BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 server base grew from 19,000 to more than 25,000. Corporate clients are committed to deploying and testing the latest enterprise technology from BlackBerry. We are committed to evolving with our customers. That will never change.
Best in class mobile social network.
We are bringing the most engaging mobile messaging platform to all, with our BBM launch for Android and iPhone.
There are already around six million customers pre-registered to be notified of our roll out. This number is growing every day, and speaks to the tremendous opportunity we have to expand BBM beyond BlackBerry smartphones to make it the world’s largest mobile social network.
Yes, there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone. That’s OK. 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. 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. We focus every day on what it takes to make sure that you can take care of business.
You trust your BlackBerry to deliver your most important messages, so trust us when we deliver one of our own: You can continue to count on us.
The BlackBerry Team