Blackberry writes open letter to customers

by | Oct 15, 2013 | Biz/Tech


by Faiza Amin

Blackberry has published an open letter reassuring customers they can continue to count on the company. The letter, released on Twitter on Monday and in publications around the world on Tuesday, also addresses the company’s current restructuring plans.

The letter reads “these are no doubt challenging times for us and we don’t underestimate the situation,” but the company says customers can continue to count on Blackberry. George Paravantes, former Blackberry employee and current Humber professor, said Blackberry’s open letter is significant because it’s rare.

“They’re trying to have an open conversation with their customers,” said Paravantes. “They felt this is an honest way of sharing their views and aspirations and reassuring their customers.”

Steve Bang, a business professor at Humber, says the letter is an attempt to prevent customers from switching over to their competitors.

“They’re trying to make sure that these people have a sense of longevity in terms of Blackberry as a company,” Bang told Humber Radio’s Josh McConnell. “So that when they renew their Blackberry phones, they’ll still be around to support them two to three years down the line.”

The letter comes amidst talks that Blackberry is for sale, with Fairfax Financial Holdings putting forward a bid to buy the company. The tech giant didn’t comment on the sale of the company, the reported quarterly loss of almost $1 billion and  the 40 per cent reduction in employees.

Bang says the significant reduction in employees is not a good sign for the company.

“When you’re cutting your workforce by that much, it’s unlikely that you’re looking much into the future and into future development of the actual technology,” said Bang.

Blackberry’s letter says the company has enough money and is also debt free. It also says the restructuring will cut expenses by 50 per cent. Paravantes said Blackberry’s challenge is attracting app developers.

“When developers see that huge group then they’ll buy into your ecosystem and start building apps for you,” said Paravantes. “And apps are what attract customers.”

The letter received mixed reactions from Humber students. Taz Mose, a Humber student, says the letter made him more favourable towards Blackberry’s phones.

“I’ve been considering getting a Blackberry but I’ve been putting it on hold because of the problems the company is having,” said Mose. “But the letter makes me lean towards getting one.”

Blackberry was a major contributor to the modern smartphone Paravantes said.

“I think they have some interesting ideas with their new operating system,” said Paravantes. “If they have a chance to build the company, they can really contribute to the next generation of mobile operating systems.”