Emerging Technology

BlackBerry launches a new smartphone just a day after putting the company on the market

Andrew Sadauskas /

BlackBerry has launched a new smartphone less than 24 hours after a dramatic series of events that saw its largest shareholder quit the board of directors amidst takeover talks, as details emerge of a secret buyout offer that would have seen the company switch to Android.

The BlackBerry Q5, initially launched in Canada, is a lower cost version of the company’s full keyboard BlackBerry Q10 smartphone.

In a statement, the company described the new device as a “powerful and cost-effective device to roll out across any organisation” and a “stunning, youthful design that radiates confidence”.

However, just as the device was announced, on the same day reports surfaced that a major German carrier was switching its staff phones from BlackBerry to Nokia Lumia, the launch comes at a tumultuous time at the troubled company.

As SmartCompany reported yesterday, the company’s largest shareholder, Prem Watsa, has resigned from the board of directors.

Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings – not related to the Australian media company – is the largest individual shareholder in the company, owning a 9.9% stake.

Following the resignation, the company announced the creation of a special five-member board to “explore strategic alternatives” for the company.

Meanwhile, The Verge reports entrepreneur and angel investor Robin Chan made a secret offer to chief executive officer Thorsten Heins to save the company between June and August of last year.

Chan’s buyout offer, detailed in a leaked slideshow, would have seen Blackberry abandon development of the then-delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system in favour of using a special security enhanced version of Android.

As part of the proposal, Chan assembled a special design team that would have seen the company repositioned as a niche high-end executive Android device maker, releasing its first secure smartphone device within six months.

Chan’s proposal was ultimately rejected, with the bid ultimately only raising $US1 billion of the $US6 billion required.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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