Pfizer’s Android decision is not what the doctor ordered for BlackBerry’s “volatile state”

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is the latest in a string of government departments and major enterprises to abandon devices made by embattled smartphone giant BlackBerry, in favour of Apple iPhones and Google Android devices.

An internal memo obtained by Bloomberg describes the Canadian smartphone maker as being in “a volatile state”, with divisional managers told to migrate staff to other smartphone platforms as soon as their BlackBerry contracts expire.

“In response to declining sales, the company is in a volatile state. We recommend that BlackBerry clients use their BlackBerry devices and plan to migrate to a new device at normal contract expiration,” the memo reportedly states.

Pfizer employs around 92,000 staff worldwide, so the loss of such a lucrative contract comes as yet another blow to the embattled mobile phone maker.

It is the latest in a string of major enterprise and government customers in North America to abandon the platform, including the National Transport Safety Bureau (NTSB), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The decision comes just days after Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney told the Washington Post recent instability at the company would make retaining major enterprise contacts more difficult.

“You don’t know what the new chairman is going to do—he’s a software person, and hasn’t to my knowledge had a lot of hardware experience.

“We see all these variables and continued bad news. It makes it really tough for [businesses] to stick with Blackberry… They have so many other business priorities, it’s not something they want to deal with.”

Recently, Thorsten Heins announced he is standing down as chief executive, in favour of former Sybase chief executive John Chen, as a proposed takeover bid for the company led by Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial fell through.

Watsa reportedly struggled to raise enough capital to finance his takeover bid, with several large lenders reportedly turning down the consortium over concerns about BlackBerry’s long-term viability.

When Fairfax Financial announced the takeover bid was off, Watsa instead opted to loan the company $US1 billion through convertible debentures.

The news comes after a horrific fiscal second quarter for BlackBerry, which reported just $US1.6 billion in revenues, down 45% year-on-year and 49% quarter-on-quarter.

Total losses came in at $US965 million, including a massive $US934 million inventory writedown against unsold stock of the company’s Z10 smartphone.


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