BlackBerry faces being squeezed out of business

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The once unassailable giants of the mobile and smartphone markets are heading into commercial oblivion. The mighty Finns of Nokia were bought recently, now BlackBerry looks like it could be in line for a buyout as it struggles to compete with the giants of Apple, Google and Samsung.

Until fairly recently, a BlackBerry was the must-have accessory of the busy executive along with millions of others who wanted to look like they were busy executives. Apple's iPhones and iPads have taken a huge slice of the business market while Samsung's smartphones and Google's Android technology mop up the Apple refuseniks.

BlackBerry's biggest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, is trying to persuade Canadian investment funds to back a bid to take the company back into private ownership. The details are vague, with the parties involved refusing to comment. BlackBerry's quarterly figures will come out at the end of September but the chief executive has admitted that he expects an operating loss, which will follow a net loss of $80m last time on sales of $3.1bn.

The bottom line is that the company is simply not selling enough phones to stay operational for much longer. Uncertainty about BlackBerry's future is already damaging sales. Investment bank Morgan Stanley has delayed a deal to upgrade to Blackberry's latest model, in order to ascertain whether the company is still a going concern. Much of BlackBerry's core market relies on governments and financial institutions that value the strong encryption available on BlackBerrys.

The latest BlackBerrys launched in 2013, the Z10, introduced in January, and the keyboard-based Q10, released in April, have been selling sluggishly in the UK. With technology there is a potentially lethal tipping point where once-desirable products suddenly become passe. BlackBerry may be dangerously close to that situation.

(Outside the cutthroat world of tech, after a wet spring and hot summer, Britain's blackberry crop is the healthiest for years).

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