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BlackBerry CEO pleads for patience, refuses to rule out licensing deals

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins asked for patience from investors at the company's annual meeting this week, stating that the company is in a "transition" period. The request follows disappointing first quarter sales of its new flagship Z10 model (opens in new tab).

"This isn't just the launch of a new product but a whole new platform. While many will judge us on the basis of one quarter of a single product, we are not a devices-only product," he said. "This is a long-term transition for the company, but I can assure you that we're pushing very hard."

Despite the announcement, when questioned about strategic alternatives, Heins did not rule out the option of a licensing deal or even an outright sale, pledging to do anything to return the company to profits. "BlackBerry will pursue every opportunity to create value for shareholders," he said.

The assertion may go some way to appease disappointed shareholders and did boost share prices in morning trading on Tuesday.

The poor Z10 sales was reflected across the entire range of new BlackBerry 10 devices in the last quarter, causing the company's stock value to fall by 28 per cent on 28 June. A loss is also estimated for this quarter.

John Goldsmith, deputy head of equities at Montrusco Bolton, which owns more than 1.5 million BlackBerry shares, told Reuters he believes that BlackBerry may be pressed into striking a deal.

"I think they're [Blackberry's management] on a very short leash," said Goldsmith. "I wouldn't be surprised if within the next two quarters there is a definitive announcement with regard to other options that this company could be looking at whether that's putting itself for sale or some other option."

The company's chair, Barbara Stymiest said that the management does not need to worry about external pressures. "We as a board remain completely supportive of management," she said, adding that she believed the turnaround plan would be successful.

The touchscreen Z10 model was over two years in the making and designed as a competitor to Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy range. In its first quarter of sales, the smartphone sold almost a million units less than had been projected, despite largely positive reviews.

BlackBerry's subscriber base fell to 72 million in the last quarter, down from 76 million and 79 million in the preceding two quarters.

Tomas is co-founder of Lucky Pilgrim, a team of journalists, photographers and art directors who connect brands to audiences through words, imagery and design. He was formerly editorial director at Chapel and managing editor at Courier magazine, and was a writer for ITProPortal as well as The Independent, EastLondonLines, The Sunday Times Magazine, and Croon.