More BlackBerry Blues: Morgan Stanley Holds Off on Company Upgrade


BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) has been a hot topic in many headlines for the past few weeks, but the media attention the Canadian company has drawn as of late just goes to show that sometimes, no news is good news.

It’s not exactly news that retailers and carrier executives have been struggling to get BlackBerry’s new smartphones off the shelves. Many are already offering jaw-dropping discounts in order to stem the rising pile of unsold BlackBerry inventory. However, the one client base the Canadian smartphone company was counting on to help it save a little Q10 and Z10 face was its corporate customers — but now, it looks like even those consumers are holding off on a BlackBerry buy.

Bloomberg highlights the case of Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), a bank that has long been providing its employees with BlackBerry’s latest smartphone offerings and operating system. The company initially planned to upgrade its workers to the new BlackBerry 10 operating system, but the Bloomberg report shows that Morgan Stanley is now holding off on upgrades until the future of BlackBerry becomes more clear.

It’s a move that many consumers and corporate customers have chosen to take on account of BlackBerry’s precarious future. The company is moving closer and closer to the possibility of a sell or a handful of new partnerships, and until it makes that decision, customers are holding off from an upgrade. Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analystics LLC, said to Bloomberg: ”If you think the company will be sold or disappears, why buy a couple hundred new devices? When something breaks, you might not get support.”

The plummeting number of interested buyers is not good news for BlackBerry. The company has already suffered a 3-year sale slide, and these new lines of smartphones were supposed to be its saving grace. Its market value has dropped about 90 percent since its peak in the industry, and, thanks to recent negative headlines, the company’s shares have already fallen 4.4 percent through Thursday since August 12.

The Canadian-based smartphone company was banking on successful sales of its touchscreen Z10 and keyboard-equipped Q10 to help it combat its two main competitors in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF.PK), which have far surpassed BlackBerry since its height in the industry, when it claimed rank as the world’s largest smartphone maker.

But the new phones never bore much fruit, evidenced by BlackBerry’s latest earnings report, in June. Dwindling sales will likely be confirmed again in the company’s next results, on September 27. Thus, the latest news that corporate banks are also stepping back from the BlackBerry pot only intensifies this disappointment.

For now, Morgan Stanley maintains that its employees will stick with BlackBerry 7 devices, introduced in 2011. But unless BlackBerry launches a major comeback or successfully partners with a group that can help it curb its sales slide, it is becoming increasingly likely that competitors like Apple, Samsung, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will benefit from this corporate BlackBerry hold off.

Morgan Stanley has about 55,600 employees, meaning that it and other large banks could have sparked a sales rally with the corporate upgrades that CEO Thorsten Heins was counting on. However, it now looks as if Heins will have to craft another strategy if he wants to keep his company above water.

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