At a crucial point last year, following BlackBerry’s delay of BlackBerry 10 and an 8-year low stock price, someone in Silicon Valley secretly schemed to purchase the flailing Waterloo-based company. And it might have happened, too, but the money just wasn’t there. The plan, according to a series of leaked slides from Robin Chan, a prominent angel investor, was to move BlackBerry over to heavily a forked version of Android while creating a suite of apps for competing platforms.
Chan explained to The Verge that he proposed the plan last year in the hopes of rescuing BlackBerry from the mobile doldrums. While focusing on BlackBerry’s strengths—security and enterprise—Chan and a “dream team” of engineers would have scrapped BlackBerry 10 in favor of a version of Android that was developed in large part for the business crowd.
The feeling within Chan’s camp was that Heins was leading BlackBerry into a mobile war it couldn’t win—iOS and Android were already well established—and wanted to launch a Hail Mary rescue mission that scaled back. “(BlackBerry 10) was misallocation of meager resources,” Chan told The Verge. Eventually, though, after reaching out to RIM’s (the company’s name has since changed) board of directors, Chan and his group could only raise $1 billion, well short of the $6 billion they needed to go through with the plan.
Chan never planned to completely abandon BlackBerry’s hardware , and in fact recognized the company’s keyboards as one of its strongest suits. But this is a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” situation that will in all likelihood never happen—we’ll never know what a forked version of Android is like. But that doesn’t mean BlackBerry isn’t interested in selling, which could lead to all kinds of possibilities going forward.
“The strategy of an enterprise grade Android company is still sound, but it just might be too late to save BlackBerry as an independent company,” Chan said.