Seeking Alpha

Ziffster

 
View as an RSS Feed
View Ziffster's Comments BY TICKER:
Latest  |  Highest rated
  • BlackBerry Passport: No Killer App, Investors Lose [View article]
    No Killer App???

    Hmm... that is where you are completely wrong UNLESS you are focused on the mainstream segment of the market.

    The passport was and is specifically focused at the business and enterprise user such as doctors in health care. The partnership with NantHealth (and applications by NantHealth) is just the first of the 'specialized' killer apps which needs a device like the passport. It is specifically designed for purposes such as this... allowing doctors to review a patients medical records including graphical information such as xrays and ekg patterns.

    The passport is a smart move... part of the transition away from trying to compete head to head with the likes of Apple and instead moving toward building niche products targeting specific needs with the less price sensitive (and less popularity driven) enterprise segment. A segment where they can get by with charging $1K+ for a device and the buyer, as long as the device best meets the clients needs, won't blink an eye paying it.
    Aug 19 12:15 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry: It's Good To Be Canadian [View article]
    But the question remains... How committed are they to making the change (it is BlackBerry's Bread and Butter, while is it simply a little extra icing for companies who are doing quite well without caring about security - why open yourself up to the legal risks of playing in the high security playing field... a tiny portion of the overall market)?

    AND more importantly how will the act when Uncle Sam knocks on the door and says 'but make sure that you leave a backdoor open for us so 9-11 doesn't happen again?'
    Aug 6 09:31 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry: It's Good To Be Canadian [View article]
    What the US Government fails to realize is that companies can and do relocate head offices in order to take advantage of favorable legal status provided in other jurisdictions. For example, due to tax and union rights reasons Massey Ferguson, a farm equipment manufacturer, relocated their head office and changed the companies 'nationality' in the process from Canada to the US. The justification for the move was simply that it was the belief of the board that in order to remain competitive the company had no choice but move from Ontario to Georgia.

    If 'government regulations' ever do get to the point that it severely damages the ability for the company to compete on the global scale, and the inability starts to seriously hit the companies bottom line, then there is no reason a tech firm couldn't relocate just as easily.

    I can just imagine the headlines (and pressure on the US government) if Microsoft suddenly announced that in order to remain competitive they were moving 2 hours north from Redmond WA to Vancouver BC. Hey, that's even within commuting distance for current employee's so they wouldn't even have to pay to relocate their staff.

    Unfortunately I don't see it happening... just the same I bet it would make the government wake up to the harm they are doing.
    Aug 6 09:17 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Understanding BlackBerry's BBM Roadmap [View article]
    I would love to know what the 'real' MAU numbers are for the other platforms such as WhatsAp.

    The 500M number quoted for WhatsAp by Statista just happens to be the same number that WhatsAp stats publically as the total number of active subscribers they have (which includes everyone who has ever activated an account and not specifically taken steps to close the account).

    I can name at least half a dozen people who have WhatsAp accounts who haven't used them in months, I can only think of three people who actively use WhatsAp YET all 8 are counted in the 500M number. To compare apples to apples the 160M should be compared to the 500M if you are going to compare the numbers at all.

    What would be more interesting information would be the total number of messages carried on the various networks to see if like early numbers suggested their is a vast difference in the 'type' of use of the two platforms... the only time this data was made available suggested that BBM users sent & received on average over 5x the number of messages per registered user than WhatsAp which if the same pattern has continued would suggest that BBM 'traffic' is still on par with WhatsAp.
    Aug 6 02:37 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry Passport Is No Apple iPhone Killer [View article]
    Hmm, interesting point of view... and one witch is all too common in my opinion.

    "I don't want to have to "learn" how to use a phone; I want to pick it up and have everything intuitive."

    I absolutely hate both Android and iOS for how much they support those who are too lazy to learn how to do things efficiently. I grew up in the 'DOS' era where to get anything done relied upon knowing 'keyboard short cuts'... it was all <ALT> this and <CTRL> that. But now it is all about needing to work through various levels of menus which may be 'intuitive' but is far less efficient than learning the correct command so that you can do what you want in a single step.

    Think of how much faster it is to simply press <Ctrl><S> to save a file than to take your mouse, move the pointer to the <File> pull down menu, wait for the menu to appear, move the mouse down to <Save> on the menu, ... The problem is from a purely intuitive perspective for someone who doesn't want to take the time to learn the commands and become efficient they can get by with being lazy and using the menus.

    Fact is, most people are too lazy so a device which you need to learn how to use BUT which once you learn is more efficient faces a long hard uphill battle. Ask 5 people who use a windows computer on a daily basis what <CTRL><V> does and I doubt that more than one will be able to answer correctly despite how useful the shortcut is and how much time it can save when editing a document (it is 'paste from clipboard' if you don't know).
    Aug 6 01:45 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry Passport Is No Apple iPhone Killer [View article]
    The author simply doesn't get it. The passport is not intended to compete head to head with the iPhone 6... one is targeted at the mainstream smartphone user (soccer mom's, etc.) while the other is intended to be a niche product targeting the business and professional user such as doctors who which to use the 'mobile device' to view patient records and x-rays.

    If the Passport does happen to catch on in the mainstream so be it, but that is not the segment the product is targeted at. The competition for the iPhone 6 is not the Passport but phones like the latest from Samsung and others.

    Obviously the author fails to see the transformation happening at Blackberry... investors need to think of BlackBerry's past life like that of a caterpillar. Once a caterpillar enters his cocoon the question is not if it will return to life as a caterpillar but if it will become a beautiful butterfly or an ugly moth. Sorry to those who wish to think otherwise, but Blackberry will never again dominate the smartphone segment, what is slowing emerging from the cocoon is a completely different company focused on secure messaging and mobile device management with the devices segment supporting rather than being the companies primary business focus.
    Aug 6 01:14 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry Throws A Screen Pass On 4th And Long With Acquisition Of Secusmart [View article]
    The sad truth is that the German Government has a bad history of refusing to allow foreign companies to take over German Companies. They are one of the most protectionist countries in the world in this regard.

    That said, since the main product line for Secusmart is a chip which is then installed in a mobile device, and currently the primary device that the chip gets installed in are BlackBerry devices this may be enough to allow the acquisition to proceed as it really is a win-win opportunity for both companies. If it happens then Secusmart will have the inside track to becoming the standard for security for all of BlackBerry's government clients, while without the deal it forces BlackBerry to either develop their own solution or purchase a competitor to Secursmart. If BlackBerry is forced to offer one way or another a competitive solution it will in the end create a serious competitor for Secusmart and alienate the company which their product relies upon.

    The other 'plus' in BlackBerry's favor with regards to the deal going through is that BlackBerry is not a US company but from what is seen as a more neutral third party.

    My fingers are crossed the deal proceeds.
    Aug 5 12:21 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry Throws A Screen Pass On 4th And Long With Acquisition Of Secusmart [View article]
    "This past week BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire a company by the name of Secusmart. The press release focused on the company being a leader in data encryption and anti-eavesdropping, with its customer base being primarily located in Germany and other international companies."

    The author does not appear to understand certain markets that BlackBerry is playing in and hence why this move was critical for the company.

    Although the analysis is correct in that this move will have no immediate effect on the companies bottom line, the move was a defensive move. BlackBerry already offers enterprises and government clients a secure messaging platform BUT have been openly criticized for not offering the same security with regards to voice. Secusmart has contracts not just with the German government but also with most other members of NATO - the core governments which also use BlackBerry. If they hadn't acquired Secusmart and instead it had fallen into the hands of lets say Samsung (who have also shown interest in taking a greater share of government accounts) then this would have given a competitor a strong foothold in a sector where BlackBerry still dominates.

    Thus the move does two things - plugs the hole in BlackBerry's security offering allowing them to provide a single vendor solution addressing both voice and messaging concerns but also acts as a defensive move to strengthen the companies hold on those who demand high security.

    In fact I called for BlackBerry to make a move exactly like this for the above reasons in a number of posts I made over the past couple of months - it makes complete sense. Moreover, as others have pointed out, and in conjunction with announcements that the downsizing is over and that BlackBerry will soon be hiring again, simply the fact that they are once again acquiring assets again is a sign that the company is returning to a growth model.
    Aug 5 12:00 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry: Caught In A Short Squeeze [View article]
    Agreed.

    With IBM partnering with Apple - and that arrangement being reported as many to be an exclusive agreement - that leaves both SAP and Oracle potentially out in the cold. They are going to need to partner up with someone to counter the new competitive partnership... this opens the door to backing either Samsung (who unlike Google has at least shown some serious efforts to address corporate mobile needs) or BlackBerry (who still has a significant foothold in mobile device management. With only BlackBerry offering a 'vendor neutral' solution with regards to hardware (supporting Microsoft, Apple, Android and BlackBerry) it would seem to be the more tempting partner to go with.

    Aug 5 11:39 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry: Caught In A Short Squeeze [View article]
    "BlackBerry investors also remain at risk for massive shareholder dilution. A consortium of institutional investors led by Fairfax Financial now owns $1.25 billion in convertible debentures. Terms of the agreement grant rights for bondholders to convert principle into stock at $10 per share."

    The risk only exists if the share price is over $10/share and even then you need to understand the whole concept of dilution. First the conversion would wipe $1.25B in debt off of BlackBerry's books so if lets say that the conversion occurred at $11/share the dilution effect would be around $125M or with the new adjusted share base this would equate to a dilution effect of about $0.20/share placing the post conversion diluted value at around $10.80. However, if you actually look at the effect that occurs when institutional investors exercise convertible debt the effect on share value is often very positive as the market tends to see this action as a very positive endorsement by the holders of the convertible debt on the health of the company.

    Moreover, the other thing which can't be forgotten is that major investors (who hold a large portion of the stock) already take these type dynamics into account. the only time 'dilution' really matters is when you are trying to calculate the 'fair market value' of a company and when you calculate that value you determine that it is above the conversion price.
    Aug 5 11:27 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Keep Calm And Exit BlackBerry [View article]
    All that has been shown is that the recent decline in share value has been at least in part driven by a short term spike in those shorting the stock... a knee jerk reaction to the IBM-Apple deal. The data could just as easily be used to argue that now is a great buy opportunity since the drop has been made far worse due to those shorting the stock and not due to those investors actually holding the stock selling their stock.
    Aug 2 10:14 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 2 Big Elephants Afraid Of A Mouse: What Apple Is Not Telling You About BlackBerry [View article]
    Apples turnaround and success was accredited to the right man taking over the by providing a clear renewed path and vision steered the company back to glory days.

    Most, if not all, of those which failed to pull themselves from the mouth of despair tried to push on with the same management and or product direction which had lead the companies into failure in the first place.

    Thus the question is if BlackBerry's not path, and new leadership under Chen, represents a new vision and new direction or simply more of the same which in the past lead to the companies demise.

    I'm not totally convinced yet, but from what we are seeing I don't think that we are seeing a management team which is simply trying to succeed by beating a dead horse but rather we are seeing a team with a clear vision for the future.

    That said, what I am more concerned with is trying to determine what size the company will be at the end of the day and that comes down to how well do at growing new revenue streams... something which it is far to early to determine. The question remains, will we be looking at a $5B company, a $2B company, or a $10B company.
    Jul 30 04:17 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry rallies after Chen talks partnership efforts [View news story]
    What I rarely seen raised in discussion is how the IBM-Apple alliance has the potential (as suggested by Chen's announcements) to work to BlackBerry's advantage. Many developers of mobile enterprise applications have been unsure which platform to support but the IBM-Apple alliance may well drive some heavy hitters into the BlackBerry camp.

    If you develop enterprise backend software solutions (lets consider Oracle as an example) you had to choose which platforms to support. As Apple didn't offer enterprise software (i.e. was not your competitor), and has a huge market presence, at least supporting iOS made perfect sense.

    However, in light of the partnership with IBM, Apple may now be seen as a competitor (using Oracle as an example, IBM has their own backend data management solution - DB2 - which the IBM-Apple alliance will obviously push users to use). With Apple telling customers to use IBM's solution over yours, do you really want to focus much effort in this direction?

    The alliance may be enough to drive firms which had been fence sitting regarding aligning themselves with BlackBerry to proceed in fear of being otherwise left out in the cold with Apple now pushing IBM based solutions. How will the market respond if BlackBerry is able to align themselves with heavy weights like Oracle and SAP?

    It is interesting that in the past two years since IBM has shifted away from providing vendor neutral solutions (supporting whatever hardware and software customers wanted to use) and back towards pushing 'IBM' based solutions that after several years of growth IBM revenues are on the decline.
    Jul 24 05:34 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple Stabs BlackBerry In The Heart [View article]
    Valid point... but the arrangement could also backfire. Yes IBM cloud services have a huge presence BUT consider those developers not tied to IBM who offer mobile business solutions - such as Oracle. This move provides a huge incentive for competitors to line themselves up with competitive platforms.

    I am not suggesting that BlackBerry will be the beneficiary, but considering that they do still have a significant corporate presence if I can see firms like Oracle being far more open in light of the deal to form a strategic alliance with BlackBerry that to continue to focus on Apple support.

    Why? Consider the database backend which will not be pushed under the arrangement - IBM's DB2. Nothing wrong with DB2 except it isn't Oracle so I would in light of the deal be vary cautious if I were another database vendor to bank on Apple for support.

    Pure speculation here, but I wonder what would happen to share prices if BBRY and Oracle (or other major backend player) made some announcement regarding forming some form of marketing alliance?
    Jul 23 09:16 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • BlackBerry Back In The Black [View article]
    "BlackBerry is trading at a historically low price to earnings ratio, hovering at roughly 4.6."

    I hate to be a naysayer, but one key point which keeps getting overlooked in analysis such as this one is that BlackBerry's PE needs to be adjusted to account for the fact that a good chunk of the reported revenue may still be from those on 'legacy' data plans. As these plans are being phased out in favor of 'free' basic BBM along with 'premium' paid services and advertising revenue this skews the numbers significantly.

    Unfortunately BlackBerry does not break down revenue based on whether they relate to ongoing and discontinued revenue streams which makes it impossible to calculate a meaningful 'forward looking' earnings estimate.

    I am not suggesting that BlackBerry may not be undervalued, just that caution is required when looking at ratios alone, rather than considering them in context with an understanding of the significance of the underlying data, as they can be misleading.
    Jul 12 08:39 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
COMMENTS STATS
337 Comments
820 Likes