BlackBerry mulling BBM spin-off ahead of potential company sale

The smartphone maker is considering spinning off its BlackBerry Messenger service into a new company, one report says, as the company continues its slide into the red.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
Image: CNET/CBS Interactive

BlackBerry is reportedly looking into spinning off its instant messenger division into its own separate company

The report from The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter, said a separate BlackBerry Messenger company would operate with "more independence."

Details were scarce: although, the subsidiary would be named BBM Inc., according to the report.

It comes at a time where the Canadian smartphone maker continues to weigh up its strategic options ahead of a potential sale. Earlier in August, BlackBerry announced the forming of a special committee to, among others, "possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions."

The company faces a difficult time ahead amid financial uncertainty. While the company's cash reserves are relatively stable year-over-year, the firm is cutting staff in efforts to reduce costs. BlackBerry also has no debt, making it a more attractive company to buy.

BlackBerry increased its mobile instant messenger's profitability by opening it from the walled fruit-themed devices to Android and iPhones earlier this year, following the launch of its latest BlackBerry 10 operating system. It also teamed up with rival smartphone maker Samsung — which was rumored to be interested in buying the firm, though denied by the company — in efforts to reach out to a wider African audience, where BlackBerry sales are still lukewarm.

The company also announced its own social network, BBM Channels, which is hoped to boost subscriber numbers. However, the company closed its BBM Music service earlier this year, just two years after announcing the service.

BlackBerry Messenger has around 60 million users, according to the Journal, down from 80 million about a year ago.

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