“What year is it?”
A currently popular meme shows a maniac, disheveled Robin Williams waking up after a 26 year snooze. The scene is from the 1995 movie Jumani, and is used by internet wags to convey a sarcastic dismissal of someone else’s take on what is current (Radiohead is the best band in the world? What year is it?).
This week, BlackBerry faithful might be looking to make a few “What Year Is It?” memes directed at American website “24/7 Wall Street”. The site last week released its annual list of brands it predicts will disappear before the end of next year, and the Canadian mobile device maker made the list.
The editors say they consider seven factors in their assessment of the landscape of failing brands.
1. Declining sales and losses;
2. Disclosures by the parent of the brand that it might go out of business;
3. Rising costs that are unlikely to be recouped through higher prices;
4. Companies that are sold;
5. Companies that go into bankruptcy;
6. Companies that have lost the great majority of their customers; and
7. Operations with withering market share.
Those looking to the 24/7 Wall Street list as a sort of Farmer’s Almanac of the business world, however, should consider the list’s spotty history of success. This is probably best illustrated by the fact that this is the second time that BlackBerry (then known as Research in Motion) has made the list. In 2012, the site noted BlackBerry’s loss of market share and speculated that the company might be sold off in a fire sale, citing the Wall Street Journal’s take that “outright buyers could include Asian handset makers like HTC Corp or online retailer Amazon.com Inc. which has jumped into the tablet business.”
2012’s list included Suzuki, American Airlines, and The Oakland Raiders.
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This year’s take on the company strikes a similar tone. “BlackBerry is about to run out of its nine lives,” reads the piece. “As recently as 2008, BlackBerry, then operating as Research In Motion, had 19.5% of the global smartphone market. However, following Apple’s introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and Google’s release of the Android mobile operating system in 2008, that figure fell to less than 1% by late 2013.”
The timing of BlackBerry’s inclusion on this list is curious as the company appears to be on more solid footing than it has in years. Late last month, it reported Q1, 2015 results that saw a surprise profit of (US) $23-million or four cents a share on revenue of $966-million. Street consensus had the quarter pegged at a loss of $0.25 on a $979-million topline. New CEO John Chen, who pegged Blackberry’s chance of survival at just 50% earlier this year, recently raised that number to 80%. In May, at the Re/code Code Conference in California, he declared “I am quite positive that we will be able to save the patient.”
This year’s list of brands 24/7 Wall Street thinks are headed for the trashbin is topped by LuluLemon and DirecTV and includes Zynga, maker of FarmVille.