Key dates in BlackBerry history

Key dates in BlackBerry history

OTTAWA - Here are key dates in the history of BlackBerry, the struggling Canadian smartphone maker which agreed Monday to a US$4.7 billion (S$5.89 billion) buyout.

2003: Canada-based Research in Motion, a little-known maker of pagers, launches the BlackBerry smartphone, named such because its physical keyboard resembled the small drupelets of the blackberry fruit. It attracts people who want email as well as a phone on a mobile device, and its secure network is favoured by companies and governments. RIM shares quadruple during the year to nearly US$15.

October 2007: BlackBerry counts more than 10 million subscribers, just months after Apple launches its iPhone. A month later, Google joins major wireless carriers and handset makers HTC and Samsung in announcing Android, an open-source operating system for smartphones.

June 2008: RIM shares hit all-time high US$144.56, before the global stock market meltdown.

February 2009: RIM subscribers top 50 million, an the company announces an expansion with thousands of new hires.

April 2010: Apple launches the iPad tablet. RIM responds a year later with the PlayBook tablet, which falls flat.

July 2011: The number of iPhone users surpasses those of BlackBerry in the US market. Shares fall and the company announces it will cut 2,000 jobs, 11 per cent of its workforce.

October 2011: BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, and South America are hit by a service outage lasting several days, and shares sink below US$25.

November 2011: More than half the smartphones sold worldwide in the third quarter are Android-powered, some 60.5 million units, while BlackBerry sinks to an 11 per cent market share on sales of 12.7 million units. BlackBerry users suffer more service problems.

January 2012: With RIM's share price now below US$16 and the company clearly struggling, founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis resign as co-CEOs. They are replaced by chief operating officer Thorsten Heins who two months later releases quarterly earnings showing a loss.

May 2012: RIM warns of another quarterly loss and hires JP Morgan Securities and RBC Capital Markets to study its strategic options. Days later the company cuts 5,000 jobs and says its new platform will be delayed. Shares sink below US$10.

January 30, 2013: RIM launches its new platform, BlackBerry 10, two new handsets aimed at the iPhone and Android market, changes the company name to BlackBerry, and recruits singer Alicia Keys as its creative director.

June 28: BlackBerry posts an unexpected loss of US$84 million, sending shares lower and hurting confidence in a rebound. Shipments of the new Z10 and Q10 phones, aimed at competing with Apple and Android, are a disappointing 2.7 million for the past quarter.

August 12: BlackBerry announces it is studying "strategic alternatives," including the possibility of selling off the firm.

September 20: The company says it will cut 4,500 jobs, or 40 per cent of the workforce, with a looming loss of US$1 billion due largely to a weak response to its new devices.

September 23: BlackBerry agrees to a US$4.7 billion buyout by a consortium of investors who plan to take the smartphone maker private.

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