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BlackBerry can survive as a 'niche company,' says the man tasked with reviving it

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Realism comes before recovery

BlackBerry Bold (STOCK)
BlackBerry Bold (STOCK)

Bert Nordberg, the once-CEO of Sony Ericsson and present member of BlackBerry's board of directors, tells The Wall Street Journal that his new employer's best chances for future success rely on the company accepting its role as "a niche maker of mobile hardware." That sobering assessment will make rough reading for loyal BlackBerry followers, but it's one that Nordberg claims is shared by the rest of the company board.

"Historically, BlackBerry has had larger ambitions," he says, "but battling giants like Apple, Google and Samsung is tough."

As a member of BlackBerry's special strategic review committee, Nordberg is among the people responsible for drawing up a new roadmap for the struggling company. While he appreciates the value BlackBerry has accrued over the years, he does believe that certain "subsets" of the business can be sold off — ostensibly to streamline costs and to refocus on hardware manufacturing as a core competency.

"BlackBerry has cash and it has no debt, so I'm sure that we'll piece something together."

Nordberg also tells the Journal that he believes he was hired by BlackBerry because of his recent experience of selling off Ericsson's stake in the Sony Ericsson joint venture. That's another hint that BlackBerry is looking to liquidate at least some of its assets. Ending on a positive note, Nordberg agrees with CEO Thorsten Heins that BlackBerry has "unique assets [that] make it stand apart from other phone makers." Ultimately, says the Swedish board member, "BlackBerry has cash and it has no debt, so I'm sure that we'll piece something together."