BlackBerry is on a tear recently as investors become increasingly bullish about a possible turnaround for the struggling smartphone maker. New phone models, return to “classic” BlackBerry keyboards, and the post-WhatsApp Facebook purchase value of BBM are all driving the stock up this week.
On Tuesday at the Mobile World Conference, BlackBerry CEO John Chen showed off the company’s new entry-level phone in a presentation with Foxconn billionaire Terry Gou. The Z3, out this spring, will target Southeast Asia and retail at under $200. He also discussed the upcoming release of a Blackberry that goes back to its roots with a tactile keyboard and trackpad that many users miss. The “classic” phone will be called the Q20.
Meanwhile, analysts are speculating about the potential value in BlackBerry’s proprietary Messenger product. WhatsApp’s $19 billion sale to Facebook last week showed the value of a mobile messaging service connecting hundreds of millions of users.
Compared to WhatsApp’s 450 million users (and counting), BBM has a relatively small base of about 85 million active monthly users. Thus, it probably isn’t worth billions of dollars right now. But Chen suggested in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday that he would consider a BBM spinoff or sale at some point, saying: “Today I think we need to build up that base and build up the innovation model.”
At 12:40pm EST, BlackBerry stock was up 9.55% on the day and nearly 17% since the beginning of the week.