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BlackBerry's deal to go private: The nail in the coffin?

BlackBerry Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins displays the new Blackberry 10 smartphones at the BlackBerry 10 launch event by Research in Motion at Pier 36 in Manhattan on January 30, 2013 in New York City.

UPDATED Sept. 23, 2013, 11:21 a.m. PT: BlackBerry announced today that Canadian investment company Fairfax Financial has offered a $4.7 billion plan to acquire the former communications juggernaut. Fairfax already owns 10 percent of BlackBerry. And while the deal is not yet final, analysts believe they might just break up the smartphone maker and sell it piece-by-piece. The company has $2.6 billion in cash on hand and many believer their patent holdings could be worth $1 billion or more.

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If the Blackberry saga were a movie, it could be "Rocky II." RIM spent years developing the Blackberry 10, hoping to ride that new phone to success.

"The new Blackberry, the screen is very reactive and it's easy to use," says Phillip Redman, an analyst at Gartner. He's seen the 10 and says it's a lean, mean smart phone machine that rivals the iPhone 5. "It holds its own to any of the smart phones out there."

Rocky Agrawal, a consultant for reDesign Mobile, says a comeback is unlikely because great hardware isn't enough.

"The problem with mobile is you have an ecosystem problem, you need to have apps," Agarawal says. "That's what people care about."

Blackberry says it has about 70,000 apps. But the iPhone has more than million apps, and Android is catching up.

With the smart phone market expected to hit 2 billion users in 2015, Agrawal says if Blackberry can get a sliver of the market, it will stay in the ring -- it'll just have to compete as a lightweight.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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