BlackBerry is considering putting itself up for sale as it struggles to regain its position as one of the leading smartphone makers.
The firm’s handset revolutionised mobile phone technology when it was introduced in 1999 but its popularity was badly dented by the launch of Apple's iPhone in 2007 and Canada-based BlackBerry has also lost out to Android phones as well as Microsoft's Windows device.
Dismal second quarter results sent its share price tumbling in June as sales of its new smartphones working the new BlackBerry 10 operating system failed to meet expectations, but the stock rose last week on reports that it was mulling potential offers to take the company private.
Today it announced that the board had formed a special committee "to explore strategic alternatives" to boost take-up of its new technology.
"These alternatives could include, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the company or other possible transactions," it said in a statement.
Timothy Dattels, who will chair the committee, said "the evolving industry and competitive landscape" meant it was the right time to explore such options.
Prem Watsa, chief executive of BlackBerry's largest shareholder Fairfax Financial, stepped down from the board "due to potential conflicts that may arise during the process", the statement said. Watsa said Fairfax "has no current intention of selling its shares".
BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins said there were still "compelling long-term opportunities" for its new phones and it was pursuing cost-cutting, efficiency and the launch of new technology.
The statement said JP Morgan was acting as a financial adviser but added: "There can be no assurance that this exploration process will result in any transaction."