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It’s Too Soon to Call New BlackBerry a Failure: Jackson

Pras Subramanian

Once the king of the smartphone, it’s had an over 90% slide since it’s all-time high, corporate shake-ups, a name change, and now stares squarely into the abyss. Yes, we’re talking BlackBerry ( BBRY), a company whose devices seemed surgically attached to every mid-level manager’s belt clip since the late '90s, and is now facing an existential crisis.

After canning it’s dynamic duo of co-CEOs, the company installed German-Canadian Thorsten Heins to right the ship. And now the chief executive’s biggest move yet to recapture the company’s past glory is finally upon us.

The BlackBerry Z10, poised to do battle with Apple (AAPL) and Samsung in the competitive smartphone market, debuted to something of a thud. Despite the howling of fans expecting more and investors whipsawing the stock around, one investor is staying the course.

“[It’s a] huge battleground stock, the majority of people playing this, at least the most vocal people, are still very bearish on the stock and think that this thing’s about to do a Palm, or more like a facepalm I guess, and go out of business in the next 6 months,” says IronFire Capital managing partner Eric Jackson.

Jackson, who’s “on the other side of this trade,” says investors need to think long term here as “this is going to play out over the next few quarters, and I don’t think you can write [BlackBerry] off based on the last set of earnings, and they will still surprise.”

Traders and analysts agree that taking on Apple, Android handset makers, and even Windows phones will be a tall order in this competitive landscape. But Jackson believes BlackBerry’s latest gambit can work, because the company only needs 25% of existing customers buy new phones in order to profit.

In fact, Jackson believes BlackBerry has another big weapon left in its arsenal. “The big catalyst in sight here is the Q10, the keyboard version of the BlackBerry,” Jackson says with conviction. “I still hear people today complaining about the glass keyboards on the newer devices, and they long for of the days of the old QWERTY keyboard.”

For investors, the big question for BlackBerry will be whether there’s enough of the loyal, BlackBerry-toting mid-level managers left to make a difference.