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Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry eyes sale

Smartphone maker BlackBerry has formed a committee to discuss strategic options, including the possible sale of the company. It has been struggling in the face of competition from Apple and Android-operated rivals.

BlackBerry announced Monday it had formed the special committee to analyze "strategic alternatives," in the hope of boosting the company's value.

In a statement the Canadian firm said the committee would consider "possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the company or other possible transactions."

The board's committee would seek ways "to enhance value and increase scale" to help deploy its products based on its new BlackBerry 10 platform, the statement said.

The news was greeted by shareholders as BlackBerry stocks climbed 4.5 percent to $10.20 (7.7 euros) in trading in New York following the announcement.

BlackBerry, a pioneer in the smartphone industry, has been marginalized in recent years by companies using the Google Android operating system and by Apple's iPhone.

New phones boasting a revamped operating system called BlackBerry 10 were released seven months ago to turn the company around. Sales proved disappointing, however, and its market share continued to lag.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), BlackBerry's global market share slipped to 3.7 percent in the second quarter, the lowest since tracking began.

"It looks like we are approaching the end of the road for BlackBerry," said technology analyst Jeff Kagan. "They are looking for the next alternative. Apparently they are simply not selling enough new devices."

BlackBerry president and chief executive Thorsten Heins was more optimistic in his outlook.

"We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition," Heins said.

BlackBerry released its first smartphone in 1999 which quickly became a must-have for many consumers, particularly on-the-go professionals. Its dominance in the market was challenged in 2007, however, when apple released the iphone.

ccp/ng (AFP, AP)