This year will define whether or not BlackBerry continues with hardware

The brand is already struggling to return to a smartphone space that is only increasing in competition.

The attempts being made by BlackBerry to return to a level of success in the smartphone hardware business is certainly an ongoing one, but it appears that the company has been fighting an uphill battle.

Analysts from Scotia Capital are now saying that the company will be reaching a “critical juncture” in 2016.

As much as CEO John Chen has insisted that BlackBerry will not be leaving the hardware industry and while a number of highly strategic moves have been made to help ensure that its smartphones will keep heading to store shelves – and into the hands of consumers and business users – the fact is that it is continuing to lose subscribers and money. In fact, just as the analysts made their prediction, the company also revealed that it would be laying off 125 employees in Canada, in addition to 75 workers in Florida who would also be losing their jobs.

The analysts see a number of different strategic options still left for BlackBerry as this year progresses.

Deciding Year for BlackberryThe Scotia Capital analysts said that there are three main strategic options that the Ontario, Canada-based company currently has within its reach. The first would be to step out of hardware while facing a one-time cost that they predict to be around $100 million (USD). The second would be to license its operating system or brand as a whole to another hardware manufacturer. The third would occur if the company’s hardware segment manages to reach profitability this year, in which case it should continue its operations.

A great deal of the decisions that will be made by the company will depend on whether or not its latest smartphone, the Priv slider mobile phone powered by Android, ends up being successful in its sales. Investors have a very close eye on whether or not that key mobile device is managing to appeal to enough consumers to make it worthwhile.

At the same time, BlackBerry has been continuing its evolution as a provider of enterprise software. It could end up spending as much as $1 billion (USD) on the acquisition of companies over the next couple of years and still manage to keep up a net cash balance of $500 million (USD) in that business.

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