09/26/2013 12:45 EDT

T-Mobile Removes BlackBerry From Stores; Earnings Call Cancelled

If the BlackBerry wants to survive as a consumer product, there’s one thing it really can’t live without: retail distribution.

That’s why the announcement by T-Mobile, the U.S.’s fourth largest wireless carrier, that it will no longer be carrying the BlackBerry in its stores is the clearest sign yet that the BlackBerry’s days as a consumer device are over.

T-Mobile’s executive VP for corporate services, David Carey, told Reuters Wednesday the company will no longer stock the phone in its stores and will only ship them directly.

Carey said there was no point to carrying the phones in store, as they were mostly being bought by corporate customers.

It’s a move BlackBerry may have seen coming. Last Friday, as the company announced it’s chopping 4,500 staff, the company also said it would no longer market its products to consumers, and focus on corporate clients.

The decision was met with more than a little cynicism among observers. Citing analysts, Reuters described it as “a desperate move that ... will only accelerate [BlackBerry’s] downward spiral.”

BlackBerry also announced it’s cancelling its customary earnings conference call, which had been scheduled for Friday, in light of the purchase offer from Fairfax Financial Holdings.

Fairfax, run by billionaire Prem Watsa, announced on Monday it has offered $4.7 billion U.S. for the smartphone maker, or about $9 U.S. per share.

The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday that Fairfax is looking for partners to help it raise $1 billion towards its bid for BlackBerry. Bloomberg News reports that two of Canada’s largest pension funds — the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Alberta Investment Management Corp. — are in talks with Fairfax.

But the pension funds are apparently only interested buying parts of BlackBerry, not the company as a whole. They’re interested in BlackBerry’s secure server unit and other parts of the company geared towards corporate clients, Bloomberg reported.

BlackBerry shares climbed higher on Thursday as investors digested reassurances from Fairfax’s Watsa that he has every intention of completing the acquisition of the smartphone maker.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company's stock lifted 19 cents to $8.45 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Late Wednesday, Watsa told The Associated Press his firm is not in the business of making an offer and then walking away or redoing the deal.

Those comments appeared to quell some of the concerns that a solid Fairfax deal would never materialize because few other financial backers were willing to join the proposed $4.7-billion transaction.

With files from The Canadian Press

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