Following the woes befalling BlackBerry, the mobile phone manufacturer, I found myself smugly reflecting that I've never owned one of these devices - even at the zenith of their popularity as the executive tool of choice.

The reason was simple. I found them too complicated to use and having no need to encrypt the caregiver's messages to buy milk or dog meat on the way home, I really had no serious reason to buy a BlackBerry, other than keeping up appearances with all my techno-executive mates, who swore by them.

The bleak news this week is that Thorsten Heins, the company's latest chief executive, has resigned after the collapse of a tentative takeover offer from Fairfax Financial Holdings, the largest shareholder.

In recent trading, BlackBerry shares were down nearly 12 per cent to US$6.85.


No doubt one of Mr Heins' first actions, once he leaves the company, will be to go out and buy an Apple or Android mobile device, like the rest of the world.

I met this gentleman when he was working for Seimens. We had adjacent seats on a long-distance flight. He came across as a typical smart young executive on the way up, with very clear views on the future of the electronics industry, especially mobile devices.

When he joined BlackBerry, I wondered if this might be a career move he would later regret. as the company already appeared to be disintegrating into a black hole of its own making. He became chief executive early last year, after the resignation of BlackBerry's top two leaders after the failure of its tablet computer.

I felt particularly sorry for him at the launch of its latest mobile, when he tried to market himself onstage like the late Steve Jobs, but succeeded only in looking like an uncomfortable executive dork in a pinstripe suit, holding up a couple of mobiles.

At a time when mobile phone conversations and messages have been revealed as being blatantly spied-upon by government agencies, it's interesting to note that BlackBerry's reputation was once built largely on its ability to withstand intrusion.

But because of the galloping advances in snooping technology, I'm unclear whether a BlackBerry still has encryption advantages.

Certainly, if they are still technically difficult to break into, I know of one potential customer in Germany who might be eager to acquire one, someone by the name of Angela Merkel.