BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) will release third quarter numbers next week, and if they provide evidence of a company on the mend, it might finally be time to put the former market leader on the chopping block. Last quarter, BlackBerry stocks fell 27 percent after sales missed consensus expectations by a huge margin—6.8 million instead of 7.5 million units sold—and this quarter’s results will be pivotal, says Tero Kuittinen for Forbes.

BBRY Blackberry Research in Motion

BlackBerry’s missteps

This issue isn’t just that sales were incredibly low, but they were low on the launch of two new models using a much-hyped new OS. With an existing user base of more than 70 million people, the tepid response can only be interpreted as people leaving for other smartphones en masse. There’s been plenty of discussion regarding BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s missteps, now the only question is whether they can seriously look for someone to buy the company and attempt to turn it around, or if shareholders are better off selling patents and other assets to cut their losses.

“It is very hard to see any private equity fund or Asian conglomerate buying a smartphone vendor that cannot deliver even 3 million units of three different models of a highly anticipated new generation of devices,” says Kuittinen, explaining that a turnaround is unlikely but not quite impossible. “BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) has been able to pull rabbits from the hat in some tough periods in the past; opaque emerging market carrier orders sometimes come in stronger than what U.S. analysts project.”

Apple vs BlackBerry

But this comes when Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is releasing an iPhone that will be available for free in China and other markets (though the attached contracts could prove to be an issue) and reasonable Android smartphones are available for less than $200. Legal tactics have also become much sharper, with every major player in court for alleged IP infringement. The smartphone and tablet market is becoming more intense, and most analysts seem to be waiting for BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) to throw in the towel.

“The optimal time to find a buyer for BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) may have been around 2008; the bearable period ended in early 2011,” says Kuittinen. “What is left now is the grim process of discovering what is possible.”