The former Siemens mobile phone division, once one of the top global makers of handsets, has completely and utterly imploded. All its remaining employees will need to look for other employment and its assets will be sold off in pieces to appease creditors, to which it owes $1.16 billion.BenQ Mobile has been in protracted death throes for months, following its September 2006 declaration of bankruptcy. The company stumbled under Siemens' ownership and then failed under BenQ because managers failed to develop and market handsets that competed with Nokia and Sony Ericsson. Under Taiwanese ownership since 2005, the company went nowhere but downhill.
German trade unions, notably IG Metall, alleged that senior management was entirely to blame. "New innovative mobile phones were developed to the point of market maturity, but on account of wrong or late decisions by the upper echelons of the company were never mass-produced or if they were at much too late a date," the trade union said in a prepared statement.
For the last few months, BenQ hoped to sell the complete mobile division to someone, anyone, but the most recent interested party has decided that the company cannot be salvaged financially and withdrew its bids over the weekend.
As such, its insolvency manager, Martin Prager, announced that the company's assets (furniture, patents, buildings of an estimated worth of $408 million) will be broken up and sold separately.
It's always a sad day to see a company die. Even more so when just a few short years ago it was riding a global wave of success. The event underscores just how competitive the global market for mobile phones is.