REUTERS - Chinese personal computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd (0992.HK) has signed a nondisclosure deal to examine the books of troubled Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO), the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, quoting unnamed sources.
BlackBerry has already accepted a tentative $4.7 billion go-private deal orchestrated by its largest shareholder, but is also assessing other options including interest from its founders.
Here are important milestones in the history of the company formerly known as Research In Motion:
February 1985 - Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin co-found Research In Motion in Waterloo, Ontario, the Canadian university city where Lazaridis studied.
1989 - RIM develops a network gateway called RIMGate, precursor to its BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
1992 - Jim Balsillie joins RIM as co-CEO, mortgaging his house and investing $250,000.
1994 - RIM launches a handheld point-of-sale card reader, which verifies debit and credit transactions directly to a bank.
1995 - RIM builds its own radio modem for wireless email.
1997 - RIM lists on the Toronto Stock Exchange, raising more than $115 million.
1999 - RIM launches BlackBerry email service, first wireless device to synch with corporate email systems. Lists on the Nasdaq.
2002 - RIM adds voice calls to the BlackBerry. 2004 - RIM's surpasses 1 million BlackBerry users.
2007 - Apple Inc (AAPL.O) launches first iPhone. RIM passes 10 million subscribers, briefly becomes most valuable company in Canada. Google Inc's (GOOG.O) open source Android platform is unveiled. It launches in October 2008.
2008 - RIM launches BlackBerry Storm, its first touchscreen and keyboard-less device. The screen uses a tactile feedback technology known as haptics, allowing a user to click down to select actions. The model bombs.
2010 - RIM buys QNX Software Systems for C$200 million. It will later use its software for its BlackBerry 10 devices.
2011 - RIM launches PlayBook, which is panned for lacking core BlackBerry functions such as email and organizer capability. It later books a writedown on unsold PlayBook inventory. Company slashes financial forecasts, the first of many revisions, which it then misses. Says will slash more than 10 percent of its workforce. Resists investor pressure for co-CEOs Lazaridis and Balsillie to step down. Offers to manage rival devices including Apple's iPhone and iPad. Delays its QNX-based BlackBerry 10 phones until late 2012.
2012 - Lazaridis and Balsillie step down as co-chief executives and chairmen. Thorsten Heins appointed CEO and Barbara Stymiest named chair of the board. Heins promises overhaul, says RIM will no longer issue financial forecasts. RIM hires bankers to assist with strategic review, delays BlackBerry 10 again, until early 2013. Shares hit lowest level in nearly a decade.
January 30, 2013 - Heins unveils BlackBerry 10 devices at glitzy event in New York, with simultaneous gatherings in other cities around the world, and company changes name to BlackBerry.
June 28, 2013 - Shares fall 25 percent after company reports loss and warns of more pain, says BlackBerry 10 sales were disappointing. Days earlier the company said it can now service Apple and Android devices for enterprise customers.
August 12, 2013 - BlackBerry says it is weighing options including a sale. Fairfax Financial Holdings' Prem Watsa steps down from board to avoid conflict of interest, days after Reuters reported that the company's board was warming to the idea of going private.
September 3, 2013 - Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) buys Nokia's NOK1V.HE phone business and licenses its patents for more than $7 billion.
September 20, 2013 - BlackBerry warns of a steep loss and says it will cut more than a third of its workforce as it abandons the consumer market.
September 23, 2013 - BlackBerry signs tentative $4.7 billion deal to be acquired and taken private by a consortium led by its largest investor, Watsa's Fairfax Financial.
October 10, 2013 - Co-founders Lazaridis and Fregin say in a filing that they are considering a bid to buy the company.
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Matthew Lewis)
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