This morning BlackBerry announced that it is creating a special team within its executive board that will be tasked with evaluating several possibilities for the firm’s future. The group will consider joint ventures, partnerships and, possibly, an all-out sale. We heard last week that BlackBerry was considering a move that could take it private though, again, that would require a sale of some sort to private investors. But if BlackBerry were to consider an all-out sale to a tech firm we all know, who should it be? We considered a few possibilities this morning.
Microsoft seems like a great suitor. The company already has its arms spread far into the enterprise, which is BlackBerry’s bread and butter. It could totally eat up BlackBerry’s entire existing market share if it is able to grab all of the contracts. From that point it could either continue outfitting BlackBerry’s existing customers with BlackBerry devices (though under its own ownership), or swapping them out to Windows Phone devices and its own servers. Doing so could help Microsoft increase its Office 365 footprint, too, since Windows Phone works seamlessly with that on the back end. I think a Microsoft acquisition makes the most sense at this point, especially as Windows Phone’s market share continues to increase and as Microsoft tries to compete more aggressively with iOS and Android.
There’s been a lot of talk that anyone from Samsung to Amazon or Microsoft could acquire BlackBerry for its patent portfolio. We already know that Microsoft licenses its mobile patents to almost every major player in the industry. In fact, by most estimates Microsoft makes more off of its licenses to Android OEMs than it does from Windows Phone. Anyone who owns BlackBerry’s patents could take over licensing, too.
A lot of people are quick to suggest Amazon might buy BlackBerry. I’m not quite sure I agree. Sure, the company could increase its mobile footprint, but it seems to be doing just fine in the mobile space with tablets. It could easily move into selling smartphones based on Android right now without any need to buy BlackBerry – so again, while it might be nice to boost its portfolio of mobile patents I’m not sure it’s entirely necessary for Amazon to buy BlackBerry.
Samsung, like Microsoft, could be a potential suitor – but mainly, again, to gain contracts into the enterprise. The company’s Knox mobile security was designed for IT departments that allow employees to bring their own devices, though it’s unclear how successful that software is at this point. If Samsung acquired BlackBerry it could increase its security and make another targeted approach at the corporate world.
Samsung has expressed concerns with relying too much on Android, however, and we know that it has experience building and selling its own operating system in emerging markets. Samsung could buy BlackBerry and continue to push the devices where they are popular, such as India. Samsung isn’t afraid to spread its reach as far as possible -it has a device in every screen size – and has sold phones running Symbian, Windows Phone, bada, Android and more.
But Why Now?
The biggest question we need to consider is this: if any of the aforementioned firms are, or ever were, interested in buying BlackBerry, why would they do so now? As of publication, the company was trading at $10.23, up 4.83 percent on its sale considerations. But BlackBerry was trading as low as $6.22 within the last 52 weeks. In other words, any company that is interested in buying BlackBerry could have attempted to do so for a more affordable price earlier this year.
It’s entirely possible BlackBerry will find investors who are willing to help take the company private. If that happened, BlackBerry would pay back its shareholders and would be able to make its own decisions more effectively. Perhaps that would give it the freedom it needs to explore more risky or drastic measures, such as moving away from BlackBerry 10 altogether. At this point it’s going to be a waiting game, but it’s clear BlackBerry knows something needs to change soon.