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Microsoft Rumored to be Considering BlackBerry Purchase

By - Source: Bloomberg | B 18 comments

Microsoft is supposedly still eying BlackBerry for its presence in the enterprise market.

Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's devices business seemingly came out of nowhere given all the recent turmoil surrounding the Redmond company. It's somewhat aligned with another shocker announced by CEO Steve Ballmer who recently said he will be "retiring" early within the next twelve months. The industry was also rather shocked at the $900 million hit the company took in its Q4 2013 earnings for unsold Surface RT tablets.  

Now here's another shocker: Microsoft may still be eying a BlackBerry Limited acquisition. Given recent events surrounding the Redmond company, anything is possible at this point. Sources told Bloomberg that Microsoft is keeping an eye on the Canadian device manufacturer due to its strong presence in the enterprise market. Still, the acquisition of another OS would be rather strange given Microsoft's current push to make Windows Phone more enterprise-friendly. It would also seemingly throw a wrench into Microsoft's scheme to offer a unified platform experience.

But, again, anything is possible at this point.

Sources told Bloomberg that the Microsoft-Nokia deal is more of a sprint than a marathon, that talks between the two began back in February. Both parties reportedly agreed that the current two-year-old smartphone collaboration just wasn't working as expected. The two finally settled on a deal in July, with Microsoft shelling out 5.44 billion euro ($7.2 billion) for Nokia's Devices & Services business, to license Nokia's patents, and use Nokia's mapping services.

"Microsoft realized that it wouldn’t be possible to succeed without controlling the entire value chain," said Francisco Jeronimo, research director for European mobile devices at research firm IDC in London. “Nokia has realized that it needed a stronger ally with the financial muscle to continue driving its Lumia smartphones."

Microsoft has reportedly been interested in BlackBerry for some time, yet Ballmer supposedly decided not to make a bid for the Canadian company back in 2011 due to the transaction not being a "worthy investment". Now with Nokia's device business under Redmond's control, BlackBerry has one less possible lifeline. Even more, Microsoft is now better positioned to compete with BlackBerry as the #3 smartphone platform.

Despite launching a new operating system and several new phones, the once dominant BlackBerry said last month that it had established a committee to review its strategic options, including a possible sale. That's a dramatic change given BlackBerry, formerly RIM, controlled 51 percent of the smartphone market in North America just four years ago. Now the company controls a mere 3.4 percent thanks to the slow response to Apple's iPhone and the army of Android-based devices.

BlackBerry said the new Special Committee will explore alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment.  These alternatives could include, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions.

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  • 0 Hide
    chicofehr , September 4, 2013 9:16 PM
    If they do, I hope they still make them with keyboards. Its the main reason I still use blackberry.
  • 3 Hide
    Stimpack , September 4, 2013 9:22 PM
    I hope they don't pay much.
  • 0 Hide
    therealduckofdeath , September 4, 2013 9:24 PM
    Please, have some dignity Microsoft. When did you turn into bottom feeders?
    BB is a dead business, just like Palm was when HP bought them. A waste of money.
  • -1 Hide
    Izman Quaasalmy , September 4, 2013 10:50 PM
    microsoft buying dying companies,mean while their sales is also low, microsoft is on they down :) 
  • 2 Hide
    shikamaru31789 , September 4, 2013 10:59 PM
    Buying Blackberry would give Microsoft 6.6% Smartphone marketshare between Windows Phone and Blackberry. Assuming they could manage to get both Windows Phone and Blackberry to grow moving forward, they could become a close 3rd behind Google and Apple. So I can see why they'd want to buy it.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 5, 2013 2:13 AM
    Microsoft are buying these companies for the patents not because their sales are low, the patents are worth more to them than the sales.
  • -2 Hide
    gamerk316 , September 5, 2013 5:30 AM
    No longer under the specter of Antitrust regulation, the old MSFT is coming back!
  • -2 Hide
    Grandmastersexsay , September 5, 2013 7:24 AM
    I hope they don't pay much.

    The patents alone are worth billions because unlike Android, BB OS is a secure operating system.

    In 2007 those patents may have been worth billions, but today? There are better ways to do everything those patents describe. Name just one that Google, Apple, Samsung, ect. even want.

    Microsoft would only potentially want BlackBerry for their name recognition. I'm assuming they can get it rather cheap.
  • 2 Hide
    LORD_ORION , September 5, 2013 8:15 AM
    Considering most Blackberry use is on the business side, it sort of makes sense.

    I know lots of corporate types who are still on Blackberry and refuse to give it up.

    Imagine a Blackberry phone with Nokia quality and Microsoft platform integration.
  • 1 Hide
    coupe , September 5, 2013 8:42 AM
    I thought they should do this. I mean BB is tied almost directly with Exchange. This would be a great purchase for MS.
  • 3 Hide
    jhansonxi , September 5, 2013 8:43 AM
    Two words sum their acquisitions up: zombie cannibalism.

    However, I can't think of any other options they would have.
  • 1 Hide
    stevejnb , September 5, 2013 8:54 AM
    I always thought that Blackberry's business phone philosophy would work well in close collaboration with Microsoft's software lineup, since they do have a lot of business standards there. Windows Phone is a bit of a disappointment for the heavily business oriented person, Android is a bit sketchy as far as security goes, and iOS is really the only very strong option beyond Blackberry - but you're stuck tied to Apple, which has some downsides if you're using PC software. If MS actually does this, it may give them an inroad into the enterprise world which no-one else can quite match.

    (My boss waited over a year for the new Blackberry to come out when I went with a Lumia 900 and my other buddy switch to Samsung - also my girlfriend's father is totally sold on both the Blackberry phone AND quite likes the Playbook - Blackberry still does have some die-hards)
  • -2 Hide
    classzero , September 5, 2013 9:00 AM
    I hope Microsoft doesn't buy Blackberry. Everything they touch lately turns to poo.
  • -1 Hide
    jaber2 , September 5, 2013 9:25 AM
    Thats one way of dumping cash
  • 0 Hide
    spartanmk2 , September 5, 2013 9:30 AM
    Microsoft: I will devour their essences!!! (Nokia/BBerry) NOMnomnomnom...
  • 0 Hide
    1991ATServerTower , September 5, 2013 9:56 AM
    I still use a BB Bold 9900. It's a solid machine, figuratively and literally. The new Q10 is not built as solidly (lacks the solid steel border that has saved my phone from several drops in the last 20 months) and it lacks the optical track pad for precision pointing/cursor movement. BB10 OS also lacks bridge functionality with the Playbook tablet. Getting a BB10, for my purposes, would be a downgrade.

    Something that most people do not realize about BB 4/5/6/7 OS versions is that the work flow for accomplishing routine tasks is amazing, fast, and can be accomplished with just one's thumb on all the QWERTY phones. Taking a picture and sending it via any of the communication options is a great example of this.

    1. Press camera button.
    2. Aim and press camera button again to take picture.
    3. Press menu button.
    4. Trackpad through menu to Send > Email/BBM/SMS/etc.
    5. Trackpad choose/type recipient.

    When I tried a Windows Phone accomplishing the same thing was so convoluted and frustrating, there was no way in hell I was going to use it instead of a Blackberry. Another great thing about my BB9900 is how simple it is toggle connectivity modes. One tap/click on the main screen and I can change the Cell, Wifi, Mobile Hotspot, Bluetooth, and NFC with a single tap/click. Multiply that sentiment by all of the work flow areas where RIM nailed convenient usability and it's very easy to see value in the platform.

    People who stick with their Blackberries do so because they are efficient, extremely stable/reliable, and have many capabilities. My Blackberry always "just works", no muss, no fuss, no frustrations.

    That said, I'm not really keen on the work flow and all touch UI paradigm of the BB10 OS. Forsaking the innovation of the optical trackpad was a huge step backward and the insistence on integrating social media with email, sms, and bbm is asinine for those of us who do not use social media and enjoy keeping our communication platforms separate.

    All that said, RIM ("Blackberry"...) would be a good match for Microsoft or Sony, because it would give their product lines an instant in road to enterprise mobile computing, the market of folks who simply like the BB best, and the ownership of the QNIX operating system, which in itself is a healthy business.
  • 0 Hide
    rwinches , September 5, 2013 11:49 AM
    So many can't read for comprehension.
    M$ is not getting the patents. Nokia is retaining the ownership.
    They are licensing the patents.
  • 0 Hide
    vern72 , September 5, 2013 6:49 PM
    If Microsoft buys BlackBerry, I'll give up my Q10.