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.