BlackBerry looking at 'speedy sale': Will Microsoft jump in to save it?

BlackBerry looking at 'speedy sale': Will Microsoft jump in to save it?

Summary: Now that Nokia's phone business is in the hands of the Redmond-based software giant, one has to wonder if BlackBerry's enterprise appeal may be something Microsoft would be interested in.

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(Image: CNET)

BlackBerry is reportedly looking for a "fast auction process" that could see the company split-up or sold on to a third-party buyer as soon as November — at least, the company hopes. 

First reported by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter, talks between rival bidders and the firm have taken place to gauge interest in buying the Ontario, Canada-based firm.

According to one of the Journal's sources, the committee is gunning for a speedy resolution to its sales process.

It comes just a few weeks after BlackBerry announced it had formed a small committee of company board members to "explore strategic alternatives" that could eventually see the company broken up and sold off to the highest bidder. 

The news on Wednesday broke in the same week as the long-anticipated (albeit highly doubted) Microsoft deal to buy Nokia's phone-making business for $7.2 billion. Nokia will retain its valuable patent and intellectual property assets, while the entire staff base of its phone-making business will become Microsoft employees in the transaction.

The obvious and logical question is: Will Microsoft jump in to buy the firm?

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant was "keeping an eye" on BlackBerry, citing sources, as its business and government customer base could still attract the enterprise-focused firm. 

Wall Street seemed optimistic on the news. BlackBerry's share price ($BBRY) rose on Monday and Tuesday by more than 3 percent following news of the acquisition, and again by more than 5 percent after the market closed on Wednesday. 

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley pondered almost exactly a year ago whether or not Microsoft should snap up either BlackBerry (then named Research in Motion) or Nokia. "Nah..." she said. And at the time she was dead-on. Microsoft had little interest in buying Nokia.

But a lot happened in the space of a year: Nokia's financial troubles worsened and its sales dwindled, while at the same time its Windows Phone platform surpassed BlackBerry's share.

Foley noted three key points for what Microsoft would benefit out of a Nokia deal. Microsoft would gain lots more employees (we can check that off the list, with 32,000 Nokia staffers now part of the company); a dying operating system (referring to Symbian, but that's now dead); and manufacturing capabilities enabling it to compete with its existing partners (which the company now has and is gunning for now that it took the third-place market share crown from BlackBerry).

If the Microsoft-Nokia deal is anything to go buy, it stepped in at the right time though not too late. If Microsoft wants to snap up BlackBerry for its still highly lucrative enterprise business, it may be in for a wait — at least until BlackBerry's financial situation dwindles to a point where it's a viable and returnable purchase.

Topics: BlackBerry, Microsoft

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24 comments
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  • Except for patents

    and enterprise relationships, there is nothing compelling there for Microsoft. If someone says email, they have equally better solution for it on WP, and BBM can be easily handled with Lync.
    Ram U
    • huh

      Equal solutions on WP? Yeah, except for security... Microsoft supports NSA logons while Blackberry doesn't. If Blackberry gets sold I really hope not Microsoft will buy it. They don't need it anyways since they have Nokia now...
      And, by the way: You don't get the customers if you buy a company - you only get "potential customers". I expect the WP marketshare rather to decline than to increase now that Microsoft took over the Nokia smartphone unit...
      hacho
      • There is so much stupid in your post...

        NSA log ins? Market share declining because the company that makes windows is making windows phones?

        Do you ever just forget to breathe?
        mrefuman
  • Patents

    I would think they would want BB for the patents. There is nothing of value in that company...
    Cain69
    • So True

      As a former user of BB, I can say that mainly patents and the enterprise software are the main two things that they really have to offer to someone like Microsoft, whose is heavily involved in businesses as we know. No one wants that crappy android ported app world or bbm as whatsapp is where its at for me. I'm giving this a fair review as i feel its necessary to say as I have nothing against them as I've owned bb till 2010... So mainly I'm glad i left and on to better things like ios, android, and recently wp8. So i have bbry in the past and never looking back. they were great for their time but time to move on to other options in the market...
      ITGuy000
      • Maybe a bit out of date...

        I've iphone, pad, but still have corporate on a Torch and now Z10. Personally I wouldn't have touched a non-touch-screen OR half screen BB but the two above are great for work. All I need and several days battery life. The Z10 on BES10 goes straight to sharepoint via an app too... My IOS devices don't get corporate email so easily OR connect to any share anywhere. There's a balance with these things, and we've all got to be kept aware of what's available. I use a 4 and a Z10 50/50 but my personal home audio apps are on IOS; just depends what suits a users needs. Neither device does all I would want in a day!
        johnmckay
    • Is there any IPs in BB ?

      I don't think so, the smart phone definition of BB is email, they even has no OS for smart phone till recent year, they bought one and rename it to "BB10",it's garbage, Microsoft has the most powerful mobile OS in the world.
      zhousx18
  • Yep MS should buy BB

    Pile on to their patent trove. Make BB features an App in the WP Store. Consolidate market share. Take the opportunity to streamline BB enterprise services and integration with Exchange/Lync/Unified Communications.
    greywolf7
    • No MS should not buy BB

      I think you buy a company because it does "something" better than you can do it. Blackberry software was valuable at one point, but the Microsoft ecosystem far surpassed it. I also think Nokia phones are built better than blackberry. I don't see any reason for a Blackberry acquisition.
      Sean Foley
  • There was a time

    Before MS hooked up with Nokia, that I thought it made sense for MS to buy BB. MS and BB both had deep ties to the enterprise, had a solid understanding of business needs, and had been outplayed in the consumer space by Apple and Android. I thought it made sense to focus on their strengths as leaders in enterprise solutions. Instead MS embraced Microsoft Bob 2.0 as the road to riches in the consumer markets. Fashion is fickle and hard to predict and despite their best efforts, consumer interest in the new re-imagined Windows just hasn't materialized. It is too late for BB. They don't offer MS anything they don't already have. What MS needs to do is admit that the entire WinPhone Win 8 UI design philosophy is a failure. Business need phones and tablets and mobile solutions that work. MS and Nokia have the stuff. They just need a UI design that works.
    krossbow
  • Several Good Options

    There are several good options for a BB sale or strategic partnership.
    Key will be fulfilling an essential niche with the prospective partner and being sensitive to the security concerns represented by BB's current customer base.
    Leading the pack would be Apple and their push to become a lead enterprise supplier. Sony might be another logical partner bringing photo tech and market penetration that is complimentary with BB, while not compromising security concerns. Samsung is another obvious buyer giving them their own OS to integrate with their current efforts. Erickson and HP may also be in the running, if they want to get back into the mobile phone/tablet market.
    The Chinese and Indian companies would not pass the security vetting required for any prospective partnership/buyout.
    CanNet
    • You think the Canadians care about the Chinese

      getting BB? They let Chicom spies run all over Canada pilfering all kinds of government and corporate secrets. I'm sure they already have everything of value from BB already considering how it was run. They laugh at CSIS. Well not the spies inside it but the ones they pass the info too.
      Johnny Vegas
  • Why patents?

    Microsoft has a huge portfolio, with Nokia deal gained access to even more patents.... The only reason to acquire those patents is so others don't grab them - but that can be an expensive game.
    Enterprise tools seem a better reason for MS to buy BB.
    With Nokia, MS couldn't afford to lose Nokia, that would be the end of windows phone. I don't think BB is very important for MS.
    AleMartin
    • You can...

      You can never be too rich, too good looking, or have too many patents.
      dsf3g
    • Patents

      MS will have to license still from Nokia, as they did not buy the patents (as per the article)
      bizdudePB
  • BlackBerry looking at 'speedy sale': Will Microsoft jump in to save it?

    No. There is nothing Blackberry could offer that Microsoft would want. Microsoft now has phone hardware and software departments. They have Lync for communications. The only way they would buy Blackberry is if they are being sold for extremely cheap. Otherwise there would be no point.
    Loverock-Davidson
  • re:BlackBerry looking at 'speedy sale'

    ...according to the same people that reported blackberry was going out of business in 2012 and that bb10 would be DOA in 2013.

    I dont know who's worse, the creators of this bogus source report or the 'reporters' who report on the bogus news?
    pfezziwig
  • Re: Blackberry....Microsoft....

    It is quite possible yes as Microsoft need to buy popularity such is the failure of WP.
    5735guy
    • By adding another failure?!

      I don't think so...
      AleMartin
  • No compelling reason

    to buy Blackberry apart from the patents. Perhaps the money could be better spent on new phones, marketing and services.
    Xenon8