As if 2013 could not have been a more pivotal year for Microsoft and Windows Phone, news tonight coming from Bloomberg claims that Redmond is still considering buying out BlackBerry.
BlackBerry has publicly revealed that they are seeking “strategic alternatives” for the company, including a merger or selling off the entire company (or pieces of it). In and of itself, that is big news although BlackBerry did do the same in 2012 and nothing came of it. Could this round be any different? Perhaps, as their new operating system, BB10, is not exactly setting the mobile world afire.
Microsoft has always been rumored to be interested in BlackBerry, but they are perhaps waiting for the right time. That may include waiting for Waterloo to shed some of its 17,000 employees and become a leaner purchase, or for BlackBerry to become cheaper and more desperate.
Why own just one when you could have both?
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was asked back in early 2011 why they wouldn’t bid on BlackBerry (then called RIM) and at the time, it just wasn’t a worthy investment (they also saw Windows Phone 7 doing better than it did).
Regardless, citing “people familiar with the deal”, Bloomberg have noted in their latest article that “Microsoft is keeping an eye on BlackBerry Ltd.” because of its “strong presence in the enterprise market”. That’s not a home run and doesn’t exactly signify anything we did not presume to be the case--after all BlackBerry does have some valuable services, patents and brand recognition that could give some polish to Microsoft’s mobile division. But it is still thought-provoking, nonetheless.
Earlier today, Windows Phone Central had an impromptu podcast to discuss the Microsoft-Nokia deal, including implications for BlackBerry. We were joined by Editor in Chief of our sister site CrackBerry, Kevin Michaluk, to discuss BlackBerry’s current predicament, potential moves and what if Microsoft were to try and buy them (and why). It’s worth a listen if you want a more nuanced discussion on the topic.
Should Microsoft buy BlackBerry? It all depends on the price and what they get. After having dropped $7.2B on Nokia, Microsoft would be in a tight position to make a second massive acquisition in such a short time. In doing so, investors could become even more aggressive in demanding to see results. It could also strain all parties involved (Microsoft, Nokia and BlackBerry) due to the difficulty in eventual corporate integration.
On the other hand, a purchase by Microsoft could prevent their competitors from strengthening their enterprise offerings, especially for Google, who could benefit the most from an acquisition. It could also solidify Microsoft’s position as the gatekeeper of all patents and technologies related to mobile, though it remains to be seen if they can turn that into a viable strategy.