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According to sources at Bloomberg, Microsoft still eyeing potential BlackBerry purchase

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.

Source: Bloomberg

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

228 Comments
  • Hmmm. This is getting serious.
  • If they keep the nokia lumia brand alive as a general consumer product, I could see MS using blackberry to provide business oriented surface phones, possibly with physical keyboards, of course on the WP platform... This is gonna be interesting
  • I really need kb on WP. I was actually thinking about jumping to BB just for their keyboard after my 8x is out of the contract. But now my dream came true.
  • Dream came true? No, it hasn't.
  • Why you gotta ruin my wishful thinking!!! =(
  • I jumped from Windows Phone to Blackberry after the Dell Venue Pro fell off. ***LOVE*** the BB keyboard (best ever built) and can't go back. My typing speed & accuracy is lightyears faster--plus I don't even look at the keys as a type (that tactile feedback is incredible).
    I still have my Nokia Lumia that I use for a few things here & there, but for us power users who send hundreds of messages per day on the go, BB is the only option.
    I actually would love to see a Blackberry Bold/Q10 form factor running Windows Phone 9. But common sense things like that can never happen. I can dream.
  • Good to hear ex venue pro user here. I too had venue pro but after getting five replacement, it was time for me to get new device. And yes typing on bb kb can't compare to screen keyboard!
  • Hmm, Im not so sure a physical keyboard gives you a speed advantage. With the slick touch keyboard on WP with its prediction mechanism I doubt most would go faster just because they have raised objects to push.
    It might "feel" nicer to some (purely subjective) but I can't see logically why a phyiscally keyboard is faster.
    The autocorrect mops up most mysfingers, and then prediction cuts those chances down further.
    I'd rather have the extra screen real estate personally, but if people want physical keyboards then thats fine.
    And typing blind is another such advantage I guess.
  • I don't always "blind type" 100% of the time, but it does make a difference that my fingers know exactly where each key is at all times. I also use a mixture of word prediction + keys which has its advantages.
    I also must say that from having recently upgraded to the new Q10, I didn't think the keyboard could get any better, but they pulled it off again.
    With all of that said, I still like and use my Windows Phone for other tasks. I'm kind of in limbo between Windows Phone and Blackberry. I really tried to give the WP a chance with the on-screen keyboard, but with as many messages I send back/forth daily, I wound up almost throwing it to the ground out of frustration from how much it slowed me down :-|
  • kvell36: physical keyboard is a thing of the past IMO.
  • It only is a thing of the past if people think that way. Clearly there are some people - considerable amount of people - who care about physical keyboards.
  • So where were those "considerable amount of people" when BB needed them to buy the Q5 (if not the more expensive Q10) in droves? HTC also produced a phone with keyboard 2 or 3 years ago and those mythical "considerable amount" of people were also nowhere to be found either.
  • Because most of those people are already have one with physical keyboard and don't have any need or urge to switch to the new one until the one they had broke. And even if they do need one, they still have the option to buy second-hand devices, which is not accounted to the new device sales. So, while BB user around me (here in Indonesia) is still has significant amount, the sale itself are declining fast enough, primarily for these reasons.
  • They are out there but you cannot expect business to change their phones every time a new one comes out. A lot of people are still using BB OS 7 and those darn Bold's are really durable.
  • Funny I heard BB users (CEO etc) where I worked moaning about the lack of physical keyboard when the iPhone came out. Years later, he uses his iPhone and you will have to prise it out of his cold dead fingers. Funny how times change.
  • Those people, like myself, bought the HTC Arrive instead... And are still typing on it's "best ever" physical keyboard today as Windows Phone 7.5 is still better than the mess that is BlackBerry. Those same people, like me, are weighing options now because the Sprint network is SO bad and of course because Sprint just refuses to truly support the platform. ;-)
  • I really liked the Dell Venue Pro, it was my second Windows Phone handset (after the Samsung Focus). The DVP's physical keyboard rocked! However, once I got a Lumia 920 with its larger screen, my touchscreen accuracy drastically improved. Now I don't miss the physical keyboard... much. Phones without physical keyboards are cheaper, lighter, thinner, etc., all other things being equal.
  • so was the stylus and tablet.. no look at it. tablets are mainstream thanks to the Apple iPad. styli are making a return too thanks to the Samsung S Pen
  • Good analogy there. With your explanation, we could finally convince people that kb isn't dead
  • That would be pretty interesting nice theory my good man. What ever the move is I wish Microsoft the best of luck. WP could overtake iOS and become a serious threat to Android. Only time will tell.
  • I like it buy everything Microsoft :D
  • Same here :P
  • Asscrab?
  • 250 billions can buy a lot lol Microsoft buy that crapberry and use those patent lol
  • They don't have $250b in cash though
  • More like 43 (50-7=43) hey I did maths
  • Exactly it has $78B. After buying Nokia, MSFT is now have $70.8B in revenue.
  • Hope they would integrate BB security features on WP if they did.
  • Ditto. I have the same thought with you about this, but it can be also integrating BBM to Skype.
  • Watch out hTC, you might be next lol
  • They should buy BB and HTC XD
  • I was thinking the EXACT same thing that HTC is next on the buyout list. Today has been a full day for WPCentral. When I got off from work & looked at my phone, my WPCentral app read 19+ new articles.
  • It won't be HTC. HTC's revenues are almost entirely Android-based, so Microsoft would have to either keep selling Android devices or immediately torpedo the revenues of their purchase. Plus HTC's patent portfolio is likely not as interesting. With Blackberry, they could purchase it and let them keep selling devices, without helping Android, as they work towards long-term integration. And BB's patents are hella interesting!
  • Please buy Foursquare first... Then BB... And then HTC. Game over.
  • If I may ask, why HTC? What do they have to offer?
  • Just to get them off android...
  • Absolutely no point in that.  Samsung's doing a mighty job killing HTC from the outside while HTC management is doing a good job killing themselves from the inside, all the while MS is getting royalty payments for HTC's Android usage AND WP license payment as well.  HTC don't seem to have a patent warchest like Nokia/BB either so there's no value in buying HTC at all, I bet in a couple of years you can watch HTC implode.  Best outcome HTC could hope for if they don't turn around would be one of Chinese OEM like Huawei buying them, but certainly not MS.
  • Their not really helping android much either.
  • Yea why HTC? They can't offer anything, and they most certainly aren't a threat.
  • Well this is becoming interesting.
  • Microsoft needs to buy BlackBerry as much as Nokia, if not more, for their enterprise services and carrier relationships
  • I would be ok with this. A good leader can make this work. BBM on WP, I like that idea.
  • Wouldn't happen. BBM is a direct competitor to Skype.
  • I don't get BBM. What does it have that any other IM service nowadays doesn't have? Apart from the fact that you can use it on BlackBerrys?
  • Lol, they don't have to call it BBM. They just need to have a service like imessage specifically for Windows phones. I don't believe Skype is that service. Maybe its coming.
  • I don't get iMessage either. What's the point of having an IM service that's restricted to one operating system? Especially as we move towards having three major mobile OSes.
  • I get what you mean certain things should just be cross platform.
  • Its the apple way... have you forgotten "the world revolves around apple" -their selfish attitude is starting to bite them in the ass though.
  • Yeah, I understand Apple's motivations, but I don't understand why people rave about it and think that the equivalent should be done for Windows.
  • I might be wrong but is BBM not work on encrypted servers as is their txts hence why enterprise use them... they're secure
  • So is Skype, Google Talk, WhatsApp, etc. All modern IM services use encrypted connections.
  • No, they don't. You know fuck all.
  • You seem to be very passionate and knowledgeable about this subject. Care to enlighten me?
  • ok sorry Nik, I ment better encription... I mean after all they do have the highest rating for any service thats not custom made for security... and ignor cat flaps up there....
  • Ah right. Well yes, that was their original selling point: military grade encryption and advanced device configuration. No one else was really doing it properly at the time, so they had the whole market. But now equivalent encryption is commonplace across all major services (it's dead simple to implement nowadays), and Exchange comes with advanced fleet configuration that works not only on Windows Phone but also on iOS, Android, and Windows tablets and PCs, so BB now don't really offer much except for a tariff on your monthly plan.
    That's a very simplistic example, and I'm sure they do offer exclusive services. But nothing incredibly compelling, especially when you factor in the fees per user per month which can be very high.
    If Microsoft bought BB, it would be more for the patents and the customer base. Then they could provide a guided (and potentially assisted) upgrade path for existing BB users, to Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Exchange.
  • There is one small difference, its called ECC (Eliptic Curve Cryptography). This is more advanced type of encryption and is exclusivly used by BlackBerry (US goverment licensing this also). I'm not sure if BBM uses this type of encryption though.
  • No. Even if there will be BBM on WP if Microsoft buy BB, it probably will be separated app that user can download from marketplace because BBM will be a direct competitor to Skype which Microsoft already decided to integrate with Windows 8.1 (and probably Windows Phone 8.1). As for me, I'm more interested in their (BB) security technologies which can strengthen WP in consumer AND corporate alike.
  • I think Apple and Google should start to worry. LOL
  • Oh yeah!
  • The naysayers from Google & Apple said Microsoft would fail but right now, they're on a terror to own market share. This is starting to look like the Microsoft of 10-15 years ago.
  • Microsoft 10-15 yrs ago didn't have to buy out things. It was a terror due to its innovation machine. I want them to innovate, not waste money buying crap.
  • Nokia is not crap.
  • Blackberry is.
  • "BlackBerry is crap" - very insightful!
  • I personally would love for Microsoft to buy out BlackBerry, just so they can own the enterprise market. At my company it's bring your own device, but the IT director sent a company wide email stating that Android devices are not recommended for lax security protocols within their operating system. I would love to see more Windows Phones at my job as I am as of now the only one who uses a Windows Phone for both work & play.
  • Ditto, same here.
  • The one thing we can count on Microsoft to do is to throw money at a problem until they win. Obviously not ALL things, but when it comes to gaining marketshare to stave off competition they will move mountains (of money haha).
  • nice (-:
  • I always wanted bb qwerty on WP. So yes!
  • As much as I'd like that, there is just no market for those devices any longer.
  • A very very little market then, around .5%, but that's nothing in fact lol
  • It's a small market, but it's there. I personally know three people who would switch from BB to WP if it had a physical keyboard similar to BB's.
  • If they made something like the type cover (detachable) with the Surface Phone or whatever, I think it would do well. That's just me.
  • Now that is a really good idea. You get the benefit of a cover, and a keyboard when you want it. Nice thought.
  • I know a certain large Lumia coming soon that could make that concept work well.
  • Yes. With a cute little "snap" version of its big brother.
  • I would like for MS to release the Asha 210 in the US. Such a beautiful qwerty device. WP or not.
  • That's funny how Asha just became relevant because of this purchase. I wonder what their going to do with it? I think it's wise to have two competing brands in the market for Microsoft.
  • What if MS sells Asha just so they can keep the smartphone portion?
  • That would be foolish then. Asha is HUGH in emerging markets with low end phones. WP on those cheap hardwares will help capture low end. But I reckon they got license to Asha only to make sure Nokia doesn't make them for 3 years and there is no chance in hell Nokia can ever make a come back to mobile market.
  • Buying BB, is not a good idea, IMHO. MS should focus on integrated experience on the OS,  now that it owns the hardware as well and target the Windows Phone to a large number of Enterprise customers.
  • We should buy samsung next!!! *Thrift Shop music playing*
  • They can call the company "Nokia berry" or "black Nokia"
  • Microberrykia? Nokberrysoft. Hahah this is fun.
  • How about Blokiaft
  • WAT?
  • DJ Nokia (feat. Li'l BB)
  • Produced by M$
  • M$. Really? Aren't you a little old for that?
  • Hahahahah
  • Blackock..........*gulp*....i'll stop there lol
  • Blackock-soft
  • "Black Nokia"? Come on now, everyone is going to think Microsoft is racist or something.
  • Better than Noblack i suppose
  • Hahahahhaha!
  • You mean LumiaBerry
  • I'd rather to say: Micronokberry.
  • Blokia
  • Blokiasoft
  • Nokasoftberry
  • Lolll !!!
  • Bloksoft.
  • Softcock
  • Ha!
  • NoSoftMicroBlackok
  • lol
  • Would be awesome if they bought also BB and rename themselves to "MiBlackokia". Seriously, who wouldn't want to buy MiBlackokia!
  • Buy Apple and Google please, and then there is only Windows in the market. Hehehe
  • That's called "Monopoly"
  • +cluedo
  • +infinite
  • Apple has a market capitol value of $444 billion plus a couple hundred billion in working capitol (cash, though only about half in the US so as not to have to pay repatriation fees) which is way more than Microsoft's market cap and working capitol combined
  • Apple is a fraction of Microsoft as regards engineering power and REAL money. Apple failed on software and began to build mp3 players and phones not to die, Microsoft dominates on software and bought Nokia. See the difference ;) ?
  • What do you mean real money?? Apple has a $146.6 BILLION real dollars in the bank.
  • They don't have $146 Billion in cash, at least not in current assets.  I am not sure how they are accounting for their cash.  Yahoo! Finance shows they have $68B current assets and $104B in long-term assets.  Maybe the latter are mostly government bonds or something.  Microsoft has $101B current assets, but only $10B in long-term assets.  So Microsoft does have more "cash" available to make purchases, etc, but Apple has more assets overall.
  • LOL! Engineering power does not purchase companies, worth more than another. No matter how much you (and I) love MSFT, the fact is they cannot afford to purchase apple OR google. Money buys companies, not engineers (or their power)... See the difference?
  • That was meant to be sarcastic guys. No need to be so serious :D
  • Microsoft going on a shopping spree... Watch out Samsung and Apple...
  • Labor Day sale is over!
  • Lets not get too carried away. This is Microsloth we're talking about. The same people who killed Zune and are still selling Smartphones that don't sync properly with your music collection .Elop's going to have a hell of a job maintaining the Nokia pace of development from within their new Corporation. Trying to also integrate BB at the same time would be almost unthinkable.
  • Microsoft didn't kill Zune, they hung on for 5 years. The market killed Zune.
  • PPFFFFFTTTTT!!!! *spits coffee everywhere.....Ballmer & Elop must be like Let's go load up my black AMEX card lol
  • Yes, buy them! Buy everyone!
  • Hmm, Microsoft has the money. If another company especially Google were to buy them, they could start patent lawsuits and throw their weight around. I faith Microsoft will do the right thing.
  • At this point buying blackberry is like trying to catch a falling knife...the company is on a down slope...let it fall a little more then look at the benefits if there is any left....purchasing Nokia is different they are on an up slope and need money to grow...different Case
  • a BB purchase can wait.  It will only take a few massive earnings miss reports to have the price drop out under the stock, then Microsoft can pick it up for cheap.  There's no rush.
  • That is ofcourse assuming nobody else comes in a buys them up. If only for the patents.
    It's all about timing, but if you wait too long...
  • Looks like MSFT is thinking the same thing
  • Do whatever it takes to get crackberry Kevin on our team.
  • Seriously. Looks like Kevin might enjoy some of the WP goodness
  • Ok the worst news would be if cnet is buying wpcentral...now that would be bad
  • Haha.
  • Elop said that cnet is looking into purchasing all WP advertising and graffiti-ing giant willy's on Lumias