BlackBerry Would Really Like Someone to Buy BlackBerry—but Who Wants It?

Lots of co-branding possibilities.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

BlackBerry, makers of the formerly popular BlackBerry line of smartphones, released a somewhat odd statement Monday saying that they are interested in exploring “strategic alternatives,” such as a joint partnership or sale of the company. This was not exactly a well-kept secret since they released a statement saying the same thing last year, and companies usually manage to explore mergers and acquisitions possibilities without this kind of public announcement.

The question, obviously, is who would want to buy BlackBerry? Their platform is dead. What’s more, trying to compete in the smartphone operating system market looks extremely unpromising. For starters, the leader in market share is an operating system that’s available for free. Then the two other players in this market—Apple and Microsoft—have unimaginably deep cash pockets. Even if you did get traction vis-à-vis the iPhone, you’d be much more likely to massively reduce Apple’s profit margins than to actually make profits yourself. Now as smartphone pioneers, BlackBerry no doubt holds an arsenal of patents that would be of some use to Apple or Microsoft or Google or Samsung or even HTC as part of some larger legal strategy. But you’re really talking about liquidating the company at that point, not a strategic partnership of any kind.

The one scenario I can imagine if I squint at it right is that Microsoft might find some value in BlackBerry’s enterprise business relationships. Rumor is that Microsoft has looked at this and already decided to pass, but perhaps if the price is right.