Facebook to buy BlackBerry?

Facebook to buy BlackBerry?

In what would be an unlikely marriage, yesterday it was reported that Facebook might be interested in buying BlackBerry. The perils of BlackBerry have been well documented on this blog, but the highlights include a massive restructuring, failing products, and a 40% reduction in their workforce.

BlackBerry has a tentative deal with Fairfax Financial to sell the company for $9/share, but Fairfax is having trouble obtaining the funds for the transaction.

BlackBerry is not an example of where the whole is worth more than the sum of its parts. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The company as a whole has little value, but some of the parts have great value and are coveted by other companies. BlackBerry’s patents, and particularly their security network and smartphone component technologies, would be desirable to many companies.

This meeting with BlackBerry is feeding rumors that Facebook is going to develop a smartphone. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has denied that rumor, saying the development of a smartphone would be a dumb strategy. Looking at the company and its strengths, developing a smartphone would overextend Facebook by taking them out of the software market and make them compete with Apple and Samsung in the hardware market. It is not a natural transition for the world’s largest social network.

There may be other synergies though as BlackBerry finally released its BBM app for iPhone and Android last week to wild success including 20M downloads already. Facebook could certainly put use to BBM technology to improve its messaging platform with particular emphasis on mobile users, which is the company’s fastest growing population. Even so, the situation is still murky and it is doubtful Facebook would be interested in BlackBerry. The due diligence period for the BlackBerry and Fairfax deal ends next week, so it’s likely news of the company’s next move will be out soon. 

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