Should Facebook Buy BlackBerry and Build Its Own Phone?

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2013-11-03 Print this article Print

Those have to be interesting numbers to Zuckerberg & Co. Facebook's on-board messaging isn't easy to use on a phone and has needed an upgrade for a long while.

BlackBerry doesn't have all that many options, but does this make sense for a company such as Facebook? Buying BlackBerry would enable Facebook to cut out phone-making partners and control both the hardware and software of its own phones, which is part of what makes Apple so successful. However, Facebook would also have the additional disadvantage of having to play from behind in reviving a tarnished brand--even though BlackBerry still has millions of loyal users.

BBM Would Bring Millions of New Users

"We think Facebook is most interested in the BBM messaging service or Blackberry's intellectual property portfolio," Neil Mawston of UK-based Strategy Analytics told eWEEK.

"BBM would give Facebook access to tens of millions of younger mobile users and a sticky, real-time messaging service. Every firm is interested in IPR (intellectual property rights) nowadays, because it can give a competitive edge in a crowded mobile market, and Blackberry's intellectual property is of a reasonable quality to make a purchase worthwhile."

This is interesting, because Facebook CFO David Ebersman said on the Oct. 30 earnings call that the network is seeing a dropoff in the number of younger users. Would an improved free messaging app help Facebook? Possibly.

If Facebook could find enough value-adds to put into its own phone alongside the messaging, then perhaps it could compete successfully with the big boys.

On the other hand, the "window of recovery for BlackBerry is closing fast and it needs to find a white knight savior" sooner rather than later, Mawston said.

BlackBerry Needs a Mentor

"BlackBerry would be best served, in our view, by sitting under the protective wing of a global software or services giant with deep pockets, such as Microsoft or even Amazon," Mawston said. "A company like Microsoft could fund BlackBerry's losses and fund investment in new services or hardware, such as enterprise social networking or tablets."

BlackBerry has said it hopes to have a buyer by this month. Other rumored corporate suitors include Samsung, Google, Microsoft and others. BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis and former Apple CEO John Sculley are also reported to be considering bids for the company.

This should all play out before the holidays. We'll see then if Facebook opens a package and finds a Canadian company for Christmas.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz


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