BlackBerry’s ‘strategic alternatives’ include possible sale of company … but who’s buying?

blackberryz10BlackBerry said this morning that a special committee of its board will “explore strategic alternatives,” and anyone who has heard that phrase before knows what’s on the table.

“These alternatives could include, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions,” the company says.

It’s another sign of BlackBerry’s struggles, the dominance of Android, and the strength of the iPhone in the smartphone market. It’s also more evidence that Microsoft’s Windows Phone will be the one playing the role of No. 3 behind the Google and Android platforms.

BGR points out that the company would have received initial sales figures from its new Q5 keyboard-based smartphone at the end of July. The site notes, “It is quite likely that these early Q5 figures were so scary they pushed BlackBerry into the radical decision of publicly announcing it may need a buyer.”

BlackBerry has been here before, hiring bankers last year to consider a possible sale.

One problem is that there isn’t a clear-cut buyer for the company, at least not in its current form. Larry Dignan writes on ZDNet this morning, “Some companies would want BlackBerry’s mobile device management and enterprise business—Samsung and Microsoft perhaps. Others would just want the intellectual property (Google, Microsoft, Apple). And a few like Lenovo may take bigger chunks of the company to make a North American play.”

The patent scenario could be an interesting one for Microsoft, whose mobile revenue has been boosted significantly by its patent licensing deals with Android device makers. But the lack of operating system compatibility with BlackBerry would make an outright acquisition by Microsoft a bit of a stretch.

Even with the move to explore strategic alternatives, BlackBerry makes it clear that it’s not preparing to sell the company off piecemeal, saying the purpose of the exercise is “to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment.”

  • Bill

    No one is buying. Three or four years ago Microsoft would have been the best buyer. Would have played to Microsoft’s and Blackberry’s strengths in the enterprise space, gotten Microsoft back in the game without years of developing Windows Phone, Microsoft could have bundled the service in with server products and moved BB off the dependance on BES fees and carrier fees that made BB substantially more expensive than other alternatives, etc. but today, nothing.
    Possible their IP portfolio is worth enough to have someone buy the company for that but I thought they had licensed their portfolio fairly substantially already.
    Seems like someone will basicaly be buying them for scrap.

  • Guest

    What not Bill said.

  • Guest

    I don’t work for Microsoft, but I think I’d like to see Microsoft buy BlackBerry.

    OK, it’s settled. Microsoft.

    • Bill

      Any semblance of a business justification?

      • Guest

        Yes.

  • Mike Christensen

    Jeff Bezos maybe?

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    There’s one other piece to this: security expertise and assets. One thing BlackBerry has that no other phone maker really has is experts/expertise and assets/infrastructure around security. Their messaging infrastructure in particular is a hugely valuable asset: it provides a level of security that no one else can offer (so much so that some countries ban it). And they have more security experts than anyone out there other than Microsoft.

    If you look in places like DC and other places where security is a high priority, you still find a heavy presence for BlackBerry.

    So I can see them being snapped up by someone who wants to position themselves as a provider of secure mobile services in some capacity.

    Full disclosure: the company I work for (Trend Micro) and BlackBerry do have a partnership and I have worked with and am friends with a number of people on their security team. But I would hold this opinion regardless of those things.