By
Tim Bichara

BlackBerry Microsoft Sale?

On August 12th BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion) announced that it was putting itself up for sale.

This wasn’t surprising news to anyone working in technology. We had seen BlackBerry’s market share slump to 3% from a whopping 50% peak in the early naughties. The management assured the markets that the new BB10 operating system would save the day, but in the end it was too little too late.

The blogosphere has been alive in recent weeks about BlackBerry’s next move. Is a BlackBerry sale on the cards or is a joint venture more likely? Will the company be stripped down for parts, or even taken into private ownership?

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Microsoft has been suggested as one of BlackBerry’s potential buyers. This BlackBerry Microsoft sale was a very interesting idea to us at Nimble – in some ways it makes perfect sense.

The PC giant has been struggling in recent years. Historically Microsoft has been brilliant at consolidating it’s market position and squeezing out pretenders, but make no mistake, it has never, ever been an innovative company. Throughout its history it has relied on copying ideas from smaller, more creative minnows or when that fails purchasing them outright.

But the last couple of years has seen Microsoft blindsided by a shift away from desktop computers and a move towards mobile devices and open source software. For years Microsoft relied on consumers familiarising themselves with their products at work, and then blindly installing them on their home PCs. But the game has fundamentally changed – at least with consumers.

These days the average user is just as likely to surf the next with their tablet, or smartphone, neither of which are likely to be running Microsoft software. Not only have these consumers been out of reach on their mobile devices, but the superior user experiences of the Android and iOS systems have shown them just how woefully inadequate the Windows platform has now become.

None of the has been helped by a lack of leadership at the top by Steve Ballmer. When he announced his resignation a few weeks ago Microsoft stock leapt by 10%.

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But why should a BlackBerry Microsoft sale be likely? Well, even though BlackBerry has lost 94% of its market share, it’s still the number one big enterprise mobile platform. This is largely due to the secure BlackBerry Enterprise Server which ensures email security over multiple devices. Another often overlooked reason is the price of the handsets. BlackBerry handsets are relatively cheap. Much cheaper than iPhones and cheaper than most of the high end Android devices.

At its base, Microsoft is an entreprise company. Not only is its servers division a solid, reliable cash cow, but it also rakes in huge profits from enterprise licences of its Office Suite.

Maybe, just maybe Microsoft will see an opportunity in BlackBerry to shore up it’s position as an enterprise software provider. BlackBerry for all it’s weakness is a trusted and already embedded brand. So maybe, just maybe a BlackBerry Microsoft sale may be on the cards…

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