There’s been no word yet on the identity of any of the likely bidders that BlackBerry sounded so confident about just a week ago, but one thing seems clear – whatever does happen, BlackBerry will no longer be the same.
According to the latest report from Reuters, a few potential interested parties are looking at splitting the Canadian smartphone maker’s empire into pieces, with its most highly prized assets thought to be its operating system and its keyboard-related patents.
If anything, the report is just the latest indication that no one thinks BlackBerry’s mobile business can save itself, especially seeing as how Microsoft has just snapped up Nokia for $7.2 billion as it bids to turn Windows Phone into a genuine rival to iOS and Android. Simply put, BlackBerry now trails some distance behind 3rd place even, and no one believes it has what it takes to catch up.
BlackBerry Mobile can’t save itself
BlackBerry seems to know this. The company announced back in August that it was considering whether or not sell itself, and/or other “strategic alternatives,” that could help to guarantee it has some sort of future at least. At first, it was hoped that Microsoft might be interested in buying up its phones, but with Nokia now onboard the Redmond giant almost certainly doesn’t have a need for it. Chinese PC maker Lenovo has also been put forward as a candidate, but to date it hasn’t confirmed its interest. Meanwhile, BlackBerry’s largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, has separately sounded out interest among investment funds to try and take the company private in a similar move to what Dell has done, but the possibility of that actually happening would seem to be remote.
According to Reuters, the firm is valued slightly north of $5 billion, but it’s unlikely anyone will want to stump up that amount. Instead, what we’ll likely see is BlackBerry seized upon by vultures looking to take possession of its most valuable assets. The most sought after of these is said to be the patents around its keyboards, which are thought to interest at least one unnamed private equity firm. The BlackBerry keyboard experience on smartphones is one of its few remaining selling points, and though rivals have attempted to emulate this, few have come up with the same kind of typing pleasure that BlackBerry phones provide.
As for its other assets, Reuters somewhat surprisingly offers up its QNX operating system, which has been used in a number of industrial applications.
“According to analysts, BlackBerry’s assets include a shrinking, yet well-regarded services business that powers its security-focused messaging system, worth $3 billion to $4.5 billion; a collection of patents that could be worth $2 billion to $3 billion; and $3.1 billion in cash and investments.”
We should point out that all of this is still very much speculation as nothing has been confirmed by any company or interested party. BlackBerry could well find a buyer that wants to keep on plugging away with its phones, though this is looking more remote by the day. Logically, selling off its assets may well be the only way for it to survive, but if so that would almost certainly mean that the current generation of BlackBerry phones are the last we’ll ever see.