Is Samsung Courting Blackberry? Possibility Still Exists Amidst Denials

by Jeff Wiener on January 21, 2015

Last week Reuters news agency broke the story that Samsung had offered to purchase struggling Canadian mobile firm Blackberry for $7.5 billion, a report that sent Blackberry’s shares temporarily skyrocketing and the mobile industry into a frenzy of speculation about what the future might look like with a Samsung-Blackberry merger. But the following days were filled with subsequent denials that saw the fervour of speculation diminish and Blackberry’s stock value deflate back to normal, leaving me to wonder that if amidst the denials of such a merger, whether there could actually be some thing of merit here.

Let me start by saying that both sides have denied this rumour vehemently, with Samsung going on record to say that it could “confirm media reports of the acquisition are groundless,” with Blackberry adding it had “not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase”. Further, Samsung has gone on record saying that while it would like to “enhance its partnership with BlackBerry… [It] has no intention of acquiring the Canadian handset maker.”

You’ll have to excuse me though if I’m not overly convinced by this torrent of denial, as this entire story is quickly shaping up to be another Microsoft-Nokia saga, you know, the kind that starts with a desired partnership and denials of acquisition, only to culminate later in the merger we all predicted to begin with. But that’s not what’s happening here, is it?

While Blackberry has denied any merger talks with Samsung, it seems the Waterloo company is once again a hot commodity among those interested in bolstering their mobile assets, as in a separate story last week Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail reported BlackBerry has already rebuffed a number of acquisition overtures in recent months, as the company’s board and largest investors think its restructuring plan will yield greater value than any current acquisition offers.

Now I’ll admit that I’m not much of a betting man, so in my mind if Blackberry has suitors lining up to acquire the company, the board would be wise to entertain at least the most compelling offers, as if there’s one thing I’ve always said it’s that whatever Blackberry is able to resurrect itself into, it will only be a mere shadow of its formal self, and likely continually struggle to hold its head above water. I’ve seen Blackberry’s restructuring plan in action, and if throwback retro phones, unique square mobile devices, and a focus on security and data management is the company’s new course, well it would be wise to take whatever Samsung is offering…and fast.

Truth be told the news that Samsung may be interested in acquiring Blackberry is really not surprising, as the Waterloo firm has one thing that Samsung desperately needs to remain relevant in the global mobile market: enterprise credibility. With Blackberry’s unique security and privacy tools, Samsung would instantly be the default choice among enterprise clients, marrying the power and popularity of its Galaxy franchise with the unrivalled enterprise security of Blackberry.

But again let me reiterate that both sides have firmly denied any rumours of mergers and acquisitions, firm denials that honestly mean little in the grand scheme of things. We’ve seen this exact story play out between Microsoft and Nokia, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we see if play out exactly the same way again with Samsung and Blackberry, as the deal makes sense for both sides and would create a mobile behemoth that would be difficult to contain.

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