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Could BlackBerry Ltd. Help Apple With Security?

BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) may have lost the smartphone war, but it still does one thing better than its competitors: security.

Ironically, security is an area where Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) still has a lot of work to do. After all, few can forget the celebrity nude photo scandal, which called Apple’s iCloud into question. So, that begs the question: Could BlackBerry help Apple with security?

Well, early last week, CNNMoney’s Cristina Alesci asked this very question to BlackBerry CEO John Chen. His response was quite straightforward: “Yes, if Apple would ever come to us and would love to have our security, we could talk.”

If BlackBerry and Apple were able to work something out it would be very ironic, since Apple crushed BlackBerry so badly in the smartphone market. But would such a partnership work? And what would it mean for the two companies? Most importantly, how should shareholders read into this?

A match made in heaven?

Last November BlackBerry and rival Samsung announced a strategic partnership, one that would pair BlackBerry’s BES12 with Samsung products embedded with KNOX. The move significantly bolstered Samsung’s security capabilities, and ideally will help the company gain traction in the enterprise market (something that, until then, hadn’t happened). The move also reinforces BlackBerry’s leadership in security.

Theoretically, Apple could do something very similar. It has already partnered with IBM to build business-friendly apps for the iOS operating system. So, it seems to recognize the value in these kinds of partnerships, especially when going after large enterprise customers.

Interestingly, both sides are being very tight-lipped about such a possibility. When asked whether Apple had already approached BlackBerry, Mr. Chen replied “I don’t want to comment on that.” Likewise, Apple declined to comment when asked to weigh in.

Not so fast

Despite all the advantages, I don’t see this partnership happening any time soon for a couple of reasons.

First of all, a partnership with BlackBerry may not be good for the Apple brand; it could be seen as an admission that the company needs help, and that iCloud still comes with leaks. It’s one thing to partner with IBM, but BlackBerry is a shadow of its former self. Apple would be taking a risk going to that company for help.

Second, Apple is the world’s most profitable company. Just last quarter, it made a staggering US$18 billion in profit. So, the company has plenty of money to invest, and should be able to improve its security capabilities (even without BlackBerry).

How should shareholders react?

BlackBerry has a lot of struggles ahead of it, especially over the next year. But the company has some very valuable assets and capabilities. The CNNMoney interview offered yet another reminder of that.

So, if you’re willing to hold on for the long term, BlackBerry may deserve a place in your portfolio.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Benjamin Sinclair has no position in any stocks mentioned. David Gardner owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and International Business Machines.

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