BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) has come a long way since CEO John Chen took over in late 2013. And for that reason, the company’s long-term survival now seems much more assured.
That said, BlackBerry still has plenty of challenges ahead. Its brand does not have a good image, which seems to be holding back sales. Reports have surfaced that its software offering isn’t catching on. And the company remains well behind in the app war. Personally, I expect sales to disappoint for a while.
In the long term, there’s a lot of value in BlackBerry: it has a leadership position in security; its QNX operating system is very strong; and it’s well positioned in the growing Internet of Things marketplace. Its war chest of 44,000 patents is a key asset, and who can forget BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)?
Given BlackBerry’s weak brand, those assets would probably be more valuable in the hands of an acquirer. I’m not predicting a takeover any time soon, but if BlackBerry continues with its revenue struggles, then this may become more realistic. But who are the most likely suitors?
1. Samsung or Google
Back in January reports surfaced that Samsung made an offer to buy BlackBerry. Even though no acquisition ended up happening, it’s easy to see why Samsung would be interested.
For one, Samsung has struggled to gain a foothold in the enterprise market, mainly because it doesn’t have the same security capabilities as its competitors. A takeover of BlackBerry would certainly help with that problem.
Secondly, BlackBerry’s patent portfolio could be a key asset for Samsung as it battles Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in U.S. courts.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) could also make a push for BlackBerry, and its motivations would be similar to Samsung’s. The Android operating system is making little headway in the enterprise market, and Google is also battling Apple in the courts.
BlackBerry shares spiked on Monday when rumours surfaced that Apple was considering a takeover bid. How likely is such a buyout?
On the surface a takeover seems possible. Apple has had its own security issues (the main one being a celebrity nude photo scandal last year) and could potentially use BlackBerry’s help in this area. Furthermore, BlackBerry’s patent portfolio could once again be a valuable asset.
Apple could also buy BlackBerry as a favour to the U.S. government, which does not want to see the BlackBerry brand die.
I still don’t see this happening. It would be very out of character for Apple, and I doubt the technology giant really needs BlackBerry anyways.
I’ve only included Lenovo on this list because it has pursued BlackBerry in the past.
That being the case, this merger looks extremely unlikely. Lenovo is a Chinese company, so any takeover would surely be rejected by the Canadian government. It would also upset the U.S. government—BlackBerry’s biggest customer.
Remember, these are only three of the many potential suitors, and more could emerge down the road. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
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Fool contributor Benjamin Sinclair has no position in any stocks mentioned. David Gardner owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). Tom Gardner owns shares of Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares).