Disclaimer: I do currently work for MobileIron. This note, just like any other here, is by no means a view of my employer and is only my personal opinion.
I want to make my case for this: Microsoft acquires BlackBerry next. And also explain why it won’t happen, in my opinion.
- Double the Microsoft mobile phone market share overnight
Depends on how you count and who counts. And also where. If you count current shipments worldwide – Windows Phone ships more than Blackberry (IDC, August 2013). But if you count current U.S users – looks like BlackBerry still tops Windows Phone there (comScore, June 2013). Either way the differences are small, and typically within 1%-2% worldwide.
Even with current Windows Phone growth – the changes may seem significant, like 100% year over year. But growing from 1,4% to 3,7% is easier than growing from 3,7% to 10% IDC predicts for Windows Phone in 2017. BlackBerry acquisition may drastically accelerate this growth.
- Deliver the Windows phone Enterprise needs
Regardless of what Microsoft people say – Windows Phone is not a phone for Enterprise. No VPN? Flimsy certificate support? Having a strong, Enterprise-oriented team could help add the missing features to Windows phones. Microsoft surely knows that large organizations need much more than just ActiveSync and BlackBerry/RIM has more than enough experience there.
Also look at what Apple is delivering with iOS7. Apple will add a number of Enterprise-friendly features to their MDM protocol, which are lightyears ahead of what Microsoft MDM can currently do. Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do – BlackBerry acquisition would bring the necessary knowhow.
- Support BlackBerry future to regain some of the market
There are still a lot of corporate BB fans out there. But are they all jumping in joy and buying the next 10.000 BlackBerry 10 devices for their organization? They are not. They are waiting for what will happen to BlackBerry next. Some of them ran out of time and had to make the switch, just that they are not stuck with a dying platform. Some of them can still wait. And Microsoft acquisition could promise the stability they are waiting for. And secure their investments. Even if Microsoft’s decision is to phase out the products – at least that would be a planned operation.
- Make an awesome device
Windows Phone UI is loved by many. Combine that with Nokia hardware. Sprinkle with Enterprise features from BlackBerry. Just think about it.
- Do it all cheap
Current BlackBerry’s market capitalization is around $6B. Sure, it was 40% less same time last year. So Microsoft could do it now, or just wait a little more for the value to go down again. Looks to me BlackBerry’s stock price, just like Nokia for the last year, is partially sustained by rumors of acquisition. Maybe just wait for things to calm down after Nokia deal was announced and make a move later.
- Who is even left at BlackBerry
If Microsoft were to buy BlackBerry for the talent – not sure how many people are left and whether it would still be worth it. Search the Huffington post, for example, for the lengthy list of layoffs at RIM/BlackBerry.
- Microsoft does not want Enterprise
Seems like the powers at Microsoft treat Windows Phone as primarily a consumer device. Maybe a BYOD. But never a device with Enterprise features first. And seeing what the WP8 updates are adding to the phone (still no VPN etc.) does not seem the consumer-first strategy is changing, and there is no place for BlackBerry in it.
- Merging the platforms would be a pain
How would you even do it? Run some kludgy virtualization of BlackBerry on Windows Phone? Probably not. Maybe let Windows Phones be managed through BES, and slowly phase out BB phones, as more apps become available for the surviving platform?
- Why bother with hardware part of BlackBerry
Microsoft already got itself the mobile phone manufacturer: Nokia. So why bother with the second one? You could maybe sell the hardware part of BB away, but who would buy it?
- And, lastly, who would drive it from Microsoft side
With Steven Ballmer announcing his leave, and Nokia acquisition, looks like there is more than plenty for Microsoft folks to worry about for the next 12 months. Who would bother with something like BlackBerry acquisition right now.