Why should Microsoft acquire BlackBerry next and also why they won’t do it

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.

Why yes:

  • 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.

Why not:

  • 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.

Oh better Android e-mail client, where art thou? And this is where WP8 rocks.

One thing that I seriously miss after switching back to Android from Windows Phone 8 is a better email client. Don’t get me wrong – native email client is good, works fast, supports pretty much everything I need. But still it does not even come close to the speed and usability of the email client built into Windows phones.

If I were to name one feature missing in the native client that would be threaded view. Why Gmail client can get it, but not the native one? And I have tried things like k9mail – it is good. But it’s not as fast as the native one, and not even close to how fast and snappy Windows Phone 8 email was.

I am still glad that we have a bunch of decent alternatives on Android. Including stuff that my own MobileIron mentions:

  • MobileIron Android Email+
  • NitroDesk TouchDown
  • Email Apps on Samsung, HTC, and Motorola Devices

But maybe drop some of those 1000s of options (and I am looking at you k9mail) and focus on user experience instead?