Facebook has emerged as an unlikely suitor for beleaguered phone-maker BlackBerry, reviving long-forgotten talk of Facebook-branded smartphones.
According to “people familiar with the matter” (yep, them again) cited by the Wall Street Journal, BlackBerry reps have travelled to Facebook HQ in California to discuss the social media giant’s interest in a takeover.
The tentative, early-stage approach comes after BlackBerry, still reeling from posting a crippling $1 billion loss for the current quarter and cutting 4,500 job cuts, failed to agree terms with a consortium of buyers led by Fairfax Financial.
The putative move has naturally sparked speculation that Facebook could be preparing to try again with a Facebook-branded smartphone, after its previous efforts died an ignominious death.
But that this time around, if we can read anything into the hype, Facebook is looking to eliminate the need to work with a manufacturing partner by acquiring a phone-maker of its own.
While that’s possible, we’re not buying it. Not least because His Zuckness appeared to rule out this happening when he dubbed the company’s previous attempt to push a branded phone as “the wrong strategy”.
We think it’s far more likely that the company is sniffing around BBM. This could be easily integrated into its existing portfolio of services. And given that it’s racked up a whopping 20million downloads since dropping on Android and iOS, it clearly enjoys massive popular support.
Just as plausible is that BlackBerry’s peerless encryption systems are at the root of Facebook’s interest. With security still one of the key challenges facing social sites, it’s not hard to see why Zuck and his cohorts might be attracted to it.