Why would Samsung want to buy Blackberry for $7.5bn?

Android, Mobile phones

There’s a rumour doing the rounds today about how Samsung has apparently approached Blackberry about buying the firm for around $7.5bn. Since the rumour emerged, and the Blackberry stock price shot up, Blackberry has since denied that talks have taken place. Though that said – it does raise what would certainly be an interesting development for the tech industry. So why would Samsung want to spend big on Blackberry?


1) Patents

The most widely reported reason for the purchase isn’t that Samsung thinks that the Blackberry Classic is amazing, or because it is selling big (it isn’t), but is to gain access to Blackberry’s patent portfolio.

This could mean in the long run a saving for Samsung as it isn’t paying to license patents from Blackberry, which as one of the first smartphone manufacturers is sure to have a lot of patents on some fairly fundamental things.

2) Business Appeal

When you think of Blackberry, you probably think of boring business people in suits – and this is exactly the sort of market that Samsung would like to tap. For a few years now Samsung has had its own “Knox” product aimed at big corporations that are paranoid about data security – but brand-wise, Knox is nothing compared to Blackberry.

Whilst iPhone and Android dominate the consumer space, there are still a lot of business people who swear by Blackberry. Heck, Blackberrys are still widely used by governments too around the world – even President Obama has one, because he’s not allowed an iPhone.

Acquiring Blackberry would enable Samsung to launch a line of business-focused handsets under the Blackberry name – and business sales can be incredibly lucrative. Why worry about selling one phone at a time when you you can sell 10,000 phones in one go to a big corporation?

3) Knock out a competitor / grow market share

Currently, Samsung is the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, in terms of number of units shipped – and Blackberry is so small it is now lumped in with “others”.

As explained in this piece, compared to Apple and Google, Samsung’s place is relatively precarious as it doesn’t control its own major platform. This means its fortunes could change rapidly if HTC or Xiaomi (or whoever) make a more attractive phones.

So knocking out a competitor, however small – is surely to be a nice bonus. Blackberry is perhaps especially punching above its weight: thanks to its still strong brand whatever the company does – even if actually irrelevant – is sure to get more press coverage than a similarly small competitor.

4) BBM?

Finally, what about BBM? Whilst its star has perhaps been eclipsed a little by the likes of WhatsApp and iMessage, the messaging service is still used by about 85 million people – and no doubt Samsung baking it into all future Samsung phones would boost that number even further. Not only is it a solid messenger service, but it could give users a reason to want to buy a Samsung phone specifically – giving Samsung a platform that it controls at long last.

James O’Malley
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