Reuters is reporting that Google is one of the companies interested in buying Blackberry or at least some parts of it, among other companies like Cisco and SAP. This sounds like a good move for Google, depending on what exactly they’re interested in getting from Blackberry and how much they’re willing to spend for that.
For example, I’m not so sure buying the whole company outright, with all of its employees, would be worth it for Google. Paying another $5-$7 billion for a dying company, on top of the $12.5 billion they spent for Motorola (without seeing much gain out of it yet), doesn’t seem like a very smart decision.
Paying say $2 billion for all of Blackberry’s patents and also the BBM service and its userbase, seems like quite a good deal. Regarding patents, Blackberry has some of the best smartphone patents around, definitely better than Motorola, and probably even better than Nokia’s. They really were the creator of the modern-day pre-iPhone “smartphone”, and there’s still some life in those patents.
Another type of patents that Blackberry owns since they bought Certicom, are the elliptic curve cryptography patents. Even NSA had to license those patents, so they seem pretty important. Most of the cryptography community right now agrees that they need to switch to ECC, which is also what makes possible forward secrecy (encrypting every browser session with a different key, so even if someone gets the latest key, they can’t decrypt the old sessions) without much of a performance overhead.
These patents are very important for the future of the security on the web, and Google needs to be the good guy here, buy them, and then make them public domain, so the security of the whole web is not attacked later by some patent troll companies, if these patents fall into the wrong hands.
Lastly, while it’s not absolutely necessary for Google to get BBM, and its 80 million strong user base, I think it would be worth getting it. BBM is still one of the best such SMS alternative apps out there, and has some nice features, which could be well received if they got integrated into Hangouts. Plus, most of those 80 million users are in developing countries, which would help Google entrench Android even more there.
QNX is also a great piece of software, and one of the smoothest operating systems, with the most advanced multi-tasking system from all the “mobile” operating systems right now. I’m sure Google could take full advantage of some of that technology, too.
We can probably expect the deal to be closed in a month or two, unless Blackberry guys get too greedy (they shouldn’t, as they’re not in a great position right now).