Deadline to decide on Prem Watsa’s offer just a few days’ away
The takeover battle for troubled Canadian smartphone pioneer, BlackBerry, has taken yet another twist, with news that social networking site Facebook could now be in the bidding. There are just two working days to go before BlackBerry’s board is meant to decide on the original $4.7 billion offer from former director Prem Watsa, though he has yet to name who else is in his consortium. Other rumoured suitors include Samsung, Google and Chinese giant Lenovo. Co-founder Mike Lazaridis and even former Apple CEO John Sculley have been mentioned. But with next Monday’s deadline [4th November 2013] fast looming, and at which point the BlackBerry board will need to decide on if to take Watsa’s $9 a share offer, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting a possible last-minute bid by Facebook.
The networking site’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is already on record as saying he wants to get Facebook “on as many phones as possible”, but earlier this year suffered a major setback when the HTC First, meant to be a showcase for Facebook’s custom Android software, failed to prove a hit with consumers.
According to the Journal, meanwhile, BlackBerry executives flew to California last week to engage in secret talks with their Facebook counterparts.
The news has reignited speculation that Facebook wants to build its own smartphone and that, if it did so with BlackBerry technology, could immediately leap into the realms of leading smartphone players.
As the same time, it’s thought, Facebook could lessen its dependence on on hardware makers such as Apple and Samsung to distribute its software and collect user data.
Google alone is thought to pose a particular threat as it tries to woo its army of Android users away from Facebook and on to its own Google Plus networking site.
According to IDC, Android was installed on 74 per cent of smartphones shipped during Q2 2013, giving Google a massive launch pad for other services – including Facebook – that are distributed as part of the operating platform.
*Footnote: Google subsidiary, Motorola, has unveiled plans to develop a modular mobile phone that can be upgraded when a new component, such as battery, camera or processor, needs replacing. It has entered into a partnership with Phonebloks, an online community formed only last month and which aims to promote the concept of modular mobiles with the help of manufacturers. More details are expected in the coming months.