How crazy would it be for Facebook to buy Blackberry?

Facebook wants to dominate mobile, but would buying BlackBerry help?
Facebook wants to dominate mobile, but would buying BlackBerry help?
Image: Reuters/Dado Ruvic
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Apparently BlackBerry has been hawking its wares to cash-heavy Facebook.

The WSJ reports (paywall) that BlackBerry executives flew out to California last week to meet with the top brass at Menlo Park. The timing of the meeting falls squarely within BlackBerry’s courting period. And there are reasons why the duo might make sense—for instance, that Facebook could be looking for know-how to launch a long-rumored Facebook phone.

But there are more reasons to be skeptical. First, bids in the auction for the fallen smartphone maker are due by Monday. If you’re trying to sell a business, now is the time to make it look like competition is heating up, even if it isn’t.

There has been a healthy amount of interest in BlackBerry, or at least parts of it. Chinese computer maker Lenovo, as well as the likes of Google, SAP and Cisco have all reportedly been sniffing around.  Private equity firm, Cerberus Capital, is also counted on that list. And BlackBerry has already agreed to be bought by its biggest shareholder, Fairfax Financial, for $9 a share, or $4.9 billion. But investors aren’t convinced that this is a serious, fully financed offer. Shares are still trading 7% below Fairfax’s bid price.

Still, Facebook’s potential interest seems particularly far-fetched. Mark Zuckerberg has previously said that a Facebook phone “just doesn’t make sense.” He has also been reported as saying that he wants Facebook to be the homepage for every Android phone.  But already, HTC’s launch of what many called the first Facebook phone earlier this year (it was pre-installed with Facebook Home software) is proving to be a flop.

What’s more, the customer base for Facebook and BlackBerry are misaligned. BlackBerry deals mainly in the government and large enterprise sectors, which hardly overlaps with the social media company’s target demographic. That said, stranger pair ups have happened. Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola’s phone business, which, more than two years later, is still bleeding cash.