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We're not buying BlackBerry (yet), says Lenovo

Lenovo and RIM have denied any formal discussion on a possible merger, acquisition or partnership, saying its CFO's statements may have been misquoted. But what's so interesting with a combined Lenovo and BlackBerry?
January 28, 2013
BlackBerry Logo with smartphone

Mergers and acquisitions are not exactly exciting news for smartphone and tablet fans. But when the potential implications are possibly game-changing, we cannot help but notice. Two technology companies that have made it into the news lately are Research-in-Motion (RIM) and Lenovo. We earlier reported that Lenovo is considering to acquire or license RIM’s mobile business or enterprise facilities, and there had been speculation that any such plans may be announced once RIM launches its latest BlackBerry 10 operating system.

Lenovo has recently denied these plans, though, saying its chief financial officer Wong Wai Ming may have been misquoted when the statements he made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland were taken out of context in the original Bloomberg interview. In his statement, Wong said that the Chinese device maker will consider these as opportunities that could benefit shareholders. “We are looking at all opportunities — RIM and many others.”

However, Lenovo issued a statement through Chinese media that sheds some clarity on the matter. “RIM was raised as a potential target by the journalist and Mr. Wong repeatedly answered in a manner consistent with all of our previous statements on M&A strategy: Lenovo is very focused on growing its business, both organically and through M&A.”

Meanwhile, RIM also made a statement, saying that the Canadian firm does not have anything to report in terms of any business dealings with Lenovo. “[W]e continue to examine all available options to ‘create new opportunities, focusing on areas where we will be more effective partnering rather than going it alone, and ultimately maximizing value for all stakeholders.'”

It’s clear at this point that both parties are denying any formal dealings or decision on the matter. However, Lenovo and RIM have had informal discussions on a possible acquisition or partnership. And even as we are more concerned with Android-related news, a potential Lenovo-BlackBerry acquisition will be a relevant possibility to watch. Here’s why:

  • For one, Lenovo manufactures Android smartphones, and the company is actually #2 in its Chinese home land. Lenovo has recently launched its flagship K900 phablet, which is differentiated from the rest of the phablet market by its Intel underpinnings.
  • RIM makes good hardware. The company undoubtedly had its advantage by controlling both BlackBerry software and hardware. However, Lenovo might benefit from RIM’s handset designs. Personally, I’ve used a Bold 9900 as my secondary phone for a few months and I can say it’s built like a tank.
  • Enterprise is a big market. Lenovo recently split its business into the Lenovo Business Group and Think Business Group, with the latter focusing on the company’s enterprise clients. While BlackBerry is on the decline in the workplace, the ThinkPad is still a strong brand in the enterprise setting. Lenovo might be able to revitalize the platform alongside its “Think” offerings.
  • Lenovo might want to pursue RIM’s enterprise infrastructure instead of its hardware business. BlackBerry Enterprise Server is still considered a secure enterprise option for communication and collaboration, after all.

Again, while the status quo is “denial” what might be interesting here is how Lenovo will integrate BlackBerry into its business if and when a partnership or acquisition is announced. If such a move were to be explored, one possibility might be the integration of BlackBerry services into Lenovo’s existing Android offerings. Why not?

Still, we can leave this to speculation until RIM actually gets on with its BB10 launch within the week. By then, it can explore all its options in the hope of revitalizing (or saving) the platform from falling into a downward spiral.