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News  25, Jan 2013

Updated: Lenovo to consider acquiring or licensing BlackBerry from RIM

Lenovo to consider acquiring or licensing BlackBerry from RIMLenovo says it might consider licensing or acquiring BlackBerry from RIM, among other options for boosting its mobile business.

Updates: Lenovo has clarified that its CFO’s statements may have been taken out of context. The company says “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.” RIM has likewise clarified that at this point, the company is “focused on the delivery of BlackBerry 10.”

RIM’s launch of its upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform is just around the corner. But even as the new operating system is seen as a potential savior for the company’s declining BlackBerry platform, speculations are rife whether RIM will license its mobile platform to another company in order to remain relevant in the market.

Market figures are speaking volumes about the dominance of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems in the smartphone market. RIM currently holds a 4% share, and is quickly being overtaken even by newer entrants like Microsoft’s Windows Phone. And with RIM’s planned launch of BlackBerry 10, other major mobile brands are already considering partnerships or even an acquisition.

Bloomberg quotes Lenovo CFO Wong Wai Ming to say the Chinese company is considering this move. “We are looking at all opportunities — RIM and many others,” Wong said at an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We’ll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders.”

Wong said that Lenovo has discussed the possibility of strategic ventures with RIM and its bankers, although neither company would comment on the specifics at this time. The timing is just right, though, as the speculations have driven RIM’s stock price up 2.3%, and had actually tripled since 4th quarter of 2012, driven by optimism over the Canadian company’s upcoming BlackBerry 10 launch.

Standing issues at this point, though, would include whether Canadian authorities would be comfortable with selling off intellectual property to a foreign company, especially given recent security issues concerning China’s Huawei and ZTE, which were once accused of installing backdoors for accessing critical communications infrastructure.

On whether this would be a good move for either company, recall that Lenovo had recently split into two business groups, the Lenovo Business Group, which caters to the mainstream consumer market, and The Think Business Group which caters to enterprise. Given that RIM’s enterprise-services division is its most valuable asset to date, it might help give Lenovo’s Think brand a boost in its target corporate markets.

Lenovo actually has a strong presence in the smartphone market, at least in its Chinese homeland, where it has risen to second spot in sales. The company is seeking to make inroads into the western smartphone market, though, and has launched its flagship K900 Android smartphone to boost its presence in these markets.

Updates via The Next Web.

J. Angelo Racoma

J. Angelo Racoma

A technology and automotive journalist with an interest in emerging standards, J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo has been active in online media since the early blogging and social networking days, and is co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing platform for freelancers.

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