BlackBerry's board of directors rejected Apple, Microsoft, Lenovo, and other tech players' expressed interest in acquiring parts of the struggling Canadian phone maker's operations, according to a new report from Reuters. The news comes days after BlackBerry abandoned its plans to put itself up for sale and dismissed Thorsten Heins from his role as chief executive. The report is the first indicating that Apple was interested in securing portions of BlackBerry, as the iPhone maker was not regularly mentioned among potential suitors for the company.
Citing sources familiar with the discussions, Reuters claims that both Apple and Microsoft had expressed interest in BlackBerry's intellectual property and patents. The companies might have been interested in securing BlackBerry's portion of patents bought from Nortel in 2011. They may have also been interested in snatching up portions of patents BlackBerry has developed on its own. Previous appraisals have pegged the value of the struggling smartphone maker's patent portfolio in the billions of dollars, potentially worth more than the company's actual operations.
BlackBerry's board, though, appears to have found offers from the two tech giants unappealing, though specific details on the discussions have yet to emerge.
Apple previously hosted a recruitment event aimed at attracting BlackBerry workers. As BlackBerry has rapidly shed personnel, Apple and other tech players have been eager to snap them up.
BlackBerry is also said to have had discussions with Cisco Systems, Google, and Lenovo. Lenovo's interest was already known, as the Chinese computing giant had earlier revealed that it was taking a look at BlackBerry's finances. Also rumored to have an interest were Qualcomm and Cerberus, former Apple CEO John Sculley, and German software group SAP. The latter, though, outright denied any interest, saying that BlackBerry was not an acquisition that would fit into its strategic interests.
Having apparently rejected all comers, BlackBerry will now attempt to retool and slim down operations in order to achieve a sustainable business model. Its BlackBerry OS 10-powered devices have so far failed to attract much consumer interest, but BlackBerry still has roughly 70 million subscribers worldwide. Executives have previously expressed confidence that the company can survive as a niche smartphone provider, likely focused on enterprise-oriented hardware and services for its remaining subscribers. To that end, BlackBerry this week secured $1 billion in funding from investors and installed John S. Chen – who has previously helped to turn around struggling companies – as its new CEO.