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Report: BlackBerry met with Facebook to discuss potential bid

New BBM app crosses 20M downloads in 1 week
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BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) executives visited Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) last week to see if the social networking giant had any interest in a potential bid for the company, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said that it remains unclear whether Facebook is interested in a bid. The companies declined to comment, according to the Journal.

Facebook could attempt to build its own smartphone using BlackBerry's hardware assets and patents, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly dismissed rumors that Facebook would build its own phone, calling it the "wrong strategy." Facebook has largely focused its recent mobile efforts on Facebook Home, a software overlay on top of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, though Home has not proven that popular.

Speculation about a Facebook bid is the latest turn in BlackBerry's recent wild ride. Last week the Globe and Mail reported that former Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO John Sculley is exploring a bid for the company. Sculley declined to comment but told the paper: "I've been a longtime BlackBerry fan and user."

BlackBerry is currently working with a consortium led by its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, to take BlackBerry private in a $4.7 billion deal. But while the parties conduct due diligence on that potential bid, BlackBerry can look for other suitors until Nov. 4.

BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin also are considering a bid for BlackBerry, according to a regulatory filing made public earlier this month. Other parties, including Chinese PC and smartphone maker Lenovo, are reportedly eyeing BlackBerry as well.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry continues to tout the success of its cross-platform BlackBerry Messenger application. The company said that in the app's first week of availability, it has been downloaded more than 20 million times, giving the service more than 80 million active monthly users. "Clearly, the momentum of BBM for BlackBerry, Android and iPhone continues to grow and while we are excited by the download numbers we saw this week, downloads do not speak to the way people interact with each other using BBM and we will now focus on active use of BBM--the connections being made and the conversations in which our BBM community engages," Andrew Bocking, executive vice president of BBM at BlackBerry, wrote in a company blog post.

Despite the success of BBM, it is unlikely to revive BlackBerry hardware sales. Other similar programs for different smartphone platforms like WhatsApp and Viber have a big lead, and BlackBerry has already signaled its plans to shift its hardware business away from the consumer smartphone market to focus on the enterprise segment.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this BlackBerry post
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this separate WSJ article (sub. req.)

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