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Facebook & Blackberry: Soulmates?



Facebook could be the best thing to ever happen to BlackBerry. BlackBerry could be the best thing to ever happen to Facebook. And while it might seem repugnant to gadgeteers like me, their unholy union could actually be great for a lot of customers out there too.

Android has “seized” a large portion of the smartphone market over the past few years-seized is in quotes because the majority of Android users aren’t smartphone users, they’re feature phone users who own a smartphone. Instead of buying apps and consuming content, they’re texting and calling. The one standout feature that many Android-cum-feature phone users enjoy is an app that comes pre-installed on many phones: Facebook.

Facebook has tried to break into the Android market with Facebook Home, a custom launcher built into HTC devices that gives users a Facebook-like experience right on the home-screen of their phone. The phone itself hasn’t been terribly popular, being discontinued almost as soon as it launched. Other attempts to redirect Google’s lucrative search and account traffic back to Facebook from within Android have failed or been rebuffed. If Mark Zuckerberg’s social giant is going to take on Google in the mobile space, it won’t be able to do it on Google’s turf. Facebook is going to need a platform to call its own.

Enter the wounded warrior from Waterloo, looking for a port in a multi-year storm. BlackBerry’s mistakes have been many; not taking Apple seriously back in 2007 is the most obvious, but the slow, plodding nature of their hardware, software, and update process can’t be excused either. Just when the company seemed to finally have their stuff together (with the launch of the gorgeous and full-featured BlackBerry Z10) they threw in the towel, courtesy of a near-billion-dollar markdown on unsold inventory. It was like watching a man drop yards away from the finish line of a marathon, and then decide to just lie there instead of getting up and crawling over the finish line.

Facebook could be the trainer on the sidelines, ready to pick up the beleaguered phone maker, and it could be a relationship that’s beneficial to both. When BlackBerry officials flew to meet Facebook’s leadership team in California last week, it may have been to discuss what BlackBerry could bring to the table: the hardware and the software that could carry Facebook into more pockets out there… without having to deal with Google’s increasingly closed mobile platform.

it’s not the only future for BlackBerry-Fairfax’s offer is still on the table and others like Lenovo are notably interested-it certainly would make the handset market quite a bit more interesting.

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