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BlackBerry reportedly propositioned Facebook for a bid

The struggling smartphone company is said to have sat down with the social network last week.

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
2 min read
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins.
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Hein. Sarah Tew/CNET

BlackBerry is playing the field and courting all types of potential suitors before it sells itself to the most attractive bidder. The company is said to have even visited California last week to flirt with Facebook and solicit a buyout bid, the Wall Street Journal reported.

When reached for comment, Facebook declined to discuss the matter as the company does not comment on rumor or speculation.

After years in decline, BlackBerry officially put itself up for sale last month and forged a tentative arrangement with Fairfax Financial Holdings, which is considering taking the smartphone company private for $9 per share, or $4.7 billion. Other suitors such as Lenovo and former Apple CEO John Sculley have also given BlackBerry the once over. Even BlackBerry founder and former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis had been considering making a formal pass at his old sweetheart. Lazaridis and co-founder Douglas Fregin increased their combined stake in BlackBerry to 8 percent a few weeks ago.

If Facebook were to pursue a bid, its immediate interest would likely be in BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) as opposed to going into the phone-making business. The social network has all but abandoned a hardware approach in getting consumers to take note of Facebook Home, the software suite it released on Android earlier this year. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also said repeatedly that it wouldn't be prudent for Facebook to build phones that would only be used by a small subset of its 1.15 billion members.

Mobile messaging, however, is extremely important to Facebook as it attempts to compete with fresher upstarts like WhatsApp, which now has 300 million active users. Earlier Tuesday, Facebook upgraded its Messenger app to make it better suited for speedy smartphone convos with friends and address book contacts.

BlackBerry recently released a version of BBM for iOS and Android to give its over-the-top messaging app, once the gold standard in mobile messaging, more universal appeal. BBM was downloaded more than 10 million times in the first 24 hours after release, the company said.