BlackBerry could still be made into a software company

BlackBerry is scurrying to be acquired, but it is not clear that there are any interested buyers. Microsoft has taken a look and not bitten, and there are security concerns about the Canadian company being acquired by Chinese firms.

Jean-Louis Gassée, the former Apple marketer who once tried to turn Palm into a software firm, said, “Acquiring BlackBerry is necrophilia.”

The skinny is that the BlackBerry 10 phone was years too late, but that may not actually be the driver of BlackBerry’s fall. It should have turned the company into a service the week after the iPhone came out and even more obviously when Android started to take off.

Missing in the dead pool wagering going on is the project announced in May to roll out the BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) service on iOS and Android clients this summer (see “BlackBerry announces BBM for iOS and Android this summer“).

I learned from David Meyer (see “End of the road beckons for BlackBerry: company is looking for ‘possible transactions’”) that the investor Robin Chan laid out a plan called Project BBX to turn around Blackberry based on moving to an enterprise Android architecture. The project fizzled — couldn’t raise the capital to build out a new family of devices —  but I think the software half of it is still smart.

BlackBerry owns and maintains a network for its messaging platform, and it has clients under development — at least as of May — for iOS and Android. What it needs to jettison is creating handsets and work on transitioning those business people addicted to their Crackberries to BBM on iOS and Android. And there doesn’t seem to be an obvious No. 2 in the market for encrypted messaging, except Silent Circle founded by Phil Zimmerman, the author of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the most widely used encryption software for email in the world.

I am betting that anyone who decides to buy BlackBerry — or whatever management is still running the company if and when no white knight shows up — will do that.