The-Cat-In-The-Box

Schrödinger would be proud: BlackBerry’s potential sale to Microsoft appears to be both alive and dead following yesterday’s announcement that Microsoft intends to acquire Nokia’s handset business for $7.2 billion.

The New York Times wrote yesterday that Microsoft’s plan to acquire Nokia’s handset business “rules out any slim hope that Microsoft’s wealth and other resources might provide a solution to BlackBerry’s problems.” BlackBerry is unlikely to help Microsoft’s consumer smartphone business more than Nokia, and Microsoft hasn’t suddenly become the patron saint of wayward manufacturers.

Put another way: Microsoft already plans to acquire the single most important Windows Phone device manufacturer — why purchase another smartphone-maker struggling to adapt to a changed and changing market?

But then, just a few hours after the Times’ story was published, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft continues to “keep an eye” on BlackBerry. Why? Because Microsoft wants to appeal to enterprise customers.

“If anyone acquires BlackBerry, they will be acquiring it more for its network infrastructure and patent assets, as opposed to its handset business, so it will be a very differently driven deal,” Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell told Reuters.

Microsoft wants Windows Phone to represent 15 percent of the market by 2018. It currently represents just 3.7 percent, according to IDC. Acquiring BlackBerry and using its technologies — and perhaps its brand — to appeal to enterprise customers might help Microsoft clear the immense gap between its hopes and reality.

To bring it back to Schrödinger (a phrase I never expected to type): Microsoft is either planning to acquire BlackBerry or isn’t. Until the metaphorical box is lifted and one or both companies make it clear that such a deal is or isn’t happening, the possibility of a Microsoft-owned BlackBerry is alive, dead, and everything in between.

[Image via TShirtVortex]