Apple Will Not Buy BlackBerry For BBM To Enhance iMessage

| About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)


My first BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) related article helped to clear the air of a mess of speculation that was debating each of the possible molecular movements the Company could make. The speculation rages on, although one thing remains clear to me - Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will not be the buyer of the Company, especially not to enhance iMessage (paragraph 12) through an acquisition of BlackBerry for their Messenger application. I say this with relative ease due to the fact that if Apple wanted to buy a fellow fruit, their bank account would be hard to match. The most obvious reason Apple would acquire BlackBerry is for their patents and technology, more specifically in relation to BlackBerry messenger, although this is not going to happen in my humble opinion.

Apple's proprietary iMessage application is portrayed to many users as a simple way to know which of your friends have parents who gave their child their phone upgrade to purchase a premium device. It can also be used to avoid regular SMS texting charges. BlackBerry Messenger, also known as BBM, is one of BlackBerry's main real estate in the tech world. Although Apple would not be willing to dish out billions of dollars for marginal application improvements or for security reasons.


BlackBerry messenger includes many features that Apple's iMessage does not necessarily sport, some include:

  1. Setting a profile image or avatar.
  2. BBM groups is more organized than iMessage, and you can share items such as important calendar dates.
  3. Screen share, even while video chatting
  4. Set colors to each contact
  5. BBID synchronization, to back up contacts automatically.
  6. BlackBerry's BBM contains a feature that will allow you to BBM a contact instead of texting them - to save money.

Apple: Simplicity

With regards to numbers one through four from above, Apple has a reason to not include some of the more customizable features to iMessage, that BBM has, that goes back to the original design of Apple's products in general - simplicity. Apple products are known for their ease of use, smooth flow and products that just work. Throwing in features that can clutter the interface of iMessage, such as having each contact having a different color or status updates next to each contact on your list, would diverge away from the modern and simplistic approach that Apple is universally known for.

With regard to number five, iCloud does back up your contacts and more. And lastly to number six from above, iMessage automatically iMessages a contact who has iMessage - just as a BlackBerry user BBM's a fellow BBM user. Moreover, an Apple user will see a contact in blue in the texting address field for iMessage users. Many of Apple's other applications cover features that BBM includes as well, such as how BBM offers voice calls and now FaceTime does as well.

Samsung: Messenger

Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) does not have a propriety messaging technology such as the former two, they may do well by leveraging BlackBerry's assets to create one of their own. Moreover, Samsung's more customizable user interface would have an easier adoption of a more feature rich messenger, such as BBM. Although, if Samsung had to buy BlackBerry in whole for billions of dollars just for use as a messaging building block, that is clearly out of the question. If BlackBerry was being sold off in parts and Samsung could get the BBM portion cheaper then that would be more logical, or if they could leverage the entire company in use to further their own technology in whole. Keep in mind Samsung could have cheaper ways to obtain or create a messenger service - although BBM offers a large user base, rich features and security.

Security: iMessage vs. BBM

  • iMessage uses secure end-to-end encryption that cannot be deciphered by Apple. Apple uses secure domain names (Apple IDs) to enable their secure domain servers to recognize each device's IP address via their Apple ID and enable secure-real time communications between the devices. Even the DEA cannot intercept iMessages.
  • BlackBerry explains BBM's security intelligently, "The PIN encryption key is a Triple DES 168-bit key that a BlackBerry® device uses to encrypt BlackBerry® Messenger messages that it sends to other devices and to authenticate and decrypt BlackBerry Messenger messages that it receives from other devices. If a BlackBerry device user knows the PIN of another device, the user can send a BlackBerry Messenger message to the device. Before a user can send a BlackBerry Messenger message, the user must invite the recipient to add the user to the recipient's contact list."

Even though Apple has their own secure messenger, there still are several caveats with Apple's secure messenger service that set the services apart:

  1. iMessages can be recovered after resetting your device or resetting your password - meaning the encryption key is not linked to the physical device and Apple may be able to decrypt them.
  2. The user has no way of knowing if Apple is encrypting iMessages with the precise public key so that in turn, only the receiver can decrypt the messages.
  3. Apple holds iMessage's metadata that can contain details such as who you talked to.

Counter Arguments

There is no doubt that the cleaner and easier to use iMessage is more popular - 2 billion iMessages were sent daily. Keep in mind that this statistic is almost a year old as well and iMessage use has undoubtedly grown in the past year.

Adding to the counter fight, iMessage is not a separate application - you do not have to text around asking for someone's PIN and iMessage automatically works with ease on all Apple devices. BlackBerry has been working relentlessly to perfect the BBM app for iPhone and Android - although with all honesty it seems unfounded to think that iMessage users are going to automatically go out of their way to download BBM when they already have iMessage.

I Am Not Against BlackBerry:

I am not against BlackBerry, I was right about the buyer but my original buy-out target was way above what was offered by FairFax Capital holdings (OTCPK:FRFHF), although I do not see Apple buying BlackBerry. BlackBerry has the only "Authority to Operate" ((NYSE:ATO)) on U.S. department of defense networks and a very popular user base for their BBM messenger that a buyer could use as a structural building block for their own messenger - such as Samsung.

Apple lovers will hold to the theory that their beloved fruit out-innovated BBM with iMessage and that Apple has no need for the service - reasoning that is not entirely unfounded. Although to throw BBM out the window just because Apple has a proprietary version is ill-advised as BlackBerry has an ATO, unique security, a large user base and many features that iMessage does not pack.

Keep in mind that Apple's services are linked to the government as well. Even though BlackBerry has an ATO, some of Apple's proprietary technology goes back to VirnetX's (NYSEMKT:VHC) engineer's inventions that date back to SAIC (SAI) - a defense contractor for the government. Specifying how Apple's iMessage and FaceTime utilize VirnetX's technology would go off track in relation to this article, although I have written about the company extensively and have a keen interest in the company.

Understanding which service is more secure is beyond the scope of my understanding, although the simple is obvious - Apple has been able to create their own secure messaging service and has no need for BBM, especially at a multi-billion dollar price tag.

Disclosure: I am long VHC. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: This article is informational, always do your own research and contact a financial professional before executing any trades.