Reports that Samsung Electronics has approached BlackBerry briefly sent the battered smartphone maker's stock soaring. Any deal is far from done and BlackBerry denied it, but the possibility does raise the question: Why would Samsung want to acquire BlackBerry? Yes, the Korean conglomerate would get a robust suite of patents, BlackBerry's powerful (though unloved) new mobile platform, and a history of highly lauded hardware design. Still, there is really only one reason the Canadian phonemaker is attractive to Samsung right now: security. And security is the gateway to the highly valuable enterprise market.
Samsung has already declared its long-term intentions to enter—and win—the business market for mobile tech. The company has been aggressively advertising (and pushing) its mobile security platform, called KNOX. The only problem is that Samsung devices run on Google's Android operating system, which has a storied and rather dark history when it comes to security. So no matter how hard the company may push its security message, it could be unable to sneak out of Google's long shadow.
Buying BlackBerry, along with its portfolio of patents and soft-touch leatheresque phone backs, however, changes the equation. If there is one area where the BlackBerry has been relatively unassailable, it is the security of its devices. Hey, even Obama uses a BlackBerry.
While Apple has made significant inroads in the enterprise market with the iPhone and iPad, Android devices have been a relative laggard. And even Apple hasn't escaped the occasional security scandal (see the 2014 celebrity iCloud photo debacle or BuzzFeed tech editor Mat Honan's terrible experience at the hands of hackers). Bringing BlackBerry into the Samsung family would confer an undeniable aura of security on the company's devices. Even Apple can't claim that at the moment.
The real losers here might actually be Google and Microsoft. The more standalone software components Samsung acquires—that are not core pieces of the Android platform—the further Google gets from its biggest market partner (see Samsung's recent moves to introduce its own Tizen mobile OS). And Microsoft, once dominant in the business market, is being beaten at its own game by Google's suite of low-cost Web apps and completely unable to find a foothold in the world of mobile at all.