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BlackBerry: The End Game

Meanwhile, many companies are looking for any remaining empty chair around the table to beef up their positions in this very big game. In my opinion, the five most likely acquirers for BlackBerry are these:

1. Microsoft

With a similar incremental market share to BlackBerry, this is "last call" for Microsoft, too. By consolidating the #3 and #4 player, Microsoft might have a shot at reaching 10% of the market, making long-term survival at least plausible. Microsoft would have a particular interest in the server software, operating system, and the QNX automobile business.

2. Nokia

Nokia might perhaps not be able to acquire RIM alone. Perhaps it would have to split the purchase with Microsoft. Nokia takes the handset business and Microsoft takes the server and automobile business. If Microsoft could lend Dell (DELL) $2 billion to go private, surely it could contribute a decimal point to secure itself the #3 spot in mobile computing.

3. HP

I don't see how you can stay in the consumer and enterprise PC business without also being in the handset business. It's one infinite shade of gray worth of a computing continuum. HP could "build its own" based on Android and Windows. However, if it wants to chart its own course, the only operating system that it could reasonably buy, that has market share, is BlackBerry. It also does not preclude HP from also doing Android and Windows -- and Chrome OS -- side by side with BlackBerry.

4. Samsung

Today dependent mostly on Android, it is planning to diversify into Tizen. However, this diversification may fail, and it's even more likely to fail in the U.S. than in emerging markets. Acquiring BlackBerry would bring Samsung one step closer to reducing its dependence on Android.

5. Amazon

Somewhat like Samsung, Amazon is dependent on Android. For a simple book reader, this may not matter as much, but once this device is meant to compete as a handheld computer, forking Android becomes a huge challenge. It would be natural for Amazon to have an interest in BlackBerry's market position and technology.

Who will NOT acquire BlackBerry? I see only two: Apple and Google. They simply wouldn't get away with it for anti-trust reasons. Both of these companies have to tread lightly, and BlackBerry isn't worth it for them given their size and resources.

In the end, BlackBerry is simply too attractive to be left alone. One of these five players is likely to acquire it, in my opinion.

At the time of publication the author was long GOOG and AAPL and short MSFT.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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