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BlackBerry met with Facebook to discuss potential takeover: report

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

BlackBerry Ltd. has discussed the possibility of a sale to Facebook Inc., The Wall Street Journal reports today.

The report had few details, saying only that executives of the embattled smartphone maker flew to California last week to meet with Facebook and suss out whether the social network might be interested in a bid.

It was not clear whether Facebook is indeed interested, the Journal said, citing sources.

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There's certainly a lot of interest in BlackBerry, but, at this point, little in the way of firm action other than the tentative bid struck earlier with Canada's Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.

Fairfax proposes to lead a consortium that would buy BlackBerry for $4.7-billion (U.S.) or $9 a share.

BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin have also expressed interest in a takeover, and former Apple Inc. chief John Scully is also considering BlackBerry, which is in the midst of an auction for all or part of the company.

The Journal said neither BlackBerry nor Facebook would comment but, given the report, the latter is likely to be asked by analysts tomorrow after it reports quarterly results.

The Journal story came as BlackBerry reported that the launch of its free BBM app for iPhones and Android devices has brought in 20 million new active users of the popular chat service.

It was just a week ago that the company resumed the rollout of the app, having hit a snag earlier. In the first 24 hours alone, it boasted 10 million downloads.

"BBM has now ended its first week with more than 80 million monthly active users, including over 20 million new users on Android and iPhone devices," the Canadian company said in a statement.

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"During its first week, BBM was the top free overall app in 35 countries in Google Play and in 107 countries in the App Store, and continues to maintain a strong position in key markets such as Canada, the U.S. the U.K., Indonesia and much of the Middle East, to name a few."

Some BBM hopefuls had waited hours to get the service in a "virtual line-up" that backed up for the equivalent of miles, but BlackBerry said today that line-up is over, The Globe and Mail's Sean Silcoff reports.

That the BBM message service is a hit is clear. Not clear to some observers, however, is the money it will bring to BlackBerry.

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