Could a Lenovo - Blackberry deal be a worry for Chinese rivals?
News that Lenovo, the world's largest PC maker, has signed a non-disclosure agreement to review Blackberry's books could spell trouble for its Chinese rivals as it would give Lenovo the much-coveted global market exposure that Chinese tech firms crave, analysts say.
In late September BlackBerry agreed in principal to be acquired by its largest shareholder, Canadian insurance company Fairfax Financial, entering a six-week shop period where it can solicit, receive and enter into negotiations with other interested parties. The firm has since been linked with a string of potential buyers including Cisco systems, Google, Germany's SAP AG, and now Lenovo.
Rumors of a deal have been circulating since January after Lenovo's chief financial officer first hinted that it might be interested in the troubled tech firm. Analysts have flagged that a deal could face regulatory hurdles from the onset, but if a deal did go ahead it could give Lenovo a further edge over its competitors.
(Read more: Lenovo flirts with snapping up BlackBerry: DJ)
"This deal could be a concern for Lenovo's Chinese rivals like ZTE and Huawei, who are all looking for more exposure in developed markets, where there are better margins and would provide much larger market," said Stephen Yang, a Hong Kong based analyst at Sun Hung Kai Financial Limited.
Lenovo's main business is in the declining industry of PCs, but its diversification into mobile devices last year has paid off for the firm. For the April to June period the firm reported its second-best quarterly earnings ever, with a net profit of $174 million, and is now the second largest smartphone provider in China, and the world's fourth largest smartphone maker with a 4.7 percent global market share, according to research firm IDC.
Lenovo has made a foray into other emerging economies, including Russia and Vietnam, but is yet to crack the Western markets. Yang said a deal with Blackberry would help Lenovo fast forward the challenging and time-consuming process of gaining brand presence in developed markets.
"They've talked about going to the U.S. and Europe. They could do this organically but it would take a lot of time and resources. Blackberry has about 550 carriers signed up globally, so a deal would help Lenovo leapfrog that process and give them instant access to developed markets," added Yang.
"Yes, a deal with Blackberry could give Lenovo some theoretical advantages over its local competitors, assuming that a deal really goes through," said Bryan Ma, associate vice president of IDC's Asia-Pacific client devices research group.
Ma said Blackberry would have more to offer Lenovo in terms of its enterprise business rather than the consumer side.
"It would give them an immediate jump start in terms of relationships with operators and business customers, even if BlackBerry is under pressure in those sectors too," he said.
"Blackberry has lost a lot of influence in the consumer market, and I'm not sure that a deal would help Lenovo 'crack' the mass smartphone market outside of China just yet," he added.
Alberto Moel, senior research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said he doubted the deal would go ahead and did not think it would be a good move for Lenovo.
(Read more: BlackBerry co-founder considers bid for company)
"Lenovo may be desperate to get into the developed markets but it's not stupid. Why would you want to buy a company in decline, where its own customers are running away from them?" said .
BlackBerry's fortunes have certainly deteriorated in recent times. Shares have declined around 90 percent from over $80 per share in mid-2009 to around $8.20 as of Thursday's close on the Nasdaq.
Yang was also unsure whether a deal between Lenovo and Blackberry would gain regulatory approval.
"Could it happen? I can't say no. But we've done some analysis and it could be a little bit difficult mainly on the regulatory side. Canada has shot down a number of deals on concerns over national security recently," he said.
— CNBC's Katie Holliday: Follow her on Twitter @hollidaykatie