Yesterday we talked about potential buyers for Research In Motion. What was once the most profitable company in Canada keeps struggling as it faces competition from Apple, Google and its partners, most notably Samsung. Of all the companies we mentioned yesterday, we think Microsoft may be best suited to acquire the BlackBerry maker or make some other deal with them.
It’s not about technology
First of all, and as I said it before, RIM doesn’t have technology its competitors would want. Push-email was cool when BlackBerry was the only device that could handle it, but today any smartphone can do the trick. BlackBerry Enterprise Server along with other services isn’t something Microsoft is interested in as it already has its own technology (Exchange Server). So what could the Redmond giant get for its money?
It’s all about the users and expanding ecosystem
Microsoft doesn’t need RIM’s hardware business, it needs its user base. That said, perhaps they don’t need to buy the whole company, just to pay them enough money to switch to Windows Phone, like they did with Nokia. In fact, some reports suggested that Microsoft cashed out $1 billion to the Finish company to adopt the new platform. As far as I can tell, that would be a win-win scenario as far as RIM’s and Microsoft’s shareholders are concerned. BlackBerry user base is a different story – they would hate such a deal.
But it’s not that easy
You see, Nokia has a big patent portfolio, awesome supply chain and equally impressive distribution. RIM, on the other hand, doesn’t have any of that at least not on the level comparable to Nokia. So if Microsoft would pay the Canadian company some amount to adopt Windows Phone, I’m sure it would also ask for a share of the company. Now I don’t think Ballmer & Co. should get into day-to-day operations at RIM, but they should certainly need to have a say on the company’s strategy.
Finally, Microsoft should leave some space to RIM to develop its own software that would run on top of Windows Phone, again just like it did with Nokia. RIM should strive to keep the BlackBerry-like user experience, while benefiting from the growing user and developer base of Microsoft’s mobile platform…
To conclude – Microsoft could really make something out of a deal with RIM. It doesn’t necessarily need to acquire them, but to make some other arrangement that would push BlackBerry users to Windows Phone. That, of course, won’t be easy – but Microsoft is serious about mobile and it has enough money to handle the challenge.