RIM 'considers' sale options: Should Apple buy BlackBerry?

RIM 'considers' sale options: Should Apple buy BlackBerry?

Summary: If Apple made a bid for Research in Motion, it could take a leaf out of Google's book by spinning out the business to avoid antitrust conflicts, and spark a real smartphone war.

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With poor sales and a desperate hedge on the next-generation QNX-based BlackBerry 10 devices, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion's is in utter turmoil. The company is struggling to stand up, let alone walk, and its shareholders are pleading for it to change the will.

In the first earnings call since the tag team of Balsillie and Lazaridis resigned as the company's bosses, chief executives Thorsten Heins hinted that the company he is trying to save could eventually be sold.

In the conference call, he said if "there was an element that we detected during the strategic review that would lead us into [the] direction" of a sales bid, "we would consider it."

In what it likes to call "matchmaking" as one of its favourite pastimes, the Wall Street Journal discusses which companies could make a serious bid for the BlackBerry maker.

While Microsoft and Nokia, two connected players in the smartphone world, had reportedly explored a possibility of a buy-out, only to be shot down by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, and e-reader and retail giant Amazon flirting with the possibility of buying the Canadian firm, there is one likely contender.

"Apple --- It has the cash, everyone knows that, but given how anti-trust regulators have been patrolling this year, it is unlikely this deal would go very far."

Apple could, despite its silence on the matter and a spokesperson's refusal to comment, buy Research in Motion.

ZDNet's Larry Dignan had two words for me when I suggested the idea: "Oh, God." But it's not completely outside the realms of possibility.

As Google and Microsoft continue their battle to reign as the supreme leader of the email space --- with Google focusing its efforts on consumer-focused Gmail and enterprise-ready Google Apps, and Microsoft pushing away from Exchange servers to cloud-based Office 365 --- there are few alternatives to turn to in the email convergence race.

And what a way for Apple to twist the knife if it were to bolster its position in the enterprise email market, considering already the grip the iPhone and iPad has on business productivity, if it could take on its arch rivals of Google and Microsoft?

Apple has something RIM had: enterprise customers. At least, kind of.

At the height of the BlackBerry revolution --- before the consumer soiree began --- almost every business man and woman working in government and the private sector had a BlackBerry smartphone hooked up to a secure email account. RIM still has the infrastructure, but its customers turned scrapped their BlackBerry's in favour of Apple's iPhone, or Google's Android. A BlackBerry on-premise or hosted server wasn't necessary, and the company lost crucial enterprise contracts.

iPhone and Android enterprise customers also still have their email infrastructure, and use their devices as a mere looking glass into their email accounts. This, equalled by consumers hooking up their BlackBerry's to Gmail, Hotmail and other free services, lost RIM its enterprise revenue.

If Apple took the RIM's enterprise server structure and embedded it as part of its own iMessage infrastructure --- and wangled its way past the antitrust regulators both sides of the Atlantic --- it could pander to the needs of the enterprise once again: secure, reliable email, while using the widely-accepted smartphone of choice.

Why would Apple need a "thermonuclear war" against Android if it had the competitive enterprise edge? Android would be stuck in the dark ages, while the Apple--RIM joint venture pushed ahead and once again offered a solution that would keep business consumers happy with the enterprise device of choice --- the iPhone --- while offering government-grade email security from RIM's acquired backend infrastructure.

Or, Apple could just buy it, and take a leaf out of the Google--Motorola Mobility strategy book, and keep it at a firm distance, while raking in its patents, and keep the company on its feet. Jobs would be saved, the company could stay afloat, and it could be spun into an entirely separate entity from Apple. It could even still ‘compete' with Apple, its then parent company.

Everybody wins, except Google. And that's exactly the position Apple wants to be in.

Image credit: Randy Stewart/Flickr.

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Topics: BlackBerry, Apple, Collaboration, Google, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Security

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45 comments
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  • Never

    It would never get approved, I don't see how.

    Out of the 3 i reckon the only company who would be allowed to buy it is MS, as Google already owns Motorola, and Apple is a mobile firm already.
    danjames2012
    • I would have to agree with you

      as the others are alreay owners of top selling hardware companies.
      Tim Cook
    • M$ should keep its dirty hands off RIM

      to avoid a community revolt.
      The Linux Geek
      • Figures

        The biased twit makes another useless comment.
        What do you care? RIM doesn't use Linux.
        Gisabun
  • what about Dell?

    a longshot, but Dell said they were dropping their line of smartphones. is that an indication ?
    hydromojo
  • Honestly, this idea has no merit at all

    "If Apple took the RIM???s enterprise server structure..."

    Most of these "Apple should buy whoever" articles are a joke. Impractical to say the least. Improbable to say the best.

    But this one doesn't even begin to make sense. Let's just ignore anti-trust and the costs involved and the difficulties of integrating two companies. What the heck would Apple get from such a purchase? Not the technology. Not the talent. Not the patents. Not the customers.

    I'm not even trying to be mean to RIM. Even if Apple could do this for free, I can't think of a single thing they would gain from such a merger.
    Falkirk
    • RIM patents.....For it's war chest. Arrrrggghh!

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
  • Different slant...

    Buy it, but then spin off the hardware and BB OS into a separate company. Take advantage of the patents and leverage BES for a true enterprise solution. Give the spun off company full, shared rights to BES and the NOCs, and let BES fork as both Apple and the new RIM see fit. In Apple's case, the NOC side of BES can become part of a corporate iCloud for mobile device management. I have to think that with the data centers Apple has, they could fork BES into a cloud based offering under a new name. For the other company, BES continues it's evolution on the Blackberry path.
    TroyMcClure
  • RIM Offers ABSOLITELY NOTHING to offer Apple!

    That is all... not going to argue such an ignorant premis.
    theFunkDoctorSpoc
    • Enterprise security...

      is an important piece RIM could offer Apple. All that's left for Apple to conquer is the enterprise, and this would certainly help.
      kstap
  • Bottomless pit

    Any management that buys RIM is setting themselves up for a shareholder lawsuit. RIM is what's called a "falling knife": it's declining in value by the minute, and everyone is scared of trying to catch it for fear of being cut. It's hard to imagine a sales price that RIM's current shareholders would agree to, that didn't expose the buyer to the risk of serious loss.

    Maybe, if the Blackberry 10 devices prove to be a hit, potential buyers might have some confidence that the worst had passed. But right now, no one knows where the bottom is. You could buy it today, and end up shutting it down -- a total loss -- in a year or two. The sky would turn black with lawyers if that happened.

    As for Microsoft buying it... No. Why trade a falling knife that's at arm's length in order to grab one with your hand?
    Robert Hahn
    • Falling Knife?

      How is RIM's current situation different from Apple in the mid-80's? No one believed Apple would survive at the time.
      esperc
      • I think you mean mid-90s

        And the differences are substantial, like 15 yrs. Apple, at least, had the fact that there was only one other viable PC operating system choice. You've got three choices all arguably better for mobile.

        There really isn't a single market that RIM does significantly better any the other choices. The CEO himself said as much.

        Also, Apple released no less than 3 category-redefining technologies in the last decade: iPod, iPad, iPhone. Apple can and did leverage that massive software chops, having had the PC to fall back on. What does RIM have? QNX? Yikes.

        The differences are numerous and substantial. RIM is in for some bad times.
        dhmccoy
      • And....

        And the Microsoft pulled Apple out of the gutter with a $125 million [I think] bailout.
        Gisabun
      • WTF?!?

        Please, research your memes before you comment.
        Apple was NEVER in any danger of going out of business. At the time of Jobs' return, Apple had over 2 BILLION dollars of liquid capital assets, and their projections, while flat, were NOT negative.
        And please don't bother to bring the paltry 150M from MS into this. That will just get you laughed at.
        .DeusExMachina.
      • Off your meds again

        deusexmachina?
        William Farrel
      • Do you have a substantive comment?

        @ William Ferrel
        .DeusExMachina.
    • Hmmm....

      I could see Microsoft purchasing RIM. They've always had a good relationship. Only hickup would be BB10 and Windows phone OS.
      Gisabun
  • Apple is not a monopoly yet

    It isn't even the smartphone leader in some markets. There is no reason it couldn't currently make mobile acquisitions.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
  • RIM 'considers' sale options: Should Apple buy BlackBerry?

    Apple would have no reason to waste their money on BlackBerry. They already have the iPhone and the iCloud. Your reasoning of them buying BB to get into the enterprise space would be a complete failure. Every time Apple has tried to get into the enterprise they have failed. BB is a sinking ship.
    Loverock Davidson-