After the delay of Blackberry 10 devices and another quarterly earnings report that took the Waterloo-based company’s stock to a new low, rumors have began surfacing about Research In Motion’s next moves. According to Reuters’ three sources that were familiar with the matter, RIM has been under pressure from the company’s board to choose between two options:
- Sell its proprietary enterprise software, which would probably include Blackberry Enterprise Server, BBM and other related products to a private equity firm. Or,
- Get an influx of cash from Microsoft and switch to Windows 8.
Although Microsoft has a partnership with Nokia, a second deal is not out of the question. Reuters’ sources have also added that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has approached RIM in recent months about forming a similar alliance. We’ve heard about the rumor of a potential buyout in the past, but this one is a bit different.
RIM has always handled both the hardware and software side themselves in the same vain as Apple. Sources say that RIM’s board members are reportedly resistant to the joint venture since that would mark the end of the company’s independence. On the other side, Microsoft could tilt their hand and be interested in RIM’s wireless patents instead.
Then again, Microsoft is not strapped for cash. The software giant doesn’t appear to be hurting from recent acquisitions of Yammer (1.2 billion), Skype (8.5 billion) and the internal financing for Nokia. Putting some cash behind the marketing of a Windows Phone 8-powered BlackBerry could help RIM’s bottom line. More importantly, Windows Phone 8 will be ready to launch this fall; long before RIM’s BlackBerry 10 operating system sees the light of day.
That could get new BlackBerry smartphones a huge upgrade from BlackBerry 7 – all in time for the holiday season. The Blackberry and Windows Phone brand could also benefit from the alliance at a business standpoint and aligns with the CEO’s vision refocusing on its strengths in the enterprise market. The partnership could place Blackberry handsets with tighter integration with Yammer, Skype and XBox Live. Microsoft could make use of BES, BBM and RIM’s newly announced Mobile Fusion which extends BES to manage Android and iOS devices as well.
It could even mean that other smartphone makers could finally have access to the secure and proprietary BlackBerry Messenger, still one if the company’s big selling points. It could certainly be lucrative for RIM, but it could also sound the death knell for BlackBerry devices. Thoughts?