BlackBerry maker for sale? Why Microsoft shouldn’t buy

A report by Bloomberg News today is stirring new speculation about the future of Research in Motion, saying that the BlackBerry maker is preparing to bring in a financial adviser to help “weigh strategic options” for the company, which is Wall Street speak for considering a possible sale of the company. It’s not a surprise, given that RIM’s new CEO has essentially said all options are on the table.

The news comes less than a week after a report speculating that Microsoft might be interested in buying a stake, or more, of the company.

Don’t count on it. While RIM’s patent portfolio might be of interest to the company, the notion of Microsoft buying another mobile operating system vendor with a separate ecosystem of handsets is more than a little crazy.

Eric Savitz of Forbes did a good job of debunking the whole Microsoft-RIM thing last week.

If Microsoft does end up using acquisitions to boost its position in the mobile market, it would make a lot more sense for the company to buy up some major app makers, and make their apps exclusive or at least best-in-class on Windows Phone, as suggested recently by Big Oven’s Steve Murch.

The bigger question: If Microsoft wasn’t in the running for Instagram, why not?

  • Guest

    Balmer and Gates never liked buying Canadian companies. There have only been about a dozen Canadian acquisitions over the years. A minority stake in Corel in 2000 was the biggest and this was a bust deal when Corel was sold to Vector Capital for only  a buck a share.
    Don’t think Balmer has changed much on Canadian’s bringing value to Microsoft – RIM included.

    • Guest

      A dozen Canadian acquisitions over the years doesn’t suggest a bias against Canadian companies. It’s a much smaller market and there’s a lot less of them to chose from. As far as the high number of subsequent failures with those, that’s not inconsistent with MS’s acquisitions generally. As regards Canadian’s bringing value to MS, Waterloo is one of their top recruiting campuses. They’ve also had high profile hires from places like UBC. The head of Entertainment is a Canadian. The former head of Office was a Canadian. And they have a development center in Vancouver. Finally, it’s Ballmer, not Balmer.

  • Don Weidner

    Microsoft is so desperate to succeed in the mobile space, and can’t possibly do it by themselves.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they buy RIM.

  • Guest

    We would not recommend that Microsoft buy RIM. BlackBerry demand is far below previous levels.

    Microsoft should buy a company, in whole or in part, which represents a rising percentage of the smartphone market. Companies matching this criterion include HTC, Samsung, and Apple.

    • Guest

      Holly, who is “we”? This is getting weird now.

    • Factsmatter

      MS can’t afford to buy Apple. Period. Nor would they be allowed to, even if they could afford it. Samsung @ $170B would be an enormous stretch. Not to mention that most of their volume is Android-based and would likely dry up quickly is you tried to force feed WP instead.  And HTC isn’t growing share. They have been losing it and just announced a 70% drop in profitability.

      • Guest

        Microsoft couldn’t afford to buy Facebook either, but they did make more than $2.4 billion by buying a small stake. We would recommend that Microsoft use its cash reserves to purchase all or some of other successful mobile phone-related companies. These sorts of strategic moves can have long-term benefits. Without Facebook, for example, would anyone even know that Bing Maps exists?

  • Guest

    An outright aquisition is unlikely. But MS was one of RIM’s earliest supporters and the companies still have existing partnerships in a few areas. So I wouldn’t discount MS doing some sort of deal that would see cash going to help RIM out while providing MS with something they value. Also, Ballmer is pretty desperate to show progress in mobile, even if it’s of the questionable variety.

    Don’t know what you mean about MS and Instagram. The valuation was ridiculous and generally speaking MS isn’t known for making those types of acquisitions. Even FB probably only bought them as insurance against future disruption of their current business rather than an attempt to fuel a mobile entry. Also, if MS knew FB wanted them, it probably wouldn’t have helped the partnership there to bid against them. And it’s unclear how Instagram would have helped WP anyway. The product was already a hit on other platforms and there was a huge outcry from iPhone users who didn’t like the Android port. Imagine what they would have said to a MS buy and port to WP. Probably “bye”. A better question is why hasn’t MS been able to create any must have mobile apps that would generate a fraction of the same interest? Instagram is after all a fairly basic undertaking, at least from a technology perspective.

  • evelknievel

    Todd, did you read the Savitz article and really think it was pretty good? He’s a notorious RIM basher and completely ignores the fact that BB has strong support in enterprise accounts that would provide a platform for handset conversion and help reinforce Exchange Server lockin. 

  • dean

    I’ve thought that MS might have an interest in RIM so they could integrate the security from BlackBerries into Windows Phone. That along with good integration with desktop Windows could make Windows Phone the default business choice, like BlackBerries were a few years ago.

  • Guest

    If you blend together Nokia (and international sales), Microsoft Mobile (not too shabby) and the security + best mobile keyboard ever made…

    Maybe?

    It would be a pretty attractive package for pretty much every over the age of 35 or anyone who does heavy mobile typing as part of their work.

    • Guest

      Long shot, but maybe. Of course that leads to a larger issue, which is under MS’s current business model (OEM license sales) that really makes more sense for someone like Nokia to do, not MS. Of course, there’s a good argument that MS chosen business model is no longer viable given Android’s success. So maybe MS should consider a direct approach

  • Mike_Acker

    if the Emballmer gets into this he’ll want Windows8 running on the Blackberry. But then it won’t be a Blackberry anymore