Thursday, January 3, 2013

Microsoft, Nokia Considered RIM Takeover: Report

Microsoft and Nokia apparently toyed with partnering up for a Research In Motion takeover.

That bit of news comes from The Wall Street Journal, itself quoting the ever-popular "people familiar with the matter." Those sources described the status of the talks as "unclear."

Given its age and prominence in the mobile industry, RIM almost certainly has an immense library of patents, which could prove valuable to any Nokias and Microsofts in search of a little more intellectual-property protection in these litigious times. With RIM's stock performance of late, the Canadian mobile device maker is arguably even more of a bargain than it was six months or two years ago, when similar acquisition rumors also surfaced.

But Microsoft has scored a number of significant legal victories against Android of late, between its campaign of cornering Android manufacturers into licensing agreements, and its minor win against Motorola Mobility with the ITC this week.

Any RIM deal would have come with significant drawbacks for both Microsoft and Nokia. For starters, both the latter companies are firmly bonded to Windows Phone, and Microsoft is planning (along with its manufacturing partners) a series of tablets with the upcoming Windows 8. That sort of ecosystem doesn't exactly merge seamlessly with RIM's, which is in the middle of transitioning from BlackBerry 7 to QNX-based BlackBerry 10.

Nor could Microsoft and Nokia have made a play for RIM in order to secure the latter's hardware, considering a.) Microsoft and manufacturing partners, and Nokia, already have their own hardware portfolios and proprietary design language, thank you very much, and b.) the majority of RIM's portfolio is centered on devices with a physical QWERTY keyboard, which doesn't exactly fit with Windows Phone.

Would Microsoft and Nokia have bought RIM for its corporate business and cloud services? Again, Microsoft is already making its own great strides in the business cloud, and has a significant business audience.

At most, Microsoft and Nokia were just performing their due diligence by sniffing around a little. Buying RIM wouldn't be a good move.

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