What if Microsoft acquired RIM?

Posted on Apr 19 2012 - 3:20am by Paras Valecha

Research In Motion, the maker of BlackBerry devices, has been facing challenging times right now. Their profits, sales & market share has been dwindling freakishly & the war of ecosystems is getting tougher by the minute. Rumor has it that RIM is waiting to get acquired. I was wondering… what if Microsoft acquired RIM?

Let’s get back up a little bit. Just over a year ago, Nokia announced a strategic alliance with Microsoft. Nokia chose Windows Phone as it’s primary platform for it’s smart devices. Here we are after just a little more than a year.

Nokia has released 3 Windows Phone devices. The devices have received rave reviews, a very positive reaction from customers & overall, decent sales especially when compared to the declining sales of Nokia’s Symbian based devices. The reaction to the Lumia 800 & the Lumia 710 has been positive globally and the Lumia 900 with 4G LTE is doing incredibly well in the US. It’s the number one selling device on Amazon since two weeks. Quite impressive for a Nokia device running Microsoft’s software in the US.  The upcoming Lumia 610 with NFC is a budget phone that’s considerably cheaper than the Lumia 710. So, Nokia has got great devices running stellar software across a wide range of price points which are being made available in more and more countries as the day goes by. A chunk of marketing is being done by both Nokia and Microsoft all over the globe through various ad campaigns & organizing special events involving big celebs. So, Nokia’s still in it’s transition phase but the response has been overall positive & the future looks bright.

RIM has been facing dynamic times lately just like Nokia. While Nokia was still the number one mobile phone manufacturer globally, their US existence was kind of negligible. Whereas RIM has done pretty well in the US, their market share is on a constant fall. Their BlackBerry range of smartphones offer great services for corporate environments & their BBM socializing/messaging service is still the best in the market. It’s still one of the biggest reasons for some people to hold on to their BlackBerry devices. But Honestly, RIM knows that BlackBerry has been falling behind. It cannot compete with big names like iOS & Android in terms of features, app count & the potential but it’s also hampered by the rising curiosity about Windows Phone, especially after the Nokia partnership. I hope you’ve got an idea of the broader picture here. So, let’s dive on in to the possibilities of what could happen if Microsoft acquired RIM or if RIM adopted Windows Phone as it’s primary platform just like Nokia did.

It’s a fact that RIM makes great hardware. Their BlackBerry lineup of devices have always had great keyboards, screens etc & have pretty good at what they do (albeit pretty limited because of the OS limitations). BlackBerry is still considered as a cool brand in the mind of many youngsters (though that number has greatly reduced after the introduction of the iPhone). Still, there are a lot of BlackBerry fans out there. BlackBerry devices are very popular in corporate environments as well. BlackBerry services like BBM are hugely popular & perhaps one of the few reasons for consumer interest in BlackBerry devices. If RIM adopted Windows Phone as the primary platform for it’s BlackBerry devices, they’ll get stellar software. Windows Phone has a lot of consumer focused as well as enterprise driven features baked into the OS. Xbox LIVE, Microsoft Office, Outlook, Office 365, SharePoint, SkyDrive are a part of a bigger ecosystem that works well for consumers as well as for business. They’ll have access to a strong marketplace which is accelerating at a pretty rapid pace & they’ll have the backing of Microsoft which is investing lot of resources into this next gen mobile OS. BlackBerry could offer services like BBM on BlackBerry Windows Phones just like Nokia has it’s location based assets in it’s Windows Phones. This will be good for RIM as well as for Microsoft. RIM will get a software platform that’s reliable, powerful & very well thought out & RIM making Windows Phone based BlackBerry devices will not only create a lot of buzz like Nokia but also result in more consumer interest because of great software, hardware & marketing from both sides. It’s unlikely that Microsoft will buy RIM because the results would be in Microsoft’s favour only for the short term but adopting Windows Phone as the primary platform could mean some light at the end of the tunnel for RIM.

What do you guys think?

Should Microsoft buy RIM? Should RIM adopt Windows Phone?  Would RIM adopt Windows Phone?

Let us know in the comments below!


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About the Author

18. Tech connoisseur. Coffee enthusiast. Has a thing for electronic music.

  • http://www.eGuru.co.nz CyrisXD

    I highly doubt RIM would adopt the Windows Platform. Blackberry is suppose to be notorious for it’s professional and secure system that business’s use. If they adopted a whole new operating system as their primary it could mean a lot more exploits they don’t know about. Vulnerabilities that could cost the company.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      I’ve read enough that Windows Phone is one of the most secure mobile operating systems out there. Still, Microsoft and RIM could work together and get the necessary stuff done if RIM commits to this huge decision.

      • http://gadgetsteria.com Mike

        I’d say the “most secure” statement is similar to how it is used by Apple users – it seems more secure than it could very well be simply because globally speaking, few people use it.

        • Xplorer7

          I think WP really is one of the most secure OSs, but not because of low usage, but more because of lack of native access. This could change with WP8, but as MS sure knows how to make something secure, they will probably make WP8 secure.

          • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

            Yep, exactly.

  • Daniel

    To be honest, i know a lot of people who are staying on blackberry JUST because of BBM. Having a BBM app on a windows phone that’s manufactured by RIM would seriously be a huge competitor in the war against other OSes.

    But because RIM has a lot of popular services, it could easily become a competitor against windows phone OEMs. just like how nokia is attempting to differentiate itself by means of its drive, maps, and several other exclusive nokia apps.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      My point exactly.

  • http://twitter.com/sayonical sayonical

    Honestly I do not see RIM jumping on the windows phone bandwagon at all or at least not until they’re literally at deaths(liquidation) door. They’re pushing black berry 10 their next big update which may or may not modernize their struggling portfolio.

    Part of it might be pride. They’d rather burn to the ground then slap Microsoft OS on their devices. Perhaps they might adopt Android which arguably isn’t the most secure platform but it is one that gives much more freedom to customize the OS and make it theirs. I don’t think RIM can be competitive in hardware, the way Nokia has been doing with their Lumia range. Rim has always been behind the curve in terms of specs and only have their stellar keyboard and as you mentioned BBM service going for them.

    All in all, it will be interesting to see which of the two companies make a positive turn around in the market. Nokia for being bold and adopting a competitor’s software or Rim for sticking to its guns and developing in-house against the ever changing competitive ecosystems.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Good points. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://metroheads.wordpress.com Roman David DeSilva

    Excellent piece :D Microsoft & or Nokia need to snap up RIM before it RIPs’. The patents are a treasure trove alone. But it would also help Windows Phone get adopted by Governments & Corporations at a way faster rate. For businesses it would be 1 stop shopping for all their needs. And there wouldn’t be a question of windows phones security. About the only think I like on BlackBerry is bbm. Put that in windows live messenger & it puts that technology on phones, tablets & desktops. Possibly even Xbox :D . Nokia can take the hardware for its manufacturing & parts resources. Possibly keep the BlackBerry name for enterprise & government devices & Nokia proper can be 110% consumer focused. Your spot on :D

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Yeah, great points. Let’s see what happens.

  • http://www.thedailyopinion.co.uk rich white

    This is something that’s been widely spoken of lately. To clarify, RIM almost certainly won’t go WP and that isnt what is being rumoured. The word is that it would be wise for Microsoft to buy RIM as a company, acquiring its patents and assets. That would give WP a huge edge in business sales, and everyone who sticks to blackberry for BBM would adopt WP.

    but for the record, the hardware on Blackberry is awful. One of the biggest complaints of them regards the hardware,from broken navigation buttons to bits falling off and random shutdowns. The only thing BB has going for it is its email encryption – with Kik, Whatsapp and iMessage, there isn’t really much purpose to BBM. will RIM get back in the game on its own? Doubtful. It was never popular for its operating system, the Playbook was a disaster, and it has no ecosystem or things to offer – if a company like Nokia can fall hard, with all its patents, innovations, exceptional hardware, market reach, services like email, music, maps etc and most feature packed operating system, there is nothing to keep RIM afloat. The most sensible thing is for Microsoft to buy it and acquire the advantages RIM has in business sector. That would give WP a huge advantage.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Exactly. I don’t think RIM will be able to survive with BlackBerry 10. QNX failed miserably, after all.

  • Bryan

    RIM is considered a professional platform, and what better platform to go with than Windows Phone to stay on the professional side of things. An OS with the best of both worlds, Professional and Personal.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Totally. Microsoft will benefit from the patents & RIM’s mindshare but this will be in favour of RIM because they’ll get a stellar OS that’s far more interesting that anything they’ve ever done. Also, it’s going to be incredibly tough for them to pull it off with BlackBerry 10.

  • http://www.project-metro.com Winphan7

    I’ve been intrigued by this subject since it first became rumored. I was a little disappointed when RIM suggested it would be interested in Samsung purchasing share in the company as opposed to Microsoft. When Samsung said they had no interest in the scenario, my hopes grew once again. While at the moment RIM might have no interest, money talks in a faltering global economy! Yes even in the mobile market, as the last quarter marked the first decline in mobile phone purchases in years. If RIM becomes desperate enough, large egos or not, the shareholders will be more inclined to flex their “decision influence” muscles. At the end of the day for ANY company, shareholders shape the direction of that particular company. When things are OK, those shareholders sit back at let things be as they may. When the boat starts to sink, those same shareholders in protecting their financial investment won’t slit their own throat. It’s common practice in today’s market. Do really believe re-branding is done for marketing sake’s? No, that’s shareholders making sure their dollar turns into two dollars.
    With that said, as much as it’s an intriguing idea and my initial thoughts of this being a positive, I’m not as sure anymore. Does a company excel by adopting a team of faltering OEM’s? While RIM does have its devotees, that list is shrinking and rapidly. Fortunately for Microsoft, Nokia as an OEM makes innovative devices and the BB becomes less and less innovative with each new model released. I think it would be a wiser choice to use the money it would take to bring RIM under the Microsoft umbrella and throw that at the OEM’s HTC and Samsung pushing them to create devices that are unique solely to Windows Phone. With the “true” backing of these 2 OEM’s, Windows Phone might be able to start bridging the marketshare gap against iPhone and Android that many analysts are expecting from Microsoft in the near future.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Great points. Thanks for sharing.

  • James Manes

    I think a purchase of RIM would be interesting. Simply because MS could replace a large piece of the enterprise market that use BlackBerry with WP7. As a whole, I think it could largely benefit Microsoft.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      It would largely benefit RIM as well.

  • urvansh

    He is correct. I think that the ecosystem they both have are different but as seen on BB OS 10 they are adopting a bit of metro!

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Haha everyone’s trying to copy the principles of Metro! (I’m looking at you Matias Duarte) ;)

  • http://msicc.net MSicc

    I do not think MS will buy RIM. Although there are a lot of rumors floating around, this makes no sense to me. Microsoft would not profit enough in my eyes from buying RIM.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      I don’t think MS will do that either. I’m just saying that if that happens, it’s going to be pretty interesting.

  • http://www.twitter.com/WannabeEngineer Dhiraj Sewani

    Yes. RIM should adopt Windows Phone and if they do, I’d be the first one to get that phone since I love Metro UI and everything else about Windows Phone and BBM would be like cherry on the top.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      See people? This is what I’m talking about!

  • http://www.mohibsheth.com Mohib Sheth

    Maybe, Maybe not. Yes, Microsoft would benefit a lot by acquring RIM, but that does not guarantee enterprises will switch to Windows Phone OS or even continue using RIM.

    The point Microsoft should be focusing on is to improve its own offering rather than wasting money on buying other stuff with no foreseeable use in the future. I dont think Microsoft lacks any skills in creating good enterprise products and with Windows Phone OS they have shown that they can evolve and for good.

    If Microsoft focuses on building a great flexible platform which complements with a desktop OS (expected to be Windows 8) third party vendors will get the rest of the apps. Microsoft should concentrate on the OS and the rest will follow just like it happened with Windows.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Yeah, Windows Phone is a great product for the enterprise. It should only evolve and get better. Can’t wait for Windows Phone 8.

  • http://phonestabs.com Sumit

    A BlackBerry device running Windows will definitely become a huge success in no time. RIM has been known for its professional and secure system. If RIM is ever going to incorporate Windows platform on their devices they will first make sure that the system is truly secure, even though Windows Phone platform has great security. RIM can never compromise with the security that it is well known for.

    If there’s gonna be a RIM Windows device available in the market, I will be buying it at the very first thought.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      See this people? This is what I’m talking about. There are awful lot of people that love BlackBerry services but think that the OS isn’t capable enough. I think this acquisition could be pretty interesting. Let’s see what happens.

  • Peter Ericson

    A good, informative what-if article. While I don’t think Microsoft will be acquiring RIM anytime soon, I could see RIM adopting the Windows Phone operating system. Perhaps neither is likely to happen, but it sure would be exciting if something along those lines were to become a reality.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha


  • Chaitanya Atre

    Even though BBM is still popular in corporate crowds and now in the youth too, I think the reason behind BB’s downward slide is apps like WhatsApp which provide the same features and moreover, its cross platform. The push mail technology of BBs is also unmatched, I’m surprised you didn’t mention that in the article. If Microsoft does take over RIM, I think it would really be an excellent gel of BB’s secure and professional OS and Windows’s chic, feature-rich interface.
    Having said that, I don’t think RIM will succumb to Microsoft, mostly because of their extravagantly bloated ego which was apparent in their dealings with the Indian govt regarding security issues.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Yeah, good point. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.beinggadget.com Bimal

    Why should MS buy BB? Just to make qwerty phones? If I am not wrong, Nokia is already working on same. About BBM, rather than buying whole company MS can give them some money to build a BBM app for WP too.

    I don’t see any point why MS should buy BB, not in the near future at least. But yes, I see BB is losing market rapidly.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      I mentioned that it’s highly unlikely that MS would buy RIM. But, I’d love to see RIM adopt Windows Phone as their primary platform just like Nokia did.

  • Cory RS

    So, do you think that if this were to happen, all Blackberry devices would eventually run WP7 or all future Blackberry devices would be released running WP7?

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Of course.

  • http://www.twitter.co.uk/Daniel_H_UK Daniel Hartshorn

    I dont think Microsofr should Buy RIM as Blackberrys are no longer desirable but the patents are. Microsoft should purchase RIMs Patents and maybe see if they can licence BBM to Run on windows phone

    And i dont think RIM will put Windows Phone on a Blackberry as they have big plans for BBOS, it would be cool if they did but this is highly unlikely, Id like to se Microsoft snap up RIMs patents as they could make Windows Phone Even better

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Yeah, I don’t think BlackBerry 10 is going to be revolutionary, though. Let’s see.

  • Chaitanya Bangera

    Great article. It would, however, be interesting to see how Nokia reacts if Microsoft does end up purchasing RIM. Won’t it lose the exclusive privileges that it currently enjoys? I am not sure if they will accept this move positively.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Interesting point.

  • Jyri Lankinen

    Good, what if article. I hope it wouldn’t happen, though.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Haha. Thanks. :)

  • Xplorer7

    I think it would be really great, if RIM would adopt Windows Phone as their OS #1 and as you stated, the BBM would be a great differentiator. Their hardware would also bring even more diversity to the Windows Phone hardware-lineup, as the only phone with horizontal QWERTY-keyboard is quite lonely, old and also had lots of problems. But RIM would probably choose Android over Windows Phone because of the numbers, whereas I guess this won´t happen either. RIM will probably die. A slow and painfull death.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Adopting Android won’t help RIM. Google has already more than 350 OEMs producing Android devices. RIM would just become one of the many. What RIM needs is something different & something awesome. Adopting Windows Phone seems to be the only way to save RIM in my opinion. Rumours say the same as well. But, Thorstein bets everything on BlackBerry 10, they’re going to be in big trouble. After all, QNX failed miserably.

      • Xplorer7

        That´s right. I didn´t say it is a good thing, if they adopted Android, but I still think it is more likely RIM would adopt Android over Windows Phone. Just because more Android devices are sold and they would have (at least until WP8) more possibilities of differentiation(screwing things)

        • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

          Well, I’d like to disagree with your point. Anyway, they’re all in with BB10 as of now. Let’s see what happens.

  • http://dani2xll.com Dani

    Fantastic piece Paras.

    I am probably speaking outside of the box here but why can’t Apple buy RIM? Apple will then rule the IM world :-)

    But on the other hand, whomsoever buys RIM, even for just the patents, there is a whole lot of BBM owners globally, whats to happen to them all? And I still think the corporate world want BB and even though the likes of the iPhone are what I see on 4 out of 5 people, 2-3 of those also have a BB.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      I don’t think Apple will buy RIM. They don’t need to.

  • http://davidvkimball.com David V. Kimball

    Interesting thoughts. There’s a rumor culminating about this.

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      Oh yeah! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • http://twitter.com/Vella_Insomniac SagarJuriani

    Only Microsoft can save the sinking ship of Blackberry :D

    • http://about.me/ParasValecha Paras Valecha

      You got a point.

  • Tushar

    It seems highly unlikely that RIM would adopt windows phone. But if it were to adopt windows phone then that would be really interesting to see how would the devices be and how would the consumers respond to it.