You have to give RIM a little credit. At a time when most people seem to have already written them off, the Canadian boys (so to speak) showed up at CES this year prepared to make a few announcements and tread a little more water. RIM proudly announced the second version of their PlayBook software and version 7.2 of their BlackBerry OS software to a host of mixed reviews. Most felt that both upgrades were a lot of ‘too little, too late’ while others heralded the enhancements as a step in the right direction. Either way, the company has succeeded at keeping the lights on –even if the end goal is to keep share price and market saturation at a level that makes them attractive for sale.
The most recent company rumored to have an interest in the purchase of RIM is Samsung.
After closing their doors to potential offers from Nokia and Microsoft, one has to wonder why they would be interested in entertaining what Samsung may have to offer. Some say that the time has come and it’s a last resort. My speculation is that RIM feels that Samsung is most likely to maintain the Blackberry branding that they worked so hard to create and maintain.
The asking price is suspected to be in the $12 billion to $15 billion dollar range, which comes in a lot of billions above the latest valuation that caps at around $8.5 billion dollars (and falling). But before we get too far, let’s remember that cost and worth are rarely the same beast.
RIM has a few things up their sleeves that Samsung may be interested in. On top of being the company to finish the marriage between Blackberry OS and Android that (at a minimum) allows for apps to run on both platforms, Samsung could be celebrated as the group who made the often emulated but never fully duplicated (despite how close iMessage has come) Blackberry Messenger to other devices. They would also have access to Canadian and European markets in ways that are leaps and bounds ahead of what they currently have and they would enjoy access to a fairly considerable patent library that RIM has accumulated.
Then of course there is Blackberry 10, the next generation Blackberry OS that promises to reform and revolutionize RIM offerings in ways we can’t yet imagine. But just like a few others in this game (I’m looking at Microsoft with Windows 8) none of the promises mean anything if they don’t actually deliver something.
Now what does this mean for Apple? Precious little is my prediction. The biggest gain Samsung stands to get from a merger with RIM is increased relevance in the corporate market where RIM has dominated for quite some time. This isn’t Apple’s playing field. If anything, Microsoft should be the one more concerned. Besides, if Samsung focuses their efforts on something other than Android and we accept Android as the biggest threat to iOS then it would stand to reason that it is a good thing for Apple to feel a little less heat from a major manufacturer creating fewer competing devices.
What do Samsung and RIM have to say about the potential transaction? Representatives from Samsung and RIM are keeping tight-lipped for the moment, which means nobody is saying no to the rumors yet either.