RIM's enterprise-services unit is of interest to IBM, according to Bloomberg. As with reports that Samsung could benefit from a RIM buy, much depends on how BlackBerry 10 is received.
The enterprise-services unit of BlackBerry-maker Research In
Motion-a company deep into a major transition by some counts and in a
"death spiral" by others-has piqued the interest of IBM, Bloomberg
"IBM made an informal approach about possibly acquiring
the division, which operates a network of secure servers used to support RIM's
BlackBerry devices," said the report, citing a source who wished to remain
Noting that the business may be valued between $1.5 billion
and $2.5 billion, the report added that "no party has shown interest in
buying all of RIM or the division that makes its phones," and RIM is
unlikely to entertain any offers until the release of BlackBerry 10.
Delayed a second time, now until early 2013, BlackBerry 10 is an entirely new platform for RIM and will be introduced with new
smartphones. RIM is, to say the least, betting big on it. While new-CEO Thorsten
Heins has trimmed away all initiatives and developments not inherent to
"core" RIM offerings, and is in the processing of letting go of 5,000
employees, it's BlackBerry 10 that has been tasked with saving the company and
preventing subscribers from defecting to Android and Apple handsets.
Analysts with Jefferies have suggested that Samsung could
potentially buy RIM or license its BlackBerry 10 platform.
Expecting an update on RIM's status during its Sept. 27
earnings call, analyst Peter Misek wrote in an Aug. 7 research note that RIM
seems to have realized "what Wall Street has been saying for some time:
they are a subscale manufacturer and desperately need a partner. We believe RIM
is attempting to revive discussions with Samsung regarding a BB10 licensing
Misek, like the analysts commenting on interest from IBM,
doesn't expect anything to happen until after BlackBerry 10's release, as RIM
will want to see how the platform fares.
While RIM selling its enterprise-services unit is akin to
"offloading their jewel," as Berenberg analysts Adnaan Ahmad told
Bloomberg, Samsung could most use RIM's new mobile platform. The company's
wildly successful smartphones-Samsung is now the top-selling mobile phone maker,
as well as the leading smartphone maker--rely on Google's Android. While that's
working out perfectly for now, Jefferies' Misek wrote, the "2- to 5-year
outlook is concerning."
Like Apple, Samsung's primary rival, the latter will want
the benefits of being able to control both the hardware and software sides of
While Samsung could develop its own mobile operating system-as it has with
Bada, which the carriers aren't crazy about, according to Misek-or even license
BB10 from RIM, the best of its "lackluster" options is to buy RIM,
"BB10 would provide insurance in case Microsoft and/or
Google vertically integrate. BB10's user interface has been generally well
reviewed and it brings security and bandwidth consumption benefits that are
lacking on Android and Windows," Misek wrote. "Samsung would have a
compelling offering for the enterprise."
Until January, however, when Heins has promised to deliver the first BB10 smartphones, the industry, with RIM, will have to wait and see.
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.