Rumor: Microsoft wants alliance with RIM

An alliance with Microsoft is among the possible options for struggling BlackBerry maker RIM, according to a new report. Another option reportedly under consideration is the sale of its network business.

Three sources have told Reuters that RIM is currently weighing its options, including the two aforementioned paths. An alliance with Microsoft would require RIM to abandon its own operating system and adopt Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 8 operating system. According to the sources, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has approached RIM in recent months looking to form a partnership similar to its current Nokia relationship.

If such an alliance took place, Microsoft would buy a stake in RIM and fund its marketing expenses. The sources claimed an alliance with Microsoft was not an attractive option for the company, however, as it "would mean the end of the Waterloo, Ontario-based company's technology independence." Instead, the company's board of directors prefers to continue developing its upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS, the sources claimed.

The other option RIM is currently mulling is the possibility of selling its proprietary network to a private equity firm or technology company. The buyer of RIM's proprietary network would then be able to open it up to other smartphone providers, which would allow them to "provide highly secured emails and other services to companies and government agencies," the sources said. This scenario would only take place as a last-ditch effort to sell the company, as selling its proprietary network is seen as a killing blow to its device business. Sources told Reuters private equity firms are already attempting to figure out a way to separate RIM's hardware business from its network business.

RIM's seen both its stock and market share plummet in recent years as competition from Apple, Google and Microsoft has ate away at the company's bottom line. The company's stock has fallen by 70 percent over the last year, and it currently has a market capitalization of $4.71 billion, its lowest valuation since 2003. The company recently announced the revision of its flagship operating system, BlackBerry OS 10, has been delayed from late this year to early next year.

Source: Reuters

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Neowin: Now hiring driven and motivated writers in the EU

Next Story

We chat with Microsoft Hardware about Windows 8, Mice, and more!

44 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Rudy said,
What is it with MS and failing mobile companies?

its not just mobile, remember apple? microsoft bailed them out,and look at them now.

despite what anyone says, you are not out until its completely over and the company has been sold,broken to pieces, or bankrupted.

vcfan said,

its not just mobile, remember apple? microsoft bailed them out,and look at them now. .

But imagine if they had forced Apple to adopt Microsoft's OS? Where would Apple be now?

CJEric said,

But imagine if they had forced Apple to adopt Microsoft's OS? Where would Apple be now?

They would be just another OEM struggling with low margins and in a saturated PC market.

Rudy said,
What is it with MS and failing mobile companies?

They're the only companies Microsoft can persuade (read: pay) to go WP exclusive.

ahhell said,
What?

Well first the whole no true upgrade for Nokia's flagship devices makes them much harder to sell and now it seem MS wants a new Windows Phone ally, Nokia will recieve less attention from MS if it has two ailing OEMs to prop up.

thealexweb said,

Well first the whole no true upgrade for Nokia's flagship devices makes them much harder to sell and now it seem MS wants a new Windows Phone ally, Nokia will recieve less attention from MS if it has two ailing OEMs to prop up.

So what is this 'true upgrade' that you're so disappointed about? Which feature is it, out of the ones they announced, that won't be available to the previous generation of devices?

Is it NFC, secure boot & encryption, the more advanced gaming, higher screen resolution, or SD card support? Because all of those require hardware that doesn't exist in current (and previous) generation devices... so I'm not sure what you think would be gained by porting the software capabilities over to them. Sure, the bits would be there... you just couldn't use them. Would that make you happier?

The other two features that they've announced so far (the new start screen and Nokia Maps) will be included in v7.8... and we can't say what else, because Microsoft hasn't announced any other features (at least, not that I'm aware of).

So please... in all seriousness... can you explain why it is you keep bringing this up? Is it that you expect them to somehow make the hardware magically appear in older devices... or is it that they'll be able to make the feature work without the necessary hardware?

Monkeys4me said,

snip

What happened to the rumours of a shared app environment to allow new Windows Phone 8 apps work on the older devices, Windows Phone 7.8 phones will only support apps build with the older framework which developers will abandon over time.

Also a lot of existing Windows Phones do have SD card slots, why no proper Sd-card support for them?

Microsoft has really stabbed Nokia in the back for the sake of progress.

thealexweb said,

What happened to the rumours of a shared app environment to allow new Windows Phone 8 apps work on the older devices, Windows Phone 7.8 phones will only support apps build with the older framework which developers will abandon over time.

Also a lot of existing Windows Phones do have SD card slots, why no proper Sd-card support for them?

Microsoft has really stabbed Nokia in the back for the sake of progress.

Only the original Samsung Ficus had a user-accessible microSD card slot.

thealexweb said,

Also a lot of existing Windows Phones do have SD card slots, why no proper Sd-card support for them?

Because most of those cards are in user-inaccessible areas. In the best case, you have to remove the battery.

thealexweb said,

What happened to the rumours of a shared app environment to allow new Windows Phone 8 apps work on the older devices, Windows Phone 7.8 phones will only support apps build with the older framework which developers will abandon over time.

Also a lot of existing Windows Phones do have SD card slots, why no proper Sd-card support for them?

Microsoft has really stabbed Nokia in the back for the sake of progress.

So now we're holding them responsible for rumors? So if I start a rumor that WP8 phones will bake cookies, suddenly Microsoft is obligated to provide older phones with Easy-Bake Oven functionality? What color is the sky in the world you live in?

As for the SD card... the only phones I'm aware of that had an accessible SD card slot were the Focus and Venue Pro, neither of which is sold any more. Which other ones might I be missing? I know that the challenge with SD support on the current (and older) devices was that the way the cards were being used required sustained read/write capabilities... not the burst speed that retail consumer cards are traditionally measured by. I can't say if it would be feasible to change this in existing devices with an OS update... I suspect that the SD card support in the new devices will involve a separate slot (I could be wrong).

BTW... I noticed that you avoided all the other hardware dependent features that I identified. Instead, you went for rumored features right out of the chute. Nice.

I also like how you state that Microsoft 'really stabbed Nokia in the back'... WOW... hyperbole much??? So you know for a fact that Microsoft hasn't been working closely with Nokia all this time... that they haven't shared with them the planned changes at all?

Since we're just being outrageous here... I really hated it when Microsoft killed the baby Jesus! Also, when they started the Vietnam war, and drowned Natalie Woods!! Don't even get me started on the time they destroyed much of Tokyo by rampaging around in a giant dinosaur costume!!!

Now I see why you do it... that's pretty fun.

Monkeys4me said,

So now we're holding them responsible for rumors? So if I start a rumor that WP8 phones will bake cookies, suddenly Microsoft is obligated to provide older phones with Easy-Bake Oven functionality? What color is the sky in the world you live in?

As for the SD card... the only phones I'm aware of that had an accessible SD card slot were the Focus and Venue Pro, neither of which is sold any more. Which other ones might I be missing? I know that the challenge with SD support on the current (and older) devices was that the way the cards were being used required sustained read/write capabilities... not the burst speed that retail consumer cards are traditionally measured by. I can't say if it would be feasible to change this in existing devices with an OS update... I suspect that the SD card support in the new devices will involve a separate slot (I could be wrong).

BTW... I noticed that you avoided all the other hardware dependent features that I identified. Instead, you went for rumored features right out of the chute. Nice.

I also like how you state that Microsoft 'really stabbed Nokia in the back'... WOW... hyperbole much??? So you know for a fact that Microsoft hasn't been working closely with Nokia all this time... that they haven't shared with them the planned changes at all?

Since we're just being outrageous here... I really hated it when Microsoft killed the baby Jesus! Also, when they started the Vietnam war, and drowned Natalie Woods!! Don't even get me started on the time they destroyed much of Tokyo by rampaging around in a giant dinosaur costume!!!

Now I see why you do it... that's pretty fun.

I avoided the other hardware features because I don't know of the top of my head if any 1st gen devices had those features. It matters not if Nokia knew this was coming , the reality is sites like Engadget are encouraging users to return their devices if its still possible, stuff that ain't gonna help Nokia. And yeh I'm gonna stop replying now

thealexweb said,

I avoided the other hardware features because I don't know of the top of my head if any 1st gen devices had those features. It matters not if Nokia knew this was coming , the reality is sites like Engadget are encouraging users to return their devices if its still possible, stuff that ain't gonna help Nokia. And yeh I'm gonna stop replying now

I ran your last response through the Google translator, and here's what came back:

“I've tried to avoid answering your questions directly because it turns out I really don't know what I'm talking about. I just like making absurd and incendiary comments, and I didn't expect to find the issue clouded with facts and reality. My attempts to ignore, misdirect, and obfuscate have proven unsuccessful… as such I'm going to toddle away now in an attempt to avoid looking more foolish.”

Don't worry… I totally understand. My son used to do the same thing… back when he was four.

Nokia has been slowing going in the crapper for years. The deal with Microsoft will be hugely beneficial for them in the long run.
As for RIM, a deal with MS could do the same thing.

I guess it's just easier to troll then to actually think about what's going on.

efjay said,
Kiss of death, just like its been for Nokia.

RIM is already dead. A deal with Microsoft would actually breath some genuine life into this zombie.

ahhell said,
Nokia has been slowing going in the crapper for years.

Not nearly as much as when Elop took over and Nokia became Microsoft's bitch.

ahhell said,

The deal with Microsoft will be hugely beneficial for them in the long run.
As for RIM, a deal with MS could do the same thing.

"Will, Could"? Time to wake up. Nokia's stock has tanked since adopting WP. The same will happen to RIM if it starts making WP devices.

ahhell said,

I guess it's just easier to troll then to actually think about what's going on.

You live in a fantasy land where "Partnerships" with Microsoft are actually good for the "Partners". The truth is a partnership with Microsoft is the kiss of death for any company.

simplezz said,
The truth is a partnership with Microsoft is the kiss of death for any company.

The truth is you're forgetting the part where almost all companies who are dealing with Android are losing money too. Pucker up for that kiss of death.

Rappy said,
I would be interested to see what comes from this kind of alliance, as a BB user I would be intrigued

Yeah, I've never used Blackberry myself, but I do admit that they have the business market. I would honestly hate to see Blackberry fail as I think they have been in the past one of the main driving forces in enterprise features (Which eventually even consumers get to see)... So, I'm hoping that they take such a deal and work with Microsoft to build better enterprise features into Windows Phone. I fear that BBOS is going to be one of those things that gets delayed a number of times and then the company folds before anyone ever sees it, and Blackberry just deserves better. I think this would be an opportunity to save the company.

The sources claimed an alliance with Microsoft was not an attractive option for the company

Given how well things are going for Nokia, I'm not really surprised.

Majesticmerc said,

Given how well things are going for Nokia, I'm not really surprised.

Nokia has been having problems for years and expected a bit of a lean period during this transition. Wait a couple of years and see where they are. Things don't turn around like this in a year...

M_Lyons10 said,

Nokia has been having problems for years and expected a bit of a lean period during this transition. Wait a couple of years and see where they are. Things don't turn around like this in a year...

This.

Nokia making the consumer and best handsets, RIM folded into Microsoft making business handsets, and integrate Blackberry Messenger, and the other Blackberry services into Microsoft's Exchange enterprise services.

This sounds like a good idea to me! And then they could spin off the Blackberry OS side into its own entity, and provide the OS for OEMs to use (which they wont)

mdtaUK said,
Nokia making the consumer and best handsets, RIM folded into Microsoft making business handsets, and integrate Blackberry Messenger, and the other Blackberry services into Microsoft's Exchange enterprise services.

This sounds like a good idea to me! And then they could spin off the Blackberry OS side into its own entity, and provide the OS for OEMs to use (which they wont)


The process of spinning it off wouldn't be worth the hassle, IMO. If they were to buy RIM (which is unlikely, quite honestly), they'd probably just kill the OS.

Anthony Tosie said,

The process of spinning it off wouldn't be worth the hassle, IMO. If they were to buy RIM (which is unlikely, quite honestly), they'd probably just kill the OS.

Agreed. And even from a Blackberry standpoint, if they just had an arrangement with Microsoft like Nokia does, it wouldn't make sense to them to continue developing BBOS. There are clearly some issues in the development of the next update and all it's going to do is bleed money.

But I think that for everyone involved this deal would make a lot of sense.

deja vu
MS wants to grab the Business Market and RIM is way ahead from NOKIA in this field.
Most likely... MS will grab them ....
bye bye NOKIA.

Fayker said,
deja vu
MS wants to grab the Business Market and RIM is way ahead from NOKIA in this field.
Most likely... MS will grab them ....
bye bye NOKIA.

Regardless, they would still want Nokia as a partner like they are now. They have the consumer market for starters...

Fayker said,
deja vu
MS wants to grab the Business Market and RIM is way ahead from NOKIA in this field.
Most likely... MS will grab them ....
bye bye NOKIA.

they need Nokia as much as they need RIM

subcld said,

they need Nokia as much as they need RIM

they do, but Nokia was just to Flag Windows Phone OS, after seeing the lastest marketing options from MS, it's obvious that MS wants at all costs get the highest share in business market, because it's from there that all happens 1st, and then goes to the general consumer.
So, getting RIM they can reach to the Business market already owned by RIM reputation. Nokia was just to flag them, because Nokia is more "known" in the consumer reliability, something they didn't had before with Windows Mobile 6.
Nokia was a bait, MS used their desperate need to get a share of the market of iOS and Droid's. and Nokia got themselves in more trouble... they didn't made a "clear" negotiation with MS.... I don't see Nokia just going to sell low-budget MS phones... I'm still very curious of what will happen... maybe Google will make some "moves" in the scene...

Fayker said,

they do, but Nokia was just to Flag Windows Phone OS, after seeing the lastest marketing options from MS, it's obvious that MS wants at all costs get the highest share in business market, because it's from there that all happens 1st, and then goes to the general consumer.
So, getting RIM they can reach to the Business market already owned by RIM reputation. Nokia was just to flag them, because Nokia is more "known" in the consumer reliability, something they didn't had before with Windows Mobile 6.
Nokia was a bait, MS used their desperate need to get a share of the market of iOS and Droid's. and Nokia got themselves in more trouble... they didn't made a "clear" negotiation with MS.... I don't see Nokia just going to sell low-budget MS phones... I'm still very curious of what will happen... maybe Google will make some "moves" in the scene...

if there is a partnership between Microsoft and RIM i think Microsoft going to ask RIM to allow one of its services to be integrated inside windows phone 8 for all Devices running windows phone 8 so everyone could have a piece of the cake same as what they did with Nokia when they announce Nokia maps will be the default maps on wp8 but no so sure RIM will accept

and google might try to make a deal with Nokia but as i remember Nokia said when they asked them if they have another plan they said we don't have another plan we must succeed with windows phone and they are more than capable to provide high end , mid range and low end devices

este said,
This would be interesting ... Could be the best thing to happen for RIM actually ...

IMO: That's entirely dependent on how the marketing for Windows Phone 8 goes. I think it'd benefit RIM to drop its operating system but still have a lot of its key features, like BBM and its network. They could create an enterprise line, for example, using Windows Phone with their own software and network that would appeal to companies.

I think BB OS 10 is just a massive blunder waiting to happen, though. It doesn't do enough to differentiate itself in an already-competitive smartphone market. I'm not saying it's bad -- I haven't used it yet, obviously -- just that what we've seen so far isn't enough to set it apart from the flock.

Anthony Tosie said,

IMO: That's entirely dependent on how the marketing for Windows Phone 8 goes. I think it'd benefit RIM to drop its operating system but still have a lot of its key features, like BBM and its network. They could create an enterprise line, for example, using Windows Phone with their own software and network that would appeal to companies.

Agreed, definitely a good point there. RIM has a big stake in the business/enterprise market and I see that as the big draw-in for Microsoft. But let's see...

Anthony Tosie said,

IMO: That's entirely dependent on how the marketing for Windows Phone 8 goes. I think it'd benefit RIM to drop its operating system but still have a lot of its key features, like BBM and its network. They could create an enterprise line, for example, using Windows Phone with their own software and network that would appeal to companies.

I think BB OS 10 is just a massive blunder waiting to happen, though. It doesn't do enough to differentiate itself in an already-competitive smartphone market. I'm not saying it's bad -- I haven't used it yet, obviously -- just that what we've seen so far isn't enough to set it apart from the flock.

I agree 100%. Blackberry has to be careful. They can't really afford to keep BB10 in continuous development as they lose market share month by month... By the time this comes out people will have forgotten about them.

Honestly I think a pairing with Microsoft would be the best thing that could happen to RIM. They could work with Microsoft to build some BB features into Windows Phone while Microsoft helps them with their marketing and development expenses. Ultimately, it might allow Blackberry to survive. I can understand not wanting to let go of their independence, but I would hate for a company like Blackberry to fail because of ego...

M_Lyons10 said,

I agree 100%. Blackberry has to be careful. They can't really afford to keep BB10 in continuous development as they lose market share month by month... By the time this comes out people will have forgotten about them.

Honestly I think a pairing with Microsoft would be the best thing that could happen to RIM. They could work with Microsoft to build some BB features into Windows Phone while Microsoft helps them with their marketing and development expenses. Ultimately, it might allow Blackberry to survive. I can understand not wanting to let go of their independence, but I would hate for a company like Blackberry to fail because of ego...

While true, I wonder how long it would take for RIM to turn around and push out a WP8 device at this point.

It took Nokia the better part of a year to ship a WP7 device, and they were using the stock OS with value-adds appearing later on. If RIM hasn't already started, then it might simply be too late for them. And I don't want Microsoft to make hardware exceptions for them to be able to make it (screen quality nor chipset).

I think WP makes perfect sense for RIM, as long as they can push a device out the door by the end of the year with the rest of the players. They could then add value by incorporating BBM as a RIM-only part of the applicable hub(s? not sure if it's more than a fancy texting service these days, except that BlackBerry users tend to swear by it). The pluggable nature of WP makes perfect sense in this regard for RIM as long as they can ship in a worthwhile amount of time.

este said,
This would be interesting ... Could be the best thing to happen for RIM actually ...

It didn't work out well for Nokia. RIM would be foolish to repeat Nokia's mistake.

simplezz said,

It didn't work out well for Nokia. RIM would be foolish to repeat Nokia's mistake.


Nokia switched halfway through the life of windows phone 7. It would of been the same if Nokia would have pumped out a Android 2.3 phone a few months before android 4.0..