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

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