2011 has an interesting twist separating it from years past: RIM, despite still holding on, clearly is wandering aimlessly in the consumer smartphone market. Their OS is old, not very appealing and despite numerous attempts, they've failed to really 'wow' anyone recently. They sort of reflect Microsoft with Windows Mobile 6.x.
Still, they have killer reach in enterprise and a solid, nearly world standard for email distribution. Considering Microsoft is sitting on $40B in reserves, why not make a bid for RIM to either take them out or integrate their tech? Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer was recently asked this by Maria Bartiromo:
Q: What has stopped you from making really bold bets on technology? You've got more than $40 billion on the balance sheet. If you want to have substantial market share in smartphones, why not just acquire Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry?
A: We've made bold technology bets. We've bet on the Cloud and our Enterprise business; it's going fantastic. We made the bet on Xbox; we made the bet on Kinect. We bet on Bing and are growing like a weed in that business. So I feel pretty good about the bets. When do acquisitions make sense? That's a complicated subject.
Not exactly a specific but when tied into the rest of the interview it begins to make sense: Ballmer really believes in Windows Phone 7 noting
There's a lot of competition, but we've got the best-looking phones on the market. We've got the greatest range of alternatives, the phones, the software, the craftsmanship. It is as good or better than anything out there. We have a lot of work to do. But, we're in the game. We sold 1.5 million into the carriers.
Why acquire RIM when you have a solid product you believe in? That Dell believes in? RIM appears to be slowly relegating themselves to the sidelines for consumers, so no need to aid that, evidently. Going further, the money required to take over RIM, integrate their tech and IP, etc. could take years. Going further still, Microsoft sometimes has a spotty record with acquisitions (see Danger and 'Project Pink'), ahem. Still, we would have loved to take over our sister site, Crackberry.