Ballmer answers why no RIM acquisition?

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.

Source: USA Today (opens in new tab); via TechRadar

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Why spend money on RIM? For what exactly? The enterprise stuff? MS has that tech, mobile OS? MS has one and it's better than BBOS6. Hardware? MS doesn't wanna sell phones or they could've made one just like they make a PMP and Game System.RIM would be a waste of money in the end even if you get a big chunk of US marketshare in the short term.
  • Instant dominance in the Enterprise market, no need to worry about slowly beating them over the years and Microsoft needs to have its own mobile hardware division so why not one that knows what theyre doing... a blackberry torch with WP7 Specs and a larger screen would be awesome, just like the venue pro
  • Its not that RIM wouldn't give them marketshare, but it would move them further away from their core focus of being a software company. And as was pointed out, large acquistions like this don't always go accordingly to plan and definitely no guarantee for future success. Right now, Microsoft can't afford to diddle with an acquistion when its busy promoting and accelerating WP7 adoption. My bet is that Windows Phone 7 will see better than expect growth in 2011.
  • That $40 million would be much better spent on polishing WP7 and making it what "the enterprise" considers enterprise-ready.
  • All future stories based on half-baked MS acquisition theories should be accompanied by
  • lol, will consider it...