Microsoft, RIM Partnership Prompts Acquisition Rumors

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft and Research in Motion (RIM) have announced a partnership that will see the Redmond-based firm's Bing search engine used on the BlackBerry. It's a surprise move that some are speculating might indicate an even deeper relationship in the future between the two tech giants.

The Bing announcement was made at the recent BlackBerry World trade show, when RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis shocked the crowd by introducing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Together, the two revealed that Bing will soon be found on both the BlackBerry (and its various iterations) and the newly-released RIM PlayBook tablet.

Bing "Tightly Integrated" With BlackBerry OS

"Bing will be tightly integrated at the BlackBerry OS (operating system) level," Ballmer announced. "Bing will become the default search provider in the [BlackBerry's] browser and maps." (Source:

At first, this new relationship seems innocent enough. RIM is primarily a hardware producer that could use Microsoft's knowledge of the search engine market. But is there more to it than just that?

Buyout Rumors Begin Circulation

"Will Microsoft buy RIM? That is a possibility and a fast track for Microsoft to gain a foothold in the mobile hardware business," said Parks Associates analyst Harry Wang in a recent interview.

"RIM's market capitalization is only $25 billion and Microsoft has $48 billion in cash. If RIM's value drops to $15 billion, it will become an attractive target for Microsoft. Maybe Steve Ballmer was planting that seed during his keynote appearance at Blackberry World." (Source:

Rumors like this are unlikely to go away the longer RIM's market share and value continue to decline. At the same time, the more aggressive Microsoft appears in pushing Windows Phone 7, the more sense it makes for the company to acquire a major hardware producer like RIM.

Independent of one another neither seem like much of a challenge for Google's Android or Apple's iPhone, but together RIM and Microsoft could pose an impressive one-two punch of software and hardware know-how.

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