OK so RIM is now (really) on deathwatch – Will Microsoft step in?

OK so RIM is a mess. But then again, you probably knew that.

RIM recently said the launch of BlackBerry 10 mobile devices has been postponed to early 2013 – more than a year later than initially promised – because the development of its new operating system had “proven to be more time-consuming than anticipated.

Who underestimates how long it takes to build an OS? Who does that?

Anyway, this snafu (among others) is driving the company to explore some difficult options.

From Reuters:

One of these options is for RIM to abandon its own operating system and adopt Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had approached RIM in recent months, looking to strike a partnership similar to the one the software giant has with Nokia Oyj, the sources said. Under that partnership, Nokia will use Microsoft’s latest Windows operating system on its smartphones.

In such a scenario, RIM could also look for Microsoft to buy a stake in the company and fund marketing and other expenses, the sources said. However, this option is not attractive to RIM because it would mean the end of the Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s technology independence, they said.

Another option for RIM would be to sell its proprietary network to a private equity firm or a technology company. The buyer could then open up RIM’s network operating centers to other smartphone providers, allowing them to also provide highly secured emails and other services to companies and government agencies, the sources said.

In that scenario, however, RIM’s device business is seen to have no future, they said, adding that private equity firms have been considering how to separate the hardware business from the network business.

I continue to believe that RIM is a strong potential acquisition target for Microsoft even if Microsoft just acquired part of the company.

The mix of business customers, IP and instant credibility in the phone space make a lot of sense.

In addition, RIM developing Windows 8 Phones (some with keyboards) would be a master stroke that would (potentially) halt the slow exodus of business phones to Apple and Google.

Maybe it’s just me.

 

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