Ever since new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins announced a broad-based strategic review designed to identify how best to create shareholder value, rumours about the potential sell-off of some or all of the company have abounded. The latest one to do the rounds (again) is that Facebook or Amazon are two of the most likely acquirers.
With mobile having supplanted the PC as the dominant technology platform of the age, it’s easy to see why companies that owe their success to date to the internet accessed via PCs would be keen to strengthen their position in mobile by owning their own ecosystem. The Apple ‘walled garden’ strategy of controlling the hardware, software and services in order to optimise the user experience has become more fashionable following the success of its mobile devices, with even Microsoft imposing considerable restriction on Windows Phone licensees.
Amazon has already demonstrated its desire to optimise the mobile user experience via the Kindle Fire, while Facebook has yet to solve the problem of duplicating PC-based commercial models on Mobile. Acquiring RIM would give both instant significant capabilities in hardware design, their own OS and the kind of distribution network it would take years to establish from scratch.
However there are no fewer factors that warn against such a move. Assuming they have to buy the whole company, much of it would be superfluous to their core needs and they would then have to choose between shutting down those parts or partake in areas far from their core business, as well as trying to reconcile two very different corporate cultures. Also to be considered is the fact that RIM’s handset sales are in rapid decline, and the sale of a national champion may be met by significant resistance in Canada.