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What about the Samsung RIM takeover buzz?

Jonny Evans | Jan. 19, 2012
Panic stations today as CFOs and company technology chiefs try to come to grips with rumors (denied by Samsung) that beleaguered corporate stalwart Research In Motion may be looking to sell itself to an Asian firm.

Analyst Craig Cartier at Frost & Sullivan told me, in a statement: "RIM, formerly an undisputed leader in the smartphone market, has had in the software-dominated smartphone ecosystem of the present --2011 saw a precipitous fall in RIM's global smartphone market share."

I'm sorry I can't tell you if there's any truth in these rumors, but they aren't going to boost confidence among any company technology chiefs, particularly those enterprises already focused around RIM's solutions.

I think consolidation and takeovers in the mobile industry are inevitable as the smartphone wars intensify. Too many players are in the ring, and within such a competitive price-dependent market, they are forced to battle on price. This hurts revenues, damages shareholder trust and will inevitably spawn new alliances and take overs.

"If Samsung (or any other Android partner) were to integrate RIM's enterprise services like Blackberry Messenger into their offering, they would achieve instant differentiation in the increasingly-monochrome Android space," notes Frost & Sullivan's Cartier. "Not to mention gaining a brand which, despite its recent misfortune, still enjoys a loyal following and has seen recent gains in developing markets globally."

When it comes to those dependent on RIM for their corporate mobile systems, CFO's will be wondering if they should jump before they are pushed. They'll be looking at Nielsen's latest marketshare numbers, which show RIM BlackBerry falling from 7.7% to 4.5% between October 2011-December 2011, asking themselves if they should continue to maintain their existing infrastructure (if they use RIM), or if they should consider alternatives.

When it comes to alternatives, Apple, not Android, is the likely choice. Decision-makers can see both operating systems making market gains. However, with Apple being the more secure of the two systems, they'll be interested in that OS -- a decision which is likely to put the company firmly into the enterprise, further eroding Microsoft's control of that space.

There's another alternative. Fighting for survival, RIM may instead license its OS to others. "We see RIM licensing BlackBerry 10 and charging $10 per device," Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said in a note, referring to RIM's operating system. The company has recently rejected takeover overtures from Amazon (which itself has Kindle-shaped designs on the mobile market), a report claims.

Summary: With RIM now the target of takeover speculation, CFOs will be seriously considering how much faith they should put into the former market leader when it comes to their future mobile business technology plans. This could drive the company's recent market share losses over the edge among enterprise users.


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