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.
Faced with rapidly declining market share and amid trouble at the very top of its leadership chain, news that RIM may be looking to sell itself to an Asian firm makes sense. Outside of Google, it's unlikely Apple or Microsoft has any intentions to buy it. Apple is riding high with its own iOS, while Microsoft (the chatterers claim) seems more set on extending its alliance with Nokia. Some even claim a takeover may take place.
Outside the U.S., manufacturers are looking to deliver their very own unique selling point (USP). Samsung, HTC, LG and others are highly competitive in the smartphone space, so any one of these firms may be pondering such a purchase. The absence of a market-accepted version of Windows for mobile, means they all offer Android devices.
This means every vendor is offering more or less identical experiences, albeit in differently-configured devices. This fragmentation drives Android makers to compete on price, as the OS and most device features in any price band are inevitably more or less the same. This intensifies competition and reduces margins.
A move to purchase RIM would immediately give the Asian purchaser a unique position, an existing user base and a market share hike. The war between Apple and Samsung has led some to speculate the latter may be the hand in the ring to acquire the Canadian company, which had a dreadful year in 2011. But the Asian firm has since denied such claims.
"We haven't considered acquiring the firm and are not interested in (buying RIM)," said Samsung spokesman James Chung, as reported by FP Tech Desk.
Is there smoke without fire? Maybe, maybe not, but CFO's and technology decision makers must already be wringing their hands on these takeover rumors. Senior executives from any major firm usually have some first-hand experience of just how complex mergers and acquisitions can be to implement. They'll be concerned at what might happen if RIM is sold to another company. They'll be worried about:
- Tech support, specifically for older RIM/BlackBerry devices.
- Help lines.
- The future product development road map.
- How this may impact app development and support.
- Any potential impact on build quality.
- The long-term plan of the acquiring company. Will it continue to focus on enterprise users, or will it instead target the consumer market?
Security will also be a concern. Will disaffected RIM employees cause any damage to the company as they head to the out door? Will there be any leaking of any important information? Will black hat hackers make use of the inevitable confusion as RIM is re-organized to launch attacks on RIM's systems?
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