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Is RIM Going to be Acquired?

Is RIM Going to be Acquired?

Shares of Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) soared in the pre-market on Tuesday, after the company's CEO, Thorsten Heins, told a German paper that RIM would consider strategic alliances, including the possibility of a sale of its hardware production unit and/or licensing out its software.

RIM's shares were up over 9 percent at one point, but subsequently corrected a bit lower.

Heins' comments should come as no surprise. Last May, RIM announced that it had hired J.P. Morgan and RBC Capital to help the company review its business operations.

Since then, the focus has shifted. More have trumpeted a successful BlackBerry 10 as a the first step in a revitalized RIM. As that thesis has dominated the market, shares of RIM have rallied notably, more than doubling since hitting a low near $6 per share.

Still, there have been signs all along that BB10 was a gambit intended to facilitate a sale of RIM. Consider that the first BlackBerry 10 models lacked RIM's characteristic keyboard, a feature which endeared the handset maker to many business professionals.

The question is, would any other company have an interest in RIM either from the hardware or the software side?

On the hardware side, it might interest Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) or Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). Both companies have recently entered the hardware game despite their primary businesses being in completely different fields.

In fact, some tech reviewers noted the similarity between Amazon's original Kindle Fire and RIM's BlackBerry playbook. NBC called the devices “hauntingly similar” from a hardware perspective.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has begun to manufacture its own devices running Windows -- in sharp contrast to its decades old strategy of focusing strictly on software. Its first computer, the Surface tablet, was released in October and has been followed up with the Surface Pro. Microsoft has said that it would consider entering the phone game if its partnership with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) went asunder.

As for RIM's software, and the potential of licensing it out, Samsung might come to mind. Although there has been nothing potent to substantiate it, there has been widespread speculation that Samsung may be growing tired of its reliance on Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) for its smartphone business.

Samsung has risen to be a dominating player, becoming the world's largest smartphone maker. If it wants to weaken its reliance on Google's Android, it might consider adding BB10 to its portfolio.

Shares of RIM traded near $17 on Tuesday.


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