Thursday, July 10, 2008

IBM to buy RIM

Blackberries will be renamed Blueberries.
In their own way, RIM has gone down a path where they may want to think about it.

About 4 years ago while interviewing with Microsoft about competitive positioning(don't sweat it, I think they just wanted free consulting), I posited that SUN would release Java as Open Source within 2-3 years. Got it.
I suggested they buy SUN(stock was not even $5 then) to ensure:
1) Java dies, rather than go open source(they thought C# would work for people)
2) Provide Windows servers with a fully integrated hardware platform and built in distribution
3) It was cheap, pocket change even for Bill and he could kill it if he wanted
4) Or it could help Microsoft get into Linux on their own terms

Also suggested IBM would buy Novell as they were already following a path of past IBM M&A when the money provided to a partner eventually was returned in stock and then finally in a new IBM division. This one hasn't made it yet, but Novell hangs on with Linux, I still see this as a great opportunity for IBM and Novell.

Back to RIM. Lotus worked with RIM very early on(remember the mushroom shaped blackberry) and we were thinking it would kill server revenue to RIM, instead it made email stronger as RIM made it clear they really did not want to be a contender for email messaging system of the world. I think in this case they made a wise choice.

However the last few years has seen growth for RIM, but at the same time, competition from places unexpected, Apple and Google. Can RIM beat them, possibly, but I do not think by themselves. Would it help RIM to have a "native" email system? Most definitely and in many cases if you understand the architecture of a BES you will see what appears to be the logic of architecture like a Domino server. Not 100% mind you, but as RIM had to scale they took a familiar approach(to me at least).

Now RIM provides Lotus Connections clients, similar to the 2 different IM versions for Sametime. A great partnership is in place, and a merger of Lotus with RIM would be catastrophic to Microsoft in many ways...unless Microsoft too has an iPhone killer in their plans.

My guess is they don't as Bill has left the building and with him went any original thoughts of how to corner a market.

If I was the Product Manager at RIM working with Lotus, I would be expecting to hear such thoughts, I wonder if this is the case.