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BlackBerry to Join Forces with Microsoft’s Windows Phone?

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After yesterday’s news that Research In Motion (RIM) are planning 5,000 jobs and delaying Blackberry 10, rumours have begun to circulate suggesting Microsoft might be planning a Nokia-style tie-up with the embattled smartphone maker.

RIM’s latest quarterly results made for grim reading yesterday, with the Canadian company announcing a substantial loss in the last quarter. The smartphone maker has lost 70% of its share value over the last year, and to make matters even worse they’re delaying the very piece of software they’re hoping will save the company.

They confirmed the launch of BB10 will now happen in 2013 – because the development of its new operating system had “proven to be more time-consuming than anticipated.”

It’s thought that the current board of directors is getting pressured from share holders to look at other options, including measures that would amount to an admission they can’t survive by sticking to its current strategy – that’s where Microsoft comes into play.

One option for RIM would be to abandon its own operating sysytem and adopt Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 OS. It’s already thought that Steve Ballmer has sounded out RIM over a possible tie-up.

The deal would be very similar to what was offered to Nokia – a cash injection and RIM joining Microsoft as a hardware partner.

Microsoft would buy a stake in the company, fund marketing and other expenses – but this deal isn’t that attractive to the Ontario-based company, as they want to keep their technology independence.

According to sources familiar with the matter RIM’s board wants to plough on with the development of the BB10. Another option would be to sell RIM’s proprietary secure email network to private equity firms, but such firms are reluctant to buy the loss-making hardware side of the business, meaning the deal could see the end of BlackBerry handsets altogether.

A third option would be to open up its network to rivals, under a plan first put forward by former co-CEO Jim Balsillie.

RIM is “going to have to be much more open minded to the idea that Jim Balsillie was working on before he was ousted of opening their network to third parties,” said Eric Jackson, a hedge fund manager at Ironfire Capital in Toronto.

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