What the hell would Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) have done with Research in Motion? (NSDQ: RIMM) A report Tuesday indicated that Amazon considered making an offer for the struggling smartphone company and shed more light on how RIM’s board is thinking about extricating the company from its fine mess.
It’s a little difficult at this point to understand why Amazon would have considered forking over several billion dollars for RIM, perhaps the most dysfunctional and toxic company in the mobile industry. But Reuters reported Tuesday that the company did just that, stopping short of putting together a formal offer but at least hiring an investment bank to kick the idea around.
RIM has several assets: it has a ton of mobile patents, relationships with big companies, a secure e-mail network and a popular instant-messaging client. But it’s hard to see how those mesh with Amazon, and the company is having so much trouble with its core business–building compelling phones–that it’s a little difficult to understand why Amazon would want to swoop in: even if Amazon is really interested in building its own phone to complement the Kindle, RIM is not exactly the company one would call first.
Updated: Someone on RIM’s board or among its bankers is in a talking mood: after the Reuters (NYSE: TRI) article surfaced, one appeared in the Wall Street Journal saying that a more traditional pair of suitors–Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Nokia–also gave consideration to making a bid for the company.
The report, however, goes into more detail about the behind-the-scenes process at RIM over the last few turbulent months. Co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazardis are said to have received the full backing of RIM’s board–for some reason–in the quest to turn the company around, and it seems like RIM would rather try and make it happen on its own as opposed to selling out.
The WSJ article suggested that Balsillie actually wants to wait until RIM launches the QNX-based BlackBerry devices that were delayed last week until the second half of next year before deciding whether or not it should sell the company.
And in a line destined to further depress morale at the company, the board is said to think the problem with the company stems from the fact that it doesn’t have “a deep bench.” In other words, RIM’s board just threw its upper management under the bus, and while changes may need to be made within those ranks as well, it’s hard to understand why they think Balsillie and Lazaridis can be entrusted with the turn-around project.