Amazon and RIM? It could have happened

Amazon reportedly expressed interest in Research in Motion, but was rebuffed because the BlackBerry manufacturer wanted to go it alone.

Did Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos make overtures to RIM?
Sarah Tew

Given how cheap Research in Motion has gotten, every technology company worth its salt had to consider an acquisition.

Amazon, apparently, was one of the interested parties, according to a report by Reuters. The company considered a potential merger with RIM, but never made a formal offer. RIM, meanwhile, reportedly rebuffed the overtures from Amazon and other parties because it preferred to go it alone.

The revelation that RIM had a willing buyer in place comes amid shareholder outcry that management has badly missed its mark in its judgment of the mobile devices business, leading to lost market share; falling profit and revenue; and steady deterioration of its once sterling brand. Last week, the company reported further declines in the third quarter, and warned its first next-generation BlackBerry 10 device wouldn't hit the market until late next year.

RIM hit another 52-week low today and closed at $12.52, having lost more than three-quarters of its market value over the past year.

Still, news of a buyer buoyed Wall Street's hopes. Shares rose more than 6 percent to $13.30 in after-hours trading.

A representative from Amazon wasn't immediately available for comment. RIM declined to comment.

While RIM is considering licensing deals and other commercial partnerships, the company isn't looking to sell the business, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources. The co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, want to focus on reviving the company through better phones, restructuring, and the better use of its core assets such as BlackBerry Messenger.

Still, the leadership dismissing a potential deal could be risky with investor confidence low and shareholders already calling for a sale of the company. The CEOs, knowing the tenuous positions they're in, said they would reduce their salaries to $1 a year.

RIM and Amazon are still talking about ways to expand their ties, Reuters said. That could include Amazon's catalog becoming available to BlackBerry users.

It's unclear what Amazon, a consumer-focused retail company, would do with the business-centric RIM. Amazon has already exceeded the success of RIM in the tablet business with its Kindle Fire, which uses many similar parts as the PlayBook. Amazon is reportedly weighing its own smartphone. Having the mobile devices know-how of RIM would be a valuable asset, although how much value the BlackBerry brand would bring to the retail-driven Amazon would be a mystery.

RIM has reportedly been shopped to other buyers, including Samsung and HTC, but there has been little interest given the overwhelming popularity of Android.

Just like among consumers.