RUMOUR: RIM considering Microsoft alliance, selling network business

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After announcing a larger-than-expected quarterly loss, delaying the release of its new smarphones and stock plunging 18 percent, Research in Motion is rumoured to be considering selling its network business (leaving it to manufacturer phones) or even considering an alliance with Microsoft and adopt Windows Phone 8.

According to Reuters via anonymous sources, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer had approached RIM a couple of months ago and was looking for them to adopt Windows Phone 8 – in a similar deal struck with Nokia. However, whether Microsoft will give RIM special treatment with the Windows Phone platform, like it did with Nokia by giving total access and customisation of the OS, is up in the air.

If a tieup does go ahead, RIM does not want Microsoft to purchase a stake – despite it could help keep it afloat and Microsoft being able to fund marketing of the devices (a la similar to Nokia). That is, apparently, considered “not attractive” because of fears that it could lose its independence and they want to continue the development of BlackBerry 10.

The other option, if it does go to Windows Phone 8, is Microsoft purchasing its patents to keep it afloat.

The other option is to sell its network to another company or private equity firm – meaning that the buyer could open up the BlackBerry network to other smartphone makers and giving them access to its highly-secured network that is trusted by companies and governments.

However, that would also mean that RIM will be left in manufacturing phones with BlackBerry OS 10 – and that would mean that it is essentially dead in the water since the biggest selling point for BlackBerry phones was its network. If others were able to access the network, then RIM would be hard to differentiate itself.

But hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.

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