So Research in Motion did look at buying Palm... what does that mean for BlackBerry beyond 6?

By Kevin Michaluk on 15 Jul 2010 04:45 pm EDT

Well this is interesting. According to a recent SEC filing and report by Business Insider, the information has come forth that it wasn't just HP who was looking at buying Palm, but also other big players including Apple, Google and Research in Motion. It's always fun to hypothesize on what big companies should do and who should buy who, and on many a CrackBerry Podcast we had the discussion as to whether or not RIM should buy Palm. Heck, back at WES 2009 I was on a panel discussion called Bloggers Predict the Future and i said then RIM would gobble them up Pac Man style (watch the video above... skip to 21 minutes for me).

So what do you think. Should RIM have bought Palm? Though I may have thought that in 2009, starting in early 2010 I went the other way in thinking. Though buying Palm would have got RIM a new operating system for the handheld and some solid IP (not to mention a presence and new remote base in California), it wouldn't have brought them an abundance of ready-made apps or momentum. On our BGR/Phonescoop podcast at WES 2010 we revisited this topic of what RIM should do. The BG crew shot down the idea of seeing a BlackBerry w/ Google Experience (aka Android) from happening pretty quick, though we know that's something a lot of members in the forums have longed for. We know BlackBerry 6 is still evolutionary - it's built upon the traditional BlackBerry platform. Knowing now that RIM looked at Palm gets me really excited for what we'll see beyond BlackBerry (BlackBerry 7 anyone?). With BlackBerry 6 locked down, you know RIM's best and brightest must be hard at work on their next big thing?

I wonder if BlackBerry 7 (what I like to think of by my madeup codename as "BlackBerry Juice") will break with tradition and be a brand new operating system experience altogether for BlackBerry vs. building on top of 6. RIM may not have have bought Palm, but they did buy a company a few months back called QNX that was in the automotive infotainment space, so maybe there's a story to that acquisition that has yet to be told. Back at WES 2010 I was in the middle of a few conversations (drinking involved) where the speculation was about that acqusition having nothing to do about getting BlackBerry into cars, but was about their OS kernel, tools and engineering talent which apparently all kick ass. Who knows. Time reveals all. But with BlackBerry 6 around the corner (and I'm sure even more good things coming up after that), my BlackBerry excitement levels are building yet again. Sound off in the comments with your predictions on this one!

Source: PreCentral

Reader comments

So Research in Motion did look at buying Palm... what does that mean for BlackBerry beyond 6?


If RIM purchased Palm you would not have seen WebOS hit a BlackBerry device.

Any interest they had in Palm would have been to acquire their huge patent portfolio. Don't forget, they have been around for a long time, and in that time they've created and licensed some pretty amazing stuff. They also have (had) a lot of talent on board, but none of that talent would have stuck around to get moved over to RIM. RIM isn't innovative enough to keep talent like that on board for very long, especially when Apple and Google are luring their employees away.

Actually from what I've read in the comments people are looking at the situation as RIM could of had WebOS... the say reason Apple, Google, and a bunch of other top companies were interested in Palm it's not WebOS its, all 400+ patents that Palm holds and another 400+ in apps. So thats less lawsuits and deals needed when you own the rights to a lot of technology that companies like google, rim, apple, are using based on a palm license deal.

The relation for QNX goes beyond automotive aspects and this is something thats kind of been overlooked. QNX develops:

"Middleware, development tools, realtime operating system software and services for superior embedded design"

Essentially, QNX could be the ones designing the next OS for BlackBerry. And yes, RIM should have bought Palm at all costs, lol. Even if they did nothing with them (which would have been a shame) they'd still have the patent portfolio and could have adapted some ideas from there. And well, maybe...just maybe they'd have gone beyond that.

I'm not talking WebOS on a BlackBerry but some of it's functionality would have been better. RIM's current push is for all HTML and Javascript apps. WebOS dev tools would make sense here and in turn, some of that would have filtered to the BlackBerry OS.

I disagree that RIM should have purchased Palm.

First off, their cash on hand situation is waning.

As of March 2010, they had $1.91B, down from ~$2.5B at the same time the year before.

As of March 2010, HP had ~$14B cash on hand, that means a lot more wiggle room for acquisitions and risk.

HP paid ~$1.2B for Palm, that would have nearly wiped out RIM from a cash standpoint. Given that RIM's stock has been getting beat up pretty bad lately, they're probably better off with the cash. In fact, RIM has begun buying back stock because of the slump, probably a safe bet.

In addition to the $1.2B necessary to acquire Palm, RIM would have had to incur ridiculous expenses that always follow acquisitions. It would have taken a lot of time to restructure their company and the operations, merging divisions, locations, legal fees, etc. All told, it would have been closer to their total cash on hand.

It would have been neat to see RIM get a piece of the "patent pie", but licensing the patents from HP will be much cheaper with a lot less risk.

Where did you get that number from?

Actually their cash situation was even worse than I read. I just went over their cash flow statement for Q4 (year end) 2010, and it's actually $1.5B as of February 27th, 2010.

Granted, $1.5B in cash is pretty healthy, considering a lot of companies have serious issues with cash flow, but it wasn't enough to comfortably acquire a company the size of Palm. (comfort level compared to HP)

There are ways to raise capital for such investments, I won't deny that, but they have to keep their shareholders happy (I'm one of them), and they played it safe.

I figured you were looking at a different time period.

Don't forget, we're talking about should they have purchased Palm earlier this year. You're in a different fiscal year altogether.

Further, you're adding in short and long term investments, whereas I'm simply referring to the cash on hand. Check out page 7, the last four lines for a break down of the differences between their cash on hand, and equivalents. (short/long term investments)

I knew I had to get that $1.9B number somewhere.

Not to drag this on (I promise, this will be my last post)... I was looking at the next fiscal year because you said the date you used is March 2010. RIM's fiscal year ended at the end of February which was Feb 27, 2010. Cash and cash equivalents were $1.551 billion. A year ago, Feb 28, 2009, cash and cash equivalents were $835 million. I am not including short and long term investments. I'm not sure where you're seeing their cash go down from a year ago. Also, even though I'm not including them, the investment community refers to long and short term investments as cash. You also didn't look at HP's debts which are quite high with numerous recent aquisitions. Anyhow, I agree with you that RIM should not have bought PALM.

Haha, touche. I'm not trying to argue here, just looking at some financials. When I said March, I meant literally the first day of March, or basically year end 2010.

It's true that investments are highly liquid, I'm just trying to keep my reasoning simple here since this isn't an investment website.

According to some leaked information RIM placed a bid on Palm, HP countered, and RIM didn't up their bid. I think they realized that it might have put them in a less than ideal position financially.

Personally I'm glad that HP got a hold of Palm, they have a huge amount of resources and if anybody can make a WebOS tablet, it's HP. I think we can both agree that would be a pretty glorious thing.

Still, I'll always wonder what could have been if RIM upped their offer... *stares off into the distant sky*

what are you saying....
webOS on BB. i thought HP is about roll out some webOS based tablet.

QNX rtOS is best in automotive domain.
i hope RIM + QNX will come up something like NOKIA Terminal Mode for automobiles.

Rest, Time Will Tell

Coming back to Blackberry if they released a truly consumer device with cutting edge hardware, running some kind of Blackberry flavored version of Android.

It could actually be a cool as hell device if RIM would get off their ass and start innovating. The Google experience with the Blackberry messaging experience.

Key word is "would". Although RIM buying Palm would have been extremely favorable to the company and a fanboy's wet dream, I doubt RIM would have utilized it in a Blackberry device. Like the first post said, it's patents. Given RIM's stance on the carriers & data as well, I could see them actually stripping parts away from WebOS. Would have been epic though, it would have put RIM on a whole new playing field with the big boys and given their position already, would have made it easy to seep into their market share.

One can only dream now...

I'd say RIM should invest in to new developments.
Like new devices, new software etc...

There is no real BB-style device in sight, OS6 also seems
to be a mix up between already existing OS versions, like: Apples and Android...

It's more than time for to bring something really new, inovative...

RIM brings nothing new and the want Palm??
Palm did suffer from that thing, which RIM is stearing to...

WHat it means is that CrackBerry will keep putting out boring, nearly-useless "filler" articles until something exciting happens with BB.

Personally, I'd love for Google and RIM to hookup, if not through a merger, then at least a corporate partnership. Then when my next upgrade comes around I won't be conflicted about switching to Android or sticking with BlackBerry.

In all reality, the two combined would be a force to be reckoned with. Google has so far failed on the enterprise front so they could keep BBOS and BES for corporate use (in the same way WinMo6 is getting reenvisioned) while consumer devices can run Android and get rid of BIS in favor of integration with google cloud services and port over the things like BBM and the like. The blackberry brand is still arguably stronger than both Palm and WinMo right now. Comined with Google they'd have alot of marketing muscle that could stand up well against Apple.

An ex-QNX person with connections claims that RIM has been hiring QNX insiders for 2 years. Since 2 years is RIM's stated product development cycle, we might hear something interesting soon.

Did you guys read the article on Gizmodo too? It says RIM actually was supposed to be the winner and they completely blew it.

Of course they did....this would have been a great matching

BB 6 would not look so generic ....HP even plans to utilize there OS

Research in slow motion ...strikes again