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The big buzz in the smartphone world of late is the speculation, sparked by a "suggestion" from a Reuters analyst, that Microsoft might be buying Research in Motion (RIM) maker of the BlackBerry. What would such a move mean for both companies, and what would it mean for their competitors in the smartphone world, like Apple and, now, Google? No one knows whether or not Bill Gates' mammoth giant, creator of the Windows operating system, really will take over ownership of the BlackBerry, but everyone agrees that if it does, mammoth changes are in store for the smartphone industry. Google, for one, the newest entry into the smartphone game, with its inaugural implementation of its Google Android mobile operating system, the HTC G-1 (aka the Google Phone), could be in for a bigger battle than it had planned. The union of RIM, who claims 2 of the top 5 best-selling smartphones in the U.S. (the BlackBerry Curve and the BlackBerry Pearl) as well as the latest contender for the Apple iPhone 3G's touchscreen throne, and Microsoft, whose Windows Mobile operating system (aka WinMo) runs smartphones from most of the major manufacturers in the industry, including: HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Asus, LG, and more. It's not unreasonable to suspect that this merger will actually take place, either. Looking at the current U.S. and global economic crisis, and how its caused the demise of several major financial institutions and the takeover of several others, it's only logical that similar events will occur in other industries. And RIM, with its steadily sliding stock price, seems an ideal candidate for such a buyout. One problem that Microsoft would have to face, if it does buy out RIM and take over the BlackBerry is the device's user-loyalty. It isn't called the Crackberry for nothing. BlackBerry users are generally devoted customers, who've grown accustomed to the BB operating system in all its glorious functionality (particularly for emailing, messaging, and general internet use) may not take too kindly to a BlackBerry running on Windows Mobile. One of the reasons why Microsoft would want to own the BlackBerry, in fact, is its reliability and resourcefulness for improved productivity in the household and corporate enterprise alike. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server solution is the best of its kind. Microsoft would be foolish to jeopardize that in favor of sticking its WinMo OS in every smartphone it can. There is also at least one way in which such an acquisition would serve as a step sideways, and that is in Microsoft's rebranding efforts. Microsoft has been seen for most its existence as the businessperson's platform. It is therefore devoting a great deal of energy to targeting the general


consumer, especially the youth and "hip" markets (currently Apple's domains). Acquiring a company best known for its enterprise solutions will do nothing to bolster those efforts. As BlackBerry gets ready to launch its latest foray into the smartphone wars, the BlackBerry Storm, its first touchscreen device and a clear shot at Apple's industry leading iPhone 3G, one wonders if RIM can't pull itself up out of its current mire on its own.

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