I have no idea if Microsoft is even remotely interested in buying RIM. I don't claim to know any insider sources that would tell me and if I did I wouldn't blabber about it on a blog. The idea was proposed in this article from Hugo Miller and Dianielle Kucera on Bloomberg. Not to be left out of the noise and hedge their bets an article by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry suggests that the bargain is too sweet to pass on.
Why is there all this fuss over Microsoft? Where is the pressure on other technology companies? This isn't just my opinion, when you look at the comments on Gobry's story you see plenty of knowledgable people suggesting that this isn't a good idea for Microsoft. There are a number of reasons why but the commenter "reason" points out that there is a poor track record for some acquisitions. I do have one good reason that might be worth it for Microsoft. If they buy RIM, they can effectively kill the company and replace Blackberry with WP7 moving forward.
But what about some other companies. HP is a good example. They bought Palm and are no doubt going to give WebOS a big push with their Enterprise clients. They could take the same approach in an acquisition and push WebOS as the replacement to Blackberry. This sounds like a heavy lifting job and the transition might be too complicated to really make it worthwhile since Blackberry is loosing market share. Important point to note is market share doesn't necessarily mean they are loosing number of devices in the hands of users.
There is another computer company that might make sense, Dell. One could argue that they don't really have a serious play in mobile and would need to get serious if they want to keep up. Like HP their clients would likely welcome the acquisition. It would also get them back in the game to compete with HP.
That leads me to another thought. While some might be saying it somewhere it would seem other likely candidates would include Motorola, Samsung or HTC. Why not, they don't have to only support Blackberry since they support multiple OS's today. This would give one of these guys more control to dictate the path of a smartphone OS that isn't dictated by Google or Microsoft and already has an installed user base around the world. It also depends on how much they will cater to carriers demands too since the carriers can put some pressure on a hardware company to make changes that might not be the best for users.
Another potential scenario, and more likely in my estimation, is a private equity firm will jump all over the potential to trim the company and attempt to gain more traction before unloading them. This make sense and I suspect nobody would be surprised if this is what ultimately happens.
There is a long shot in the retail space. Consider retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.com. Neither are opposed to working on their own hardware. I suspect a recurring revenue stream coming from the services would be attractive too. Amazon has an app store and their Kindle is already a 'mobile' device in most respects. The downside for these guys is the OS is more of a corporate resource so they would need to shift to a more consumer and developer friendly version that will take time to build. It could hold more risk for them than hardware companies.
This is going to be an interesting thing to watch. Personally I don't think the market can support all of the players long term. Things are changing so fast that it is hard to keep up and consolidation seems likely sooner or later.