September 20, 2012

RIM Gets In Bed With Microsoft

Every now and again, if you squint real hard, it looks as if RIM is trying to paddle their way to safety as they’re plummeting from the top of the smartphone tree. They seem to hit every branch on the way down, too. First, consumers quit buying, then corporations began implementing BYO (Bring Your Own) policies, allowing employees to use their own devices instead of the once-standard issued BlackBerry. In just under 2 weeks, reports have come out that many retailers haven’t managed to sell a single RIM device throughout the month of March.

This week, Yahoo announced they’d be giving each of their full time employees a choice of new smartphones free of charge. Not only was RIM not on the list for employees to choose from, this plan was implemented as a way to remove the struggling Internet business from the RIM ecosystem. That’s got to hurt.

Many have looked to the delayed and elusive BB10, RIM’s new operating system for BlackBerry, to arrive on a white horse, ready to liberate the faithful and trounce all detractors. Though this OS has yet to be released, RIM is apparently hard at work on the thing, as evidence by a press release yesterday announcing the company has signed a patent licensing agreement which allows them to use some of Microsoft’s tech in their newest offerings. Microsoft and RIM were able to sign an agreement which allows the latter “broad access” to Extended File Allocation Table’s for use on BlackBerry devices. Often referred to as “exFAT,” this technology is used to optimize files for use on flash storage, which is used on nearly all modern smartphones and tablets.

“Today’s smartphones and tablets require the capacity to display richer images and data than traditional cellular phones,” said David Kaefer, general manager of Intellectual Property (IP) Licensing at Microsoft in the press statement.

“This agreement with RIM highlights how a modern file system, such as exFAT can help directly address the specific needs of customers in the mobile industry.”

Wall Street apparently stands in favor of RIM using some of Microsoft’s technology, as stock prices spiked upon this announcement, according to the Wall Street Journal. Shares topped out at $7.81 shortly after the announcement, but then quickly dropped again to $7.38. Overall, shares of RIM saw a 1.8% increase yesterday, though shares are still down 30% over the past 3 months.

Though some may view this announcement as promising news for the ever failing company, this move is seemingly contradictory to statements made by Thorsten Heins, RIM’s latest CEO.

Heins has claimed before that he plans to enter into licensing agreements, but with RIM receiving the paycheck as opposed to writing it, as is the case with this latest deal.

For their part, Microsoft has no problem entering into licensing agreements. According to the press statement, Redmond has more than 1100 such agreements with companies around the world, such as Canon, Panasonic, SANYO and Sony, just to name a few.

RIM hasn’t said how they plan to implement their new found permission to use exFAT, though it’s likely this tech will show itself inside BB10, which for now is slated to be released in the first quarter of 2013.

Image Credit: Anneka / Shutterstock

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