I was reading about the rumor that BlackBerry might soon support Android apps and I looked at my company provided Curve and started musing – what would I do if I were in RIM‘s shoes? The obvious problem is that Blackberry has lost its cool. It is now the phone of the stodgy midlife crisis set. No amount of ads with twenty-somethings talking admiringly about messaging on a beach will make these devices hip or even remotely interesting. And yes I used the word hip – proving I am old and unsophisticated.
So if you are RIM what do you do? You acquire enterprise applications to deliver on your platform that your customer base needs while you still have them. But who to buy? Why not OpenText?
A few observations brought me to this idea,
- First – An existing brand will never out cool Apple. Somebody might one day do it but it will not be any company that goes by an acronym.
- Second – The generation in the corporate funding driver’s seat is still motivated by risk aversion and BlackBerry still “feels” safer in the board room than either iOS or Android.
- Third – The convergence of communications and computing is accelerating and its only a matter of time before cloud services become such a large part of the business that traditional enterprise application and computing vendors either acquire or are acquired by those in communications.
The single biggest problem in the mobile world is its lack of stickiness. Anything that a provider of either device or service can do to improve affinity is valuable so if I can start to bring along my own familiar enterprise application capability beyond simple messaging to my mobility crazed customer base I am better positioned to influence them to stay with me – or at least create a supplemental revenue stream.
So why OpenText? I have been the happy contrarian when it comes to OT acquisition rumors. They are a perpetual favorite to speculate on because of their position in the market and the fact that they are not owned by a larger more diversified concern. As I have stated though – most of the “easy” suitors in the business application space (ORCL, SAP, MSFT ) are either distracted by other concerns or not interested in spending $1bln+ on an overlapped portfolio of offerings that duplicate capabilities they already have access to. So then if there is to be a buyer – they must have a need to get into the market, not already have this capability and be big enough to absorb the spend.
Another idea that make the pairing interesting is that they are neighbors – literally. They could meet at the Starbucks on King St. in Waterloo to negotiate the deal. Believe it or not that matters. Merging cultures in large acquisitions is hard but adding a regional bond to the mix gives the idea a boost.
On the other side of the argument is the very rational position that delivering not creating enterprise applications is what RIM does – ECM is not their core. They have a decision to make though. Whether RIM likes it or not they cannot be the same company a year from now if they are to survive. They need to rethink what their strength and value in the market really is. They are not fun. They are functional. They should embrace that and evolve the confidence corporate users have in them into a dependence by providing the full stack of applications that people will continue to need to do their jobs.
Lastly to me the mobile business world boils down to three C’s’. Connectivity , Content, and Collaboration. OT brings along an understanding of the value of business content and that combined with confidently secure mobility means putting these two together might not be as weird an idea as I first thought.