Mobile

RIM and Lenovo could be smartphone soulmates

When Lenovo bought IBM’s ThinkPad business in 2005, it inherited one of the most recognizable laptop brands of all time. Now, the Chinese electronics giant could do the same with the BlackBerry.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Lenovo chief financial officer Wong Wai Ming said that his company was exploring a variety of acquisition targets, including RIM.

“We’ll have no hesitation if the right opportunity comes along that could benefit us and shareholders,” he said, as reported by Bloomberg.

The news comes days after RIM CEO Thorsten Heins reiterated that his company was looking at a number of “strategic options,” including selling its BlackBerry hardware unit.

A Lenovo-RIM deal would be an interesting, if slightly uncomfortable, marriage between two companies that have so far had middling success in the post-iPhone world: RIM’s struggles are well documented, and Lenovo has tried is hands at smartphones multiple times, just not in North America.

Where the deal could work well is in the enterprise, where both the ThinkPad and BlackBerry brands have been successful. But the enterprise factor also breeds its own share of problems. Considering how U.S. lawmakers have greeted the rise of Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei, it’s not a stretch to assume that a Lenovo acquisition of the security-focused RIM wouldn’t be received well — even if RIM is Canadian.

The better strategy for both RIM and Lenovo is a bit more simple: Rather than buy RIM outright, Lenovo could simply licence BlackBerry 10 with its own hardware (which RIM has also said is an option). Not only will this keep lawmakers (relatively) quiet, but it could also be the key to Lenovo getting a foothold in the North American market. Oh, and it could also save RIM’s butt, too.


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.