Lenovo in talks to acquire Research in Motion
ThinkPad maker interested in boosting its smartphone know-how
Lenovo, a company associated more with its ThinkPad range of laptops and tablets than smartphones, has declared that it is considering an acquisition of troubled communications giant Research In Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry range of smartphones and tablets.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Lenovo's chief financial officer Wong Wai Ming confirmed that his company is "looking at opportunities" to extend its smartphone business unit by acquiring another company, with RIM being one of "many others" Lenovo is looking into purchasing.
Lenovo has already made tentative steps into the smartphone market, partnering with Intel to launch one of the first handsets based on the company's Medfield Atom system-on-chip processors - an attempt to challenge the dominance of the mobile market from Cambridge-based chip designer ARM - but while the device's performance was impressive, the company opted to limit the geographical availability of the handset and leave European customers hoping for a Medfield handset to purchase Motorola's Razr i instead.
RIM, meanwhile, is a company which is struggling to reinvent itself, having been caught off-guard by the sudden rise in smartphone popularity. Its latest handsets, including the BlackBerry Curve 9320 and BlackBerry Torch 9860 have been disappointing, and while the company has a new L-series handset and BlackBerry 10 operating system waiting in the wings its long-delayed launch has been giving investors cause for concern.
The purchase of RIM would mean a significant shift for Lenovo: currently, the company concentrates on devices based on Google's Android operating system, while the acquisition of RIM would mean a shift to the upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform. For RIM, however, Lenovo's interest could prove the lifeline it needs to survive.