Anton Wahlman of the Globe and Mail wrote an extremely interesting article about why it would benefit both parties if Google bought RIM.
At first glance, the idea may seem a bit far-fetched but Anton raises some great points. RIM has been on shaky ground lately reporting poor sales for its PlayBook which was supposed to revitalize the brand. It’s poor operating system and lack of apps have also started to tarnish the once believed “untarnishable” BlackBerry image resulting in job cuts and reduced sales forecasts. Even so, RIM still has a respectable amount of cash sitting in the bank and brand image across the world. So what does this all mean? RIM is a prime acquisition target – especially by a giant like Google.
If an acquirer were to purchase RIM now in its currently depressed state, they may be able to purchase it for cheap and revitalize the company making use of everything it has to offer. Google is in an excellent position as it has strengths where RIM currently has weaknesses. Google, with all its product-development focus, can easily bring RIM out of the dark ages. However, it is not what Google can do for RIM that makes the acquisition a good idea, but rather what RIM can do for Google. I speak of course, of RIM’s portfolio of patents and other intangibles like intellectual property as well as brand (which has been strong until recently).
Google has recently lost a number of high-profile bids for patents and is spending more time in court than they would like. If Google does not start to protect itself soon it may be open to all shorts of patent-based lawsuits which could seriously harm its profitability. This may not be as big a concern as I make it out to be, however, it always helps to have some more ammunition in your arsenal.
BlackBerry has also been the dominant name in the business world and Google could surely leverage BlackBerry’s success in the business world for its own means as well. Android phones are far from being seen as business-oriented so perhaps there are some pointers to take from RIM on that note.
Of course, there are many issues that would arise with such an acquisition and perhaps it would fail. On the surface, though, it looks like there could be something here in the making.
Update: I was almost right. Seems they were looking for someone to buy for patents but they went with Motorola instead
Update 2: Turns out Google might be sneekier than we thought. Looks like they screwed over Apple and Microsoft
What do you think? What RIM be a good acquisition target for Google? Why or why not?
Obviously only time will tell whether or not Google+ truly takes off and begins to take over Facebook but I do have some thoughts on what makes Google+ great and what is holding it back.
+1 The sparks integrated news feed is a great idea. If it takes off, it would serve to keep you in Google+ instead of having to venture off the social grid for your news digest.
+1 The integration with Google products is nice. It is always good to have a common platform for things like email, networking, news etc.
+/- It’s layout is very similar to Facebook. Good because it is familiar to us, and bad because it is not a new and exciting concept.
-1 No “wall”. Instead you “share” your posts with circles directly on your own feed. What this means is that there is essentially no point in having a profile as people will not be visiting your wall to share with you.
-1 The idea of circles is neat but I already find myself adding everyone to the same circle so I don’t have to bother trying to figure out how to share with. Facebook has taught us to share with everyone and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.
-1 Launch was a failure (in my opinion) simply because they have restricted those who can join. Perhaps they are trying to generate a buzz around it (which they have) but they could always lose out on the window of opportunity to steal share from Facebook. By the time they open it to everybody Google+ might be a thing of the past.
Overall, Google+ has had a fairly promising start but I can certainly see it fading away like other failed Google social attempts. They failed to get everyone on at once which means people are already bored of playing on it with the 3 people who actually got invites. This is certainly the downfall for me as I have no reason to go on and play around with few people on the network.
In the end, Google+ will need to find a way to convince the vast majority of Facebook users to switch, otherwise Facebook will stick. No one wants to use a social network with only 5% of their friends. For now, I’m still an avid Facebook user.
What are your thoughts?
Last week Google revealed its own version of the Facebook “like button” known as Google +1 or the “+1 button”. The +1 button has received a lot of attention lately but many bloggers, including myself, are skeptical.
For a more detailed discussion, please visit Shum’s podcast to listen to our discussion on the topic
Over the years Google has constantly been working on improvements on its pride-and-joy – the search algorithm. For years Google has collected data from click-throughs in order to get a fix on what users liked and what they did not; so it makes sense for them to pursue a means of eliciting direct feedback from users. The problem is, like Google Wave, which lived a short life, Google +1 may be headed for the same fate.
I do not want to get ahead of myself by predicting its downfall before it has even fully launched but I do have a number of reservations about the service that Google will have to overcome if they are to succeed:
- Google does search well – social, not so much
Google has tried to launch social-oriented services in the past, such as Google Wave, that were not well received. With sites like Facebook and Twitter already on the scene with hundreds of millions of users, it will be hard to convince people to port their social networks/contacts over in order to fully benefit from +1
- Lack of connections
Building off the previous point, many users like myself make good use of Google’s services. However, the vast majority of our contacts may not reside within Google’s services. I, for one, use MANY of Google’s services and yet have only a handful of contacts on Gmail, for example. Google will need to make it very easy to port contacts over and and more importantly, give them a reason to do so (it is not enough to move over to a new social network yourself – to fully benefit from it, you need to convince ALL your friends to do the same)
- The heat is coming
And by heat I mean a Facebook/Microsoft Bing alliance. Google’s golden egg is its search engine which they are trying to improve with social search, however, they would have been in a great position to align with a powerful social network like Facebook. Instead, they have decided to compete with Facebook’s “like button”. They may soon be in over their heads if rumours are true that Facebook will offer search powered by Bing.
- Language interaction
Interestingly, Google has supposedly chosen +1 as its branding so that it can be easily ported to other communities that speak different languages. Brilliant, except that it lacks the universal language integration of, say, the word “like”. When someone decides to “like” a link, it makes sense – it’s plain English. When someone +1’s something – it is much more awkward to say. “Hey Bob, I sooo +1’d that link you posted” . . . Going a step beyond that, one of Google’s claims to fame is that fact that its brand name has become a verb. You don’t search something on Google, you Google it! This amazing branding will be nearly impossible to pull off with +1
In summary, I think Google is on the right track with +1 but instead decided to go it alone and compete with other giants like Facebook and Microsoft. I firmly believe they may have been better off to strike a deal. Facebook’s like buttons already permeate the internet, why should we all change now because Google says we should?
In the end, Google might be -1.
For more information, check out the Google System blog and please post any pertinent links or comments. Perhaps you disagree? I am always open for discussion.