The stock of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion rose modestly on Wednesday on reports that several potential buyers had recently looked at the company.
One of those reports, by Reuters, said that one potential buyer, Amazon, stopped looking at the company because they weren't interested in buying it, which wouldn't have been good news. But the Wall Street Journal stoked the hopes of clobbered RIM shareholders by reporting that the talks broke off because RIM simply wasn't yet ready to consider selling.
More than a decade ago, with the introduction of the first BlackBerry, RIM basically invented the smartphone market. And for years its stock was a massive home run.
In the past two years, however, RIM's stock has been demolished as the company has fallen behind Apple and Google's Android in the smartphone race. (See: Palm 2.0? Research In Motion Tumbles After Another Lousy Quarter)
Complicating matters for the company, the smartphone business is now becoming a "platform" business, in which third-parties build applications on top of the leading phones. This means that market share is critical, and RIM's share has been crushed.
Can the company come back? This seems unlikely. To do so, it would have to have a quantum leap in product performance, and developers would have to embrace its platform.
But RIM still has tens of millions of devoted users, and a huge amount of technical and supply-chain expertise. So, at some point and price, another player in the smartphone market--perhaps Microsoft, Nokia, Amazon, or Google--might well buy what's left of it. Just as HP did with the wreckage of Palm.