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Is Research in Motion where Apple was before Steve Jobs came back?

The International Consumer Electronics Show Highlights Latest Gadgets

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A Blackberry Bold with the new Slacker personalized radio application is displayed at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 8, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I've been advocating, to pretty much anyone who will listen, that Apple should buy Research in Motion, the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry smartphone and has seen its stock price completely collapse in the past few years, falling more than 70 percent. Apple, mean while, has gone from around $350 per share per-holiday last year to more than $600 this week. 

Apple's success has yielded a cash hoard of $100 billion, some of which Cupertino is dealing with through a dividend and stock-buyback plan. But there's still tons of money left over. I say, Why not buy RIM? At a market cap of $7.25 billion, Apple could pick up the dominant player in the business-and-government smartphone market and plug the one gaping hole in its dominance of consumer electronics.

Apple could do this, possibly using cash that it's keeping outside the U.S. (RIM is Canadian! Apple wouldn't have to re-patriate the money!), and still have enough left over to buy, you know, the Eiffel Tower or something...

OK, so you don't think that's such a great idea. Wither RIM, then? Well, the company reports fiscal fourth quarter results on Thursday, and those results are expected to disappointing to Wall Street (although "disappointing" is relative — RIM is still making money and has no debt). The comments on this AllThingsD post contain an interesting scenario: What if RIM is where Apple was before Steve Jobs came back?

There are some key similarities. Apple, too, had seen its share price hammered down. But Apple continued to have a loyal customer base — a cult, even, although a much smaller cult than today. All that it took was for Jobs to return and begin remaking the business. Easy!

RIM just moved its controversial co-CEOs aside, so a return-of-the-visionary set-up isn't in the cards. That said, if RIM can re-excite its base — primarily business customers who still think of iPhones and Androids as toys rather than productivity aids — it could start the recovery process. Obviously, a lot is riding on the introduction of the BlackBerry 10 operating system and new devices later this year. 

But unlike Apple in the late 1990s, BlackBerry isn't headed for bankruptcy. Far from it. So if Apple doesn't come to the rescue...well, RIM could save itself. Although fans are certain to endure some more pain in the short term.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.


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