Striking while the iron’s hot: Should Microsoft buy Research in Motion?

With Microsoft and Nokia locked into a deeply integrated partnership, and on the heels of an announcement that will see Microsoft’s Bing technology become a BlackBerry smartphone standard by year’s end – not to mention RIM’s plunging stock – it seems almost painfully obvious: Microsoft, buy RIM.

This is the opinion of Globe and Mail columnist Fabrice Taylor, who suggests that, akin to the Microsoft-Nokia fusion, it’s a necessary merge in order to fight Apple.

Both companies share an irksome problem called Apple. Both companies recently disappointed investors, in part because of this problem. Both companies are struggling because they can’t innovate with the vitality of Steve Jobs and Co. And both companies are desperate for a solution. You could even argue that it’s a matter of life or death.

Fabrice’s article goes on to suggest that, while RIM “pretty much invented the smartphone,” Apple quickly surpassed the Waterloo-based pioneer’s crowning achievements, leaving the companies in a situation where a “bantamweight [is] trying to avoid a knockout punch from [a] heavyweight.”

Citing Apple’s “long history of innovation” and its culture of bright, thriving talent, the column points out that Microsoft and RIM both went from masterful creators of groundbreaking technology to slow-moving antiques struggling to keep up with advanced competition.

With Nokia at its side and RIM nestled tightly in its arms, Microsoft could almost have a shot at taking on the faster, slicker Apple (and Google). Otherwise, both Microsoft and RIM may be risking it all:

Microsoft could buy RIM, including a premium, for cash in the bank. Why would RIM accept such an offer? Because the economics of its business are starting to deteriorate as competition – not just from Apple – crushes its profitability. That, in turn, makes it harder to be more innovative. Being part of a much bigger company would give RIM synergies and the financial security to concentrate on products.

While this union is no guaranteed win-win, doing nothing seems like a guaranteed lose-lose.

What do you think? Would Microsoft purchasing RIM be a good idea for the two companies?