Will RIM Make your Next PBX?

In July of 2004 Avaya and Motorola explained to me how their new FMC partnership would be great for business users. They even launched a new phone called the CN620 in fact. I haven’t heard much about the initiative between the companies in awhile and this could mean it either didn’t go according to plan or I just missed the evolving news. The issue hasn’t been important enough for me to pick up the phone and call the fine people over at Avaya and ask them about it.
I was reminded of this old news today when I came across this article about how Avaya and Nokia are collaborating on dual-mode devices for the enterprise. If you are the lucky user of a Nokia E60, E61 or E70 you are able to now download the Avaya one-X Mobile software for Symbian Dual Mode application and you are all set.
A big fear for a company like Avaya and even Cisco, Nortel and others has got to be that Research In Motion will continue to grow. In fact I wonder if this is part of the reason Avaya is moving quickly to have the best dual mode solution possible. RIM has been on an absolute tear and their stock is at a new high yet again. It seems every week the company makes a new high and the Canadian based wireless leader is now worth over $63 billion! By contrast Avaya is worth under $8 billion.
What could RIM do with this market cap and the huge amount of cash flow it generates? It could come on strong as a PBX player by rebranding an Asterisk-based system or even buy a company like Avaya – and quite easily I might add.
Then they go after the CTOs and telecom decision-makers in all the organizations where they have a BES. Game over for many PBX companies.
Much the same way Cisco used the router angle to attack the telecom budget; RIM can use the BES decision-makers to influence telecom purchases.
Of course this is easier said than done but it is an area Research in Motion must be considering.
The downside may be that the enterprise voice business is not as glamorous as the gadget business right now and a huge acquisition in anything other than wireless would likely cut the company’s valuation. A smaller acquisition could make more sense. Even as an experiment I think the Blackberry maker may be inclined to try this idea out to ensure they explore all avenues of growth for shareholders.
In an article this past May titled RIM Does Unified Communications I explained how RIM is already looking at the PBX integration space and even playing in it. Could this be the first step in an evolving strategy? I’ll be sure to let you know as I find out.

Disclosure: The author owns shares in RIMM

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