The tech rumor mill found a new target this week with speculation that Microsoft is pondering a purchase of Adobe. Adobe's stock went up on the news, but sources have all but squelched the gossip at this point. Besides, Microsoft doesn't need the headaches that would come with acquiring Adobe, and it should really be exploring a purchase of RIM.
What headaches, you say? Well, Adobe software has security flaws and vulnerabilities to rival Microsoft, and attackers have made applications like Adobe Reader a favorite target. Adobe's success at establishing a ubiquitous, cross-platform presence with software like Reader and Flash makes exploiting it sort of hacker's Holy Grail. Microsoft has enough on its security plate without going out and buying a new weakest link.
Adobe is really a much better fit for Google. The two are already allies in the war with Apple over Flash. For every jab or criticism Apple has levied at Adobe Flash, Google has embraced the software and stepped up its efforts to work with Adobe to integrate Flash functionality into the Android mobile platform. Google also makes more sense in that it has a similar cross-platform approach and presence that isn't completely tied to the Windows operating system.
If Microsoft feels left out of the tech buying frenzy and is in the mood to go shopping, it really should be looking at acquiring Research In Motion. The world of technology is evolving from the traditional server-desktop infrastructure dominated by the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office, to a mobile connected world that Microsoft is late to join and struggling to find a successful strategy for. Meanwhile, RIM has established its smartphones as the de facto standard for mobile business communications.
BlackBerry still retains its lead as a smartphone platform, but RIM's software and product line have left something to be desired in recent years. The Apple iPhone has chipped away at RIM's market share, and the Android invasion is rapidly growing to surpass them both. But, with the launch of the iPhone-esque BlackBerry Torch, followed by the announcement of the impressive (at least on paper) PlayBook tablet, RIM may still have some fight in it.
Enter Microsoft. Microsoft is set to enter the smartphone fray again with the impending launch of the Windows Phone 7 platform, and Ballmer continues to promise a Windows tablet coming soon. But, even if Windows Phone 7 is successful it will have a hard time cracking 20 percent market share, and a tablet based on the Windows desktop OS is simply a bad idea.
Microsoft should acquire RIM and figure out how to integrate the mobile technologies and strategies. Microsoft could instantly own the leading smartphone platform, and the BlackBerry culture that is such an integral part of business mobility today.
It's just a thought. Now, if Steve Ballmer and an entourage of lawyers would just visit the RIM headquarters, maybe this rumor can catch a spark.