by Tom Kaneshige

Will Apple Invest in RIM to Honor Steve Jobs’ Dying Wish?

Mar 30, 20123 mins
Consumer ElectronicsInnovationiPhone

It's time for Apple CEO Tim Cook to surprise us. Here's a suggestion: Throw money at struggling RIM for its patent portfolio and CIO relationships. Make headway in the enterprise. Cripple Android. Make Steve proud.

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this. They are scared to death because they know they are guilty.” -Steve Jobs

Has Apple lost its edge? Is there no fire in the belly? Only five months since Steve Jobs passed, Apple already looks like just another faceless company.

Even its surprises lack drama.

Tim Cook and Steve Jobs

Case-in-point: One of the biggest talking points for the third-generation iPad was its ordinary name, the New iPad. “We don’t want to be predictable,” Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller explained. Listen up, New Apple, you don’t want to be boring, either.

It’s clear that Apple’s magic is starting to fade without Jobs at the helm. Secrecy without power and passion is like playing hide-and-go-seek by yourself. Why bother? Alas, not all is lost. CEO Tim Cook can get it all back with one fell swoop.

Everyone is waiting for the mild-mannered Cook to do something unexpectedly awesome. We want to see if Cook has the chutzpah to be Jobs’ successor, and not merely follow in his footsteps. Here’s one way he can do it: Invest in struggling RIM (much like Microsoft did for Apple in 1997), wield RIM’s impressive patent portfolio like Excaliber, and strike a blow against evil Google.

Avenge Jobs, and the Apple fanbois will love you for it.

Shareholders will love you, too, for crashing down the floodgates that are keeping iOS from flourishing in the enterprise. After all, RIM’s greatest assets are its flagship BlackBerry Enterprise Server and CIO relationships. Sure, it’s something Jobs would never have done because he absolutely abhorred the enterprise market. Heck, he once chided CIOs as chief information orifices.

But the time is ripe for Apple to usher its products more formally into the enterprise. These are the heady days of the consumerization of IT and bring-your-own-device policies that pit employees against IT departments. Apple iPhones and iPads have largely driven these trends. Now Apple can grease the wheels with security and management solutions deeply integrated with iOS, making it more palatable to CIOs. This could lead to an iOS explosion.

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By driving Apple into the enterprise, Cook can make his mark on the company – and it’s in his wheelhouse.

Cook’s smartest moves have been in the back channels that ensure the success of Apple products. He has made sweeping deals to lock down components overseas. While not as publicly inspiring as, say, Siri in the iPhone 4S, supply chain moves that ignite pricing wars scare the hell out of rivals. When it comes to RIM’s valuable patents and CIO relationships, Cook can essentially do the same thing.

The time to strike, of course, is right now.

Apple is looking to do something with its $100 billion war chest; Apple’s recently announced dividend, which will reportedly amount to around $9.6 billion per year, won’t come anywhere near depleting the company’s cash pile.

Then there’s RIM, the once-high-flying mobile king unable to pull out of one of the most shocking tailspins in recent tech history. RIM shareholders would crave an Apple bailout.

Yes, it’s time to invoke the fiery, competitive spirit of Steve Jobs.