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Reuters: Under Mounting Pressure, RIM May Partner with Microsoft

RIM and Nokia: each spent time as the king of the mobile mountain, before the rise of Apple and Android sent them (and their stock prices) tumbling back down to earth. The two fallen giants may have another common thread before long: Windows Phones. After RIM posted horrifying quarterly results and announced 5,000 more layoffs yesterday, multiple sources have told Reuters that RIM may be forced to embrace Microsoft as a life raft.

The three sources say that Steve Ballmer himself asked RIM to ditch the BlackBerry OS and focus its efforts on Windows 8 and Windows Phones instead, in exchange for terms similar to the ones Nokia has received. Microsoft could also invest in RIM and subsidize some of the expenses associated with the switch. Earlier this week, sources sung a similar tale for Britain's Sunday Times newspaper.

Or, if that scenario falls through -- which is very possible, as the same sources say that RIM's board prefers staying independent and waiting for the (delayed) launch of the BB10 operating system -- Microsoft could give RIM a cash boost by purchasing some of the company's patents.

RIM's actually in fairly decent shape financially, with $2.2 billion in the bank and no outstanding debts, but that's sure to change as BB7 phones only become more and more obsolete in the face of new devices and operating systems from Apple and Google.

RIM is also said to be considering splitting its business in two and either selling off or opening up its valuable messaging network. Former CEO Jim Balsillie was said to be considering licensing BBM to other carriers and services before being forced to step down in March. The RIM board and current CEO Thorsten Heins reportedly nixed that in the bud in favor of focusing on BB10, but the newest troubles have reopened the board's eyes to the possibility, Reuters' sources say.