Will MSFT Be 'Compelled' to Buy RIM?

Today RIM reported Q3 results. They were positive:

These sales figures fly in the face of the gloomy narrative surrounding RIM's outlook. But the totality of evidence about demand for RIM devices doesn't add up. Surveys consistently show RIM's BlackBerry handsets as "less desired" or lower in customer satisfaction than the iPhone or Android. There's also heavily conflicting data on BlackBerry driven web-usage, with StatCounter showing more web access from RIM handsets in North America than the iPhone.

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Are RIM's sales being buoyed by "two for one" deals and legacy enterprise demand? Not according to RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie who reported strong interest in RIM's tablet and forecast a very strong Q4.

Meanwhile we don't have any solid data on Windows Phone sales. Microsoft's conspicuous silence suggests a lack of momentum, however. Yesterday mobile ad network Chitika seemed to confirm modest-to-poor sales with data based on analysis of traffic on its network that

iPhone Android and WP7

There's a software update reportedly coming in February for Windows Phones. However that may not do very much to improve consumer demand. In my brief time "playing" with one last week I was generally impressed with the handset. However I don't like the homescreen aesthetically. 

If it wants to boost interest in Windows Phones Microsoft may need to take some radical steps soon. 

One of the frequent "memes" in the mobile world argues that Microsoft will need to buy RIM (or Nokia) if it cannot independently gain traction with its own devices. Next year will be a critical one for Microsoft, less so for RIM it would appear. However attempting to Buy RIM (or Nokia) would be a very expensive proposition for the company. 

RIM's market capitalization is $32 billion. But it's not out of the question for Redmond, which was willing to pay $44 billion to acquire Yahoo two years ago.