Bizarro Tech News: Nokia and RIM merge behind Meego/Tizen smartphone OS

Waterloo - Research in Motion and Finnish phone maker Nokia have today announced a merger of their companies in response to overwhelming competition from Apple's iOS devices and Google's Android. The combined company will keep the Nokia name, but adopt the Blackberry brand for smartphones based on the Tizen OS (formerly known as Meego and a half dozen other names over the years).

"We believe this merger brings together the very best in hardware design, enterprise expertise, and one of the most recognizable brands on the planet," said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who will remain CEO of the new company. Under terms of the merger, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins will stay on in an unspecified capacity within the smartphone business.

Both companies, once powerhouses in the cell phone industry, have undergone significant changes in light of intense competition in the high margin smartphone arena. Apple's iPhone, and Google's Android operating system have risen to dominance in the industry, while Nokia's recent gamble on MSFT's Windows Phone led the company to yet another "burning platform," a phrase Elop made popular when he led Nokia into the MSFT partnership.

Going forward, the new company will blend their technologies across their product portfolio. All handsets, even low-end feature or "dumbphones," will incorporate RIM's well-known BBM messenging program and Nokia's mapping technology. Those low end devices will globally carry Nokia branding, while the company's smartphone offerings will be branded as Blackberrys. Smartphones will run on a jointly developed version of the Tizen operating system. As a result of the merger, R&D and engineering will be combined in Silicon Valley at facilities recently built by Nokia. The company headquarters will be in Waterloo, with regional offices in Finland.

The merger will most assuredly result in further layoffs and staff reductions for both companies, but should result in cost savings for the new company over time. The greatest uncertainty lies in the unproven Tizen OS. Many in the tech industry have expressed doubt that Tizen can deliver the same kind of high functionality and app ecosystem of the established offerings from Apple and Google.