Research In Motion has acquired German social-gaming company Scoreloop — a gesture that couldn't more blatantly underscore the company's need to ingratiate itself with U.S. consumers as the Apple iPhone and Android-running smartphones steal away increasing numbers of its bread-and-butter enterprise customers.
"We have recently enabled our developers to create social app experiences through our BBM Social Platform and have seen some very innovative applications result from that," Tyler Lessard, RIM's VP of Global Alliances and Developer Relations, said in a June 7 blog post announcing the deal. "We look forward to working with the team at Scoreloop to provide tools that will further enable our developer community to take gaming to a new level of social integration on the BlackBerry platform."
In recent quarters RIM has posted strong figures, though largely thanks to international interest and developing markets. Its most recent handset offerings and OS revamp haven't yielded the reviews or sales it's been crossing its fingers for, and in May, Wunderlich Securities Analyst Matthew Robison downgraded its stock, essentially writing off RIM as a legitimate contender for consumer dollars.
"We no longer anticipate Research in Motion recovering to participate in the mainstream of smartphone industry growth,” wrote Robison. “Our long-term forecast anticipates a role supplying business-oriented devices, both mid-range and high end, as well as cloud-based services via the BlackBerry Network. We expect the consumer mix gained over the past two years to churn off, and that earnings will decline after 2013 and eventually grow again on demand that is largely associated with business users.”
Even sales of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet — in which it invested so heavily that it was forced to lower its guidance for its following fiscal quarter, a move that sent stock prices sliding — are rumored to be far short of expectations, though RIM has denied this. (It can set the record straight June 16, when it announces the results of its fiscal 2012 first quarter.)
It has been suggested that RIM's acquisition was made with Scoreloop's in-app billing capabilities in mind.
"Now the company will expand its focus to help BlackBerry’s application platform incorporate those features and take on the difficult task of catching up BlackBerry’s app abilities to that of its peers," Mobile Beat reported June 7, highlighting another way in which RIM has found itself playing catch-up to Apple and Google.
On the Scoreloop site, however, CEO Marc Gumpinger enthused that he's witnessed first hand "RIM's ambition to build the best platform for mobile games."
"As part of RIM we'll be in the unique position to integrate deeply into BlackBerry platforms to take mobile gaming to the next level together," Gumpinger went on. "We'll continue our cross platform approach, but you'll see that our BlackBerry solution will be unparalleled."
Though really anything unparalleled is something RIM is surely game for.