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) --

Research in Motion's


problems may be


, but the troubled handset maker could still offer rich pickings for


(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

, according to experts.

"I think that the best opportunity for them is to be acquired by Microsoft," explained Paul Amsellem, president of

The Mobile Network Group

, a Paris, France-based mobile marketing company. "The future of RIM is probably in Microsoft's hands."

The pressure's mounting on embattled handset maker RIM

There has, of course, already been speculation that Microsoft could

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another under-performing phone giant:


(NOK) - Get Nokia Oyj Report

. The software behemoth has a close relationship with Nokia, so a merger would make sense, particularly as Microsoft prepares its Windows 8 onslaught.

Amsellem, however, thinks that Microsoft and RIM could be a match made in heaven, citing RIM's strengths in email, instant messaging and data compression algorithms.

"It would be useful for Microsoft to use these assets to enrich the Windows 8 platform," he told


, adding that the algorithm can help service providers ease the traffic burden on strained networks.

Another expert agrees that Microsoft could grab RIM, but warns that other big-name tech firms could also be in the hunt for the beleaguered phone maker.

"Potential logical buyers include


(AMZN) - Get, Inc. Report

, Microsoft,




, Nokia, and possibly


(FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report

(should it decide it needs to be in the mobile device business)," explained Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee, in a note released earlier this week.

On Tuesday RIM forecast an

operating loss

for its fiscal first quarter, and said it has hired bankers to help with its ongoing strategic review. RIM also announced plans to cut its work force, adding to the storm clouds gathering around the company.

Rocked by delayed product launches, and

fierce competition



(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report



(GOOG) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class C Report

Android phones, and, increasingly, Microsoft's Windows phones, investors have fled RIM in droves.

The company's stock is down more than 28% this year and even the first glimpse of the long overdue

BlackBerry 10

operating system earlier this month has done nothing to placate investors.

Initially expected in 2011, RIM has said the technology will make its debut in the second half of 2012.

With RIM's situation worsening, Amsellem sees a bargain for Microsoft. "Don't forget that Microsoft bought


for more than $8 billion," he said. "RIM's market cap is around $6 billion."

Skype, added Amsellem, could be a "really interesting add on" to a Microsoft Messenger enhanced with RIM's acclaimed messaging technology.

RIM shares dipped 0.4% to $10.31 on Thursday. Microsoft's stock was off 0.58% to $29.17.


Written by James Rogers in New York.

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