If Samsung tries and fails, though, it could end up on life support like Sony or Nokia. Microsoft and Google, upset about the deal to begin with, would be unlikely to step in and help. While Samsung clearly has other businesses, the scale of this failure would cripple Samsung and likely allow competitors to gain market share in most areas. Samsung's epitaph could be "Bought RIM, Executed Badly."
In short, if Samsung does buy RIM, it would either be king of the world or extinct. Given the resources involved, there's little chance of a more moderate outcome. That's high stakes indeed.
Integration Mergers: Great In Theory, Catastrophic In Practice
The reason that integration mergers are so popular is the same reason why they commonly fail: They are designed to simplify management by forcing the acquired company into the mold of the acquiring company. If we were talking about a marriage, this would be like surgically connecting the bodies in order to limit the differences. While small mergers, like transplants, can be made to work, large ones tend to be too shocking to the entire entity, and the operations fails.
An integration merger sounds good because, on paper, all the executive titles match up and all the processes are the same. An executive looking down thinks he sees similar things, but the reality is that this process is so invasive that it tends to destroy the asset that was acquired catastrophically.
The process takes a company-Palm, Sun, and (hypothetically) RIM-that isn't healthy to begin with and puts it through a pervasive blender of changed polices, reporting structures, compensation systems, decision systems, a never-ending stream of executives from the acquiring company "who know better and know nothing," and management systems. In effect, it turns the entire company into a new employee.
The (expected) massive decline that follows then puts the acquiring company under massive financial stress. Executives from the acquiring move firm into triage on the acquired firm with no real understanding of what made the acquired firm different. Top employees and from the acquired firm either get shot down for new positions or look for employment elsewhere. What's particularly sad is that the executives the acquiring firm sends over often weren't performing well in their original riles, making them doubly damaging.
At the core of the problem is the fact that the effort seems designed to ensure that the acquiring company's management team avoids having to learn what makes the acquired company unique. The acquiring company also gets to avoid the appearance of employee differences between the two firms such as compensation, title and span of control.
Preservation Mergers Puts Assets Before Executives