Is RIM in the Market for Gist?

Mobile device and services giant Research in Motion (RIM) may be close to closing a deal to acquire Seattle start-up Gist for its advanced mailbox and profile technologies, according to a well-known tech blogger.

The story broke Friday afternoon when blogger Om Malik surfaced the rumors, attributed to "industry sources," in a post to the GigaOm blog.

"Gist, much like rivals Rapportive and eTacts, creates profiles of people in your business network by using publicly available information from sources such as Rapleaf, a San Francisco-company that has been receiving close scrutiny for its data-collection techniques. This profile data is available any time someone emails you," Malik said.

So what does privately held Gist have that might make RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) interested in acquiring the company?

"For RIM, the idea behind acquiring Gist would be to possibly re-invent the phone address book and make it integral to its core offering. It would actually make a lot of sense for RIM to do this, as it plays to its core strength -- namely, messaging," Malik suggested.

"By making the address book more networked and more social, RIM can build a social inbox, much like the one being championed by Facebook."

Gist was founded in 2008 by T.A. McCann, who is the company's CEO. McCann worked at Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) from 2001 to 2004 as a group product manager for Exchange Serve,r and also as director of mobile solutions, according to his biography on Gist's site.

However, there has been no confirmation of such a deal yet.

"While the deal is said to be nearly done, there is always a fair chance that the two parties might not come to an agreement," Malik said. Terms of the purported bid were not available.

Attempts to reach spokesmen for RIM and Gist were unsuccessful by publication time.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.


smartphone, social media, acquisition, RIM, Research In Motion