Research In Motion looks to buy mobile ad company

The company behind the Blackberry brand is reportedly prepared to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire an advertising company specializing in mobile phone ads.

But not a whole lots of hundreds of millions. According to the Wall Street Journal, mobile ad firm Millenial has offered to give itself away for as little as $400 million. RIM says that’s too expensive.

Two of the biggest players in the burgeoning mobile ad market, Admob and Quattro, have already been snatched up by competing companies Google and Apple. Those leaders in mobile phone operating systems are still themselves trying to figure out how best to play the mobile ad market.

The Journal has reportedly told Millenial that Google and Apple “overpaid” for their mobile ad acquisitions, and it is unwilling to do the same. Terms of the Apple-Quattro deal were not disclosed, but Google’s potentially bigger Admob buyout was completed for a staggering $750 million.

Getting its own mobile ad company would be the latest move for RIM to remain relevant in the smartphone market. It has struggled to maintain its former dominance in the industry as Android and the iPhone continue to make inroads. The recently released Blackberry Torch, despite a strong marketing push, has received a very tepid reception and is spelling out even more problems for RIM.