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RIM is hiring a bank to evaluate "strategic options", but then what?

Posted: , by Scott H.

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RIM is hiring a bank to evaluate
Just one quarter after taking the reins, it appears that RIM CEO Thorsten Heins is coming face to face with how dire RIM’s market position really is. With BB10 handsets not expected for two more quarters, marketing efforts exhausted, and the “interim” BB7 handsets losing market share like water through a sieve, something has to give. To get help with determining what that “something” is, Bloomberg reports that RIM is looking to hire a Canadian bank and an international bank to provide financial advice and help them evaluate their “strategic options.”

Those options reportedly include selling RIM off to another company, although the source specified that RIM “isn’t looking to sell itself” as the primary option. Their preferred solution would be to license their upcoming BB10 operating system to other vendors, and their second choice would be to solicit a strategic investment from another company.

Both of their preferred solutions may be fatally flawed; we’ve reported on rumors for months that RIM was looking to license BB10 to other handset manufacturers, which suggests that RIM has already been exploring this option and hasn't found much interest. Nor would we expect any, as BB10 isn’t even a shippable product yet, and RIM’s track record on developing consumer-friendly operating systems is, shall we say,…suspect. RIM would probably have to demonstrate consumer appeal for BB10 with a shipped product before signing up major hardware partners, and that won't be for several more months.

A strategic investment makes even less sense – RIM has $1.77 billion in cash and short-term investments, so it’s not clear what would be gained by such a move. RIM isn’t suffering from a lack of cash, they’re suffering from a lack of execution. Samsung has repeatedly denied interest in buying or investing in RIM, and Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is not interested in a strategic investment either. The latter should finally lay to rest a rumor we skeptically reported on last week, that Microsoft was looking to drop more than $3 billion into RIM.

If RIM can’t license BB10 any time soon and aren’t likely to find someone to strategically invest in them, what's left? RIM may consider selling some of its patents, which are probably their most valuable resource at this point. Bloomberg reports that management is exploring how they can leverage BBM (by putting it on other platforms) and their expertise in enterprise services to increase revenue – a plan not terribly different from the one concocted by Jim Balsillie before he resigned.

And if all else fails…RIM can try to sell itself off. Hopefully. Unless BB10 is a hit, it’s not clear how valuable RIM’s assets would be outside of their patents. But they won’t need our advice on how to value themselves; they are already in the market for financial advisers at large banking firms.

To be clear: we hope this turns out for the best, and that BB10 handsets are a success. More and better platforms to choose from is always good for consumers. But RIM has a very deep hole to climb out of, and it’s getting deeper with each passing quarter.

source: Bloomberg

15 Comments
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posted on 17 Apr 2012, 11:35 9

1. plgladio (Posts: 311; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


Its sad that another tech gaint about to fall.. :(

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 12:17 6

5. windowsRocks (Posts: 152; Member since: 28 Oct 2011)


How long BBM can sustain RIM? RIP RIM

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 11:40 2

2. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)


we all know RIM is failing... sad, since BB is still a status symbol in Asia.

well, i don't know, if I was in control of RIM, i'd use all i have left to go forward with dual core and going android or wp. windows is already unlikely so, since google is still open for such, i'd go ICS all the way, and i would make a flagship series.

but i won't exclude bbm and imply whatever security RIM has over it phones.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 12:38 6

9. Commentator (Posts: 2399; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


Windows may not be so unlikely, especially if the rumor that MS is looking to invest $3.5b in Blackberry is true. I;d like to see a Microsoft-Nokia-Blackberry alliance: the companies that we thought were down-and-out get their revenge!

Whatever the case, though, Blackberry needs to switch OS, whether that be WP or Android. Blackberry still has enormously high brand recognition (like Nokia) and could still salvage a spot in the market based solely on that.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 11:46 3

3. BigRed83 (Posts: 142; Member since: 19 May 2008)


While the fall of RIM is lamentable, they only need to look at the departed co-CEOs.

Lessons learned from Storm 1? None; shown in evidence of Storm II
Buying QNX? Reasonable, if overly optimistic
Playbook? I love mine, wish it weren't a doorstop (thanks, guys)

Solution?: Sell, license BBM, find deep pockets that appreciate how great RIM once was, or drop back and punt.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 11:50 4

4. JeffdaBeat (unregistered)


I'm sorry, but this is what happens when you fail to innovate and rest on the work you've done in the past. Technology is a moving business and you can't let success cloud your view of your competition. And really, there is no excuse. RIM should have seen a threat with the iPhone 3G and the advent of the App Store. Had they reacted then...or even when Google got into the game, I think they would have been able to produce something amazing. Palm had no problem revamping their OS. Sure, it didn't succeed, but that was because of mismanagement, not the software. Now, I fear it's just too late. Microsoft is late too, but they still have a steady influx of money that RIM doesn't have.

Maybe RIM should go the way of IBM. Get out of the hardware and go to solutions or go the route of Google and just produce the OS and solutions. But I think being all at once is a dead horse for them...

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 12:30 3

6. jmoita2 (Posts: 930; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)


This is a prequel to Apple's demise.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 13:45 1

11. Chronos (Posts: 257; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)


Doubt it.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 12:34 4

7. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5739; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Bring Balsilie back and implement the plan he had proposed. Find partners for the handset business and heavily promote yourself in the markets (Asia and maybe Africa; what bout South America?) where you are still relevant. Half a loaf is better than no loaf.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 12:36 1

8. jmoita2 (Posts: 930; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)


Inteligent points. I'm calling Balsille right now...

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 13:29 3

10. DJQSTORM (Posts: 5; Member since: 08 Apr 2011)


I love how people speak so "matter of factly" about RIM... People say things like," Oh yeah... RIM?! They are going out to business for sure... R.I.P RIM SMH" or something of that nature. Funny thing is that everything is specualtion. Yes RIM has lost a lot market share but they MADE 4.6 BILLION DOLLARS LAST YEAR. They did not put out a new phone till the 3rd qtr, almost 4th. RIM makes a BILLION a qtr.

The funny thing is that most people who comment on these stories have NO CLUE what they are talking about.

Apple inovated what?! Last I checked they stole most of ios5 from hackers and Android and made a poor attempt at BBM as well.

This story doesnt even mention that BlackBerry is having any type of finacial problems at all.

We all won't have any idea what is going on until they come out and announce it.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 14:02 4

12. Scott_H (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Oct 2011)


They did lose money last quarter (the link is in the article); they have plenty of cash on hand, but their market share is imploding, which could make it harder to get back to profitability even if a really sweet BB10 phone is released this fall.

Still, if they do put a really great device out RIM will be fine, if perhaps never again a market leader like they once were. That's the key, and the fact that RIM itself is looking to hire financial consulting firms to figure out what to do suggests they may not be so confident in how that will play out.

I'll keep my fingers crossed!

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 16:20

13. downphoenix (Posts: 2306; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


their marketshare is doing bad, but they still sell about 3-4x more phonse than WP7, and that's WITH the sales figures of 1q 2012 with phones like the Nokia Lumia 800.

Its funny how people just completely ignore the failure of WP7 so far (Which has a worse marketshare than what WebOS had when Palm sold it off to HP) and take RIM, who's still outselling WP7, and bash them to heck and back.

posted on 17 Apr 2012, 20:41 4

14. snowgator (Posts: 3209; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


First off- as a reformed BlackBerry user and current WP user, both yours and @DJQStorm's points are valid. However, there are differences:

1) Microsoft isn't looking at Windows Phones as a cash cow. They are looking at it as a viable and needed part of their new ecosystem. If laptops replace PC's in the home (which they are) and Tablet's replace Laptops for the mobile user (likely), than Microsoft needs mobile phones as well to round out their software. They WANT an OS to compete with Android and iOS, and need it for a complete ecosystem. RIM needs the OS to remain not only viable, but in business.

2) Microsoft can afford to let WP grow, and can absorb losses for many quarters as their profits come from other sources. RIM depends on handsets for their only source of income.

3) Microsoft is only developing the software side, and has many partners to help devlop the hardware side, obviously most importantly Nokia. RIM is saddled with both and now appears to realize that they cost and infrastructure is HUGE to do both.

4) Microsoft is selling their vision of the future at every given chance, with their established software leading the way to better mobile OS sales, both tablet and phones. RIM has shown no vision of anything past the next couple of quarters.

I think Mobile is better off with as much competition as possible, and with BILLIONS of handsets sold each year, I am sure 4 good OS's could survive. But RIM is finding out that it is easier to fall behind than to catch back up. RIM never even realized they were behind until BB7 devices sales fell apart. Now, they are where MS was in late 2009 with Windows Mobile- just trying to get a direction. But, MS has deeper pockets and strong cash flowing into their corporation to adapt and survive. RIM doesn't. That is why most people are worried for RIM's survival.

posted on 18 Apr 2012, 11:47

15. KewlDawg (Posts: 10; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


RIM needs to convert BBM into an Android app, and partner with an Android phone maker to produce a true business phone (possibly MOT and their line of Droid 1,2,3, and now 4?).

Microsoft's Windows Phone is sinking on its own, and should never be considered RIM's (or anyone's) savior. So, IMHO, converting BBM into a Win Phone app doesn't make sense.

Converting BBM into an iOS app might be OK, other than I don't think Apple would support or even care.

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