RIM: Death Knell or a Real Turnaround?
I've been following the downward spiral of Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) since late last year -- a sobering activity, for sure. The most recent financial reports are no more joyful, as the company tallies its $125 million in losses and notes its continually slumping sales, resulting in a 25% decline in revenue from this time last year. RIM will no longer even issue guidance, apparently in a concrete example of the old saying, "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all."
RIM has been stumbling along for some time now. Once the undisputed king of the smartphone market, it dominated boardrooms and government offices. Now, Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iPhone is becoming the professional choice, and RIM is losing market share to both Apple and Google (NAS: GOOG) , whose Android platform now controls 48% of the smartphone market to Apple's 32%. RIM has managed to retain a paltry 12% -- down from 15% just a month or so ago. Where did those defectors go? To Apple, of course.
Things are going downhill very quickly for RIM, so much so that now even the company's native Canada prefers the iPhone to its very own BlackBerry. New CEO Thorsten Heins has admitted that the company's problems are worse than he envisioned, and a recent shakeup saw the resignation of former co-head honcho Jim Balsillie as well as the company's chief technical officer and COO. In a widely misunderstood statement, Heins stated that RIM will be concentrating on the business sector in the future, leading some analysts to believe that the company was stepping back from the consumer market. The company has since said that this is not the case and that RIM hopes to capture the interest of "young trend-setters" -- a fairly unlikely occurrence at this point.
What does RIM's future hold?
I have believed for some time that RIM's only option is to sell itself to another company, and Heins himself seems to think that might be best, too. But the company is shrinking by the quarter, and some think that the company is not very attractive as a takeover target these days. I would disagree, and here are a couple of reasons why.
First, BlackBerry sales are very strong in emerging markets, such as Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Another plus is the company's network operation centers, responsible for the BlackBerry's once-ballyhooed level of security. However, as an embarrassing network failure showed last fall, the infrastructure is ailing. While the blackout of its servers was a giant nail in RIM's coffin, the right buyer could find these NOCs a very attractive acquisition.
The saddest part about RIM's slide is that it was, at one time not long ago, a real force to be reckoned with. Its products were coveted, and it had the corporate world by its communication lines. But then, the company just seemed to give up, launching products almost after they were obsolete, and refusing to keep up with the technology that sent Google's and Apple's market shares skyward. What happened to all the innovative people who once worked there? Perhaps to Apple, or Google. One thing seems certain, and that is that the type of creativity that could save RIM will not seek it out ever again. It's just too late.
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At the time this article was published Fool contributorAmanda Alixowns no shares in the companies mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and Google and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.
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