This Company Can Still Make a Turnaround

Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) is in deep trouble, with a combined fall in its top and bottom lines for the fourth quarter. Revenue declined by 25% from the prior-year quarter to $4.2 billion, and the company slipped into the red as it recorded a net loss of $125 million, thanks to plummeting demand for its BlackBerry line of smartphones and PlayBook tablets.

Everyone seems to be aware that the demand for devices made by Apple (NAS: AAPL) and smartphones powered by Google's (NAS: GOOG) Android operating system is to blame for RIM's misfortunes. Its PlayBook tablets are no match for Apple's iPad and the slew of Android-powered tablets backed by a huge collection of applications.

But I'm not willing to write off Research In Motion.

Still on the runway
RIM's much anticipated BlackBerry 10 phones were supposed to be released early this year, but unavailability of some LTE chipsets forced the company to postpone the release to sometime later this year.

RIM knows the BB10 line of phones could very well be make-or-break devices for the company. RIM has made efforts to spark developer interest by organizing a conference in May. The attendees will get a "limited edition developer prototype device" which will run a customized version of the PlayBook's operating system.

Nevertheless, RIM has a daunting task ahead as many of its corporate clients have started ditching the BlackBerry in favor of iPhones and iPads. According to Forrester Research, businesses are expected to buy a whopping $10 billion worth of iPads this year, a figure expected to shoot up to $16 billion by 2013. But that's just a small part of the problem.

In dire straits
According to Gartner, fourth-quarter 2011 shipments of RIM's devices plummeted by an astounding 40%. This is in stark contrast to Android-based devices, whose market share grew by 67% from the prior-year quarter. For Apple's iOS, which runs on its iPads and IPhones, the growth in market share was more than 50%.

Operating System

Market Share
Q4 2010

Market Share
Q4 2011










Research In Motion




Source: Gartner.

It's a bleak scenario for RIM at present, but that does not eliminate the possibility of a comeback. If things get more complicated, RIM might even have to consider a stake sale as indicated by new CEO Thorsten Heins. However, some analysts believe a stake sale might not be a viable option, as it may not bring in a great deal of money at present.

And the competition is not restricted to Apple. For instance, Dell (NAS: DELL) is already trying to win back its corporate clients by offering a business-friendly Windows 8-based tablet by the end of this year, and it has to contend with a host of rivals, including Apple, Nokia, and Samsung. Dell's hopes regarding its tablet launch remain pinned on its popularity in the business computing segment.

There is still some hope
Most analysts believe RIM will share Kodak's fate, but I don't think that's true. With the recent change in management and a brand-new set of phones in the offing, the company still has a decent chance at a turnaround.

Given RIM's experience in dealing with business customers, it can surely bring out a great product for corporate clients. Moreover, as fellow Fool Subhadeep Ghose emphasizes, data security is the BlackBerry's strong suit, and the same cannot always be said for iOS and Android-based devices.

I'll be eagerly waiting for the launch of RIM's BlackBerry 10 smartphones to see the kind of interest they generate. At the same time, this may very well be the company's last chance to redeem itself. Till then, I will keep an eye open for RIM's turnaround.

If you're not too hopeful about RIM's prospects, you can check out a free report titled "3 Hidden Winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android Revolution." With smartphones and tablets selling like crazy, there are lots of companies you can bet on. Get the report today.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Keki Fatakia does not hold shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave also recommended writing covered calls on Dell, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not 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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