Canada-based Research In Motion is declining rapidly. Its ailing BlackBerry platform has been reduced to a single-digit market share, it has a $1 billion backlog of unsold tablets and smartphones, corporations are abandoning their phones in droves and the BlackBerry 10 operating system has been delayed until 2013.
In between staging stupid stunts and fighting Apple over Nano SIM, the embattled company found time to replace its co-CEOs with a new guy, Thorsten Heins, who is shedding jobs left and right as creditors and advisers plot possible scenarios, including selling off its server messaging platform and the BlackBerry hardware biz…
Fortune recently suggested that RIM can add value on the Android platform by delivering a business version of the OS.
This would include built-in hooks for Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP and other enterprise platforms. The typical Android phone is geared more for consumer applications and multimedia rather than hard-core business apps out-of-the box.
John Paczkowski of AllThingsD relays a note by Jefferies analyst Peter Misek who thinks Samsung is the most likely buyer.
Given recent management comments in the press, it now appears that RIM is realizing what Wall Street has been saying for some time: they are a subscale manufacturer and desperately need a partner. We believe RIM is attempting to revive discussions with Samsung regarding a BB10 licensing deal.
RIM’s CEO hinted as much recently:
We don’t have the economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year. To deliver BB10, we may need to look at licensing it to someone who can do this at a way better cost proposition than [we] can do it.
Samsung told Reuters back in January that “We haven’t considered acquiring the firm and are not interested in (buying RIM)”.
If Samsung buys RIM, it will gain a much-needed credibility in enterprise, allowing it to better compete with Apple, whose iOS platform dominates in this space.
Though Android’s share in the United States is on a decline, in Europe the platform grabbed a cool 65 percent share in Q2 2012, thanks to popularity of Samsung’s smartphones and feature phones.
Samsung will want to produce the right answer to Apple’s enterprise strides and buying RIM may be the cheapest ticket into the corporate world.
Note that Samsung already has its sights set on the corporate world.
In June, the company cut a strategic partnership with AuthenTec, the maker of authentication sensors. It was meant to bolster enterprise security of Samsung’s future Android smartphones and tablets.
However, Apple came out of nowhere and purchased AuthenTec outright, leaving Samsung’s strategic deal hanging up in the air.
Rumors and patents indicate that the next iPhone will take advantage of NFC technology to improve security and identification (corporations will love it) and possibly pave the way for an iWallet shopping service (consumers will appreciate it).
This may sound harsh to a few die-hard fans of the BlackBerry and its clickety-clack keyboard, but the company is already written off in my book.
The troubles RIM is facing are too great to overcome as the previous CEOs lost previous time ridiculing Apple whereas they should have dropped all projects and immediately start work on a brand new software platform.
Steve Jobs said during the January 2007 iPhone unveiling that the mobile operating system Apple had developed for the iPhone cannot be easily replicated. The iPhone OS gave Apple a five-year head start in the smartphone business, he said.
Jobs was (mostly) right, if you disregard a terrible mistake he made by trusting then Google CEO Eric Schmidt who had a seat on Apple’s board at a time when Apple was already deep into the iPhone project.
RIM as we know it may no longer exist this time next year and the company’s best bet is to cut costs, boost sales and deliver BlackBerry 10 software in order to increase book value of its assets.