RIM must forget everything before it can recover
Can it be all over for RIM or is there light at the end of the tunnel? It might be the latter.
By Richard Saintvilus
Cognitive dissonance has a way of overtaking reality on Wall Street to the extent that some become highly disillusioned by what is in front to them.
This goes for investors as well as some of the best companies on the market. In Research in Motion's (RIMM) case, I think it's time for the company to separate what it wants from what is really possible.
This means it should forget about the past and focus on where it needs to go. It's not a crazy idea. It worked for International Business Machines (IBM).
There is no other company on Wall Street that has had to deal with as much adversity and disappointment as RIM. Even though Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) might have sent it down the path of slow obsolescence, I tend to consider RIM's plight as the result of self-inflicted wounds, for the most part.
The fact of the matter is, a market leader always has the leverage. RIM, by virtue of its poor execution, gave the game away rather than having lost it. (I'm willing to give it that much credit -- deservedly or not.)
If one takes inventory of what has occurred over the past three years, we would see a stock that once traded in the $140s that recently reached as low at $6. RIM has become synonymous with failure and futility.
But can it be all over for RIM or is there light at the end of the tunnel? I'm starting to think that perhaps it is the latter.
I've recently made the argument that the company should be acquired by Facebook (FB). But this was more about what Facebook needs to do for its own survival. Acquiring RIM's mobile assets would help Facebook address its weaknesses effectively, particularly the monetization of mobile ads.
But absent such an acquisition, for RIM to emerge as a turnaround story I think it must first forget about everything that it knows, including smartphones. That's easier said than done.
The reason is simple: Should RIM stay on its current path, everything has to go right just for it to maintain some modicum of relevance. Also, its fate would be too heavily predicated on the potential slip-ups of its competitors, something that is not likely to happen since these companies have better marketing leverage and better management teams.
Aside from IBM, Apple is the perfect example of what is possible when a company is backed into a corner. It knew nothing about portable music until it became an expert.
For a brief moment, Apple decided to forget what it was because it realized it was not going to beat Microsoft (MSFT) at what it does well. Instead, it took a chance and ventured into markets where it previously had no business. This is what RIM must now do.
Granted, RIM does not have Steve Jobs, but it is in a better position now fundamentally than when Apple made its move.
Perhaps, RIM's Mobile Fusion can be the start of the process. This is a new platform that allows corporate IT departments to better manage the security of mobile devices. Mobile Fusion also allows companies to set up rules governing employee passwords, apps as well as other software across a variety of smart phones and tablets, including the iPhone, iPad and Android handsets.
I wonder, though, how far RIM will take it? I think this could be a breakthrough service for the company but it remains to be seen how successful it will be considering the recent track record of its management. Yet, it still has the advantage of a significant stronghold in the enterprise.
Though turnaround stories often take a long time to be fully realized, it is not impossible, particularly for a company like RIM with an established brand.
However, along with Mobile Fusion, RIM should seek to scale down some of its operations by discontinuing legacy platforms and commit to offering strictly enterprise business services.
In other words, forget the past. Forget what got you here. It's no longer working.
More from TheStreet.com
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
Start investing in technology companies with help from financial writers and experts who know the industry best. Learn what to look for in a technology company to make the right investment decisions.
Renewable-energy subsidies are slashed just as China has jumped to the leading position in the market. The cuts may make China's advantage insurmountable.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY