Reeling Research In Motion still doesn't get it
The telecom continues to believe -- wrongly -- that it can go it alone.
Though it announced Tuesday that it had hired investment bankers to pursue "strategic options," Bloomberg News and other media have reported that these options -- at least at this point -- do not include a sale of the company.
"If it pursues a strategic change, the company would prefer to license its BlackBerry operating system, a person with knowledge of the matter said last month," the news service noted. "Barring that, RIM would like to find a strategic investor," the source said.
The question for investors is what company would want to partner with RIM. Not surprisingly, Research In Motion said it is "excited" about the launch of the BlackBerry 10 operating system later this year. It may be alone in its enthusiasm. As The New York Times notes, the company has "struggled to draw developers into creating apps for its system."
Amazon (AMZN) has opted for Android to power its Kindle, and Microsoft (MSFT) is using Windows for its smartphones. There isn't much left for RIM. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
Unfortunately, RIM is no longer calling the shots. Shares plummeted almost 80% over the past five years as the BlackBerry was eclipsed by the Apple (AAPL) iPhone and other products. Sales have failed to meet Wall Street expectations as its market share plunged. The company lost $125 million in the latest quarter.
RIM has been the subject of takeover speculation before, but nothing has ever come of those talks, which reportedly included Nokia (NOK), Microsoft and Amazon, according to the Times. The company's ability to make a deal diminishes by the day. Selling its intellectual property is an option, but that is like pawning your wedding ring to pay your mortgage. It's a short-term fix, not a long-term strategy.
CEO Thorsten Heins, who was brought in to clean up the mess left by company co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, has vowed to "leave no stone unturned" in his efforts to turn RIM around. But a weak company won't become stronger if it doesn't consider selling itself.
Once again, Research In Motion is a day late and a dollar short. "Even if RIM were to sell itself or parts, analysts and bankers think that the company may not fetch what it could have a year ago," the Times said.
Jonathan Berr doesn't own shares of the listed companies. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.
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