RIM Revival Plan: Hit the Road, Rent the Network
This past week mobile maker Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) dodged any news about suitors at its door, using the hiatus to put out a few nuggets of its own, including letting it be known that the BlackBerry network may be open for rent and that chief executive Thorsten Heins will hit the road to showcase a raft of new devices in the works, according to published reports.
Heins is quoted in one report as planning to take RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 smartphones on the road to stir up interest among carriers, developers and consumers. In detailing RIM’s lineup, Heins mentioned six new devices and smartphones that are improved over their predecessors. According to the report, Heins noted two devices — a touchscreen-only unit and a QWERTY version similar to the Bold family, for which the hardware is done but more work is still needed on the software — that developers will be able to get their hands on starting next month.
“These BlackBerry devices will appeal to both corporate and consumer users,” Heins is quoted as saying, adding that RIM plans to sketch out a release schedule “meaningful to carriers.”
RIM also is said to be mulling over renting its server network used by BlackBerry devices for email and messaging. According to another report, Heins is considering offering network services to businesses wanting a secure connection.
IBM (NYSE: IBM) recently was said to show interest in RIM’s enterprise services unit, which operates the BlackBerry network, and earlier reports suggested Samsung also had examined the possibility of buying BlackBerry 10 licenses. But RIM’s board apparently is sticking with its plan to see if the BlackBerry 10 operating platform — the arrival of which has been pushed back to early in 2013 from a planned pre-holiday season release — can breathe life into the vendor’s flagging performance.
The company in Q1 2013 lost some $518 million on sales of $2.8 billion, a 33 percent downturn from the previous quarter when it lost $125 million on sales of $4.2 billion, with a planning layoff of 5,000 jobs.
Heins has publicly floated options such as partnering with another vendor or licensing the mobile maker’s software to others rather than pursuing an outright sale. Even with a successful launch of BlackBerry 10, RIM will be climbing uphill to regain ground lost to Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS and Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android, which together account for some 85 percent of the global smartphone market.