It looks like Research In Motion (RIM) may be looking at 2012 as the year of change in how they do business.
After a disastrous 2011 that saw the share price of RIM stock lose over 70 percent of its value, news came yesterday that Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie might step down as Co-Chairs of the board. The rumor is that Barbara Stymiest could step up as the first independent Chair for the company’s board, and that rumor is now picking up more speed as Jefferies & Co.’s Peter Misek wrote in a note to investors today that his own checks with RIM indicate this is what is going to happen.
While not the most exciting piece of news, it definitely shows that RIM is ready to shake things up to save itself. Going even further, however, is the truly fascinating other bit of rumor that Mr. Misek dropped about the potential for RIM to license its upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS – formerly known as BBX – out to other handset makers.
We think some of this has already been started with RIM likely agreeing to license Blackberry 10 to Samsung, HTC, and possibly others.This would help create a critical mass for the ecosystem and maintain RIM’s monthly service revenue; however, it puts more pressure on the hardware business in the short term. Longer term, it possibly gets people hooked on the RIM ecosystem and may in fact allow them to sell more BB 10 handsets (if they are able to create compelling handsets).
Up until now RIM has always guarded its software and kept it to themselves, but if they were to start licensing it out to other companies, that could be a potential game changer for the beleaguered company. People have always loved the BlackBerry software, but they have grown tired of the same handset being released over and over again with only minor changes. If a company such as Samsung could step in and come up with a whole new way of presenting the OS to consumers, it could potentially have a shot at breathing new life into the system.
Of course, this still doesn’t answer the question if the market can actually sustain this many different operating systems reasonably, but it sure does sound promising.
Would you be interested in seeing another company try their hand at a BlackBerry powered phone?