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RIM Considers Spinning Off Handset Business From Messaging 87

Posted by timothy
from the does-anyone-second-the-motion? dept.
According to this Reuters report, RIM is considering separating its messaging network business from its manufacture of handsets, and either listing the resulting new company separately, or selling it to another firm. According to the article, "Potential buyers would include Amazon and Facebook, it reported, adding that RIM's messaging network could also be sold, or opened up to rivals such as Apple and Google to generate income. An alternative option would be to keep the company together but sell a stake to a larger technology firm such as Microsoft."
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RIM Considers Spinning Off Handset Business From Messaging

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @01:30PM (#40430459)

    Water is swirling in the bowl

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @02:22PM (#40430805)

      And yet, unlike Nokia, they still are making a profit every quarter. Their stock may have fallen but its is in the oversold regime: price to earnings ration is just 4.4. While their predicted P/E does get worse but 15.44 is low for a tech company, and very low compared to facebook at 105. http://www.bing.com/finance?q=RIMM [bing.com]

      • by V-similitude (2186590) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @05:58PM (#40432309)

        You can't really value a shrinking company on the same scale as a growing company. There's no historical P/E that could convince me to buy a dying company. (There are other things that could, like price/book, or likelihood of a takeover, or a projected P/E of say 1, etc.)

        Also, 15.44 proj P/E is only really slightly low. Quoting FB's absurdly high P/E (which is no longer 105) is just silly. Compare to Apple at 14.19 historical P/E, and still growing strongly. Or to Google at 17 historical P/E (and growing). 15.44 is low for a growing tech company, but not even that low, so it's hardly a reason to buy a shrinking company.

  • by mystikkman (1487801) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @01:37PM (#40430493)

    Open up Blackberry Messenger(very popular in parts of Canada, Europe and Asia) to iOS, Android and WP to generate some licensing/ad revenue but then lose exclusivity and sales of the BB10 and BB OS 6 devices as Messenger addicts no longer need to get a Blackberry to use it with their friends.

    • Re:Catch-22 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @01:45PM (#40430557)

      If your entire businiess model rests on having a closed off IM network in the year 2012, you may want to rethink things...

      • If your entire businiess model rests on having a closed off IM network in the year 2012, you may want to rethink things...

        In 2008, it would've been a perfect. They could have used their then-relevant market share as a springboard to have made BBM into *the* data-based messaging platform, making PingChat/WhatsApp/Kik/LiveProfile/eBuddy/iMessage/GoChat/ChatON all nonstarters...and they could have charged $1 a month for a BBM pin and *everyone* would have been on it.

        The question is whether they could still do it, in 2012, for free.

        • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

          If your entire businiess model rests on having a closed off IM network in the year 2012, you may want to rethink things...

          In 2008, it would've been a perfect. They could have used their then-relevant market share as a springboard to have made BBM into *the* data-based messaging platform, making PingChat/WhatsApp/Kik/LiveProfile/eBuddy/iMessage/GoChat/ChatON all nonstarters...and they could have charged $1 a month for a BBM pin and *everyone* would have been on it

          The question is whether they could still do it, in 2012, for free

          It's a common blind-spot for almost all companies ever existed, and it's not the first time either, companies folded because of the blind-spot

          Kodak is the perfect example

          • by thsths (31372)

            > It's a common blind-spot for almost all companies ever existed, and it's not the first time either, companies folded because of the blind-spot

            You mean change in the industry? It has to be a pretty big blind spot to cover - more like blind on 1 1/2 eyes...

      • That's what the article basically says they're doing.

    • Yeah, they can't really do that.

      1) they lose boatloads of revenue because the revenue for a license is at least an order of magnitude less than the revenue for a handset. And nobody will buy handsets as Messenger is the primary reason for people to buy handsets now, as then you can have the cool handset (the iPhone!) will the same connectivity to your friends through Messenger.

      2) for business, can they really guarantee the same 'security' for Messenger/Mail for an OS they don't control, so that kills a sig

  • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @01:38PM (#40430503)
    Mobile corporate messaging par excellence. It's what made your name and it was world class. Since then you've just faffed about with every bandwagon going and totally missed your USP.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2012 @02:42PM (#40430933)

      I imagine the impending death of a corporation occurs much as the death of a single person supposedly does.

      1 You identify the initial threat.
            A) The board wakes up to find the stockholders are angry with a 3rd quarter's market valuation of their equity, and its clear that the analysts no longer responding to their PR.

      2) You get the general feeling that something is terribly wrong.
            B) The top-level executives are made aware that if they can't come up with a credible action plan to counter the downward slide, changes will be forthcoming.

      3) You get visceral confirmation from outside that you are in deep dog-doo. Other people's behavior around you changes, markedly.
            C) Your debt to equity ratio his double along with the cost of the commercial paper that used to fund your sales junkets and bonus parties.

      4) Your life begins to, "flash before your eyes."
            D) Historical reports confirming the reality of your down-slide are trotted out and contingency plans are drawn up. (Grim faces exiting these heretofore convivial sessions are interpreted by staff as signs of doom.)

      5) You begin to consort with God about alternatives and bargain with yourself about changes in the next life.
            E) Everyone knows there ass is on the line. Resumes are updated and posted to LinkedIn, you begin to renew old acquaintances. Let the Lay-offs begin.

      6) The logical alternatives to past decisions are reanimated in the vain hope that they might still have value in future.
            F) RIM's executives publicly acknowledge that the goose has laid its last golden egg and its worth more to them as Christmas dinner and offal than as a single undervalued business entity. Smoke signals enter the ether regarding arbitrage.

      7) Death, failing an act of God, is imminent.
            G) Capital equity firms like Bain Capital are 'consulted'.

    • by fermion (181285)
      So what they were selling is privacy and security. The question is are consumers willing to pay the real and opportunity cost to achieve that level of privacy and security. The answer seems to be no. I knew many people who liked the RIM phones, but who had no interest in the service. Consumers are willing to deal with tracking and spying to get a good product that does not involve a lockin email account.

      Certainly corporate is still interested in this, but if corporate does not have to pay for devices,

    • Mobile corporate messaging par excellence. It's what made your name and it was world class. Since then you've just faffed about with every bandwagon going and totally missed your USP.

      I suspect that this wouldn't really help very much. It might save them another Playbook fiasco; but RIM's problem isn't really that they've been sucking more at their core market; but that others have been sucking less at it.

      The uptick in adequacy of email and messaging on handsets-that-aren't-blackberries has been pretty dramatic indeed(especially from the perspective of customers who couldn't afford/didn't want a BES; but even BES users have improved, though still inferior, alternatives). Even if, best

  • Thank god the "Co-CEO" mess is overwith - how about RIM make a decision where it wants to go as a company?

    RIM is like a 5yo child that can't decide if it wants to play with playdough or play with its own feces.
  • I'm actually interested in what's going on in the mobile industry and especially curious what's going to happen to RIM so, of course, I clicked on the link to read the article (I know, rare eh?). What a waste of a click. The "article" had basically zero information. At the very least a link to the Sunday Times which Reuters claims is the source of their story would have been nice, even if the Sunday Times requires a subscription to view anything... Seriously, wasted click - don't bother. The Slashdot summar

  • The naked truth is that RIM lacks management. And as consequence, nothing could be changed inside, as any changes could only come through the management, which is so corrupt and incompetent as...these "Co-CEO" guys. So, the only possible way for RIM to progress is to have these changes coming from outside. As simple as that.
    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      They lack direction, not management. The people in charge don't seem to really like the options (become and android maker, become a WP maker, both, sell off the handset business and become purely a back end company, or transition to a software firm for mobile) because none of those are particularly good options.

      Those have basically been their only options since android entered the fray, but coming to grips with the reality that your business is now second place to someone that wasn't even in the market ye

  • Die RIM, Die (Score:1, Insightful)

    by vinn (4370)

    Dear RIM: please just declare bankruptcy and just go away. Most of us don't like you any more and we find the fascination with the messaging network even stranger given millions of new alternatives. The news of your death throes are not the least bit surprising to us, but we'd all be far better off if you were just gone. Oh, and please take Nokia with you.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      You can't declare bankruptcy when you are not bankrupt. RIMM has a positive net tangible assets on their balance sheet, loot it up. Still its an open question as to if they post a profit anytime in the future or if they are going to hang around until they are slowly bleed dry by expenses.

      It might make the most sense to say, its a crowded market, we are behind, its unlikely we can gain the share and product margin we'd need to be profitable again, lets sell. RIMM could sell of its assets, patent portfolio

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Citation please? because i thought you could always declare bankruptcy, that in most cases it simply wasn't a sound business decision. for example the airlines still had operating capital and money coming in when they declared, they simply went for bankruptcy because it would allow them to dump the retirement benefits they promised the workers (in return for getting them to accept lower wages) on the American taxpayer and keep the money.

        as for RIM, I hope they realize they might as well simply shut down t

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        Sure you can. SCO did it. The lawyers will make sure that by the time it's done all the assets are gone and the creditors don't get paid.
      • by kevinadi (191992)

        RIMM has a positive net tangible assets on their balance sheet, loot it up.

        I'm terribly sorry but that has got to be the best typo I've ever seen. I mean, the keys "t" and "k" are pretty far apart, it sounds almost intentional.

        • RIMM has a positive net tangible assets on their balance sheet, loot it up.

          I'm terribly sorry but that has got to be the best typo I've ever seen. I mean, the keys "t" and "k" are pretty far apart, it sounds almost intentional.

          GP was probably trying to say "loog it up" as in "spit all over the idea that RIM can file for bankruptcy".

          ... [crickets]

          Right?!

        • I'm guessing typo-by-autocorrection. Still pretty funny though.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Who are "us" exactly? I'm a BES admin and am dreading having to embrace some new MDM solution to deal with iPhone. However my firm is realistic enough to know we need a plan B for if the haters drive RIM under (helped by RIM themselves)

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @01:58PM (#40430649)

    If they'd seen the writing on the wall early on, selling access to their messaging network *might* have worked (although I don't really believe that). But at this point the market has spoken - and both sides of RIM's business are toast.

    The people who think there's much demand for RIM's messaging network are living five years in the past.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      True. Too many people switched to keep BBM relevant. 80% of my contacts are in WhatsApp now.

  • They had two things going for them. They had physical keyboards and push email. Basically the best messaging in town.

    Then reality hit, Apple and Google intro'd iOS and Android. EVERYONE has push now, and there NO third party crap involved. BES was a horrible pile of crap.

    So RIM tried to follow Android/iOS and be all touch based ... so you lost all those people. Now you're going to sell the ONE think left that people use you for? I was talking to a client the other day who's statement to us when asking

    • Touchscreen keyboard, predictive - did I guess? They should sell off the whole software division and specialize in Tizen-compatible hardware with physical keyboard as OEM and let smaller corps order rebranded hardware.
  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @02:13PM (#40430743)
    If we move them about it appears like we are doing something useful. Iceberg? What iceberg?
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @02:17PM (#40430757) Homepage

    So basically, RIM is now openly mulling every option we all floated months ago, back when they were still insisting there was no problem.

    Remind me again why anyone should have faith in the management of this company?

    • So let me see: a Canadian company is speculated about by a Murdoch-owned newspaper in the UK with no evidence and no sources, this is referred to by Reuters, and you translate this as "RIM is now openly mulling...."

      Remind me again why anybody should take your pronouncement seriously?

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        Wait... so you're saying RIM is doing just fine and there is no problem? Thorsten Heins, is that you?

  • Another mobile company learns that there's more to the modern mobile business than the technology itself.

    I really never liked RIM, their products always made me feel like they were crappy plastic things which salespeople would have. Oh... Don't forget that high school kids loved them because of how fast you could text. But these days, messaging is considered to be "Of course it's there". A good web browser and a good selection of time wasting apps is far more important. And I haven't once seen RIM even try
  • by mchappee (22897) * on Sunday June 24, 2012 @02:53PM (#40431019)

    Has Netcraft confirmed anything about RIM yet? Just checking.

    MC

    • by xtal (49134)

      No, but OOG was by with the open source club.

      It's not looking good.

  • by SlashdotOgre (739181) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @03:06PM (#40431105) Journal

    I personally believe that the only way for RIM to survive is to pull a Sega, exit the hardware business, and become a software company. Their email software is the best mobile client I've ever used and in the time I've had five BB's, I've also had several Windows Mobile Std/Pro (Moto Q, Q9M, Samsung Saga), iOS (iPod Touch), and Android (HTC Eris, Thunderbolt) devices (but no Windows Phone 7) so I do have something to compare to. The only email client that I could comfortably manage 100+ emails a day is the BB. If they do go the software route, I would hope they strongly control which hardware they will run on so as to control the CX.

    • by laffer1 (701823)

      Actually this might work. With Microsoft and Google selling hardware now, OEM phone vendors need an OS from a company they're not competing against.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      I personally believe that the only way for RIM to survive is to pull a Sega, exit the hardware business, and become a software company.

      BB10 is going to be a big change, as is Android app compatibility, so I'd reserve judgment. Additionally, many in-car computer systems have the same base OS and the interoperability could be a big thing.

      • Yes, I think FUD of RIM's demise is premature, even if the incompetent management of HP and Nokia managed to destroy webOS, Symbian and Meego in the space of 12 months.

        A RTOS that supports HTML5, Qt and Android apps seems like a fair alternative to the current Apple/Samsung duopoly.

        Whether they sell at sufficient numbers is something the market will decide but for the moment there is hope.

      • by rikkards (98006)

        As someone who picked up a really cheap playbook I have experienced their Android App Compatibility and can say that won't save them.

  • Better quickly before it's fully dead...

  • This just goes to show you that boneheads are in charge at RIM. RIM, you want to fix business, just bite the pillow and adopt Android for your handsets. Problem solved.
    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      if only.

      Then they're competing on hardware and maybe some custom software of their own, but on hardware they don't actually own any of the core technology that say... samsung does. They'd be buying other peoples parts and sticking them in plastic coffins, which is fine when you're a chinese maker and have minimal labour costs, but for a canadian company that would be a very difficult market to be in.

      That was always their problem. Being an android maker in a sea of android makers is not a place you want to

      • by jomcty (806483)

        Being an android maker in a sea of android makers is not a place you want to be.

        That may be true, but at this point, no one is picking up what RIM is putting down.

        Most times it's better to swim with the school than to strike out on your own.

    • This just goes to show you that boneheads are in charge at RIM.

      RIM, you want to fix business, just bite the pillow and adopt Android for your handsets. Problem solved.

      Because it's not like the market is saturated with Android phones or anything ;)

      • by jomcty (806483)

        Because it's not like the market is saturated with Android phones or anything ;)

        Good point, but I believe a BB device, using an Android OS which incorporates RIM's back-end messaging and security features, would differentiate it's devices in the market.

        • You can't add security on top of an unsecure OS.

          They would have to make their own version of Android and make sure that the devices could not be rooted without breaking the OS.

          This in turn would break compatibility, so they might as well stay with QNX.
          • by jomcty (806483)

            You can't add security on top of an unsecure OS.

            RIM could run Android in a VM and the BB infrastructure in another, signed VM, thus partitioning the unsecured from the secured and maintain compatibility.

            I believe RIM could do it, but it will require some out-of-the-box thinking and courage on their part. I don't think they have many hands left at this point.

  • Funny how many unsourced rumors we've heard in the last years that have failed to pan out.

    Just sayin'...

  • The half of almost nothing is almost zero.
    How can you compare RIM messaging with, say, Google services?
    How can you compare RIM handsets with, say, Samsung or HTC ones?

  • RIM has done an outstandingly crappy job of marketing their handsets lately as it is. They might as well spin it off and let someone else try.

    That said, Microsoft sounds like a great way to drive the Blackberry handset brand in to oblivion. Short of the XBox I can't think of a Microsoft product that has been successfully marketed since ... possibly the beginning of time. They have instead brought their products to the front of the pack in competition because they were brutal towards their competition
    • Going to Microsoft for marketing assistance is like going to the president of Syria for advice on how to handle a disapproving populace.

      Nokia can attest to this!

  • doesn't tend to stay in motion. [ba dum ching]
  • I feel like I'm in the twilight zone when I read these news sites. Blackberry is, still, the only viable option for any public company even vaguely concerned about protecting their data. AFAIK there still isn't a centrally managed backend for enforcing security policy and remotely wiping phones with either of the touchscreen platforms. This is the only reason why all the companies I consult for are still strongly encouraged to stick with BB.

    Post RIM's 'inevitable demise' who does everyone suppose is going
    • AFAIK there still isn't a centrally managed backend for enforcing security policy and remotely wiping phones with either of the touchscreen platforms.

      I don't know what a "centrally managed backend" would be, but my Android phone requested me to enable remote wipe when I configured the email app to connect to my Outlook account. Same thing on iOS and WP7.

      • by tom229 (1640685)
        Exactly, it asked you... individually. It doesn't allow "centrally managed" control from your IT department. The only way to get iphones and android devices to work like blackberries do with BES is to use a 3rd party MDM. None of which seem to work that well and none of which give you quick the control that you get with BB/BES.
        • Exactly, it asked you... individually.

          So what? It simply wouldn't let me connect if I didn't enable the feature. And I assume that the actual wipe, if they ever want to do it, is centrally managed.

          • by tom229 (1640685)
            ... you're not following. I'm not interested in what your device can do for you and the inane txt messages you exchange with your friends. I'm interested in providing a solution for my clients who want to provide mobile devices for their employees. They want to provide mobile devices for their employees but also control what applications they can download, what websites they can visit, how much data they can use, what email accounts they can add to their phones, and various other elements of a centralized s
            • No, you're not following. Ever heard of BYOD? I use my smartphone to read my work email and work with documents. As far as that goes, all that matters is that this particular functionality works in a secure manner; there's no reason why my employer should also be able to control what apps I can install on my phone.

              And it's not just me. Every other person here is also doing the same. And so are all the folks at several other major (as in, Fortune 500) companies I know. An separate employer-issued device is s

              • by tom229 (1640685)
                I'm aware of BYOD and, to me, it seems little more than a cost cutting fad that is going to bite a lot of organizations in the ass one day. It makes little sense if you're any more than slightly worried about your data being compromised. I sure hope my employer would be concerned with the 1000's of emails I have containing passwords and access information for sensitive systems. I would sure hope they don't just trust that I'm responsible enough to remote wipe it if I ever lose it, secure it with a password,
                • I would sure hope they don't just trust that I'm responsible enough to remote wipe it if I ever lose it

                  Funny that. My phone is configured such that my employer can remote wipe it, not me. It made me configure it that way when I added my Exchange account. It also required me to add a PIN or password lock, with a specified minimum strength requirement.

                  But it's still my phone, and I run whatever apps I want on it.

                  • by tom229 (1640685)
                    So whos fault is it when you download a trojan making all that surface level security obsolete? It's going to be the IT departments fault... and then guess what's going to happen. You're going to get a nice locked down centrally managed device... or it's going to be off their network entirely. BYOD is a fad... and RIM is still very alive.
  • Can someone explain just how BB's do "push" better? Especially where concerned with Exchange ActiveSync.

    I've had my Nexus S 4G, HTC Evo 4G, and Galaxy Nexus hooked up with ActiveSync for Exchange and it works. I've never had an issue with it. Also, I can log in via my employer's Outlook Web interface and wipe the phone if necessary.

    I'm not trolling or anything, I just always see people say "BB does push email better than any one out there!" I've yet to see a feature that wasn't implemented there.

    I know

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