Research In Motion, the long-suffering maker of the BlackBerry smartphone platform, is reportedly looking into hiring a financial adviser to help it navigate out of its current troubles. Late last month the company released its fourth quarter earnings report, and the news was pretty grim. Revenue for for the quarter was down 19% from the third quarter, and 25% from the same quarter last year. At the same time, device sales were down 21% from the third quarter.
As part of the earnings report, RIM announced that several executives were leaving the company, to be followed by two more about a week later. They also announced that they were refocusing their marketing efforts, returning to an emphasis on business customers. This led many to conclude that RIM was abandoning the consumer market altogether, though RIM denied it.
During RIM’s earnings call, CEO Thorsten Heins mentioned the possibility of licensing BlackBerry software to other handset makers, licensing RIM’s patent catalog, or even selling the company altogether. Today, Bloomberg is reporting that RIM is preparing to hire a financial adviser to help it decide. Citing “four people with knowledge of the matter,” Bloomberg says that while a strategic outside investment or sale of the company are unlikely, the company will probably pursue licensing options. RIM could chose to license the BlackBerry software platform to other device manufacturers like Samsung or HTC, both of which would no doubt be happy for another alternative to Android for their smartphone lines. The company could also choose to license its patent portfolio to a company like Microsoft, which is currently struggling to make inroads in the smartphone market.
Whatever course RIM chooses – and a combination of licensing options seems most likely – it’s a pretty safe bet that the company is headed for some major changes. Whether it survives, or what it looks like when the dust settles, remains to be seen.