BlackBerry maker Research In Motion may be looking to split itself up and sell off some, if not all, of the pieces. The company would divide into at least two divisions – handsets and software services (i.e., BlackBerry Messenger). The handset business would be the first on the block. RIM could then license the BlackBerry Messenger service to other companies, or sell it as well.
This news comes The Sunday Times via The Verge. According to the Times, Facebook and Amazon are both possible buyers for RIM’s hardware division. They also say that this is one of the options drawn up by the financial advisors hired by the company to help it navigate through its current struggles. They expect RIM’s final plan to be unveiled sometime this summer.
Despite once occupying a seemingly unassailable position at the top of the smartphone market, RIM’s situation has gotten consistently worse over the last few years. The company never managed to adequately respond to the threat Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform posed to its business. A series of failed products and bad business moves caused RIM to hemorrhage market share to its rivals. In January co-founders and co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie were replaced by Thorsten Heins. In March, though, their fourth quarter earnings report revealed little good news – revenues down 25% from the previous quarter and 7% for the year. Earlier this month the company’s stock hit a nearly ten-year low.
All in all, these are not happy days for the once-mighty RIM. While there may be some hope left in the upcoming BlackBerry 10 release (assuming it actually happens), it’s looking more and more like RIM as we’ve known it won’t be around this time next year.