This May Be RIM's Only Way Out

Has Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) finally given up on its fight for survival and surrendered to the likes of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) and Google? That might be your initial impression upon hearing about the release of the company's new Mobile Fusion software. But perspectives differ, and the way I see it, this may be RIM in a different "avatar" altogether.

It's all about interoperability
The only other thing RIM is famous for, apart from its BlackBerry line of smartphones, is its BlackBerry Enterprise Server platform, with the latter being the binding force behind its products aimed at the corporate sector. BlackBerry Mobile Fusion simply extends the whole concept to include non-BlackBerry operating systems as well -- most importantly, Apple's iOS and Google's Android systems. Mobile Fusion, which has been dubbed as the company's MDM, or mobile device management solution, is said to be a scalable, cost-effective, and secure solution that should help organizations manage the string of personal devices (often running on competing operating systems) that their employees are increasingly being allowed to use. And it's high time BlackBerry makes such a move, given the alarming rate at which it is losing its coveted enterprise customers.

More Apples and fewer BlackBerrys
A growing number of companies are allowing their employees to use their personal devices for official purposes. While some companies such as Credit Suisse and Barclays Capital have allowed employees to use their own iPhones or Android-powered devices, others such as Halliburton, an oil-field-services company and Standard Chartered have actually made the switch from BlackBerry to Apple iPhones for official handset usage.

According to Forrester Research, it is estimated that businesses would buy iPads worth about $10 billion this year. By 2013, this figure could very well become a whopping $16 billion. So you can imagine the kind of competition RIM faces at least from a company like Apple.

What's in it for companies
At the same time, managing different mobile platforms may very well be a headache for any company's IT department, and a drain on its infrastructure costs at the same time. RIM's Mobile Fusion software may be the answer to their problems, providing the beleaguered company with an alternate source of revenue. Enterprise customers have always found BlackBerry's enterprise software security features to be very appealing but now feel the need to manage other non-RIM devices as well on a single secure platform. Now, the company's Mobile Fusion architecture would allow businesses to retain the BlackBerry standard of security across a diverse range of non-RIM devices as well.

A Foolish conclusion
It's time RIM thinks about a change in its core area of business and evolve into a software provider, while not discarding its original role as a handset maker altogether. This is somewhat similar to what companies such as Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) are trying to do, as they opt to evolve into a newer role, while also re-launching certain products on a new platform. Dell has recently made as many as three acquisitions in a bid to shift to the role of an enterprise cloud computing service provider and adopting a different stance from its original role as a PC maker.

RIM is also making a last-ditch effort to try to salvage the BlackBerry device itself by introducing the much-talked-about BB10 operating system by the end of this year. However, it's a wait and watch game for now.

If you're skeptical about RIM's prospects in the long run, check out our free report on these three hidden winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android revolution. Get it while it's still available.

Don't forget to stay up to speed with the latest on RIM by adding it to your free watchlist.

Keki Fatakia does not hold shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing covered calls on Dell. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (10)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2012, at 1:53 PM, melegross wrote:

    Not enough research in this article. If the research was done properly, it wouldn't have erroneously stated;

    "Now, the company's Mobile Fusion architecture would allow businesses to retain the BlackBerry standard of security across a diverse range of non-RIM devices as well."

    As is known, RIM's software will implement some of RIm's security policies, but not all. Whether this is intended to retain the BB as a premium security device, or just poor software development, I don't know. But the software isn't expected to make much of an impression on businesses, as they are working to divest themselves of the BES servers they have as quickly as possible.

  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2012, at 2:02 PM, BR14 wrote:

    "the software isn't expected to make much of an impression on businesses, as they are working to divest themselves of the BES servers they have as quickly as possible"

    Not if they want secure communication they're not.

    Anyone using Apple or Android devices in enterprise typically buys software similar to RIM"s BES - such as Good technologies servers. Except Good doesn't support BlackBerry.

    Mobile Fusion doesn't support all RIM's security policies largely because iOS and Android are not as secure as BlackBerry OS.

    No one can provide equivalent levels of security to RIM for that reason. Mobile Fusion will support those policies available from anyone else for iPhone and Android.

    But Mobile Fusion highlights the difference between iOS, Android and BlackBerry. It will be an effective tool in demonstrating the strength of the integrated enterprise solution available from RIM.

  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2012, at 2:49 PM, infektu wrote:

    @melegross

    No it's not "poor software development", but simply that there are certain things that non-BlackBerry handsets can't do.

    They don't do it when connected to a "Good Technology" server, or BES, etc., they don't do it period.

    Ironic to blame features missing in apple/android handsets on RIM's software :-)

    and by "features" I don't mean widgets, but fundamental security issues that simply are'nt implemented in the respective OS-es.

    So BR15 is right

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