Research In Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY ) is getting a lot of attention these days. For one thing, the stock has been resurrected. Shares are up more than 50% year to date on renewed hopes that its BlackBerry 10 operating system can save the company from ruin. But before you throw your inhibitions to the wind and jump on the hype wagon, let's flesh out the facts.
Dangling the carrot
On Wednesday, Research In Motion unveiled an updated version of its business software service, known as BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10. This is a key product launch for the company as it struggles to keep hold of its enterprise customers. One of the most noteworthy additions to the streamlined platform is that it works across operating systems. That means employers using BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 are able to securely manage employees' smartphones, be it iPhones running iOS, BlackBerry handhelds, or Android-powered devices.
This is something RIM needed to do a long time ago, as more companies began swapping BlackBerrys for competing gadgets. Last year, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) stole a massive enterprise customer from RIM when Halliburton, one of the world's largest oilfield-services companies, agreed to trade in its employees' BlackBerry smartphones for Apple's iPhones. That's just one company, but it's indicative of a trend of large company and government accounts that shifted from BlackBerry in 2012.
However, it's a new year, and loyal users are hoping that a new, more competitive RIM will emerge from the ashes. The device maker is attempting to entice new customers by offering a free 60-day trial of its updated enterprise service.
According to the company, about 1,600 businesses in North America are planning to participate in a training program for RIM's new BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10. In addition, The Wall Street Journal reports, "130 corporate customers have been testing an early version of the service." Importantly, RIM released this mobile enterprise application as a lead-in to next week's long overdue debut of its new operating system, BlackBerry 10.
Welcome back to life, RIM. Please keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times.
At long last, RIM looks to be taking destiny into its own hands. However, the question now is: Will it be enough? The company continues to bleed market share to competitors Apple and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) . In fact, RIM closed out 2012 with just 1.6% of the U.S. smartphone market during December, according to ComTech. For comparison, the search giant's Android operating system grabbed 44.2% of smartphone sales, while Apple led with more than 51% of the market.
Don't call it a comeback
After a series of delays, it finally looks as if BlackBerry 10 will show its face. RIM is on track to release the long-awaited mobile operating system on Jan. 30. On top of that, the company plans to introduce at least six separate BlackBerry 10 devices this year, as RIM looks to grow its subscriber base. This, along with reports that Lenovo may make a bid for the company, has stoked interest in the stock, though it took a bit of a break today as speculation of a Lenovo bid cools.
Shares of RIM hit a 52-week high of $18.32 last week, before today's retreat back into the $16 range as investors reacted to the rumored takeover buzz. Interest from Lenovo Group, new smartphones and software releases, and possible licensing deals are all very encouraging for Research In Motion. However, the disclaimer for investors is that where there is hype, there is often inflated expectations.
That's not to say I don't admire the investors who have been long RIM from the beginning. I'm just not confident that these developments can restore RIM to the greatness it once knew. If you're a current RIM shareholder, I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a note in the comments section below and tell the Fool community where you think the stock will go in the year ahead.
Research In Motion has a lot riding on its new BlackBerry 10 debut. But with added competition from tech giant Apple, it could be too little too late for the BlackBerry maker. However, there is a separate debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy.
The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and, more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.