Research In Motion Passes "Go"

In the popular board game Monopoly, players get $200 every time they pass "Go." Doesn't that sound like a sweet deal? I mean, really, wouldn't it be cool to saunter through a bright red sign that says "Go" and then get pulled over by a Bob Barker look-alike who insists you're due some cash? You bet. But it doesn't work that way in real life. Not for most of us, at least.

Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) proved to be the exception yesterday. The smartphone and PDA maker crossed its wildly popular BlackBerry with Sybase's (NYSE: SY  ) AvantGo mobile Web service. The deal is significant in that it makes the BlackBerry an even smarter digital tool and plaything. That's because AvantGo makes popular Web sites and digital content easy to view on a mobile device such as a smartphone.

It was also the end of yet another differentiator between the so-called CrackBerry and palmOne's (Nasdaq: PLMO  ) Treo. And that's a little worrisome to me, having teamed with Motley Fool Rule Breakers chief David Gardner in choosing palmOne for our Stocks 2005 annual. The thesis, which I believe still holds, was that palmOne is simply too close in size and market presence to be valued at a fraction of Research In Motion. Yet that remains the case today.

It can't help when Research In Motion dates a long-standing palmOne partner like AvantGo. Nor does it help when Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , already the world's smartphone leader, hooks up with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) through operating system partner Symbian. Or when production problems slip the schedule for getting new Treos into the hands of carriers.

Indeed, this last problem is the biggest of all. And it doesn't seem to be improving. A visit to my local T-Mobile store revealed that no one can be sure when the new Treo 650 will be available to the carrier's subscribers, if ever. Whoops.

Look, I still like palmOne. But only so much time can pass before the company starts inking content deals and getting new phones into carriers' hands. It had better be soon.

For related Foolishness:

  • In February, palmOne came up empty-handed.
  • So far, Nokia's smart shot doesn't seem to have had much of an effect.
  • Last year, Research In Motion added 1 million subscribers in nine months. It may take until only the second quarter to reach that goal this year.

Is Research In Motion the next home run stock? And how do you find home run stocks, anyway? Our Foolish band atMotley Fool Rule Breakers each month profiles two companies searching for the Next Big Thing. You can get in on the action by taking a risk-free 30-day trial today.

Fool contributorTim Beyers thinks the Treo is greatest thing since the PDA. What do you think of palmOne's prospects? Is Research In Motion pulling away? Share your thoughts with other Fools at thepalmOne andResearch In Motion discussion boards. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile, which ishere. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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