After HP's tablet firesale, and decision to sell off its PC unit, what will RIM do after announcing feeble sales of its PlayBook device during its latest quarterly figures, and will it fall to shareholder pressure to sell?
Time to Ditch the PlayBook?
That was a headline waiting to be written after the BlackBerry tablet failed to set the world alight. However, while HP could afford to ditch its TouchPads on the cheap, as they were just a sideline to the massive corporation, RIM only has phones and its tablets to offer, so can't be so profligate.
In fact, with a new version of the PlayBook OS just around the corner, RIM would probably like to play out the long game -- pushing its tablets into the enterprise to the still-massive BlackBerry user base. That user base continues to rise, especially outside the U.S., despite the company's recent poor showing. The company shipped 200,000 tablets in the quarter, but failed to mention how many it had actually sold.
However, its shareholders might not be so keen. With the patent splurge in mobile going on around the world, they might consider RIM's real value is in its intellectual property, and prefer cashing out via a sale to another major mobile company. One such holder, Jaguar Financial, is urging a patent sale to boost the stock price.
Bad Numbers Crunched
With Apple just about to launch the next iPhone, any weakness from a rival will be obvious to the market, and while RIM's revenue was $4.2 billion, that was down 10% from last year and 15% down from the previous quarter. While subscriber numbers are still rising -- now up to 70 million -- BlackBerry clearly has a solid base and a strong future in mobile, but the tablet venture may be seen to have failed.
Unless it can produce a more competitive price or get some massive enterprise deals quickly, and then produce the promised updates to the PlayBook OS to add features and much-touted Android app support, PlayBook may well be going the way of the TouchPad. If RIM can do that while boosting smartphone sales, then perhaps BlackBerry still has a decent future ahead of it.
However, it will have to get in quick before the Windows 8 tablets arrive, which could dominate in the enterprise space.