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Shares of Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) saw a bump yesterday after it signed a patent license deal with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The arrangement allows RIM to use some of Microsoft’s data storage and transfer technology, which is expected to be seen in the new BlackBerry 10 devices.
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RIM often gets lost in the chaos of the smartphone wars. Last June, the BlackBerry developer announced that it was cutting 5,000 jobs, posted a loss of $518 million, and pushed back the release of its BlackBerry 10 platform to early 2013. Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White wrote in a research note, “With the expected ramp of Apple’s iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy 2 III in the second-half of the year, we believe RIM’s delay of BlackBerry 10 may leave the company so vulnerable that the new platform may never see the light of day.”
In January, Thorsten Heins stepped in as CEO, and announced that the company would shift its efforts away from the consumer market and back to enterprise. Ironically enough, RIM will be facing tough enterprise competition from Microsoft as it pushes its Windows Phone 8 platform with Office integration.
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer recently decided to take the company off the RIM platform, and buy her employees the smartphone of their choice, delivering another blow to the Canadian company. With BlackBerry’s future admittedly resting in enterprise, it will be essential to convince companies to adopt the platform. This could be difficult in the face of poor ratings, such as TheStreet giving RIM a “sell” with a score of D+, and investor attention turning elsewhere.
In an effort to bring more games and mobile apps to the platform, software development kit maker Marmalade is set to begin offering licenses to developers. RIM’s app library currently falls way behind the Apple and Android app stores.
But still, RIM soldiers on. The company commands 9.5 percent of the smartphone platform market, way ahead of Microsoft’s 3.6 percent. The BlackBerry is not dead, but it may be fighting for its life.
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