Research In Motion is reportedly working toward a major transition that will see the company begin licensing its BlackBerry software to third-party vendors including Samsung and HTC. In a recent research note, Jefferies & Company analyst Peter Misek wrote that his checks confirmed earlier reports that Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie will soon be removed from their roles as co-chairmen. The analyst says current board member Barbara Stymiest is indeed the front-runner to replace the pair, and he calls her one of the top executives in Canada. “We believe she will initiate a formal strategic review, possibly trim costs in the hardware business, and possibly announce additional partnerships,” Misek wrote. Read on for more.
The analyst sees Stymiest’s appointment as having little near-term impact on the state of RIM’s business, but he believes the firm is already working on a major transition that could be a huge boon for the company, Barron’s reports. Misek thinks RIM has already set in motion a plan that will see its software licensed to other top vendors including Samsung and HTC.
“We think some of this has already been started with RIM likely agreeing to license Blackberry 10 to Samsung, HTC, and possibly others,” the analyst wrote. “This would help create a critical mass for the ecosystem and maintain RIM’s monthly service revenue.” It is unclear exactly how companies like Samsung and HTC would use the software, or what components of RIM’s BlackBerry platform would be licensed.
Misek went on to note that like the transition from Balsillie and Lazaridis to Stymiest as chairperson of the board, the move to license BlackBerry software will have more of an impact in the long term rather than the short term. “It puts more pressure on the hardware business in the short term,” he said in his note. “Longer term, it possibly gets people hooked on the RIM ecosystem and may in fact allow them to sell more BB 10 handsets (if they are able to create compelling handsets).”
The analyst reiterated a Hold rating on RIM stock and a $14.50 price target.