Talking about how Research In Motion (RIMM) established a lasting position in an undesirable gutter called "failure" is stale news. I mean, everyone knows how the once formidable force lost its market share to bigwigs like Apple (AAPL). Today, I want to avert this cliché topic of Research In Motion's downfall and instead talk about the BlackBerry 10. This new device, slated for launch January 30, is deemed by many pundits to be Research In Motion's only hope of turning things around. Will it be the much needed silver bullet or will it add another gaping hole to the sinking ship?
Positive sentiment from analysts
One positive indicator is the increased positive sentiment from analysts over the BlackBerry 10. While most analysts contend that Research In Motion is not out of the woods yet, they maintain that the BlackBerry 10 could very well realign the stock on a desired upward trajectory. Toward the fall of November, Jeffries upgraded Research In Motion in a notable fashion: shifting the recommendation from underperform to hold and further doubling the price target at the time from $5 to $10. The upgrade was tied to the increased positivity from carriers. Similarly, Jeffries outlined that the risk/reward ratio was more balanced than it had ever been before. What's interesting is the seamless fashion in which the Jeffries upgrade was succeeded by a Goldman Sachs upgrade, which came around the same time when Donald Yacktman, a key hedge fund manager, significantly increased his stake in Research In Motion. Like Jeffries, Goldman was inclined to believe that the risk/reward ratio was enticing ahead of the late January launch.
I personally believe that these upgrades were founded on solid ground. To start with, BB7 inventories are relatively low considering that BB10's launch comes two years late. This delay, despite being a drawback, has generated some reasonable demand ahead of the January 30th launch. In addition, I am optimistic about the positivity that the BlackBerry 10 is receiving from carriers. If the BlackBerry 10 manages to grace Verizon's (VZ) shelves, this will be a huge plus. Verizon not only has one of the most popular networks, but it is also synonymous with its expansive 4G network. Given the increased positivity from carriers, I wouldn't be surprised if Research In Motion managed to push the BlackBerry 10 into Verizon.
The target market has been prepared beforehand
I am also impressed by Research In Motion's strategy. The handset maker knows very well that it has been fenced out of the consumer market. Even a layman's brand switching analysis shows that the average consumer would rather stick to Apple or Samsung as opposed to trying out the BlackBerry 10. With this in mind, Research In Motion has targeted the enterprise market.
Here its hopes are high, albeit not as high relative to other handset makers. Most analysts have pegged a 30 percent success rate for the BB10. In a clever attempt to increase its chances of securing this market, Research In Motion has already rolled out the BlackBerry10 for more than 120 enterprise and government customers ahead of the official launch. This will give these high tier customers the opportunity to extensively test the BB10 software and devices ahead of the official launch.
Why do I view this move in positive light? These valued customers will be allowed to adapt to some of the new features in the BB10, making adaptation seamless at the wake of the official launch. Similarly, I believe that this will be an opportunity for the select customers to sample some of the features that make the BB10 distinguishable from the BB7. It comes of note that most of the customers in this category are customers in the fortune 500, suggesting that Research In Motion's enterprise market still has a bulging percentage of deep-pocketed customers.
While Google (GOOG) has a bigger footprint than Research In Motion and Apple, I believe that it will have to struggle with pressure over tax payments in the U.K. The case against it continues to gain momentum as more and more pressure on its scheming, yet legal, tax avoidance practices continue to mount. Apple on the other hand, in my view, needs to step up on innovation and stop using patents as a moat. Tech savvy consumers are already realizing this. If you take a look at the BB10's features, you will note that there is some real daylight between it and the BB7, from the BlackBerry Balance to the BlackBerry Hub. Apple's iPhone 5, on the other hand, bears no major advancements on the iPhone 4S; suggesting that Apple is selling the brand name. I believe that the market will soon start to appreciate these small yet relevant factors.
In conclusion, I believe that the BB10 will serve its intended purpose. From now up until its launch and thereafter, expect Research In Motion's stock to be on an upward trajectory. Research In Motion is a buy.