RIM's Lesson For Investors

Jun.29.12 | About: BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY)

Research In Motion (RIMM) produced yet another awful-terrible-no-good-very-bad-quarter. In what may be the single worst miss of the quarter, RIM lost 99 cents a share (adjust net loss 37 cents), a far cry from the $1.33 earned in the year-ago quarter. The miss was huge: Analysts were looking for a 1 cent loss.

According to Reuters, Microsoft advised RIM to ditch its proprietary Blackberry OS and use Windows instead. RIM turned them down flat.

Perhaps Waterloo saw what happened to Nokia (NYSE:NOK). The Finnish company jumped off its Symbian platform into Windows' uncharted waters. So far, Nokia hasn't fared well. Earnings, revenue, margins, and volume have all cratered.

It's been an impossible dilemma, one vividly portrayed by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in his memo: Leave a failing strategy for an untested one while competing with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and the Google Android. Elop likens the task to a man jumping off a blazing oil rig into the icy North Sea. His memo should be required reading for anyone considering investing in Nokia or RIM.

We too, are standing on a "burning platform," and we must decide how we are going to change our behavior...We are working on a path forward - a path to rebuild our market leadership. When we share the new strategy on February 11 (2011), it will be a huge effort to transform our company.

Quite a quandary. Now we see what happens to companies competing with Apple and Google's smartphone platforms: Stay the course (RIM) and burn; jump ship and drown.

Both Nokia and RIM are down more than 60% over the last 12 months. It's a case of dammed if you do and damned if you don't. When you take on Apple, paradise is lost.

Disclosure: I am long AAPL.

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