RIM’s Road Ahead: Will BB10 Be Enough?

In just over a week, Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) won’t be able to survive on hype alone anymore. The company’s new line of BlackBerry 10 devices are set to come out at the end of this month, and once consumers have their hands on the devices, RIM will finally know whether the new OS and phones will be its saving grace, or whether they’ll turn out to be flops.

For the past several months, press, hype, trials, and hopes were feeding RIM, with BlackBerry 10 shaping up to play a pivotal role in the future of the company. While RIM was once a giant in the smartphone market — maybe even the only company in the market, as BlackBerry phones were arguably smarter than other standard phones before Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone launched — the company is now at the bottom of the barrel, with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS accounting for the majority of smartphone sales, while Apple also tops smartphone makers along with Samsung and a few other big players.

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It can’t be said that RIM hasn’t tried hard. Facing an uphill battle, the company made extensive efforts to garner appeal with professionals, corporations, and governments, as well as to come out with powerful devices that can match the competition’s performance and suit consumer sensibilities. The specs on the device appeared to match up with a lot of other current smartphones, and RIM has reached out to app developers to give the BlackBerry 10 the biggest selection of available apps at launch of any mobile operating system…

But, as all things have been leading to BlackBerry 10 for RIM as of late, the company now has to be thinking about what roads to take after the launch. CEO Thorsten Heins has said that the company could consider licensing the BlackBerry 10 platform to other manufacturers — even potentially seeing their software popping up in other technologies, like cars. The company may also consider selling off its hardware production unit and focusing exclusively on software.

According to Heins, the company is in a good position right now, with a leaner business, improved speed and efficiency, no debt, and $2.9 billion in available cash. Just how RIM will proceed once BlackBerry 10 is launched is uncertain, but if the new platform is successful, it sounds likely that the company will look to license elements of it. If the company sells off its hardware unit, its software platform could be expected to function a bit more like Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) — which hasn’t been doing too bad for itself with Android’s ever-soaring popularity on devices produced by other companies. With only several days left before the launch, there’s not much left for RIM to do but sit back and see what comes.

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