10:55 AM -- When I read this story -- "RIM Scrambles to Launch Better LTE Devices" -- I started to think about how Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) might save itself, especially now that its troubles are so obvious that financial analysts have all but buried it. (See RIP RIM: Will Foresight Be 20/20?)
Building a better LTE phone will help RIM. But it also stands a good chance of improving its standing outside North America if it applies the right strategy. "We should not forget that RIM is still very strong in some emerging markets -- South Africa, Indonesia, etc.," writes Stela Bokun, an analyst with Pyramid Research.
In Latin America, Bokun points out that RIM had a good year in 2010, but a bad year in 2011. The market is so volatile, she writes, "that one killer app can make … or kill a company."
RIM gained some 10 percentage points of market share in Latin America in 2010, largely on the strength of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) application. It couldn't sustain that momentum the following year, but Bokun's point is that the possibility does exist that RIM could catch some emerging markets with the right idea at the right time and tremendously improve its business in a very short space of time.
What if, for instance, RIM launched a lower-end, less expensive line of handsets for some Southeast Asian markets and BBM -- or something else -- caught on?
What is clear is that RIM won't win on price alone in those markets. Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. analyst Ittai Kidron recently mentioned, in a note to clients, that "there is increasing risk to RIM's international business in emerging markets as more Android vendors go down the price curve."
Chinese vendors are the most price competitive, Kidron notes, and Android phones in the US$100 to $150 price range offer an "attractive alternative to RIM's value priced Curve 8630, which has been a strong seller internationally for RIM."
So where do we leave this topic? Right back where we found it. "All in all, I don’t think it’s 'game over' for RIM, despite the fact that it doesn’t have too many lives left," Bokun writes.
— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading