Research In Motion Ltd (BBRY): Is BlackBerry Ready for the Picking?

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Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) has been in survival mode for a while now, but that mode may be switching to panic among some investors – perhaps including fund manager Jim Simons (see his full equity portfolio)? – as the company posted a very disappointing  May quarterly earnings report just three months after posting a better-than-expected report for the February quarter.  It is pretty clear at this point, though, that BlackBerry is at a crossroads in determining its future … if such a thing will even exist much longer.

After trading at around $14 per share at one point, Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) dipped below $10 a share this week, losing about 30 percent of its modest market cap in a matter of days. And there was supposedly a lot of pressure on CEO Thorsten Heins this week when he went before  shareholders Tuesday a the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Thorsten HeinsHowever, a funny thing happened – Heins must have wowed the crowd and said all the right things, because in the hours after the close of the meeting, the price of BlackBerry stock  surged 3 percent.  We do not know the substance of what he said, but  whatever it was seemed to be music to the investors’ ears, because it seemed that more shareholders either jumped on board or increased their stakes in the company.

So just when it seems that Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) might have a plan in place to actually survive – who knows if the company will ever be in a position to compete again? – there was some news coming from the Wall Street Journal this week that revealed that BlackBerry is slated to announce a new round of major layoffs at the company in the very near future, and that the company has started that process by firing its head of U.S. sales,  Richard Piasentin, in late June. There is no immediate word as to the scope of the layoffs, but the word “massive” has been tossed around. Whether or not “massive” figures can be compared to the 5,000 layoffs the company reported in its previous fiscal year remains to be seen.

And if these layoffs will happen at Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY), and Heins spoke a good game that caused the stock to rise after he addressed the skittish investors, what could this mean? Will BlackBerry indeed be moving away from the labor-intensive hardware portion of its smartphones and be focused on its business-oriented mobile software? Will it be narrowing its focus even more than that?

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