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My how the mighty have fallen.

RIM, once a household name thanks to the then-ubiquitous BlackBerry, has seen competitors, namely Apple, eat its lunch. And its future prospects look more and more bleak each day.

Yesterday, the Canadian company posted quarterly earnings and they were a shocker -- not in an Apple (read: good) way either. Wall Street expected revenue of $3.1bn; RIM delivered $2.8bn. Wall Street expected earnings per share as high as $0.01 per share, or a net loss of $0.03 per share; RIM delivered a net loss of $0.37 per share.

Not surprisingly, investors battered the company's shares, sending them down 18% in after-hours trading.

Unfortunately for RIM, it would appear that time is running out. The company has been pinning its hopes on the next version of the BlackBerry, the BlackBerry 10, but yesterday RIM said that the device won't debut until early 2013. That represents a year-long delay.

RIM's financial results and its apparent inability to launch the BlackBerry 10 are leading some to question whether the company can survive at all to fight another day, and there are now reports that the company's board is weighing its options.

One of the more interesting options: a partnership with Microsoft. As reported by Reuters' Nadia Damouni:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had approached RIM in recent months, looking to strike a partnership similar to the one the software giant has with Nokia Oyj, the sources said. Under that partnership, Nokia will use Microsoft's latest Windows operating system on its smartphones.

Such a deal would make obvious sense for Microsoft. It's looking for ways to push Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and other software and certainly has the cash to swoop in and ink a deal with a desperate RIM. For RIM, a Nokia-like deal might also make sense. The primary cause of the company's repeated delays with the BlackBerry 10 is supposedly related to the development of RIM's new operating system, so by teaming up with Microsoft for cash and adopting Windows, RIM could conceivably kill two birds with one stone.

According to Damouni, RIM would prefer to remain independent, and does not want to abandon its own OS efforts. But with time arguably running out, other options being floated, which include the sale of its patents or network, don't look so good either.

This suggests that even if RIM or its assets survive in some form, the RIM of yesteryear isn't likely to make a comeback.

Patricio Robles

Published 29 June, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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