Over the last few years, I’ve repeatedly called RIM dead; I’ve said over and over that Dell’s brand and business are ruined (see Bianna Golodryga of “Good Morning America” interviewing me when she was still an assistant for CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo); and I’ve cited how the only way to get value of Hewlett-Packard these days is for the company to break itself up.
Let’s flip it! Here is how each of these companies could drastically change their strategies and business models to get back to growth.
RIM — Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM) needs to immediately open up and license its BlackBerry email service to every operating-system platform and see if it can somehow get back to being a de facto standard for email solutions. The company needs to bring in partners for its new operating system, a la Windows and Android, to see if someone else can have any luck building a hardware device that’s decent. RIM’s got two platforms to build on: its email platform and its operating-system platform, and if it doesn’t immediately stem the market-share loss of the two, the company is truly doomed.
Dell — Why doesn’t Dell Inc. (DELL) use the exact same model for smartphones that it so successfully pioneered for the personal computer, which is customization? Wouldn’t it be great to call the Dell 800 number or to be able to go to Dell.com and specify which operating system, how fast a processor, how much memory, what apps and even a customized size and feel for the hardware you want from a selection of form factors? I want a souped-up, top-of-the-line Android, and my head analyst might want a basic Windows phone with extra memory. Come on, Dell, what’s the wait? This is what you do!
H-P — First, fully break them apart Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) into consumer and enterprise units. Then in the consumer division, your software solutions could become a platform of its own; H-P hardware could work across any operating system, seamlessly tying your Android smartphone with your iPad with your xBox and Windows PC. The H-P consumer platform is a platform of a platforms, so build on that.
In the enterprise division, quit trying to be “IBM lite” and buy Fusion-io Inc. (FIO) (I own Fusion-io, but not because I think it’ll be taken over, though it could be.) Then make your servers/storage solutions the very best, the de facto standard of flash-driven servers and storage, and never look back until you’ve got 50% of the server and storage markets in 2020.
Unfortunately, I don’t expect any of these companies to do anything this drastic to save their businesses. So each of them will continue to flounder in its own way for the foreseeable future. I stick with the companies that are laser-focused on growing platforms such as Apple Inc., Google Inc., Fusion-io and a few others.
For more investing insights like this, I invite you to check out my new book, “Everything You Need to Know About Investing,” where I explain how the whole markets work in easy-to-understand language.
Cody Willard writes Revolution Investing for MarketWatch and posts the trades from his personal account at TradingWithCody.com. At time of publication, Cody was net long Apple, Google, Fusion-IO. Follow Cody on Twitter at twitter.com/codywillard. Cody’s new book, Everything You Need to Know About Investing, is available in digital and in paperback.