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Samsung may be RIM’s best hope, analyst says

Research in Motion Ltd. BlackBerry smartphone handsets are pictured in this illustration picture taken on July 21, 2012.

Valentin Flauraud/Reuters

Research In Motion Ltd.'s best hope may be a partnership with Samsung, because the Canadian company's vaunted new software for its smartphones is not good enough to unseat the dominance of Apple and Android products.

That's the conclusion from analyst Peter Misek of Jefferies, who believes that the BlackBerry maker's strategic review will end soon with a decision that RIM needs to license the new BB10 operating system.

The system is good – "much better" than the current offering on BlackBerry phones based on trials – but not as good as Apple's newest operating system and only as good as the top Android offering. So if BB10 isn't the magic bullet to turn around RIM, RIM will need to look at more radical options.

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The one that involves giving up the least independence is licensing. Samsung is the likely target. The Korean company has signalled it wants to focus more on the user experience on its phones.

However, Samsung might prefer to just wait and see the reception BB10 gets, and then just buying all of RIM, Mr. Misek said in a note Tuesday.

"We believe Samsung is considering ramping up its internal OS [operating system] development efforts, licensing BB10, or buying RIM," the analyst wrote. "We think any acquisition is unlikely until after BB10 launches."

Samsung is doing well at the moment because of its phones, but is in danger because it doesn't own its own software and uses Android as its platform.

Licensing BB10 is a possibility, and there are talks, Mr. Miseks says. However, there are risks to working with an independent RIM, because RIM could be purchased by someone else and then Samsung could be frozen out.

So buying RIM would "provide insurance."

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