RIM appears to be searching for a fat lady to start singing as the company misses its Q4 expectations. Blackberry shipments are down 21% from Q3 and the company couldn’t even meet the already-horrid earnings expectations that it had set. Estimates were at $4.54 billion for the quarter, and RIM missed the mark with $4.2 billion, selling a mere 500k Playbook tablets. The bottom line is a $125 million quarterly loss for the company.

According to All Thing D, Balsillie is now retiring from RIM, after stepping down as co-CEO to a board position just a few months ago:

“As I complete my retirement from RIM, I’m grateful for this remarkable experience and for the opportunity to have worked with outstanding professionals who helped turn a Canadian idea into a global success”

The company said, in a statement, that it is “exploring all options” at this point. Read that as you will, but the smart money will decipher the message as “we’re looking to sell, and we need to do it quick.” The company says that it is looking for “strategic opportunities” which could help to carry it forward, but ultimately things don’t look good for the Canadian smartphone manufacturer, and they haven’t for quite some time.

RIM’s new CEO now has more work than ever cut out for him. Thorsten Heins has made a number of claims, saying that he would consider licensing BlackBerry 10, the company’s newest OS, to other manufacturers. Heins appears to be cleaning house, as well, laying off high-level executives such as the company’s CTO and COO. Whether this is a sign of changes to come, or just a way to cut costs, we’ll have to wait and see.