Shakeup at RIM following another bad earnings report

by David Needle

March 29 2012

RIM hoped for another hit mobile product with its PlayBook tablet, but sales have been disappointing.
RIM hoped for another hit mobile product with its PlayBook tablet, but sales have been disappointing.

Research in Motion (RIM) said it plans to undertake a review of “strategic opportunities” following the release of its fourth quarter earnings that fell below expectations for the fifth consecutive fiscal quarter.

RIM said it lost $125 million or 24 cents a share, diluted, in its fourth quarter, compared to a profit of $934-million or $1.78 a year earlier.

Thorsten Heins, RIM’s new CEO also has fired some of the BlackBerry maker’s high level staff, according to a report in Canada’s Globe & Mail, citing a source close the company. [Update: RIM has confirmed that CTO David Yach and COO Jim Rowan will be leaving the company]. 

One departure that is confirmed is Jim Balsillie, RIM’s former long-time co-CEO, who the company said has resigned from his position on the board of directors. 

Heins said in a statement that RIM is “undertaking a comprehensive review of strategic opportunities including partnerships and joint ventures, licensing, and other ways to leverage RIM's assets and maximize value for our stakeholders.” 

Among other assets, RIM is known to have a valuable portfolio of patents. 

“It is very clear to me that substantial change is what RIM needs,” Heins said on a call with investors following the release of earnings. But he also promised RIM would focus on its bread-and-butter enterprise business over the consumer market:

“We believe BlackBerry cannot succeed if we try to be everybody's darling and all things to all people,” he said. 

Once a mobile high flier, RIM basically created the smartphone business with its BlackBerry line of phones long-favored by business for its security and email capabilities. 

But BlackBerry’s share of the market started to slide a few years after the release of the iPhone in 2007 and has never recovered. Meanwhile, the companies much-hyped second act, the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, has failed to catch on, much less make any kind of dent in iPad sales. 

RIM reported bringing in $4.2 billion in revenue, for the quarter, an amount 19% lower than the third quarter and well below its guidance of at least $4.6 billion. In what is likely a disheartening sign for investors in the Waterloo, Ont.-based smartphone giant, RIM said it will discontinue offering guidance. 

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