By LuAnn LaSalle, The Canadian Press - Friday, September 28, 2012 - 0 Comments
“Hardcore BlackBerry lovers” might have to wait up to two months after the release of the BlackBerry 10 touchscreen device to get their hands on one with a physical keyboard, a strategic play by Research In Motion that analysts say reflects what customers want.
RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins, who had already indicated a touchscreen model would launch first, said Friday that the keyboard version — known in the tech community as Qwerty — will come about “30 to 60″ days later.
Heins said the company needs to gain market share in the touch phone segment, especially to address a trend in which employers are allowing staff to use their preferred smartphone for work.
“People… and enterprises love a full touch device, and, you know, we had to make a choice and finally we decided really to bring both versions to market very, very close to each other,” he said in an interview with MSNBC.
“The BlackBerry lovers, the hardcore BlackBerry lovers, they love this physical keyboard … so make no mistake we are fully, fully committed to Qwerty.”
The physical keyboard is popular often with BlackBerry business users, and the company — in its advertising — has positioned that as an advantage over Apple and Android phones that rely solely on touchscreens.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, September 28, 2012 at 9:51 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Stock in Research in Motion (TSX:RIM) shot up almost 11 per cent…
TORONTO – Stock in Research in Motion (TSX:RIM) shot up almost 11 per cent when the Toronto stock market opened this morning, a day after the BlackBerry maker posted better than expected second-quarter results.
Shares were up 75 cents to $7.71, or 10.8 per cent, in the early going on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The Waterloo, Ont.,-based technology company, which reports in U.S. dollars, said after markets closed Thursday that its quarterly loss was US$235 million or 45 cents per diluted share compared with a profit of $329 million or 63 cents per share a year ago.
RIM’s adjusted loss was $142 million or 27 cents per share.
While large, the loss was still much better than the 47 cents per share loss expected by analysts polled by Bloomberg.
Much of the optimism came from adjusted earnings per share, which filter out one-time costs like expenses related to job reductions and cost cuts.
But despite impressing investors, RIM still has many challenges ahead. Its revenues were notably weaker, down 31 per cent to $2.87 billion from $4.17 billion a year ago.
By David Friend, The Canadian Press - Friday, September 28, 2012 at 7:49 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Even though it posted another round of losses and weakened revenue, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion delivered a surprisingly positive second-quarter earnings report on Thursday that wasn’t as bad as many analysts expected.
The technology company, which is based in Waterloo, Ont. and reports in U.S. dollars, posted a quarterly loss of US$235 million or 45 cents per diluted share.
The results compare with a profit of $329 million or 63 cents per share a year ago.
For many companies these results would be dismal, but for RIM — which has been struggling with numerous obstacles including the delay of its new smartphones and BlackBerry 10 operating system and massive layoffs — the fact that its bad news wasn’t worse proved encouraging to some.
Much of the optimism was gleaned from adjusted earnings per share, which filter out one-time costs like expenses related to job reductions and cost cuts.
RIM’s adjusted loss was $142 million or 27 cents per share, better than analyst expectations of a loss of 47 cents per share, according to a poll from Bloomberg.
Despite impressing investors, RIM still has many challenges ahead. Its revenues were notably weaker, down 31 per cent to $2.87 billion from $4.17 billion a year ago.
RIM said it shipped about 7.4 million BlackBerrys during the quarter, down from 7.8 million in the first quarter, showing that interest in its existing models is starting to wane.
By David Friend, The Canadian Press - Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 6:20 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) reported a second-quarter loss of US$235 million on…
TORONTO – Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) reported a second-quarter loss of US$235 million on Thursday as revenue plunged compared with a year ago, however the BlackBerry maker’s results were not as bad as many investors expected.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says the loss amounts to 45 cents per diluted share, compared with a profit of $329 million or 63 cents per share a year ago.
However excluding one-time costs, including cost cuts and job reductions, RIM posted an adjusted loss of $142 million or 27 cents per share.
Analysts had expected RIM to report a loss of about 47 cents per share, according to a poll from Bloomberg.
Revenue totalled $2.87 billion, down from $4.17 billion a year ago.
During the quarter, RIM said it shipped about 7.4 million BlackBerry smartphones and roughly 130,000 PlayBook tablets.
The results show that RIM is making progress as it transitions to its next generation of BlackBerry smartphones and completes its cost reduction plan, said chief executive Thorsten Heins.
“While this transition is challenging and the competitive environment tough, we have made steady progress in these areas in this quarter,” Heins said in a conference call.
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 3:03 PM - 0 Comments
“This company is not ignoring the world out there, nor is it in a death spiral.”
Yesterday, RIM’s CEO chose magical thinking as his corporate strategy, stubbornly insisting that “there’s nothing wrong with the company,” despite a 95 per cent drop in the company’s stock, thousands of layoffs, and last week’s announcement of both a $512 million quarterly loss and a crippling delay of the Blackberry 10. Thorsten Heins knows that as bad as all this news was, the perception it created of Blackberry’s inevitable demise is far worse. Who’ll buy a phone that we all know will soon cease to exist? So the company line is that nothing is wrong. But RIM might go belly up whether or not its CEO keeps his chin up.
Clearly, the time has come to point fingers. I blame Canada.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 11:36 AM - 0 Comments
Research In Motion Ltd.’s CEO Thorsten Heins did not try to ease the minds…
Research In Motion Ltd.’s CEO Thorsten Heins did not try to ease the minds of RIM shareholders this week. Instead, he reached out to the average RIM customer, in an effort to assure consumers that a Blackberry is a reliable product that will continue to have value in the future. But in light of plunging stock values, massive layoffs and the delayed release of the Blackberry 10, the public remains skeptical.
On Tuesday morning, Rick Costanzo, RIM’s executive vice-president of global sales, told the Financial Post that RIM acknowledges the sales decline in the U.S and Canada, but hope to make up the difference by reaching a broader global market.
Earlier this week, Heins went on to the CBC’s Metro Morning, and asserted that RIM is not “in a death spiral.” This quote was picked up by papers around the world including the New York Times, the Manchester Guardian and the Brisbane Times, and it would seem that the words ”RIM” and “death spiral” have struck a chord around the world.
By Blog of Lists - Friday, June 29, 2012 at 2:11 PM - 0 Comments
Before Research in Motion fell on hard times, its phone was the de facto gadget reference for authors exploring our hyper-connected world.
1. Martin Lukes: Who Moved My BlackBerry? by Lucy Kellaway (2005)—A satire about corporate life in the 21st century.
2. I Lost My BlackBerry Down the Toilet, and Other Generational Challenges in the Workplace by Steven Friedman (2006)—The title says it all.
3. Crackberry: True Tales of BlackBerry Use and Abuse by Kevin Michaluk, Gary Mazo and Martin Trautschold (2008)—Remember when RIM’s phone was so popular it was equated to a drug?
4. The BlackBerry Diaries: Adventures in Modern Motherhood by Kathy Buckworth (2009)—About all the ways toddlers and technology are not so different.
5. Obama’s BlackBerry by Kasper Hauser (2009)—A fictional peek inside the President’s Smartphone One.
6. Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age by William Powers (2010)—A philosophical examination into the “conundrum of connectedness.”
Have you ever wondered which cities have the most bars, smokers, absentee workers and people searching for love? What about how Canada compares to the world in terms of the size of its military, the size of our houses and the number of cars we own? The answers to all those questions, and many more, can be found in the first ever Maclean’s Book of Lists, hitting stands in time for Canada Day.
Buy your copy of the Maclean’s Book of Lists at the newsstand or order online now.
By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 5:40 PM - 0 Comments
Canada’s one-time tech darling says it will still offer 32G and 64G models of its troubled tablet line
Little more than a year after it launched its foray into the tablet market, Research In Motion announced it is getting rid of the 16-gigabyte version of its struggling Playbook.
In a statement e-mailed to several media outlets Thursday, the Waterloo, Ont. company said it will “remain committed to the tablet space” and that it intends to keep selling the 32GB and 64GB models of the PlayBook.
It’s merely the latest bout of bad news for Canada’s one-time tech darling, which is facing sinking sales, a first quarter operating loss and a plunging share price.
It’s now in the midst of a management shakeup and a strategic review by investment banks, including JPMorgan and Royal Bank of Canada that is widely rumoured to be studying a sale.
The PlayBook debuted last April as both RIM’s answer to the Apple Inc.’s iPad and a testing ground for the company’s new QNX operating system that it plans to incorporate into future smartphones.
But it quickly ran into problems, including the fact that users had to tether their Blackberry to the tablet to check their e-mail. RIM also faced stiff competition in the tablet market, not only from the iPad, but also from a growing array of Android-based tablets from companies like Amazon, Samsung and Lenovo.
Facing a backlog of unsold PlayBook inventory that caused it to take a $500 million write-off in December, the company slashed the price of its 16GB PlayBook to $199, a temporary price cut that eventually became permanent.
Sales of the PlayBook rose to 500,000 in the first quarter of this year, but that’s a far cry from Apple, which sold 11.8 million iPads in the first three months of the year, or even Amazon’s Kindle Fire, a tablet/e-reader, which sold 700,000. (Source: Reuters)
But RIM says it has no plans to get out of the tablet market. “We are going to continue to introduce new [tablet] products and we are going to continue to innovate,” a company spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.
By Peter Shawn Taylor - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 4:11 PM - 0 Comments
He repelled two American invasions and likely saved Canada in the process. But if he were alive today, could Sir Isaac Brock turn around RIM? Or put a positive spin on the oilsands?
From Julius Caesar to George S. Patton, great soldiers have been enlisted to teach business about leadership skills. So on the eve of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, what lessons does Maj-Gen. Brock have for the modern executive?
If accomplishing the improbable is the mark of a great leader, Brock fits the bill. At the outbreak of war between the United States and Britain, Brock had barely 1,000 regular troops with which to defend all of what is now Ontario, against an army more than 10 times the size. “No one expected a successful defence of Upper Canada,” explains historian Wesley Turner, author of the recently published The Astonishing General: The Life and Legacy of Sir Isaac Brock. A quick military defeat would have shifted skeptical native and civilian opinion to the Americans, he points out, and everything west of Kingston, Ont., could have been lost within weeks.
But Brock refused to concede defeat early or easily. “Most of the people have lost all confidence—I however speak loud and act big,” he wrote to his superior early in the war. He met the American threat with a combination of positive thinking, careful planning, communication, collaboration and, when necessary, bold action.
Besides strengthening fortifications and improving discipline prior to the war, Brock created a state-of-the-art military courier system throughout the colony. When Congress declared war on June 18, 1812, Brock was thus able to quickly communicate with all his troops. In fact, British soldiers on Lake Huron captured the strategic U.S. fort at Mackinac Island before its defenders even knew war was on. Consider it first-mover advantage.
This initial victory was a surprise on both sides of the border and allowed Brock to cultivate new allies, in particular Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Brock realized lack of manpower was his greatest weakness, and the addition of Tecumseh’s warriors greatly strengthened his hand. His co-operation with the native leader could be considered one of the most important strategic partnerships in Canadian history.
Brock worked assiduously to build up the militia and earn the support of settlers as well, further solidifying his tenuous position. “Military leaders tend to be blunt and aloof. Brock, on the other hand, always seemed to know the right thing to say,” says Turner. “He was an extremely skilled politician.” Never one to hunker down at headquarters, Brock was an active leader, constantly inspecting, touring, inquiring—demonstrating to everyone that he had their best interests at heart. His common touch and willingness to lead from the front was repaid in the colony’s loyalty and respect.
Brock also made the most of competitive intelligence. Along with Tecumseh, Brock rushed to Detroit in August to meet the invading army of U.S. Brig-Gen. William Hull. From Hull’s intercepted correspondence, Brock learned of the American general’s fear of native warfare and quickly put this knowledge to use. He dared Hull, safe inside his fort with a superior force and weeks’ worth of supplies, to surrender or face the wrath of Tecumseh’s warriors. The U.S. troops capitulated without firing a shot.
Two months after his success at Detroit, Brock met another American attack at Queenston Heights, near Niagara Falls. He was killed leading a charge to retake the crucial high ground. That U.S. incursion failed as well, and with it hopes for a quick triumph over Canada.
Brock refused to accept defeat as inevitable. He realistically assessed his own weaknesses, took steps to remedy them and ruthlessly exploited those of his enemies. And when decisive action was necessary, he was always at the front. His brief but inspirational leadership altered the entire war and preserved a nation. Of course, modern-day students of his career will wish to avoid the heroic death.
Peter Shawn Taylor is Maclean’s Editor-at-large, specializing in economic issues
This article originally appeared online at Canadian Business.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Monday, May 28, 2012 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
The makers of BlackBerry could issue as many as 6,000 layoff notices to employees…
The makers of BlackBerry could issue as many as 6,000 layoff notices to employees all over the world in a matter of days, the Financial Post reports.
As the Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion continues to struggle, the company is seeking to cut $1 billion in costs.
From the Post:
The job losses are expected to be broad-based and affect RIM’s legal, marketing, sales, operations and human resources division. (…) RIM currently has about 16,500 staff worldwide, down from its peak of roughly 20,000.
(…) Several sources close to the company told Reuters that RIM has been letting more junior staff go for several months in what has come to be known internally as ‘Goodbye Thursdays,’ because the cuts typically occurred on that day of the week.
By Tamsin McMahon - Monday, May 28, 2012 at 9:41 AM - 0 Comments
The once-mighty RIM is fighting for its life—while the Canadian tech sector is still suffering from the loss of Nortel
To get a sense of how deeply intertwined the Canadian identity has become with the BlackBerry, this country’s most famous modern-day invention, pick up a copy of the study guide issued by the federal government to help new immigrants prepare for their citizenship test. There, among the handful of inventors whose work is so critical to the country’s history that their names should be memorized—Alexander Graham Bell, snowmobile inventor Joseph Bombardier, and Wilder Penfield, the McGill surgeon who discovered epilepsy—are Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, the co-founders of Research In Motion.
The company’s smartphone revolutionized the global mobile industry and put both Canada and its hometown of Waterloo, Ont., on the map. RIM was the kind of rags-to-riches success story so rare in Canadian business, a firm that stayed loyal to its Canadian roots and steadfastly refused to move its headquarters to the United States. Its founders poured millions into research institutes and think tanks that drew the likes of Stephen Hawking.
All of which has made the decline of Canada’s largest technology company, and its biggest private research and development spender, particularly painful to watch. Over the past two years, RIM’s share price has plunged nearly 90 per cent, at one point this month dropping below $11 from its high of $148 in 2008. In March, RIM said it would stop giving out financial forecasts, after posting its first quarterly loss since 2005. Its share of the global smartphone market has steadily eroded (now estimated to be less than seven per cent) thanks to aggressive competition from Apple, Google and Samsung.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 9:58 AM - 0 Comments
That means developing more business apps, and taking on RIM
After only two years in the market, Apple’s iPad has been a remarkable success, cornering 68 per cent of the global tablet market, with 11.8 million units sold in the first quarter of 2012 alone. But to really secure its place as the king of tablets—and to prove its device is more than just a consumer toy for Web browsing and playing games—Apple is planning to conquer one final frontier: the business world.
The company has launched an aggressive global campaign to lure developers into building more business applications for the iPad. One of the centres of this push is Vancouver, home to a thriving community of software companies that have created successful consumer apps for Apple’s iOS platform, used on the iPhone and iPad. Apple is organizing regular developer meet-ups in the city with thousands of participants and inviting software companies to showcase their business apps to sales staff at Apple stores.
Angela Robert is CEO of Vancouver-based Conquer Mobile, one of the companies that is now focusing solely on developing business apps for the iPad, like Colligo Briefcase, which helps view, share, and edit content in a secure environment. Robert says she’s never seen Apple come after developers so aggressively. (With consumer apps, it was usually developers courting Apple.) She says the current offering of business apps is, so far, insufficient to convince company decision-makers that they need iPads. “It’s just like [Apple] did with the iPhones,” says Robert. “People bought iPhones only after they saw all they could do with apps.”
By Chris Sorensen - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 1:56 PM - 0 Comments
But it’s not enough to win over the skeptics
With Research In Motion Ltd.’s future looking increasingly dire, CEO Thorsten Heins stepped on a stage in Orlando, Fla., today and began the long and difficult process of trying to rebuild consumers’ faith in the beleaguered BlackBerry smartphone platform. It was Heins’ first keynote presentation at the annual BlackBerry World gathering and he used it to offer a sneak peak of the BlackBerry 10 software that will run RIM’s next generation of devices, which, after several delays, are set to be launched later this year.
Heins, who took over from co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in January amid a management shake-up, used a prototype phone to demonstrate a few nifty features of RIM’s new BlackBerry software. He reiterated that RIM’s focus is on making the BlackBerry a bulletproof communications tool—an attempt to differentiate RIM from industry leaders Apple and Google.
That includes a new virtual keyboard that can learn a users’ typing habits and prevent typos on the fly by adjusting the position of certain keys. There’s also a feature that spells out words over individual keys as they’re being typed, giving users the option of flicking them onto the screen with their fingers. Heins also showed off improvements to the BlackBerry’s multimedia functions, including a feature that allows users to “rewind” photographs so they can capture the moment they were intending to (i.e. before somebody blinked).
It wasn’t nearly enough to win over skeptics. “The parts of BlackBerry 10 demoed are slick,” wrote Jonathan Geller on the popular tech blog Boy Genius Report. “What we saw wasn’t truly innovative, though. It wasn’t compelling enough, and it’s unfortunately too late to try and gain enough traction and support for a third mobile ecosystem.”
With some analysts predicting that RIM’s global market share could slip below five per cent (it now stands at 8.8 per cent, compared to 24 per cent for Apple and 51 per cent for Android, according to Gartner Research), many observers share Geller’s belief that the only way for RIM to recover is if BlackBerry 10 is a runaway success story.
But coming up with another smartphone breakthrough, like the one Apple achieved in 2007 with the original iPhone, is no longer a realistic goal for RIM in such a competitive market. The best RIM can hope for is hanging on to its 77 million subscribers, and maybe pick up a few new ones.
The key will be getting the small things right, an area where RIM has struggled and Apple has excelled. That includes making a virtual keyboard that actually works, a user interface that’s intuitive and software that adds—not detracts—from the overall BlackBerry experience.
It’s going to be an uphill battle. But if the early looks at BlackBerry 10 are any indication, RIM appears to finally have gotten the message. With RIM’s shares down more than 70 per cent over the past year to $13.72, investors can only hope it didn’t arrive too late.
By Chris Sorensen - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 10:57 AM - 0 Comments
Instead it’s been a reminder of how brutally hard it is to engineer a turnaround
It was one year ago that Finland’s Nokia Oyj joined forces with Microsoft Corp. in a last-ditch effort to secure a foothold in the booming smartphone industry. With its once-dominant global market share in free fall and losses piling up, Nokia faced a grim future as customers increasingly took a pass on its high-end devices and opted instead for Apple Inc.’s iPhone or those running Google’s Android software—a situation not unlike the one beleaguered BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. faces today. Just prior to revealing a bold plan to replace Nokia’s new smartphone operating system with Microsoft’s, CEO Stephen Elop wrote a memo to employees that compared Nokia’s precarious situation to a man standing on a burning oil platform in the North Sea. There were two options, said Elop: stay the course or jump into the unknown. Nokia jumped.
It didn’t take long for the massive shift in strategy to show signs of promise. Prior to going on sale in North America this month, there was an unmistakable buzz around Nokia’s new Lumia 900 touchscreen, which runs the new Windows Phone OS and can operate on fourth-generation, or LTE, wireless networks. The phone won “best of” accolades at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show and was touted from a marketing standpoint as AT&T’s biggest-ever device launch—including its 2007 launch of the iPhone.
But then reality sank in. The company recently warned investors that it will post losses for the next two quarters, sending its stock plunging to around $4, a level not seen since 1998. Then came reports that the Lumia 900 was marred by an embarrassing software glitch, and that several big European carriers didn’t think it was worthy enough to compete with the iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy phones. Some have even questioned whether Elop bet on the wrong horse by hitching Nokia’s fortunes to Microsoft’s.
By Joe Castaldo - Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 9:14 PM - 0 Comments
Thorsten Heins plans to refocus on enterprise, and stop chasing consumers
When Thorsten Heins became the new CEO of Research In Motion just over two months ago, he downplayed the need for change. But after conducting an intensive review of the company, he’s charting a different course for the BlackBerry maker.
“It is now very clear to me that substantial change is what RIM needs,” he said in a conference call to discuss the company’s fiscal fourth quarter earnings on March 29. Indeed, Heins is developing something RIM has not had in a long time: a vision. He’s taking RIM back to its roots by focusing on the company’s core business customers instead of chasing after the broader consumer market. “We believe that BlackBerry cannot succeed if we try to be everybody’s darling and all things to all people,” he said. Heins also made clear that he’s considering all options for the future of the company, something his predecessors tended to dismiss. The company is undertaking a “comprehensive review” of its operations, according to Heins, even considering “partnerships and joint ventures.” He didn’t entirely rule out a sale of the company, but said strongly that selling RIM is not his intention.
Heins’s chosen strategy to reclaim the enterprise market is far from certain, however. As one analyst pointed out during the conference call, Heins is essentially turning the conventional wisdom of the mobile industry on its head. Growth has been with the consumer market for the past few years. Corporations are increasingly allowing employees to use their personal smartphones at work, which has been a blow to RIM. That trend is eroding the distinction between consumers and business users. Some in the industry have argued there will be no difference between the two markets in a few years. People want devices they can use both inside and outside of the workplace. To borrow a phrase from Heins, the market may very well want smartphones to be all things to all people.
But Heins contends the two markets are distinct, and that corporations still value the security and services that RIM provides. The company plans to upgrade aggressively its existing corporate clients to the latest line of BlackBerry 7 smartphones, and push the adoption of its Mobile Fusion platform. The latter service allows IT departments to manage multiple smartphones and tablets, including iPhones, iPads and those running Android, and provide many of the BlackBerry’s security features to those devices.
And from the initial comments Heins made today, it doesn’t sound like RIM is going to entirely ignore consumers. Instead, Heins said the company will target high-end users and position the BlackBerry as an aspirational brand. The company will, however, invest less of its own resources chasing consumers. “We will seek strong partnerships to deliver those consumer features and content that are not central to the BlackBerry proposition—for example, media consumption applications,” Heins said.
The other big change under Heins concerns staffing. RIM grew so quickly that a proper management structure was never really put in place. Decision-making was slow, and the organization grew too complex. Heins has been working to simplify that, and announced a significant executive restructuring. Chief technology officer David Yach and chief operating officer of global operations Jim Rowan are both leaving the company. Heins is now searching for a single person to serve as chief operating officer.
The fourth quarter results themselves show just how quickly Heins has to act to turn things around. RIM missed analyst expectations and earnings came in at the low end of its guidance. The company recorded a loss of $125-million compared to a profit of $934-million from the same quarter last year, and shipped only 11.1 million smartphones, down 21% from the previous quarter. Most worrying is that subscriber growth is slowing. RIM added just two million subscribers, roughly half as many as it added between the second and third quarters of the year.
The launch of BlackBerry 10 later this year, the smartphone that many analysts contend will essentially make or break the company, could help boost subscriber growth again. The problem is the mobile market is only getting more competitive in the meantime, and RIM is likely to lose even more market share. Nokia, for example, is planning its biggest launch yet in the United States for its new high-end smartphone, the Lumia. Nokia is also causing trouble for RIM at the lower end of the market with its Asha series of smartphones. Raymond James analyst Richard Li wrote in a research note earlier this month that the Asha will “intensify competition in emerging markets where RIM historically has had an e-mail service advantage.”
The biggest challenge, however, is getting developers to write apps for the new operating system that will run on BlackBerry 10. The market for BlackBerry and PlayBook apps is sparse compared to what’s available for Android and Apple’s iOS. “Users purchase ecosystems, not just phones,” wrote Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners in a recent research note. “There is little reason to see that an ecosystem is going to build around [RIM’s] operating system.” The good news is that Heins insisted development for BlackBerry 10 is on track. RIM will also hand out roughly 2,000 BlackBerry 10 prototypes to developers in May to help them get started designing apps before the official launch.
But one of the most influential figures in RIM’s history, Jim Balsillie, won’t be around for that launch. He’s stepping down from RIM’s board just two months after relinquishing the co-CEO role along with company founder Mike Lazaridis. Despite his unquestionably huge role in RIM’s success, Balsillie’s departure from the board may actually benefit RIM. After all, it’s tough for a relative newcomer like Heins to push for change when both his predecessors are sitting next to him at the boardroom table.
Joe Castaldo is a senior writer at Canadian Business magazine.
By Richard Warnica - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
Will spots in movies and commercials translate into a comeback for RIM?
The spies in Stephen Soderbergh’s Haywire, an action thriller released earlier this year, are a fractious bunch. They spend most of the film fighting and shooting one another. But they do all agree on one thing: smartphones. Research In Motion’s beleaguered BlackBerry handsets appear prominently in the film. All the major characters use the devices to talk, text and even track one another down during chase scenes.
Despite its declining market share, the BlackBerry has been popping up all over the place. It was the phone of choice in the Mark Wahlberg movie Contraband, and a series of commercials touting the handsets as “tools, not toys” has been in heavy rotation on TV. The BlackBerry Bold, not surprisingly, was a name sponsor at Haywire’s New York premiere. A RIM spokesperson says the company has worked with celebrities, and movie, TV and music producers, for years. Who knows, if the current wave keeps up, it might just regain some of the luster it lost in recent years.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10:39 AM - 0 Comments
Canada’s Research In Motion was dealt another blow yesterday as technology research firm Gartner…
Canada’s Research In Motion was dealt another blow yesterday as technology research firm Gartner Inc. said BlackBerry sales around the world were down 10.7 per cent from December 2010 to December 2011. BlackBerry sales represented 14.6 per cent of all global smartphone sales by operating system in 2010; that figure had plummeted to 8.8 per cent by the end of 2011.
Adding insult to injury, the decline in sales happens just as the appetite for smartphones is ballooning. According to the same report, 472 million smartphones were sold worldwide in 2011, a 58 per cent increase compared to 2010. Smartphones now account for 31 per cent of all mobile phones sold in the world.
Smartphones operating on Google’s Android system and Apple devices remain the two top-sellers.
An article in today’s Financial Post predicts RIM will continue to struggle through much of 2012, at least until it releases its new BlackBerry 10 platform—which has been delayed until later this year.
By Peter Nowak - Friday, February 3, 2012 at 4:45 PM - 0 Comments
Remember when the iPad first came out and Apple touted it as the device that would fill the void between smartphone and laptop? The jokes came along pretty quickly about how long it would be till someone tried to squeeze something more into the space between smartphones and tablets.
Well, laugh no more because Samsung is going there.
The South Korean electronics giant is spending a pile of money on a 90-second commercial during Sunday’s Super Bowl to promote its new Galaxy Note, a weird device that launches in Canada on all three big wireless carriers on Feb. 14.
By Chris Sorensen, Cathy Gulli, and Richard Warnica - Friday, January 27, 2012 at 7:20 AM - 0 Comments
Strategic blunders, reckless pride and bad luck unravelled it all
When Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the former co-CEOs of BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd., cut their salaries to $1 last December, and asked investors for patience and confidence, most took that to mean the long-time partners were simply stepping up their efforts to halt RIM’s painful slide, and intended to stick around for some time. “We’re more committed than ever,” Balsillie said.
In reality, RIM was already a company in the midst of the biggest shakeup in its relatively brief but spectacular history. While they tried to reassure investors, the board of directors—including co-chairs Balsillie and Lazaridis—were already coming to some painful conclusions about what had been going wrong and were already considering a change of leadership at the very top.
“Mike and Jim” may have helped pioneer a global industry that’s expected to be worth US$150 billion by 2014, but in an age of iPhones and increasingly ubiquitous devices running Google’s Android software, investors had run out of patience, and pressure was mounting on the board.
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 4:36 PM - 0 Comments
Polling firm Ipsos Reid recently picked Canadians’ brains on who they think are the most influential brands in the country. The pollster compiled a list of 100 brands, which included the brands that spend the most on advertising in Canada every year–plus a few well-known names that don’t spend much at all, like Twitter, but that Ipsos researchers thought were influential nonetheless. Brand names could be those of corporations, like Microsoft, products, like the BlackBerry, and sometimes both (like Google and Youtube). Then Ipsos asked every one of 1,000 adult responders to rank ten out of the 100 selected brands, so that, in the end, every brand had been rated 100 times, Ipsos president of market research Steve Levy told Maclean’s.
The results? Stunning.
The most influential brand in Canada turned out to be none other than Microsoft, which beat out traditionally cooler competitors Google (which came in second) and Apple (fourth). Could it be that Canadian consumers are already well aware that Microsoft is finally coming back–or, as Businessweek put it, Steve Ballmer is no longer Mr. Monkey Boy?
And the BlackBerry? Nowhere to be found in the top 10.
For more on the Ipsos Influence Index Study, click here.
By macleans.ca - Monday, January 23, 2012 at 1:59 PM - 0 Comments
BlackBerry maker accused of infringing two patents
Waterloo-based Research in Motion is having a roller-coaster day today, and not just because its two co-CEOs have just stepped down. Wi-Lan Inc. has announced it sued RIM for patent infringement in a Florida court on Friday. Wi-Lan, which holds over 3,000 technology patents, claims RIM has infringed two of them, one related to Bluetooth data transmission, the other to a button in the BlackBerry Torch, Bold, and Curve models. Late on Sunday evening, RIM announcedco-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis were being replaced by Thorsten Heins, formerly a chief operating officer at the company.
By Jesse Brown - Monday, January 23, 2012 at 1:23 PM - 0 Comments
Now is the time for all the armchair CEOs to tell Thorsten Heins how to do his job.
RIM must focus on software and kiss developers’ asses. RIM must focus on hardware and create a SuperPhone. RIM must make a better tablet. RIM must ditch tablets entirely. RIM must stop trying to look cool and focus on business clients. RIM must get cool and target hip young clients. Opinions are like smartphones–every pundit has one.
By Peter Nowak - Monday, January 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
Research In Motion finally pulled the trigger Sunday night, with the BlackBerry maker announcing that co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie were stepping down. Chief operating officer Thorsten Heins is the new CEO while board member Barbara Stymiest takes over as chair.
As the saying goes, it’s too little too late. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 9:52 PM - 0 Comments
Shareholders had long been asking for a management shuffle
After two decades at the helm of Research in Motion, co-chief executive officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stepped down from the top job, Bloomberg reports. They will be replaced by Thorsten Heins, a little-known chief operating officer who joined the company four years ago from Siemens AG. The surprise exit of RIM’s power couple comes after shareholders became concerned that the duo couldn’t keep the BlackBerry maker competitive against fast-growing rivals Apple and Google. Lazaridis, who founded RIM in 1984, will stay on as vice-chairman; Balsillie as a board member; and both will remain significant shareholders.
By Peter Nowak - Monday, January 2, 2012 at 12:02 PM - 0 Comments
I kind of like year-end lists. I dig retrospectives because they remind me of things I might have forgotten–a year is a long time, after all. I also like lists that look ahead because they help me to start thinking about what’s to come. And again, they remind me of things that may not be top of mind right away heading into the new year.
That said, here’s my very own list of things–in order of significance–that are looking likely for 2012 as they pertain to technology in North America, with special relevance for those of us here in Canada. This isn’t so much a list of predictions as much as a roundup of items that seem inevitable because of the momentum building around them.