Research in Motion’s CEO Thorsten Heins oversaw a tense Annual General Meeting, where he attempted to allay shareholders’ fears that the company is heading to extinction.
"I want to assure you I am not satisfied with the performance of the company over the past year," he said.
"We are working around the clock to successfully complete the transition path that we are on."
The company’s focus remains on its Blackberry 10 platform, which has been delayed repeatedly, most recently to 2013 – a move CBR has said could be fatal.
Heins and new CMO Frank Boulben discussed BB10, firming up the early 2013 release time frame as ‘early January’. Heins also said that the feedback from carrier has been welcoming, and that they ‘prefer’ the 2013 launch date because there will be more 4G LTE networks available.
The UK, for example, will start rolling out its first 4G LTE networks during that period.
Heins also confirmed that BlackBerry 10 will be coming on two types of devices, an iPhone-esque touch screen device, followed by a QWERTY keyboard version, claiming "We own the QWERTY market."
The company has been rapidly squeezed out of the smartphone market, falling to compete with Google Android devices (especially from Samsung) and Apple’s iPhones. RIMs share is currently 6.4% for the first quarter of 2012, according to IDC’s stats. Android sits at 59% and Apple at 23%.
Heins told CBC-Radio Canada two weeks ago that "there’s nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now," a seemingly contradictory statement considering his moves to cut $1bn in costs this year.
At its annual results two weeks ago, RIM announced a $518m operating loss and layoffs to 30% of its workforce at the company’s annual results.
Heins now announced that the company will be ‘looking at options’ regarding the disposal of the company’s two Dassault private jets, and will be reducing the number of manufacturing facilities from 10 to 3.
Heins wants to see the company refocus its priorities on consumer and enterprise issues, such as consumerisation (or Bring your own device to work), streamline the Blackberry portfolio and grow subscribers (it has 78 million users currently). Heins told the meeting that the company would also evaluate licensing opportunities for Blackberry 10 – which could potentially see the OS on other manufacturer’s hardware – a key change for the company.
The company has also announced plans to find more technically oriented board members, after the company removed 4 board members and its two co-founder CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.
Shareholders in attendance voted their displeasure by giving less than unanimous support to the board supported candidates, even to Heins himself.
The company’s share price has fallen 12% since the announcement, to $7.29 (at the time of print). RIM has lost 95% of its value since August 2008, when it was worth $133.06.
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