Tag: blackpad

RIM executives flee as sell off rumours fly

Suits are fleeing BlackBerry maker Research In Motion as if there was a Dr Who style monster loose in the building which only ate people wearing ties.

Sources inside the company claim that the senior managers have left amid a broad review of the company’s strategic options. Our guess is that some of them might have seen the writing on the wall, think the company is about to be sold and cleaned out their desks early. So says the WSJ, here.

New Chief Executive Thorsten (Beans Make) Heins said the company would undertake a “comprehensive review of strategic opportunities” after reporting quarterly results and it seems that things are all in a panic. RIM is in real trouble as its market share shrinks more than Sigmond Frued going for the Guinness World Record for psychotherapy.

RIMS chief technology officer and chief operating officer has left its former co-chief executive, Jim Balsillie, had stepped down from the company’s board. He and former co-chief Mike Lazaridis relinquished their executive roles in January, handing the reins to Heins.

Toronto-based Alistair Mitchell, a vice president for RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger instant-messaging platform, has gone too.

San Francisco-based Alan Brenner, a senior vice president for the BlackBerry platform, has announced that he is leaving the company after a transition period.

There are rumours of further job cuts too as the company’s subscriber growth rate from the previous quarter also hit an all-time low of 3 per cent.

Heins would be grateful if the executives could keep their seats for a little while longer. He is trying to make everything look nice for the the rollout of RIM’s next-generation BlackBerry smartphone and operating system, called BlackBerry 10, planned for later this year. If that product does not work the company really could melt down completely. 

Dutch chip maker, NXP, sues RIM

Dutch chip maker NXP has piled on tons more woe onto RIM by suing the company for patent infringement.

According to the Economic Times, NXP Semiconductors claims that RIM’s BlackBerry phone and PlayBook tablet infringed on patents issued to it between 1997 and 2008. The lawsuit has caused shares in RIM to fall further as investors feared that it could stuff up any potential sale of the company.

The patents relate to design, data transmission and other features of the devices.

As you would expect, NXP wants hard cash and triple damages for the alleged infringements and RIM needs a case like this as much as it needs a hole in its head.

The company has not had much luck with patent spats. In 2001, a patent case threatened to shut down RIM’s US branch, and the company had to pay out hundreds of millions to make NTP go away.

NXP was spun off from Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV in 2006, and it owns 1,000 issued or pending patents, and generated $4.2 billion of annual revenue. 

Booke of Ye Broken RIM

 

1 The words of Amos, who was among the analysts of IDS , which he saw concerning RIM in the days of Ballmer king of Microsoft, and in the days of Cook the Son of Jobs, King of Apple. 2 And he said, that in the days Ballmer will roar from Redmond, and utter his voice from Microsoft; and the habitations of the programmers shall mourn, and RIM’s market share shall wither. 3 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of RIM, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have worshipped the two headed dragon for too long. And they are Canadians. 4 But I will send a fire into the figures of RIM, which shall devour the bottom line. 5 I will break also the hold of RIM over the business market, and maketh the iPhone in Blackberry’s place, and him that holdeth the tablet from the House of Jobs shall take the workers of RIM into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD. 6 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of RIM and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; I will deliver them up to their doom for they are the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD. 7 Thus saith the LORD; they that pant after RIM’s OS shall turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father shall sample not the touch pad. For that they shall profane my holy name and be deemed naughty in my site: 8 And the Cocaine Nose Jobs of Wall Street shall speak against RIM saying: “It hath lost its way, and even if the One Headed-dragon hath replaced the Two Headed one, RIM shall be as broken as the Austin Allegro.” 9 And this will all come to pass on a day when the land of Britain shall be without Petrol, because King Cameron hath keepeth for him and his friends. Note well the signs. 10 For on that day the land of Egypt shall banneth porn again, and RIM shall be cast into the wilderness by the Cocaine Nose Jobs of Wall Street. 11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. [Is it] not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD. 12 But ye gave the analysts wine to drink; and commanded them, saying, analyse NOT. Yet they did still give prophecy of the doom of RIM. Yea, even my cat shall give prophecy of the doom of RIM, and it shall not be a miracle, simply bloody obvious. 13 Listen not unto the declarations that  Thorsten Heins shall turneth the company around, for I say. Heins has been ,and beans is not Heins. Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself from the Canadian place before he is clubbeth unto death like the harp seal of hope.

RIM makes a loss

Research In Motion has seen a net loss and its first slump in BlackBerry shipments for its holiday quarter since 2006.

RIM’s shares fell nine percent as the company said it would no longer issue financial forecasts and was reviewing “strategic opportunities” such as partnerships and joint-venture licensing.

It also looks like some senior executives, including former co-CEO and current director Jim Balsillie are exiting the building before the ship sinks.

Chief Executive Thorsten Heins, took over from Balsillie and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis in January, said he was looking at ways to turnaround the company.

He hinted that one of the ideas he was looking at was a possible sale, although it is not the main direction he is looking at.

He said that he did his own reality check on the company and it was clear that substantial change is what RIM needs. Hopefully his reality cheque will not bounce.

RIM’s shares only stopped falling after he left open the option of partnerships that analysts said could allow the company to exit some aspects of its business, such as making hardware, while focusing on software and services.

According to the company it shipped 11.1 million BlackBerry smartphones in the fiscal fourth quarter ended March 3, down 21 percent from the third quarter. This was slightly better than what Wall Street thought, but it was the first decline in the quarter covering Christmas since 2006 and only the second time RIM has reported a drop in sales.

RIM sold more than 500,000 PlayBooks in the fourth quarter, but this number was inflated by deep discounts offered to boost sales of the product. It is getting out of the consumer market.

According to Reuters, profit in the latest quarter more than halved to $418 million from $934 million last year. Revenue slumped to $4.19 billion from $5.56 billion. 

RIM ducks key analyst meeting

Financial analysts were left scratching their noggins after the troubled mobile phone company RIM delayed a key meeting with them.

Research In Motion normally has an annual presentation to financial analysts, during the BlackBerry World conference in May when RIM managers wow them with glove puppets and powerpoint presentations.

However, the outfit has asked the analysts to postpone the meeting until it has something nice to tell them. We guess this will be a long time in the future.

RIM spokesperson Tenille Kennedy told Reuters that BlackBerry World should be more focused on customers, developers and partners. What they will be talking about at Blackberry World is anyone’s guess as RIM does not have much to say to these guys either.

It will talk to those who provide RIM with much needed cash after the BlackBerry 10 is launched. But a date and location for the meeting have not yet been decided – but then, neither has a proper launch date for the Blackberry 10.

At the end of last year the company said it would delay the launch until late this year so it can make use of more powerful and energy-efficient chipsets expected to arrive in mid-2012. We reported how RIM is giving out “prototypes” of the Blackberry 10 to developers in the hope they might write a few applications for it. But they have made it clear that the prototypes are nothing like the real thing. 

RIM gives away Blackberry 10s

Troubled mobile maker Research In Motion has announced plans to give developers a prototype BlackBerry 10 device.

According to Reuters, the big idea is that the developers will help design applications for future smartphones that will run on a modified version of the software running RIM’s poor-selling PlayBook tablet.

RIM has insisted that the gizmo was not the commercial BlackBerry 10 device, which will launch this year but would help create excitement among developers for its overhauled operating system.

RIM’s social media manager Alex Kinsella said that while it is not the final hardware or OS it will help developers get started with designing for what’s coming.

It has to do something. It has no real match for the huge libraries of software available on Apple products and Google’s Android.

Starting with a new PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 with a different operating system than RIM’s current BlackBerries will reduce the amount of available software still further.

The device, called the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha, will be given to developers attending RIM’s annual BlackBerry World conference in May. 

RIM's new CEO has a cunning plan

Research in Motion’s new CEO, Thorsten Heins, says he has a cunning plan for the Blackberry.

Heins, who has been polishing the chair at RIM, said that he will present the board with his plan for the company’s future in just a matter of weeks.

Speaking to Reuters, he said that he will have to show up at board meeting in two weeks to present his cunning plan.

He is not saying what his cunning plan is yet, but it’s so cunning you can brush your teeth with it. He should know – he has been promoted from the role of chief operating officer. Heins would have had a lot of experience having cunning plans shoveled up to be eaten by the two headed former CEO Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, where they would end up being digested and cast out as things like RIM’s wonderful tablet.

Heins said that while RIM is growing in other countries, its US business is down the drain and losing ground to the iPhone at US service providers.

Corporations, where it once had a clear advantage among employees heavily dependent on its email service, are looking at alternatives. However, Heins said that RIM only needs to be seen as a turnaround candidate in the US where it lost shedloads of its market share.

His cunning plan must involve the telephone operators who are keener to subsidise Android and iPhone products but are looking twice at RIM.

They were annoyed that RIM had to announce in December that it’s delaying the BlackBerry 10m, which is its next generation software, until the later part of 2012. RIM didn’t think there was a chip good enough for it yet, but Heins believes these will be ready in time for Christmas.

RIM could look at new ways of bundling different devices together or offering carriers smartphones with a package of pre-loaded software, he hinted

We think, however, some of his cunning plan might be as good as the one which involved sorting out his low roof by cutting his own head off.

One idea appears to be betting on the company’s PlayBook to compete with Apple’s iPad. This is like betting on a pantomime horse to win the Derby without doping the other competitors.

He said RIM will launch a version of the Playbook with a high-speed wireless connection based on LTE.

This is hardly innovation. Verizon Wireless and AT&T are already promoting LTE devices including smartphones and tablets from RIM’s rivals. But at least it will position RIM in the running. 

RIM CEOs desert sinking ship

Research In Motion’s Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have bowed to investor pressure and resigned as co-CEOs.

They have handed the poisoned chalice to Thorsten Heins, a former Siemens AG executive who has risen steadily through RIM’s upper management ranks. We guess they have gone somewhere hot to have a nice rest.

For the last 20 years,  Lazaridis and Balsillie have ruled RIM through some glory days, but lately have been charting a a course which even an Italian cruise ship captain would think was a bit dodgy.

RIM’s share price has fallen faster than two different weighted cannon balls off the leaning tower of Pisa. There have even been rumours that the outfit was up for sale.

The fact that Lazaridis and Balsillie were in charge was always cited as a reason that a sale would prove difficult.

Investors have been calling for a new “transformational” leader who could revitalise RIM’s product line and resuscitate its once cutting-edge image.

It remains to be seen if Heins will provide the outfit with new beans.

Analysts have been telling Reuters that while the move is fantastic, they fear that Heins is just a figurehead. He is an engineer and there are some fears that as a CEO he can’t really get to the central problems faced by RIM.

The double headed monster also gave up their shared role as chairman of RIM’s board. Barbara Stymiest, the woman who once headed the Toronto Stock Exchange, will take over.

In the group interview announcing the change, Heins said his most immediate concern is to sell RIM’s current lineup of BlackBerry 7 touchscreen devices, deliver on a promised software upgrade for its PlayBook tablet computer by February, and rally RIM’s troops to launch the next-generation BlackBerry 10 phones later this year.

Broken RIM can't find the floor

RIM shares are continuing to fall and things have gotten so bad that the BlackBerry maker’s shares are now below the value of its cash, receivables and other current assets.

You can pick up a share in the Canadian smartphone maker for less than $13 which is a nasty joke. Part of the problem is that RIM’s two headed monster of a leadership cannot seem to make a step without cocking it up. Last week, RIM said that it was delaying the release of its make-or-break new smartphones until late 2012.

As far as the share market is concerned RIM has a market capitalisation of less than $7 billion. RIM’s current assets, which include short-term investments and discounted inventory, are $7.2 billion.

In long-term investments, such as property and intangible assets such as patents, RIM is worth an additional $7 billion.

Analysts think that RIM cannot fall much lower before it all gets silly. Susquehanna Financial analyst Jeff Fidacaro told Reuters  that $12 is a possible floor, based mostly on a valuation of RIM’s patents and its services business.

But RIM can’t find many buyers for its PlayBook tablet computer. In fact it seems to be hoping that a software update to the thing in February might spark some interest.

There is some hope and no hope in this. Some tablets are fast looking like a fashion toy and RIM’s market was all business related. It also suffered from a knock in confidence due to a massive network outage, falling US market share and a string of botched and delayed product launches.

At the beginning of the year, in February, its share price was more than $70. Things have not been this bad for RIM in years.

Wall Street does not seem particularly interested in the outfit posting solid quarterly sales. It made $1.8 billion in the third quarter. Many are starting to making comparisons to Palm, which it is a long way from becoming yet. 

RIM tablet bombs

It’s costing RIM a fortune to keep its Playbook in the shops and it does not seem to be doing the troubled outfit any good at all.

According to Ars Technica, while the Playbook is jumping off the shelves like superglued bricks, the outfit is taking a near half-billion-dollar hit for sitting inventory that must now be sold in a fire sale.

RIM has already announced that it will not be meeting its financial targets for the year, and the main reason is the unsuccessful performance of the BlackBerry Playbook tablet.

RIM flogged only 150,000 units this quarter, compared with 250,000 last quarter, and 500,000 in the first quarter of the year.

It has discounted the tablets to $300 across the product line-up, and quickly sold out at retailers like Best Buy by last week’s Black Friday. 

RIM’s co-CEO Mike Lazaridis offered up continued support for the tablet saying that after he ordered a price cut there was an “increase in demand”.

He insisted that RIM was committed to the PlayBook and believes the tablet market is still in its infancy.

In a press statement, he said that a number of factors have led to the need for an inventory provision in the third quarter. He says the PlayBook will be further enhanced with the upcoming PlayBook OS 2.0 software.

RIM’s Playbook had a number of software problems and could not handle Flash particularly well – which, at least in the UK, was the centre of its marketing drive.