2012: The Crunch Year For RIM

In April last year we posed the question:
RIM the Next Nokia? Nine months on the continued decline of the
Canadian smartphone giant makes that seem like wishful thinking.

“We
haven’t considered acquiring the firm and are not interested in it”.
This was Samsung’s brutal and dismissive response to news last week that
Research in Motion was trying to
sell itself to the South Korean giant. Unsurprisingly, given the
nature of the put down, RIM also denied the reports – as it has
denied sales to Nokia, Microsoft and Amazon. The picture is getting
tired. Much like a teenager looking for a date it allows rumours of
interest to escalate then becomes angry and curt when each potential
partner shoots them down. The “well-I-didn’t-care-about-them-anyway”
approach.
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Regardless of whether any of these stories are true, however, being shot
down so comprehensively by its peers can’t be doing RIM’s confidence
any good. And sure enough, over the weekend both co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis
and James Balsillie [above] stepped down from their roles to be
replaced by previously little-known executive Thorsten Heins [below],
who for the time being will continue with the company’s existing plans.

Thorsten Heins

“The last few quarters have been some of the most trying in the
recent history of this company,” admitted Balsillie after the company’s
latest round of
results in December. “We recognize that our shareholders may feel we
have fallen short, in terms of product execution, market share, and
financial performance… We are leaving no stone unturned, and are
evaluating a number of areas including product management and the number
of SKUs offered, supply chain and bill of material cost efficiency,
marketing and advertising, partnership and licensing opportunities,
organizational and management structure, [and] opportunities to leverage
the BlackBerry infrastructure.” In short: RIM will try anything.

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We shouldn’t be shocked. RIM’s December Q3 figures showed a 71 per cent
decline in net income, the PlayBook made a $485m loss and looking
forward it admitted revenue and handset shipments would continue to fall
and its next generation BlackBerry 10 smartphones would be delayed
until late 2012. During 2011 RIM’s valuation dropped 75 per cent.

Only
last week Balsillie proclaimed, “To further demonstrate our passion,
alignment and commitment to RIM’s long-term success, both Mike
[Lazaridis] and I have asked the compensation committee to make a change
to our cash compensation, such that our salaries will be reduced to
$1.00 per year, effective immediately” – quips immediately followed
suggesting the duo were ‘worth every penny’.  But even this gesture has
proved too little too late with new blood at the top being deemed the best way forward.

The future looks incredibly bleak, but is there a way out? Well yes and no…

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