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RIM revenue plummets; new CEO to consider licensing

RIM said it is renewing its focus on enterprises

By Nancy Gohring
March 29, 2012 07:42 PM ET

IDG News Service - Revenue continues to shrink at Research In Motion, and the company reported a loss for the fourth quarter as it struggles to stay relevant before launching a new smartphone platform.

On Thursday, the company reported results for its fiscal fourth quarter ended March 3. It also announced additional personnel changes, including that Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of the company, has given up his board seat. Balsillie and company founder Jim Lazaridis recently handed over their positions as co-CEOs to Thorsten Heins, who had been chief operating officer.

For RIM's fourth quarter, revenue dropped 25 percent from the previous year to US$4.2 billion. The company recorded a net loss of $125 million, or $0.24 per diluted share.

Analysts were expecting just slightly better revenue. Those polled by Thomson Financial thought revenue would reach $4.54 billion.

RIM shipped 11.1 million phones in the fourth quarter, 21 percent fewer than in the third quarter. It also shipped 500,000 PlayBook tablets. That's up from just 150,000 in the third quarter. The company has sold a total of 1.3 million tablets, it said.

In his first earnings call since he took over as CEO, Heins said he has a different view of the company now that he's spent 10 weeks studying it. "The impression I had at day two of being CEO is now pretty different from the facts I know after being CEO for 10 weeks," he said on the call. After he first took over, his comments were largely supportive of the company's existing strategies, but he has now announced plans to make a number of changes.

One decision he's made over those 10 weeks of studying the company is that he will focus on enterprise customers, he said. "We plan to refocus on the enterprise business and capitalize on our leading position in this segment. RIM was late to the BYOD movement and we saw a significant slowing down in our enterprise subscriber growth rate as a result," he said. BYOD refers to the "bring your own device" trend, where workers are allowed to choose their own phones to connect to business applications.

At the same time, RIM wants to position its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 platform to appeal to all segments, including consumers. "That doesn't mean we have to do it alone," he said. "Whether it means we'll build hardware or whether we engage in other partnerships is exactly part of the strategic review," he said. That means the company is considering licensing its software to other hardware makers, if that option makes sense as part of a strategic evaluation of the company that Heins is undertaking.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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