RIM chief denies Blackberry maker is in a ‘death spiral’

Crisis, what crisis? Thorsten Heins, chief executive of BlackBerry maker RIM, told a Canadian radio interviewer that he doesn't believe the company is in a "death spiral" and that "there's nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now".

Heins was speaking less than a week after RIM unveiled quarterly results with an operating loss of $643-million and handset shipments which dipped to their lowest level since spring 2009, amid a smartphone market growing at 50% annually.

Heins insisted to CBC Radio that "this company is not ignoring the world out there, nor is it in a death spiral. Yes, it is very, very challenged at the moment – specifically in the US market. The way I would describe it: we're in the middle of a transition".

But, he added: "All that is in the making, it is in the works. This company is in the middle of it and I'm positive we will emerge successfully from that transition."

Heins insisted that the BlackBerry 10 software platform, which has been delayed by almost a year so that it is not now expected until early 2013, would be a completely different way for RIM to address mobile computing.

Analysts are less encouraging about RIM's future, suggesting that it could burn through its cash – about $1.4-billion in cash and "short-term equivalents" and $800-million in longer-term investments – if it does not find a rapid way to profitability.

Deepening woes
Heins took over in January after the board ejected the co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie from their positions as co-chief executive and co-chairperson, as RIM's woes deepened.

It announced an operating loss of $142-million for the quarter to the end of February; that deepened as handset sales fell in the succeeding three months.

Heins said sales outside the US remain strong and that the transition to BB10 will be more than a product launch.

The company is undergoing a huge staff reduction, cutting 5 000 of 16 500 jobs, and going through a cost reduction plan.

Data released from ComScore on Tuesday suggests that the number of users of RIM's BlackBerrys among US consumers remained steady over the past month, though the company has lost users there in 10 of the past 12 months. – © Guardian News and Media 2012

Charles Arthur
Charles Arthur works from Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Journalist, speaker, moderator. The Guardian’s Technology editor 2009-14. Coming May ‘18: Cyber Wars, on hacking. Prev: Digital Wars: Apple v Google v Microsoft Charles Arthur has over 74656 followers on Twitter.

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