What a strange week it’s been for Research in Motion.
Last Friday the company had another of its periodic power outages, and on the same day that Apple launched its new iPhone no less. Read more
While we are no longer giving quantitative financial guidance…
Look, advisors! Leverage something something!, says Research in Motion: Read more
CTO of 13 years – gone
COO, Global ops – gone Read more
It’s been a gruesome week in the mobile phone market. The almost embarrassing dominance of Apple (ideas for spending $90bn of spare cash, anyone?) provided a cruel contrast to the desperate plight of the opposition. The maker of Blackberrys ditched its founders. Nokia, the one-time rubber-boot manufacturer, tried to stay positive, boasting that it had sold a million Windows-based Lumia phones in the last three months. During that time Apple shipped 37m iPhones. It has sold 315m of them worldwide.
The eclipse of Nokia is one of the wonders of the age, providing fodder for business school studies for decades to come. At the turn of the century, its position in the burgeoning mobile phone market seemed unassailable. Its combination of market dominance and mouth-watering margins meant that it could outspend and out-develop any competitor who came up with a better product. It sold its billionth phone in 2005, and in late 2007, deemed the world’s fifth most valuable brand, the business was valued at €100bn. Read more
Research In Motion’s joint chairmen and chief executives, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, have resigned as part of a long-awaited shake-up at the embattled Canadian maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, the FT reports. RIM said late on Sunday that Mr Lazaridis would continue to play an active role as vice-chairman and head of a new board committee on innovation. Mr Balsillie is leaving the company, but will remain a director. The new chief executive will be Thorsten Heins, chief operating officer for product and sales. Mr Heins, a 54 year-old German, joined RIM in 2007 from Siemens, the engineering group. RIM presented the changes as an orderly succession initiated by the two former chief executives. “There comes a time in the growth of every successful firm that the founders realise that it’s time to pass the baton,” Mr Lazaridis told the Financial Times. Barbara Stymiest, former head of the Toronto stock exchange and a senior executive at Royal Bank of Canada, was named chairman. RIM also said that it was seeking a new chief marketing officer. Prem Watsa, a prominent Canadian investor, has joined the board. Read more
Research In Motion’s joint chairmen and chief executives, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, have resigned as part of a long-awaited shake-up at the embattled Canadian maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, the FT reports. RIM said late on Sunday that Mr Lazaridis would continue to play an active role as vice-chairman and head of a new board committee on innovation. Mr Balsillie is leaving the company, but will remain a director. The new chief executive will be Thorsten Heins, chief operating officer for product and sales. Mr Heins, a 54 year-old German, joined RIM in 2007 from Siemens, the engineering group. Barbara Stymiest, former head of the Toronto stock exchange and a senior executive at Royal Bank of Canada, was named chairman. RIM also said that it was seeking a new chief marketing officer. Prem Watsa, a prominent Canadian investor, has joined the board. Reuters says the executives were keen to paint the shuffle as an orderly transition on a succession plan mapped out at least a year ago, and not a retreat in the face of a plummeting share price, shrinking US market share and criticism of their products. Read more
Samsung Electronics on Wednesday denied it was interested in buying ailing Blackberry maker Research In Motion or licensing its operating system, reports Reuters, refuting a tech blog report that RIM was seeking to sell itself to the South Korean company. Shares of RIM, which has been the subject of continuous takeover speculation with its stock valuation lingering at multi-year lows, jumped more than 10 per cent on the report before falling back after Samsung’s denial. Product delays and profit warnings have eroded confidence in Canada-based RIM, once at the cutting edge of smartphone technology for business users, and its management. “We haven’t considered acquiring the firm and are not interested in (buying RIM),” Samsung spokesman James Chung said. Chung also said Samsung had not been approached by the Canadian firm for a takeover and was not interested in licensing RIM’s mobile platform. Read more
Shares in Research in Motion rose 7 per cent on Tuesday, their biggest increase in two weeks, on a report that the Blackberry maker may name a new chairman, says Bloomberg. RIM is facing demands from investors led by Northwest & Ethical Investments to name an independent chairman, a role currently shared by co-chief executive officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, to inject fresh thinking. The National Post said on Tuesday that Barbara Stymiest, an independent director who joined RIM’s board in 2007, was believed to be the leading candidate to replace Balsillie and Lazaridis, citing sources familiar with events. Read more
Research In Motion turned down takeover overtures from Amazon.com and other potential buyers, preferring to concentrate on fixing its problems on its own first, says Reuters, citing people with knowledge of the situation. Amazon hired an investment bank this summer to review a potential merger with RIM, but it did not make a formal offer, said one of the sources. It is not clear whether informal discussions between Amazon and RIM ever led to specific price talk, or who else had approached RIM about a takeover. The board wants RIM co-chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie to focus on trying to turn around the business through the launch of new phones, better use of assets such as BlackBerry Messaging and restructuring. The WSJ meanwhile says Microsoft and Nokia “flirted with the idea” of making a joint bid for RIM in recent months, citing people familiar with the matter, but said the status of the talks remains unclear. RIM shares rose 11 per cent in late trading after the two reports, says Bloomberg. Read more
Research in Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of the BlackBerry family of smartphones and the PlayBook tablet, responded to falling profits, product problems and investor disenchantment by cutting its co-chief executives’ salaries to $1 each next year and pledging a “comprehensive review”. The FT reports RIM also warned on Thursday that its next generation of smartphones running its new operating system, dubbed BlackBerry 10 – which it needs to compete more effectively against Apple’s iPhone and Google Android handsets – will not be available until “the later part of calendar 2012”, or six months later than expected. RIM’s weak earnings pushed its stock to new seven-year lows in after-hours trading, says the WSJ, raising fresh questions about the company’s ability to compete with the likes of Apple and Google. Read more
Research In Motion said its BlackBerry services had been finally restored on Thursday morning after more than three days of disruption to millions of customers on five continents, the FT reports. Mike Lazaridis, founder and co-chief executive of Canada’s RIM, apologised to customers for what he called “the largest disruption we have ever experienced” and did not rule out RIM paying compensation in an effort to rebuild customer trust. The UK’s Daily Telegraph gives an overview of how the blackout happened.
Research in Motion said early on Thursday UK time that it was “seeing a significant increase in service levels” for Blackberries in Europe, Middle East, India and Africa. The company was battling to shore up its network on Wednesday as it emerged that an intermittent service outage preventing users accessing email had spread to half of all Blackberry subscribers worldwide, theFT reports. David Yach, RIM’s chief technology officer for software, said there was no evidence of hacking, adding that the problems were global because RIM had to restrict service everywhere due to a backlog of undelivered messages after a core network switch in a data centre in Slough outside London failed on Monday. The company later told some of its corporate clients that it may not clear the huge backlog of messages until Thursday morning on the US East Coast, Reuters says. Some analysts have suggested telecoms network operators may seek compensation. The company has not said whether compensation would be offered, says AllThingsD, but pledged that no emails would be lost. Updates are available on the company’s website. Read more
Research in Motion said early on Thursday UK time that it was “seeing a significant increase in service levels” for Blackberries in Europe, Middle East, India and Africa. The company was battling to shore up its network on Wednesday as it emerged that an intermittent service outage preventing users accessing email had spread to half of all Blackberry subscribers worldwide, the FT reports. David Yach, RIM’s chief technology officer for software, said there was no evidence of hacking, adding that the problems were global because RIM had to restrict service everywhere due to a backlog of undelivered messages after a core network switch in a data centre in Slough outside London failed on Monday. Early on Thursday, the company’s website The company later told some of its corporate clients that it may not clear the huge backlog of messages until Thursday morning on the US East Coast, Reuters says. Some analysts have suggested telecoms network operators may seek compensation. The company has not said whether compensation would be offered, says AllThingsD, but pledged that no emails would be lost.
Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, was battling to shore up its network on Wednesday as it emerged that an intermittent service outage preventing users accessing email had spread to 30m-40m people, half of all Blackberry subscribers worldwide, the FT reports. RIM confirmed the problems during a news conference and said its engineers were working night and day to resolve the issue. David Yach, RIM’s chief technology officer for software, said there was no evidence of hacking, adding that the problems were global because RIM had to restrict service everywhere due to a backlog of undelivered messages after a core network switch in a data centre in Slough outside London failed on Monday. Since then the three-day old technical problems have spread to users in the Americas, Europe, India, the Middle East and Africa – the biggest network failure to hit the Canadian company since it launched the BlackBerry service a decade ago. Read more
BlackBerry smartphone owners across Europe, the Middle East and Africa reported continuing problems with their service for a second day amid indications that the problems had spread to users in India and Latin America, the FT says. Research in Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of BlackBerry devices which also operates the dedicated network for BlackBerry users, had earlier claimed that it had resolved the problem believed to have begun at a company-owned data-centre in Slough. Meanwhile a growing mass of RIM investors backs calls for a sale or break-up of the company, Reuters says, with Jaguar Financial calling for a new, “transformational leader” at its helm.
Research in Motion has suffered a further setback in its attempts to lure customers away from rivals Apple and Google after again missing its earnings targets, the FT reports. Shares in the company plunged nearly 20 per cent in after-hours trading following poor second-quarter sales of its older handsets and warnings of lower margins in the current quarter. RIM sold 200,000 PlayBook tablets – fewer than half of the 550,000 units analysts had forecast in the second quarter – while it shipped 10.6m BlackBerry smartphones – 1m units less than expected.
Research In Motion plans to enable models expected next year to run applications built for Google’s Android operating system, Bloomberg reports, citing three people familiar with the plan. The report says BlackBerrys that run on RIM’s new QNX software, which the company plans to introduce in early 2012, will also be Android-compatible. There are more than 250,000 apps available from Google’s Android Market, or about six times as many as in RIM’s App World. Read more
Google’s $12.5bn acquisition of Motorola Mobility, its biggest ever, will give it access to more than 17,000 patents and 7,500 pending patents for defending its Android software, the FT reports. By bidding $40 per share for Motorola at a 63 per cent premium, Google might be buying three times as many patents as were sold in the recent Nortel auction, but it’s also paying three times as much, says Daring Fireball. Google’s bid may have been forced because of Microsoft interest in the Motorola patents, Gigaom adds. The company’s plunge into the hardware market could also leave Research in Motion a takeover target as players look to consolidate, the WSJ says. Read more
Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry device, is to cut 2,000 jobs, or 11 per cent of its workforce, as part of a drive to reduce costs and respond to growing pressure from investors, reports the FT. The company also announced several senior management changes, including the retirement of its chief operating officer, Don Morrison. Mr Morrison has been on temporary leave recuperating from an undisclosed illness. The BlackBerry maker is struggling to maintain its edge against Apple’s iPhone and handsets using Google’s Android operating system, among others. RIM shares have lost more than half their value in the past six months. Read more
Research in Motion has promised to study changes to its board and management, avoiding an ugly showdown with shareholders later this month, Bloomberg says. Northwest & Ethical Investments had pressed for RIM to split the roles of chief executive and chairman, tapping into concerns that the company is falling behind Apple in the mobile market. The two roles have been shared between Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis since December, Reuters reports. RIM is already reeling from an open letter from an anonymous senior executive, posted on BGR. The letter calls on employees to refocus on end users and fight a lack of accountability at the firm. In its response, RIM said it was ‘fully aware of’ the concerns. Read more
Bidders including Apple, Research in Motion, and Microsoft have bought up the remaining patents of Nortel Networks, hoping to gain further mobile and tablet technologies including 4G, Bloomberg reports. The $4.5bn sale must still await approval from courts but is expected to close this quarter. Google and Intel were among the companies losing out in the auction, Reuters says. RIM bought $770m worth of the 6,000 patents on offer. Nortel, once Canada’s biggest tech company, imploded and filed for bankruptcy in January 2009. Read more
Shares in Research in Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of the BlackBerry, plunged as much as 11% in after-hours trading after the company issued a surprise profit warning due to growing competition from Apple and Google as well as delays in the launch of an updated generation of smartphones, reports the FT. RIM said on Thursday it had cut sales and profit forecasts for the current quarter due to slowing demand for its ageing smartphones, which are losing ground to the iPhone and other touchscreen- based handsets. RIM said it expected profits this quarter of $1.30-$1.37 a share, down sharply from last month’s forecast of $1.47-$1.55. The NYT says that RIM’s previously robust financial performance is ‘not looking so solid. Read more
Research in Motion cautioned that its performance in the current quarter would be affected by costs associated with the launch of its PlayBook tablet device next month, disappointing investors who sold-down the stock in after-market trading, the FT reports. Shares in the Canadian company tumbled as much as 12 per cent in after-hours trading on Nasdaq before settling 10 per cent lower at $57.50. RIM also confirmed that its soon-to-be released PlayBook will be able to run software applications developed for other devices, including Android-based smartphones – a move that could enable it to compete more effectively with Apple’s iPad. Continued strong sales of its BlackBerry family of smartphones, particularly in markets outside North America, helped RIM report a 36 per cent increase in fiscal fourth-quarter revenues and a 32 per cent increase in net profits for the quarter ending February 28. Read more
BlackBerry services in India could be at risk after the country’s home minister said that Research in Motion had failed to provide access to customers’ corporate e-mails to the government. The Canadian company said this was technically impossible. “We will insist they give us a solution for [the] enterprise service,” P Chidambaram, India’s home minister, said on Monday, as he referred to a deal between RIM and the government, which allows Indian authorities to access BlackBerry’s basic messenger service. The Indian government has repeatedly asked RIM for access to all BlackBerry services as part of a broader effort by the country’s intelligence to monitor security threats made via mobile phones and the internet, reports the FT. Read more
The United Arab Emirates on Friday said it would not go ahead with the suspension of BlackBerry mobile communication services next week, saying they were now compliant with the Gulf’s state’s regulatory framework, the FT reports. The UAE’s regulator had said in August that it would ban BlackBerry’s messenger, e-mail and web-browser services on October 11 because they were operating outside of its laws and raised national security concerns. Read more
News of a big fall in the price of Apple shares at the open (on supposedly no news except, err, this) got the Twittersphere raging about the prospect of a mini flash crash in the making Tuesday:
BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is expanding beyond the smartphone to take on Apple’s iPad with its first tablet device – the BlackBerry PlayBook, the FT reports. RIM unveiled the tablet with its seven-inch screen and dual high-definition cameras for video conferencing at its annual developer conference in San Francisco. The device was described by RIM’s CEO as the “first professional tablet” and will target a business audience, according to RCR Unplugged. Read more
Oracle eased anxieties in the technology sector with forecast-beating first-quarter earnings as its software business grew strongly in all regions and its hardware arm grew faster than expected, the FT reports. Oracle’s earnings contrast with Intel’s profit warning three weeks ago, which foresaw a $500m shortfall in sales. Oracle’s reported software sales leapt 25 per cent to $1.3bn, beating analyst forecasts by some margin, Reuters reports. Blackberry maker Research in Motion also surprised the market with superior sales, according to Bloomberg. Read more
India’s government and Research in Motion agreed on Monday to extend talks by two months over India’s demand for RIM to open its BlackBerry services to scrutiny by intelligence agencies, reports the FT. The agreement came before a Tuesday deadline for mobile operators in India to shut down the Canadian company’s corporate email and messaging services if it did not agree to the demand. Bloomberg adds that the final outcome may set the tone for how India deals with services it says it wants to monitor. Read more
Research in Motion and India’s government avoided a standoff on Monday by agreeing to extend for two months talks over a demand to open all BlackBerry services to scrutiny by the country’s intelligence agencies, the FT reports. The reprieve came before a Tuesday deadline for mobile operators in India to shut down the Canadian company’s corporate e-mail and messaging services if it did not agree to the demand. This would have caused serious disruption before next month’s Commonwealth Games. Read more