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Troubled BlackBerry firm RIM doesn’t rule out sale

Research in Motion has not ruled out sale. Picture: Getty

Research in Motion has not ruled out sale. Picture: Getty

  • by Scott Reid
 

Blackberry maker Research in Motion is to switch its main focus back to corporate customers, as its new boss embarks on a strategic overhaul while not ruling out an eventual sale of the company.

The shake-up comes after the Canadian group reported a quarterly loss, as sales were hit by intense competition in the smartphone market. RIM has lost ground as its traditional business customers have dropped BlackBerries in favour of iPhones or Android-based devices by the likes of HTC and Samsung.

Meanwhile, a handful of senior executives, including former co-chief executive and current director Jim Balsillie, are to leave.

Thorsten Heins, who took over as head of the company from Balsillie and joint chief executive Mike Lazaridis in January, stressed that he was focusing on a turnaround of the business.

If the review pointed in the direction of a possible sale, however, he said: “We would consider it, but it is not the main direction we are pursuing right now.”

The firm shipped 11.1 million BlackBerry smartphones in the quarter to 3 March, down 21 per cent from the third quarter. It marked the first decline in the period covering crucial Christmas trading since 2006.

RIM sold more than 500,000 PlayBook tablets in the fourth quarter, a number inflated by deep discounts offered to boost sales of the product.

It reported a net loss of $125 million (£78m) for the quarter, after booking writedowns on its older BlackBerry 7 models and goodwill. On an adjusted basis excluding the writedowns, profit more than halved to $418m.

CNET analyst Larry Magid noted: “RIM has only sold 5 per cent of the smartphones sold in the US in the past three months, Apple has 43 per cent.

“Teenagers are not their main market. They don’t want to spend money catering to that business.”

 

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