Almost precisely two months ago, we published a post — “RIM, Outlier or Innovator?” — and bleakly stated that though we see a not-so-hopeful future for the company, we’d welcome a RIM comeback from its seemingly dire state.
Today — from the sight of its Q4 earnings report and with the resignation of former CEO Ballsillie from the board of directors — it appears RIM is slowly but surely admitting defeat.
Okay, maybe the company isn’t admitting anything just yet, but we’re certainly seeing a defeated RIM from the fourth quarter results document:
- Revenue of $4.2 billion, down 19% from the third quarter
- GAAP net loss in Q4 of $125 million or $0.24 per share diluted; adjusted net income of $418 million or $0.80 per share diluted
- BlackBerry smartphone shipments of 11.1 million in Q4, down 21% from Q3
In our initial post — published January 30th — about the state of RIM, we said:
“With the appointment of Thorsten Heins as CEO, celebration should occur under the theory of some action is better than no action.But the market has reacted to the announcement as if it were “non-action.” Shares are down this morning by 7.5 percent and analyst quotes all fall under the “wait and see” heading. There are also many questions being asked about the underlying governance structure – although Balsillie and Lazaridis have stepped down as Co-CEOs, they are still the largest shareholders and are remaining on the Board of Directors, with Lazaridis holding the role of Vice Chair and Chair of the Board’s new Innovation Committee.
But do the the co-CEOs really deserve that? Over the past few years, they’ve both clearly suffered from “shiny object” syndrome. Instead of motivating and leading, the leaders were clearly busy out “playing”:
·Jim Ballsillie’s five year quest to purchase an NHL Hockey team is all consuming (attempts for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres have all failed)
·Mike Lazaridis’ passion for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and his role as Chairman of the Board
This lack of focus by the CEOs has left Thorsten Heins, as Chief Operating Officer (COO) Product Engineering, back home minding the shop during the downward slide of 2010/2011. This begs the question of what role he played in the market delays and lack of product execution for the Playbook 1.0 and the new BlackBerry Operating System (BB10)? If he wasn’t accountable for the lack of innovation, lack of time to market for new products – who was?”
Today marks the first release of the quarter earnings under Heins’ command — and the results are certainly underwhelming.
According to reports, such as this one from Tech Crunch, BlackBerry is still working diligently to catch up to the smartphone market by developing a BlackBerry 10 operating system, but we have to wonder: is it too little, too late?