In his short tenure as CEO RIM’s Thorsten Heins has proved himself to be feistier and more competitive than some may have expected. This week, he took issue with a New York Times article claiming BlackBerry had lost its cool factor with consumers. Research in Motion’s (TSX:RIM) management has grown used to derision from the media, but when the Grey Lady starts taking shots at BlackBerry, it’s go time for CEO Thorsten Heins.
On Monday, New York Times writer Nicole Perlroth penned an article in the technology sector of the esteemed paper about the BlackBerry brand’s lost cache.
“The BlackBerry was once proudly carried by the high-powered and the elite,” says the piece, “but those who still hold one today say the device has become a magnet for mockery and derision from those with iPhones and the latest Android phones.”
The article, which was widely circulated through social media, caught the eye of RIM CEO Thorsten Heins, who fired off a rebuttal the next day.
“BlackBerry as Black Sheep in Smartphones” (Business Day, Oct. 16) lacks the balance your readers expect.” he wrote.
“With more than 80 million customers globally, BlackBerry is growing and remains one of the world’s most popular smartphones. I’ve just come from visiting carriers and partners in all parts of the world, and they have told me that there are millions of BlackBerry fans out there who not only find great value in their device, but also pride in being a BlackBerry owner.” He added: “We’ve received excellent feedback from carriers, developers and partners for our upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform and are on track to deliver it in the first quarter of 2013. We appreciate the customers who have remained loyal to the BlackBerry platform and look forward to winning back many who have left.”
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While many speculated that RIM would be sold off or partner with a larger brand such as Microsoft, the BlackBerry maker appears ready to roll into the launch of it BlackBerry 10 platform flying solo. This was helped by the recent revelation that the company is no longer burning a hole through its cash reserves.
Late in September, RIM released Q2, 2013 numbers that weren’t nearly as bad as expected. The filing showed RIM lost $235 million, or $0.45 cents per share on revenue of $2.9 billion, which was up 2% from the company’s $2.8 billion topline in Q1. The numbers bested the street’s consensus that RIM would lose $.54 cents a share on revenue of $2.5-billion. Days before the quarterly results were released, the stock got a much needed boost after CEO Thorsten Heins revealed, at the company’s developer conference, that subscriptions for its BlackBerry service grew to 80 million.
RIM, which expects its much anticipated BlackBerry 10 devices will be available early in 2013, ended the quarter with cash, cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments of $2.3 billion, up from $2.2 billion at the end of the previous quarter.
One of the oft-cited reasons for BlackBerry’s recent unpopularity is the number of apps available, which pale compared to Apple’s. This morning, the company announced the city dates of its BlackBerry Jam World Tour, part of an ongoing effort to lure developers. RIM’s Alec Saunders says despite rumours to the contrary, RIM is having real success luring developers.
Shares of Research in Motion on the TSX closed today down .9% to $7.69.