RIM CEO Heins Refines Comments on Company Direction

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins attempted to refine earlier comments about the company's direction, insisting again that it can endure against Google Android and Apple's iOS.

Newly minted RIM CEO Thorsten Heins gave an interview with the Crackberry blog Jan. 26, in which he attempted to refine earlier comments about the company's overall direction.

Specifically, he sought to put additional spin on quotes from this week that RIM was on the "right path" with its current strategy, which centers on the next-generation BlackBerry 10 operating system. RIM expects its current BlackBerry 7 OS devices to hold the line against Apple's iOS and Google Android until late 2012, when these BlackBerry 10 smartphones will presumably hit the market with enough force to reverse the company's flagging U.S. market share.

In a Jan. 23 conference call soon after he took the CEO reins from longtime chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, Heins also said that significant change wasn't necessary for RIM at this time.

Some analysts and pundits have spent the past few days pushing back at Heins' comments, arguing that RIM's dipping stock price and market share meant the company was in need of radical change, indeed. But in his interview with Crackberry, Heins tried to clarify what he meant.

"What I was trying to address was that there was some suggestion that RIM should be split up or should even be sold," he told the blog. "My true belief is that RIM has the strength and the assets that we can really succeed in this market."

Moreover, he added, a lot of change is underway at RIM: "There is a lot of structure change, there has been already a lot of change in terms of our software, our software platform, bringing QNX in. There is no standstill at any moment here at RIM."

He also insisted that RIM will push through its current transition period. "This is not baking cookies. This is building high-tech products," he said. "From time to time your aspirations and development timelines hit some bumps in the road that were not foreseen. But I think going down that path is exactly right for BlackBerry and its customers."

Despite the CEO switchover, some analysts remained pessimistic about RIM's near-term chances. "With competing OEMs introducing high-end smartphone products on more established software ecosystems and low-cost Android products pressuring RIM's international sales," T. Michael Walkley, a Canaccord Genuity analyst, wrote in a coauthored Jan. 22 research note, "we believe sales and earnings will decline."

Others have appeared more upbeat. "By making a break and bringing in new blood RIM is able to start a new chapter," Peter Misek, an analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote in a Jan. 23 research note. "We believe Thorsten Heins, a seasoned Siemens executive, is the smoothest near-term replacement. While it does not necessarily change anything overnight, it does create a fresh chapter and open doors and possibilities."

In any case, Heins has quite a task ahead of him.

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