Research In Motion might place its bets on a single “superphone” running its next-generation BlackBerry 10, according to a Jan. 5 posting on the Boy Genius Report blog.
“The only phone RIM is working on bringing to market right now is the BlackBerry London,” read the blog, citing the ever-popular unnamed sources. “We have been told that RIM is currently shopping the London with carriers.” It also claimed the Canadian device maker had canceled another BlackBerry 10 smartphone, code-named Colt.
RIM is betting heavily that BlackBerry 10, supposedly due in the second half of 2012, will prove a tougher competitor in the increasingly crowded smartphone segment. RIM’s current BlackBerry devices have failed to prevent the company’s market share from sliding in the face of aggressive competition from Apple’s iPhone and the growing family of Google Android devices. A renewed push by Microsoft’s Windows Phone could also complicate the environment for RIM.
If accurate, RIM’s single-device strategy isn’t that unusual. Apple has traditionally issued one new iPhone at a time, and other companies have pushed their marketing and development muscle behind a single “hero” smartphone. But it would be a change from RIM’s recent strategy, which centered on a whole line of branded devices.
RIM is also prepping a major software update in February for its PlayBook tablet, which has suffered from anemic sales in comparison to Apple’s iPad. RIM executives publicly acknowledge the company is in something of a transition.
As part of that transition, RIM might end up dismissing co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie as co-chairmen of their company’s board, according to reports circulating widely online.
Barbara Stymiest is the figure being cited by Canadian publication the National Post as RIM’s potential next chairperson. The newspaper, which attributed that information to unnamed sources, described her as “an independent director who joined RIM’s board in 2007.”
Whether or not she ends up taking the reins of RIM’s board, analysts are already weighing in on whether she can help the company with its market-share struggles.
“We would view such an announcement positively as we believe she will initiate a formal strategic review, possibly trim costs in the hardware business, and possibly announce additional partnerships,” Peter Misek, an analyst with Jefferies & Co, wrote in a co-authored research note Jan. 4. “However, we continue to see an outright sale in the near term as unlikely and see near-term results as challenged.”
For the third quarter of its fiscal 2012, RIM reported revenue of $5.2 billion and net income of $265 million. BlackBerry subscribers increased 35 percent year-over-year, to 75 million. However, RIM co-CEO Balsillie expressed dissatisfaction during a Dec. 15 conference call on the company’s performance in the United States, and suggested that a “comprehensive review of all aspects of the business” was underway.