TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion Ltd’s freshman CEO insisted on Tuesday that nothing is wrong with the maker of BlackBerry smartphones and that it certainly isn’t in a “death spiral,” even as the company’s already battered stock edged toward new lows.
In what appeared to be a concerted effort to win over Canadians mourning the fall of a national icon, Thorsten Heins said Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM is facing very big challenges, but would emerge successfully from its transition.
“There’s nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now,” Heins said on Canadian Broadcasting Corp’s Metro Morning radio show.
“I’m not talking about the company as I, kind of, took it over six months ago. I’m talking about the company (in the) state it’s in right now.”
Heins took the reins at RIM in January, replacing founder Mike Lazaridis and his longtime business partner Jim Balsillie.
RIM shares have halved in value since then, and Heins has hired bankers to consider options that could include a possible breakup or sale.
The stock, which was worth $147 a share at the company’s peak in mid-2008, fell almost 2 percent to $7.35 on Tuesday, building on losses from last week, when the company reported a $192 million operating loss and said it would delay the launch of a make-or-break new generation of phones until next year.
In an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail newspaper, Heins said the twice-delayed BlackBerry 10 platform would “empower people as never before” by linking them to parking meters, car computers, credit card machines and ticket counters.
“We do not believe RIM is a company at the end,” he wrote. “RIM is a company at the beginning of a transition that we expect will once again change the way people communicate.”
The operating loss was RIM’s first in eight years and RIM said it would fire 5,000 people, almost a third of its workforce, as it delayed the launch of the BlackBerry 10 devices.
Analysts saw the delay as a devastating setback for RIM, which has fallen behind in a smartphone industry it helped pioneer with the email-focused BlackBerry. Quarterly losses could pile up while RIM rushes to build its new platform.
The once-ubiquitous BlackBerry has stumbled as users seek out the oversized touchscreens and massive libraries of apps on Apple Inc’s iPhone and on a slew of devices using Google Inc’s Android software, although Heins said RIM’s subscriber base was continuing to grow.
“This company is not ignoring the world out there, nor is it in a death spiral,” Heins told the CBC.
“Yes, it is very, very challenged at the moment — specifically in the U.S. market. The way I would describe it: we’re in the middle of a transition,” he said. “I’m positive we will emerge successfully from that transition.”
Reporting by Andrea Hopkins and Alastair Sharp; Editing by Peter Galloway and Janet Guttsman