Look at it any way you will, there’s no denying that Research in Motion (RIM) is in a financial sense in danger of bleeding to death. The company’s share values are already down by over 50% so far this year and with nothing ground-breaking on the imminent horizon, it’s not looking like the smoothest sailing ahead for the time-being at least.
As such, you’d be forgiven for expecting CEO Thorsten Heins to have been pelted with more than just your average tirade of abuse this week, but it turned out that RIM’s annual meeting that took place on Tuesday was in fact pretty subdued.
Wilfrid Laurier University was the setting for the meeting, right at the heart of RIM’s birthplace of Waterloo, Ontario. The crowd was small in size and unexpectedly sensitive in nature, from time to time only poking the odd small hole in RIM’s outlook and giving Heins a much easier ride then we’d have predicted.
There was clearly a good deal of hometown pride surrounding the event and even before the thing had kicked off there was much talk in and around the venue of solidarity and widespread intent to stick with RIM and not let go of either hope or shares just yet. This carried on right through to the ultimate Q&A session the world had been waiting for, which was for the most part free of any panic or spite.
The meeting official started with RIM’s board of directors Barbara Stymiest, who did her best to admit that the company was reeling from and rather embarrassed by the year to date.
“The company’s performance … does not represent what we feel RIM can achieve,” she told those in attendance.
And of course this is something of a rank understatement as since the start of the year, half of RIMs share value has been wiped off the face of the Earth and currently stands at a depressing $7.67 as of Monday.
Upon being quizzed about exactly how appropriate the skills and experience of certain board members are, she admitted diplomatically that “We understand the gaps the board has,” adding that “The board is seeking future directors with certain skills.”
When it was time for new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins to take the stage, it was difficult not to notice that plenty of his remarks were brought word for word from the statement he made upon revealing the company’s disastrous quarterly report last month.
“We are working around the clock to successfully complete the transition path we are on,” Heins once again reaffirmed, before going on to reassure investors that the company’s ever-delayed BlackBerry 10 operating systems is the company’s primary focus going forward.
First announced in October last year, the BlackBerry 10 OS and device range was initially slated for launch this year, though now looks to have been held back until early 2013 at best. The OS and its respective Smartphone range is pretty much carrying the future of the company as a whole on its shoulders.
And while critics in worrying large numbers suggest that RIM will bleed out and fold long before BlackBerry 10 ever hits the market, Heins remains confident that the wait will be justified.
“I will not deliver a platform … that is not ready to meet needs of our customers,” Heins told the meeting’s attendees. “There will be no compromise on this issue.”
He closed out by roughly going over the company’s strategy for the rest of the year and beyond, which includes the licensing of BlackBerry 10 and a series of cost-cuts to push for overall savings of $1 billion over the next six-months.
BlackBerry 10 will first see an all-touchscreen Smartphone launched, followed by a more traditional QWERTY keyboard version.