Troubled BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion has announced further delays to its new phones - now analysts and commentators are making their complaints ever more loudly.
It seems that every month BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion has more bad news to announce. In November it paid a $365million charge for unsold PlayBook tablets; yesterday it announced that crucial new phones would now be delayed to the latter half of 2012, rather than being out by March.
Co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis charitably cut their pay to just a $1 each, but analysts and critics argued they’re still overpaid. One writer on the respected blog PaidContent blog said the pair should have been “fired months, if not years ago”.
At the heart of BlackBerry’s problems lie its troubled transition to a new operating system: in order to compete with the iPhone and with Google’s Android phones, the Canadian company has had to rebuild its software from the ground up. So far, the only product using a new version is the underwhelming PlayBook.
Yesterday, announcing RIM’s results, Lazridis delivered the bad news almost casually. The new OS will power a new generation of phone, but in order to compete RIM had earlier changed its mind on which chips to use. Now he said RIM could not get enough of them and that delays were unavoidable.
Lazaridis compounded the disappointment for investors by cutting the firm’s prediction of sales to between 11 and 12 million smartphones in the current Christmas quarter, down from 14.8 million over the same time last year. Others companies’ sales are rising at his expense.
Last month, analyst Ian Fogg said that “if you look at RIM’s track record they have a history of missing launch dates; that doesn’t bode well.” He warned ominously that “If they fail to ship quality products we’ll see a slow decline,” and it would appear that Fogg’s predictions are already coming true.
With rather dry understatement, however, Lazaridis said in a statement that "It may take some time to realise the benefits of the platform transition that we are undertaking, but we continue to believe that RIM has the right set of strengths and capabilities to maintain a leading role in the mobile communications industry”. When he claimed that people tell him “every day” that BlackBerry is the best communications device around, commentators immediately said he was listening to the wrong people.
RIM's share of the smartphone market in the US fell to 9.2 per cent in the third quarter from 24 per cent in the same period last year, according to research group Canalys. Increasing numbers of analysts across the board now find one conclusion inescapable: RIM doesn’t just need customers – it needs a buyer.