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Plummeting BlackBerry sales force RIM to abandon consumers and refocus on business

30 Mar 2012

Research in Motion (RIM) is abandoning its consumer markets to focus on the enterprise, in the face of yet another disastraous financial quarter which have sparked a cull of senior executives at the embattled BlackBerry maker.

The company said that it had lost $125m over the last quarter. Sales plummeted 25 per cent from the same quarter last year.

Over the quarter, RIM reported just 11.1 million BlackBerry handsets and 500,000 PlayBook tablets sold. Apple, by comparison, sold 37 million iPhones in its last quarter and 3 million iPads in the tablet's first weekend alone.

RIM also announced that several high-ranking executives would be stepping down, with former chief executive and board chair Jim Balsillie leaving the company, along with chief technology officer, David Yach and chief operating officer of global relations, Jim Rowan.

Despite the poor quarter and executive shake-up, chief executive Thorsten Heins remained optimistic about the company's chances.

"In addition to delivering the BlackBerry 10 platform and refocusing resources on RIM’s key opportunities, such as BlackBerry Mobile Fusion and new integrated service offerings, we will also drive greater operational performance through a variety of initiatives including increased management accountability and process discipline," Heins said.

"In parallel, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of strategic opportunities including partnerships and joint ventures, licensing, and other ways to leverage RIM’s assets and maximise value for our stakeholders."

To many industry watchers, such a review and reassessment of the company's operations is long overdue.

Analysts have suggested plans ranging from a re-focus on the secure enterprise space to an all-out sale of the company's handset operations.

Magister Advisors director Victor Basa believes that a sale of the company to a larger enterprise IT vendor would be the best option for the company.

"Under their new leadership, RIM are focused on operational improvements but the real issue is fundamentally strategic. Why should RIM exist when all other smartphone makers are developing better products faster?" Basa said.

"RIM has already lost the consumer battle and its main asset is its enterprise customer base, so retrenching to a corporate-only focus makes sense."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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