While I never want to see a company fail, it is difficult to ignore the warning signs that the Research In Motion (RIM) ship is sinking. Though best known for making the BlackBerry family of phones, in more recent memory the company seems to hit bump… after bump… after bump. And even as the RIM ship tries to right itself, last week was a doozy.
Over the past four years, RIM’s stock value has fallen a whopping 95 percent. Yet earlier this month, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins told CBC radio, “There’s nothing wrong with [RIM] as it exists right now. This company is not ignoring the world out there, nor is it in a death spiral.” This was after the company had already announced it was going to miss its late 2012 release date for BB 10 (the next iteration of its operating system). And that was the only thing keeping many analysts from not completely writing off the company already.
That brings us to this week. As Heins and other executives prepared to meet with shareholders, a report came out that corporate customers – the long time bread & butter for RIM – are preparing backup plans should the company’s messaging service cease operation. While there was no specific reference to the possibility of the company closing, that message was definitely between the lines, and that isn’t the vote of confidence RIM was surely looking for.
As the meeting was about to begin and the company was looking to cut costs wherever it could, news came out that one of the two company jets was up for sale. In a larger scale cost cutting measure, RIM officially announced that seven of its 10 production facilities would close down, and 5,000 jobs would be cut.
In short, RIM is barely even a shadow of its former self.
Can it recover? Possibly. It depends on whether RIM buckles down and innovates, rather than just trying to play catch up with the iPhone and various Android handsets out on the market today.
No matter what phone you currently use, you owe a huge debt of gratitude to RIM and its BlackBerry – the forerunner of the iPhone showed the world that smartphones were in demand, and, in fact, probably made the iPhone possible. It’s just too bad that they weren’t able, or didn’t choose to, evolve along with the industry.