RIM CEO Thorstein Heins addresses company’s ‘death spiral’

Research In Motion’s chief executive Thorsten Heins has rubbished claims that the company is in a “death spiral,” stating that “there’s nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now”.

Speaking less than a week after RIM (TSX: RIM)revealed a quarterly loss of $518 million (£330m), Heins told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Metro Morning radio show that the company was going through a transition period.

“This company is not ignoring the world out there, nor is it in a death spiral,” he said. “Yes, it is very, very challenged at the moment – specifically in the US market. The way I would describe it: we’re in the middle of a transition.”

RIM has announced plans to cut 5,000 jobs over the next nine months, representing 30 percent of its workforce. It has also delayed the launch of its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 smartphones until 2013.

Heins told the Metro Morning that, while the company could have rushed out its first BlackBerry 10 smartphone, RIM wanted to make sure its new operating system would last “for the next 10 years”.

“The next quarters are going to be difficult,” he said. “But I am positive when we launch BlackBerry 10 there will be huge support from our carrier partners, our enterprise customers and we will re-emerge, specifically in the US and Canada, as a very strong player.”

A BlackBerry 10 roadmap leaked to BlackBerryOS.com on Monday reveals that RIM is planning to launch two smartphones in the first quarter of 2012 – a device with a full qwerty keyboard, called Nevada, and a touchscreen model to rival Apple’s iPhone, called London.

The Canadian manufacturer will also release a 4G version of its PlayBook tablet before the end of the year, according to the document, as well as a new tablet codenamed “Blackforest” in the third quarter of 2013 – rumoured to be a 10-inch model.

Other mysterious devices codenamed “Nashville” and “Naples” also appear on the roadmap, due for launch in Q2/Q3 and Q3/Q4 respectively. BlackBerryOS.com speculates that these may be variations of the qwerty N-Series, or of a 7- or 10-inch PlayBook tablet.

Rumours ahead of the quarterly results announcement last week suggested that RIM was reportedly planning to spin off its struggling handset manufacturing division, amid plummeting share prices.

The company has hired two investment banks – JP Morgan and RBC Capital Markets – to review its various financial strategies, “including opportunities to leverage the BlackBerry platform through partnerships, licensing opportunities and strategic business model alternatives.”

However, Ovum analyst Nick Dillon said that selling the handset business would mean the end of the company: “The only reason to split it up would be to make it more attractive to buyers,” he said.

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