RIM announces Q4 2011 results, misses estimates, shuffles management, plans a refocus on enterprise

RIM has reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2011. And the situation is anything but rosy for the Canadian company.

Its Q4 revenue was at $4.2 billion, 19% less than in the third quarter and 25% less than in Q4 2010. And let’s not forget that Q4 should be the biggest quarter for any phone maker. The revenue number also manages to miss Wall Street targets. RIM posted a GAAP net loss of $125 million, which isn’t dramatic as a number in itself – but a loss is a loss. In Q3 2011, RIM had a $265 million profit, and in Q4 of 2010 the number was $934 million.

In terms of sales, RIM shipped 11.1 million BlackBerry smartphones in the last quarter of last year, which is 21% less than in Q3. Again, this should have been RIM’s best quarter of the year – instead it was the worst.

RIM sold 500,000 PlayBook tablets during the quarter, taking the total number of tablets it ever sold to a measly 1.3 million. Just for comparison’s sake, Apple sold more than twice as many new iPads in three days when that device got released. So the PlayBook obviously isn’t selling very well. And neither are RIM’s increasingly old smartphones. As it transitions to the QNX-based BlackBerry OS 10 (we should see the first phone running that in Q3 of this year), RIM will probably face lower and lower sales. Its current lineup is pretty dated by today’s standards, and the fact that it talks up BB10 on any occasion it gets isn’t helping with getting new sales right now either.

The company has also seen some pretty important management changes. Former co-CEO Jim Balsillie resigned from RIM’s board of directors, and CTO David Yach as well as COO Jim Rowan will be retiring.

This was Thorsten Heins’ first quarter as CEO of RIM, and he plans on refocusing the company on the enterprise market, which has been what made RIM into an important name in the smartphone space in the first place. RIM apparently won’t be trying to be “all things to all people” anymore. The CEO is open to exploring all possible opportunities for the company, including licensing BB10. He did say he prefers an integrated approach, but didn’t rule out partnerships. In the future, RIM will be about high-end products and the aforementioned enterprise focus.

Author: Vlad Bobleanta

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