BlackBerry Returns to its Roots - Focuses on Business Customers

By Joe Eitel March 30, 2012

Research in Motion (RIM) announced Thursday a shift in focus back to corporate customers rather than the consumer-oriented market. The maker of BlackBerry has found it difficult in recent years trying to compete with consumer-focused Android and iOS devices.

This announcement comes amidst a major shift in company management and focus. Jim Balsillie, a 20-year executive at the company, severed ties with RIM recently after helping to build the brand it is today. David Yach, chief technology officer of software, is leaving the company, as is the chief operating officer for global operations, Jim Rowan.

Reuters reports RIM will focus on delivering products to consumers utilizing the company’s strengths, which are corporate and enterprise devices. RIM plans to deliver products to consumers that can be used productively in and out of the workplace to help boost workflow. Offerings will include software and hardware solutions from RIM and its partners.

Thorsten Heins, CEO of RIM, states “We can't do everything ourselves, but we can do what we're good at.” He adds, “We believe that BlackBerry cannot succeed if we tried to be everybody's darling and all things to all people. Therefore, we plan to build on our strength.”

Heins joined the RIM team four years ago and took over for co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Balsillie in January after the company posted losses of tens of billions of dollars in market value.

Heins mentioned the possibility of selling the Canadian company, but stated, “it is not the main direction we are pursuing right now.”

New offerings coming soon for RIM include its BlackBerry 10 system, which the company hopes will help gain some ground against Android and iOS devices. However, the release of BlackBerry 10 has faced several delays.

RIM delved into the tablet computer market with its PlayBook, but the device has received negative reviews due to the fact it initially lacked an email client and BlackBerry Messenger. PlayBook tablets originally retailed for $500, but as of December could be purchased for just $200, less than the product’s manufacturing cost.

RIM lost ground against other mobile device makers last year, including in the corporate markets. While Apple shipped 37 million iPhones in the final quarter of 2011, RIM only shipped 11.1 million BlackBerrys in the latest quarter. A recent financial report released by RIM showed revenues were down 25 percent for the 2012 fiscal year.

RIM hopes that conceding the high-end consumer market to Android and iOS devices, and instead focusing on corporate and lower-end clients, will help turn things around for the company.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributing Writer

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