BlackBerry Asks Investors For Patience In ‘Three Step’ Recovery

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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CEO Thorsten Heins faces difficult questions from shareholders at BlackBerry AGM

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has insisted the smartphone manufacturer is on the road to recovery, despite growing doubts among investors, who voiced their concerns at the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Waterloo, Ontario.

The company’s share price has slumped by 33 percent following a £55 million loss in its most recently quarterly results and disappointing sales of devices running the BlackBerry 10 platform, which is crucial to the firm’s hopes of a recovery.

The FT reports that Heins was forced to deal with a number of difficult questions at the AGM and called for patience as BlackBerry implements its “three step” roadmap to recovery.

BlackBerry AGM

Thorsten Heins RIM Blackberry leadThe first step, he explained, was the streamlining and cost-cutting program he implemented upon his appointment as CEO last year and the release of BlackBerry 10 devices was merely the second stage of this process, which should see the company return to profitability during the third step.

Heins said BlackBerry should not be judged on a single quarter and one product launch, but optimism among shareholders and analysts is waning.

BlackBerry has so far launched three devices running the BlackBerry 10 platform, the Z10, the Q10 and Q5, but its subscriber base has fallen from 72 million to 76 million and its share of the smartphone market has fallen to 2.9 percent, placing it in fourth place behind iOS, Android and Windows Phone, according to IDC.

Heins rejected suggestions the BlackBerry 10 launch had been a disaster, but admitted lessons have been learned and that the firm is facing an “uphill battle” in a very competitive market.

However some investors are contemplating the idea of a sale of the company or some of its businesses. BlackBerry’s valuable patent portfolio and high-margin service business could be attractive to potential suitors.

BlackBerry has already announced BlackBerry Secure Work Space, a mobile device management offering that allows businesses to secure iOS and Android handsets in a BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES) environment, while it also has plans to launch a cross-platform version of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) this summer.

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