RIM CEOs Could Be Ousted As Chairmen As Playbook Price Slashed

RIM is reportedly close to making a decision whether or not to strip its co-chief executives of their shared role as chairmen of the board, while it has also slashed the prices of its BlackBerry Playbook tablet in the US by up to $400 (£256).

The news follows a disastrous 2011 which has increased speculation of a possible sale or break up of the company.

Chairmen of the board

Last month, RIM reported lower than expected third quarter revenues and announced that the co-CEOs’ salaries would be reduced to just one dollar. Revenues of £3.5 billion were up 24 percent from the previous quarter, but down by six percent from the same period in 2010.

An independent member of the RIM board, Barbara Stymiest is the supposed front runner to replace Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille in the chairmanship. The move could appease disillusioned investors and RIM’s share price rose by seven percent on hearing the reports.

RIM has once again reduced the price of the BlackBerry Playbook in the US, with the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models all costing just $299 (£192) until the end of the current financial quarter in February.

The BlackBerry Playbook has experienced disappointing sales since it was released in April 2011 and this latest price cut represents a discount of more than $400 (£256) from the launch price. The UK prices remain unchanged and have not dropped since October.

The company sustained a $485 (£311) write-off against the value of Playbook stock in its warehouses in December. This meant that it had effectively reduced the value of the remaining 1.2 million units in stock to zero so it profits from selling the devices at any price.

The failure of the Playbook to make a significant impact on the tablet market has harmed RIM’s share price significantly, as have delays to the next generation of BlackBerry smartphones and the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

It was reported last month that the first BlackBerry 10 powered phones would not arrive until late 2012, severely hurting the company’s chances of reviving its fortunes. It is hoped that the new QNX-based devices would allow RIM to compete against rival Apple  iOS and Android devices.

These misfortunes, along with a worldwide service outage in October, have led to many potential suitors investigating the possibility of a takeover, including Amazon, Nokia and Microsoft.

Steve McCaskill

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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