updated 05:40 pm EDT, Thu June 16, 2011
RIM CEOs insist on staying in place.
RIM's co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in the wake of a damaging spring quarter refused to bow to pressure to reduce their control. Balsillie contended that the company was just coming through a massive transition to BlackBerry 7 and the PlayBook and that surviving it was an achievement in itself. Neither of the individual CEOs could have done it alone, he argued.
Lazaridis echoed the sentiments and insisted that having two CEOs, a rarity in the business, was "critical." The two knew what they had to do together and could spot each other's strengths, he said.
He went on to justify the delay in the BlackBerry Bold 9900 to late August. Much of the gap was blamed on carriers. Because RIM had to upgrade its performance with new chipsets rather than those it had been using over the past three years, the swap created "extra challenges" to carriers that hadn't been anticipated, Lazaridis said. There were 31 certification programs underway, which was going to result in the BlackBerry's largest worldwide launch but also meant it wouldn't be accepted until the summer.
The problems getting BlackBerry 7 devices like the Bold 9900 weren't delaying the shift to devices using the QNX foundation at the heart of the PlayBook. RIM was elusive on actual sell-through of the 500,000 PlayBooks that had been shipped, but it was "very pleased" and saw good adoption from corporate buyers at as much as 1,500 testing it out.
Balsillie admitted that the launch hadn't gone "as smoothly as planned" and that there had been debate over whether to wait for a properly finished product or to rush it out and fix it later, as the company had done. Over-the-air fixes made it easier to do this. He didn't think he would have managed the launch materially differently and wanted the product out on the market knowing that it was a foundation to build on.
"[BlackBerry Tablet OS] is a platform we can run with for a decade," he said, adding that the results so far were worth the effort. "I'll take it."
RIM clarified its outlook for the summer and revealed that it expected its second consecutive plunge in phone shipments. The company only anticipated shipping 11 million to 12.5 million BlackBerry phones between June and August and made it near certain that Apple would have had a whole year of market share gains.