BlackBerry bosses try to placate shareholders

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The Independent Online

The bosses at Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, sought to buck up their shareholders with the promise of a resurgence in sales in the second half of this year, amid gloomy predictions that the company could already be in long-term decline.

Co-chief executives Jim Basillie and Mike Lazaridis told a restless shareholder meeting that a series of product launches, including smartphones based on a delayed new operating system, would ensure RIM meets its guidance for the financial year. That guidance has been cut twice in profit warnings over the past three months.

The pair deflected criticism from investors who complained the BlackBerry-maker has been mismanaged and marketed poorly as rivals Apple and Google steal its market share.

RIM's co-chiefs stuck to the script at the annual general meeting: a new generation of BlackBerrys launching this autumn will save the company. One analyst called for splitting the company up; a rebel shareholder gave them six months or they'll face calls for resignation.

But RIM avoided what would have been an embarrassing vote of confidence in its top brass when an activist shareholder withdrew a motion to force the co-founders to relinquish their other shared role as board chairman.