Blackberry maker RIM 'open to selling' as revenues slump by 25 per cent


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The Independent Online

The new chief executive of Research in Motion, the maker of Blackberry smartphones, signalled that he would be open to selling the company after it posted another catastrophic set of sales figures and plunged into the red.

Revenues over the past three months, including the Christmas period when rival Apple sold millions of iPhones and iPads, were down 25 per cent, RIM said last night.

The company – a pioneer in smartphones, particularly for business executives – announced a boardroom clear-out and a top-to-bottom review of its strategy, in an attempt to revive its fortunes.

Consumers have switched to trendier phones from Apple and other handset makers and companies that used to provide Blackberries for employees are increasingly letting them use their own phones.

Thorsten Heins, who replaced RIM's long-time joint chief executives Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in January, admitted that the company's problems went deep. "The impression I had on Day 2 of being chief executive was pretty different from the facts I know after being ten weeks as chief executive," he said.

The company "needs to learn to partner" instead of assuming it can make handsets, develop operating software and run its secure data network all by itself, he said. The strategy review would examine cost-cutting measures, partnerships and licensing deals, and even a sale of the company if a potential buyer came forward, he said.

Mr Balsillie was one of several senior departures announced last night. He will leave his role as a director. RIM's chief technology officer and its global chief operating officer are also leaving.

The promise of a strategic review took the edge off the disappointing results for investors, and while the shares initially plunged more than 10 per cent in after-hours trading in New York, they eventually settled down 2.4 per cent. They remain close to their lowest levels since 2004.

Revenues for the three months to3 March were $4.2bn (£2.6bn), down from $5.6bn in the same period last year, and the net loss was $125m, compared with $934m previously.