I have to say that I've been waiting to sit down with Research in Motion CEO Jim Balsillie for the better part of four years.
This is the guy who is running arguably the most effective, most innovative company in arguably one of the most exciting and dynamic sectors in tech. And he just doesn't tend to sit down for TV interviews.
He made news during my talk, bringing into sharper focus the release of the highly anticipated BlackBerry Bold in the United States, following its successful debut in RIM'shome country Canada a few weeks ago. Some analysts and investors, and certainly a big chunk of the "Crackberry" faithful were hoping for its imminent release in the US. Instead, Balsillie now confirms that Bold will not be available until the first part of October. A source at RIM tells me there are ongoing network certification issues with the device and that's why there's still no firm date -- only a range -- on availability.
Meantime, I asked Balsillie about the company's floundering stock price recently even as RIM gobbles up more marketshare and has the most stuffed product pipeline in the company's history. A healthy performance even in the face of stiffening competition from Apple, Nokia, Palm, soon Google, and others.
He wasn't dismissive by any stretch, sharing reverential comments about Apple and Google, their innovation, their brands, and their execution. However, he did say their attempts at attacking the BlackBerry juggernaut are nothing new. That RIM has faced competition for years and has always been able to fend off all comers. He sees nothing now that presents a greater threat.
I asked him about the Wall Street disconnect between RIM's share price and its marketplace performance. Like Steve Jobs earlier this week, Balsillie says he doesn't trouble himself with day-to-day vagaries. The company continues to perform, he tells me, and the stock performance should follow.
The company reports earnings two weeks from today so he wasn't talking specific numbers, but he did point to the dramatic marketshare gains RIM has enjoyed recently as the best indication to date about how the company is doing.
I'll have more in an upcoming post, and we'll post the complete interview shortly. From my standpoint, RIM owns the market if only because of its elegant interface and very long-lasting battery life. iPhone's interesting, even compelling, but that battery life, compared to the BlackBerry, is a killer.
What are your thoughts? Let me know and I'll post some of your notes.
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