RIM CEO Defends Company Growth, Confident in New Technology

Thursday, 26 Jan 2012 | 7:08 PM ET
Bay Ismoyo | AFP | Getty Images

RIM's new CEO Thorsten Heins is sticking by his statement that RIM does not need to make any "drastic changes" to the company and it’s not a “turnaround” play, but he acknowledges the company is suffering in the US market.

"It hurts. It hurts me to see us losing market share in the U.S. There was a paradigm shift, and we did not shift with it..." Heins said. "I know we've made mistakes, and I know I'm in for a fight."

Heins was speaking Thursday to CNBC reporters and producers in an off-air discussion. He appeared on CNBC earlier in the week, shortly after he was named CEO.

With RIM stock down about 75 percent since early 2011, Heins certainly is in for a fight. In response to a question, he said that there’s no truth to takeover rumors that have been swirling around the company’s stock.

One way he plans to combat RIM's slipping market share in the U.S. is by offering customers a software upgrade for their Blackberry Playbooks, with a major push in February.

“We want to stop the bleeding,” he said. Heins emphasized RIM’s international growth, and noted the company has taken its subscriber base from 50 million to 75 million in a year.

Heins made it clear the company is working to protect its installed customer base and plans a major program to encourage existing Blackberry users to switch to its newest phones, which use its Blackberry 7 operating system.

He would not elaborate on details but said the promotional effort would not be undertaken at a loss to the company, and that carriers are working with it on a program that could include higher end data plans.

The campaign to upgrade the embedded customer base also comes months ahead of the company’s next Blackberry offering, the Blackberry 10 operating system, expected by the end of the year.

A large amount of the U.S. market is still using earlier versions of the Blackberry operating system that does not have the features in Blackberry 7, Heins said. Heins said 7 has an improved browser and a HD screen, among other enhancements.

RIM's New CEO Heins on Future Strategy
We made a lot of changes 18 months ago when we decided to go for a new platform and really revamp the entire BlackBerry experience, says Thorsten Heins, Research in Motion CEO. Heins says we have learned our lessons and have adapted a lot and changed some positions in management and software. Going global and scaling up will be his focus.

By allowing users to upgrade to the latest Blackberry systems, users will be reintroduced to the efficiency of the device, he said.

“Blackberry is all about efficiency. We know how to set ourselves apart,” Heins said.

New RIM products will also help the company reshape its image in the U.S. market, Heins said.

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