RIM close to hiring marketing chief, stock slumps

Wed May 2, 2012 2:08pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Research In Motion Ltd stock slumped again on Wednesday, even as the company said it was close to hiring a marketing boss to fashion a unified message for the next-generation BlackBerry that will likely determine its future.

Speaking at an annual showcase event that has fallen flat this year, RIM Chief Executive Thorsten Heins admitted RIM spoke with more than one voice when it marketed its current BlackBerry 7 smartphones and its PlayBook tablet. He said that would change.

The Canadian company is counting on its new BlackBerry 10 platform to reverse a deep erosion in its market share as consumers and professional customers alike flock to flashier devices made by Apple Inc or powered by Google's Android.

"One thing that really became obvious when I looked at the various parts of the company is that we needed focus," Heins said at the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida. He took over from longtime co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie earlier this year.

RIM stock had fallen almost 6 percent on Tuesday after the company gave investors a glimpse of its next-generation smartphones and the tools they would need to create apps for the gadgets.

But RIM has provided few details on how it plans to recover from its prolonged slump, and its shares were down another 5.3 percent by early afternoon on Wednesday, extending a slide of more than 75 percent in the past 13 months.

At the news conference, attended by about 100 journalists and bloggers, an animated Heins tried to strike a balance between acknowledging where RIM had made mistakes and pointing to his plans to get back in the game without being specific.

"These are baby steps," said John Stephenson, senior vice president at First Asset Investment Management Inc in Toronto.   Continued...

A woman uses her mobile phone at the Blackberry World Event in Orlando May 1, 2012. R REUTERS/David Manning