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RIM to Die With Its Boots On

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Well, RIM (RIMM) announced its fourth quarter earnings yesterday, and surprisingly, the results were only slightly worse than expected.

The flailing manufacturer lost $125 million before adjustments on a revenue of $4.19 billion, which is down 19% from the previous quarter, and earnings dropped to $0.80 per share. Analysts had predicted earnings of $0.81 and sales of $4.51 billion. CEO Thorsten Heins also announced a shakeup amongst the top brass, with former co-CEO Jim Balsillie resigning from the board and Software CTO David Yach and COO of Global Operations Jim Rowan getting axed. But judging from the Globe and Mail's inside scoop, that might not be the last of the pink slips.

Although shares have seen an uptick today, RIM's long term future is still in doubt. Sales are drooping. Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), and Microsoft (MSFT) continue to innovate. And the time frame to finally launch BlackBerry 10 is abysmal.

Despite this, the company remains determined to roll the dice in the consumer market.

During yesterday's earnings call, Heins said, "We plan to refocus on the enterprise business and capitalize on our leading position in this segment." Adding, "We believe that BlackBerry cannot succeed if we tried to be everybody's darling and all things to all people. Therefore, we plan to build on our strength." Many media outlets interpreted these statements to mean an exclusive push into enterprise while withdrawing completely from the consumer market.

However, Patrick Spence -- RIM's managing director of Global Sales & Regional Marketing -- spoke with Pocket-lint and categorically denied that this was the case.

"The claim that RIM has said it will withdraw from the consumer market is wholly inaccurate," Spence said. "While we announced plans to re-focus our efforts on our core strengths, and on our enterprise customer base, we were very explicit that we will continue to build on our strengths to go after targeted consumer segments. We listed BBM, as well as the security and manageability of our platform, among these strengths."

But it's hard to consider those sentiments expressed in the earnings call as "explicit." At this point, very few would consider anything that BlackBerry has to offer in the consumer market as a "strength." As it stands, even its standing in the enterprise market is tenuous at best, but in relation to its position amongst consumers, that would be one of the only things it can call a "strength."

And while Heins has finally realized that major change is in order, he also believes that RIM cannot succeed by being "everybody's darling" or "all things to all people." Interesting, especially considering that's exactly how the iPhone and Android because as successful as they are. They target an extremely wide demographic and have something for everyone.

That's a fairly crucial aspect in order to gain a foothold in the smartphone industry.

But RIM will continue to trudge along in an arena where it has no leverage and won't have one until "later this year." In the meantime, a new iPhone, an improving Windows Phone line, and scores of Android devices will flood the market. How RIM expects to survive 2012 intact and unscathed is a defiance of all logic.

However, you have to admire that gumption.
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