RIM: You misunderstood, we're not leaving the consumer market

Last night, Research In Motion delivered its quarterly earnings review, and the news was pretty terrible across the board. The big take-away from the announcement was RIM’s withdrawal from the consumer device market, as years of same-again handsets and a failure to keep up with major improvements seen in rival operating systems appeared to have finally caught up with the company.

It was, perhaps, the one glimmer of hope in an otherwise disastrous set of results. It appeared that the company might be getting realistic about its prospects, choosing to focus on its strengths in business, rather than chasing dreams of relevance among consumers. We weren’t the only ones to have been left with the clear and unambiguous impression that RIM planned to put all of its eggs in the business and enterprise basket.

BBC News and Sky News both broadcast the breaking news of RIM’s exit from the sector live last night, while The Guardian, The Washington Times, CBS News, Time, MSNBC, Digital Spy, The Register and just about everyone else who heard the earnings call or read RIM’s accompanying news release was left with one message: the company had pretty much thrown in the towel on the consumer market, and would focus solely on business.

But today, RIM is denying that it is to exit the consumer market. The company’s managing director of Global Sales & Regional Marketing, Patrick Spence, today told Pocket-lint:

The claim that RIM has said it will withdraw from the consumer market is wholly inaccurate. 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."

And yet last night, RIM’s CEO, Thorsten Heins, made his own ‘explicit’ statement that RIM plans “to refocus on the enterprise business and capitalise on our leading position in this segment. 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.”

But today’s ‘clarifications’ on the company’s strategy evidently contradict that statement. Heins claims that the company can’t compete effectively by targeting all markets, yet by sticking to its failing strategy of pursuing both business and consumer sales, it’s evidently not ‘focusing’ on business and enterprise, nor is it consolidating around its strengths.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the company is persisting with the strategy that has seen its share price fall by 80% in the last twelve months, it’s even less encouraging that the company couldn’t even articulate its strategy properly last night, and that’s it’s been forced to issue such clarifications on its plans today.

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