R.I.P. Rim?

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Lyons

The BlackBerry's future lies in the hands of a new CEO.

Thorsten Heins bristles when asked why anyone would buy a BlackBerry instead of an iPhone. "I always get this question, with people comparing us to Apple," says Heins, who was just named CEO of Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry. "Apple has their value proposition, and we have ours."

Fair enough, but Apple's proposition is finding a lot more takers. Last quarter alone Apple sold 37 million smartphones, about as many as RIM sold in the past nine months. In the same week that Apple was reporting record holiday-season revenues, a struggling RIM was announcing that its co-CEOs were caving in to pressure from angry shareholders and stepping aside, and that Heins, formerly the company's chief operating officer, would be elevated to the top job.

RIM's main problem is that its software looks dated compared with Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system. Heins says BlackBerry remains a powerful global brand, and that RIM has a new operating system due later this year that could turn things around. To be sure, RIM's business hasn't completely collapsed. Sales for the current fiscal year, which ends in February, are expected to be $19 billion, down only slightly from last year. And RIM still earns a profit.

Nevertheless, it is starting to look as if the company's brightest days might be behind it. …