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Balsillie bails as RIM reports terrible quarter

$125m loss prompts (another) management reshuffle

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Former co-CEO of RIM Jim Balsillie is to leave RIM's board of directors, along with two other senior executives, after the company reported a thumping $125m loss for the last quarter.

"As I complete my retirement from RIM, I'm grateful for this remarkable experience and for the opportunity to have worked with outstanding professionals who helped turn a Canadian idea into a global success," said Balsillie in a statement.

The phrase "global success" was hardly on first thing on analysts' minds when RIM's fourth quarter figures were issued on Thursday. The company reported that revenues were down 19 per cent on the last quarter, and 25 per cent year-on-year, with BlackBerry shipments falling 21 per cent in the last three months.

The company reported that they had shipped over 500,000 of RIM's PlayBook tablet, although there has been heavy discounting of the devices, and also took a $267m write-off on some of its BlackBerry 7 inventory that isn't proving to be salable. Overall margins for the quarter fell from 39.8 per cent three months ago to just 33.4 per cent now.

In its quarterly statement, the company said it was expecting further pressure on revenue in 2013, citing the slack US smartphone market (something Apple doesn't seem to be suffering from) and selling handsets at lower margins. For the same reasons, it declined to give forecasts for future financial performance.

Balsillie, who joined the company in 1992 and stepped down from the co-CEO role in January along with his fellow co-boss Mike Lazaridis, is not the only executive to flee the sinking ship explore new business opportunities. Software CTO David Yach is leaving, and global COO Jim Rowan is off "following an open dialogue on the future of global operations."

"The company has substantial strengths that can be further leveraged to improve our financial performance, including RIM’s global network infrastructure, a strong enterprise offering and a large and growing base of more than 77 million subscribers," said CEO Thorsten Heins.

"I'm very excited about the prospects for the BlackBerry 10 platform," he added, "which is on track for the latter part of calendar 2012. Notwithstanding these strengths and opportunities, the business challenges we face over the next several quarters are significant and I am taking the necessary steps to address them."

So that's all right then. ®

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