Faced with a stock price that’s plummeted more than 50 percent, Research In Motion has announced that it will release seven new BlackBerry smartphones in the months ahead. Speaking at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting yesterday, co-chief executive Jim Balsillie said the phones would all be running RIM’s new operating system, but was also frank about the difficulties of pulling of what he said was the company’s biggest launch to date.
The new smartphones have been a long time coming, but Mike Lazaridis, Balsillie’s fellow co-CEO, said it was in part due to the technology of the newest BlackBerry Bold jumping a generation. “It may have delayed us, but we are going to come out ahead,” Lazaridis told BusinessWeek, referring to the company’s decision to delay the new BlackBerry Bold to better prepare it for competition.
Jumping a generation is likely what RIM needs to regain competitiveness with iOS and Android-based devices. BlackBerry smartphones once dominated the corporate market specifically, but even in that market, RIM has lost ground due to a sluggish roll-out of new technology. At the meeting, Lazaridis said that RIM is trying to win that sector back, touting RIM’s security credentials while claiming that the company’s PlayBook tablet was in trials at 1,500 different companies and governmental organizations.
While specifics of the new phones are next-to-none, RIM is already focusing on pushing its long-awaiting new OS. While the company cites a generation-skipping advance in tech for the delays in the release of a new fleet of smartphones, the claims must be taken with a grain of salt, considering the company is presently facing the reality of being worth just $13.6 billion after a 2008 high of around $75 billion. Still, should RIM succeed in launching its new BlackBerry fleet, Apple and Android-based smartphone producers might have something to worry about again.