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RIM struggles to keep BlackBerry afloat, heads to annual meeting

Visitors try out Blackberry smartphones at the Blackberry stand on the first day of the CeBIT 2012 technology trade fair on March 6, 2012 in Hanover, Germany.

Jeff Horwich: One of Canada's best-known companies also looks more and more like one of the world's shakiest. Research in Motion makes the BlackBerry. Last week RIM turned in a $200 million quarterly loss and said the new BlackBerry operating system will be delayed until after the holidays. And today in Waterloo, Ontario RIM puts on a brave face for shareholders at its annual meeting -- maybe a little tricky when its share price is down 95 percent from its peak.

Eric Jackson is with me from nearby Toronto. He's managing member of Iron Fire Capital. Hello, Eric.

Eric Jackson: Hi.

Horwich: So give me the very latest here -- just how dire are things for Research in Motion right now.

Jackson: I think they are pretty bleak. The question is, are they going to be able to see their vision out as an independent company? I think the next six months are going to determine whether they're going to be able to continue to go it alone, or whether they're going to have to be sold to someone else to kind of carry forward that vision.

Horwich: Sounds like you have a little bit of faith. Make the case for me -- why is this more than just a death watch at this point?

Jackson: Well, two years ago they bought a company called QNX, which is basically the operating system that they are now working on for what they're calling BB 10, which is the latest and greatest software update. The software has already been embedded in a ton of smart devices all around the world, including cars.

So that's the bold case -- is that RIM can potentially, if they do this right, get into all of these other devices -- which are massive and are only going to become more important as we get more and more Internet connectivity.

Horwich: RIM is one of Canada's best-known companies. How do Canadians feel about what's going on?

Jackson: Even though you still see a lot more BlackBerrys on the street in Canada than you do in the U.S., when you go into, you know, some cell phone store, the clerks will actually say: Oh, you shouldn't buy BlackBerrys because they're not going to be around in a year or two.

So it has changed quite a bit, and now it's gotten to the point where most Canadians are wringing their hands and wondering aloud: Why is it that we cannot seem to persist when we have successful technology companies?

Horwich: Eric Jackson, managing member at Iron Fire Capital, good to talk to you. Thank you.

Jackson: I appreciate it.

 

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.
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