Blackberry meets its shareholders

Blackberry phones for sale at a Verizon store in Beverly Hills, California. At Research in Motion's annual meeting today, it was a mix of bad news and turnaround talk.

Kai Ryssdal: Sometimes, the dateline on a story tells you all you need to know. Research in Motion, a.k.a. Blackberry, had its annual meeting today in Waterloo, Ontario. Obscure references to the Napoleonic wars aside, the meeting was not the happiest of events for the deeply troubled company. Customers are defecting en masse to iPhones and Androids, the share price is rapidly trending toward zero. Topping it off, Blackberry's survival strategy, a new device called the Blackberry 10, is months behind schedule.

Not, on the face of it, a whole lot of upside. But as Marketplace's Sally Herships reports, the company seems to have gotten quite a different message.


Sally Herships: You know what’s better than the Christmas rush? Avoiding it. That way your product will have a lot less competition. That’s one reason RIM says it’s ok its Blackberry 10 is late. It’ll be better this way.

Jeff Kagan: Well maybe it will be. But that wasn’t their plan.

Jeff Kagan is a tech analyst in Atlanta. He says the company is doing better outside the U.S. But here, RIM is backed into a corner with a late phone as its last resort

Kagan: If it wasn’t for the business customers, RIM would be going down a lot further, a lot faster.

Kagan says companies which have invested in thousands of Blackberrys will take time before switching. Some die-hard users are also hanging on. Kevin Michaluk is editor of Crackberry.com, a site for all things Blackberry.

Michaluk: I’m calling you live on location from Waterloo, Ontario, the hometown and birthplace of Research in Motion makers of Blackberry.

Herships: What are you calling me on?

Michaluk: I’m calling you on a Blackberry Torch.

Michauluk says today’s annual meeting could have been worse. There were calls to shake up the board, but no mention of breaking up the company.

Rita McGrath teaches business strategy at Columbia. She also has a Blackberry, but called me from her iPhone. Which we agreed was symbolic of one of Blackberry’s biggest problems.

Rita McGrath: I don’t know if you use Blackberry but if you try to do anything other than text message it’s not that great an experience.

McGrath says more companies are bailing on Blackberry in favor of iPhones and Android phones. And Jeff Kagan says in addition to its technology -- Blackberry needs a PR makeover to get rid of its reputation as a has-been.

In New York, I’m Sally Herships for Marketplace.

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About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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