Outlook grim for BlackBerry maker RIM

Research In Motion, the Canadian company which gained worldwide recognition for its innovative business-centric smartphones about a decade ago, is struggling to keep up with a digital world which has left it behind.

Like so many other pioneers behind it - IBM, Xerox and Yahoo spring immediately to mind - RIM rested for too long on it laurels soaking up the sunshine of its own innovation whilst others around it grabbed the company's ideas and ran with them.

Nokia aside, just about every mobile phone maker on the planet has overtaken RIM in terms of technology, usability and inventiveness with Apple and its ubiquitous iPhone leading the pack much of the time.

The BlackBerry's unique selling point, its bomb-proof email and messaging services, have become commonplace on even the dreariest of devices and RIM's increasingly desperate attempts to catch up with its contemporaries have damaged the company's reputation almost beyond repair for some.

The BlackBerry PlayBook is a painful case in point. Seen by many as an ill-advised compromise rushed out by a company determined to make a dent in Apple's extraordinary stranglehold on the burgeoning tablet market, the seven-inch tablet has failed to make an impact on a market which will soon be flooded with hundreds of much more capable wannabes.

Hobbled by a buggy proprietary operating system and an inability do anything useful like send email without being paired with a BlackBerry smartphone, it's little surprise that the company admitted in a financial conference call yesterday that it had only shipped 500,000 units of the underwhelming device.

It's also no surprise that at least one massive UK retailer, mobile phone-flogger O2, is refusing to stock the gadget on the grounds that it doesn't want to lumber its customers with a pup. Actually, O2 said it thought there were 'issues with the end to end customer experience', but you get where we're coming from.

All of this has savaged RIM's bottom line. Revenue for the first quarter of 2012 fell 12 per cent to $4.9 billion compared to $5.6 billion in the previous quarter, a drop the company's latest financial report described as 'challenging.'

"The slowdown we saw in the first quarter is continuing into Q2, and delays in new product introductions into the very late part of August is leading to a lower than expected outlook in the second quarter" said RIM CEO Jim Balsillie. "RIM's business is profitable and remains solid overall with growing market share in numerous markets around the world and a strong balance sheet with almost $3 billion in cash. We believe that with the new products scheduled for launch in the next few months and realigning our cost structure, RIM will see strong profit growth in the latter part of fiscal 2012."

Unfortunately for Jim, the financial markets weren't quite so upbeat about RIM's outlook slashing as much as 15 per cent off of the company's value overnight.

The report also outlined a 'cost optimisation program' to 'streamline operations' and achieve a 'reduced headcount'.

If you are a RIM employee and not fluent in corporate bullshit let us translate for you:

'We screwed up. You're fired.'