The mobile tech press has been buzzing today with the news that RIM is turning its back on the consumer market to focus on its business roots after another round of dismal financial results.
Now it's insisting that CEO Thorsten Heins' comments have been taken out of context, and that its “plan to refocus on the enterprise business” will exist side by side with a strategy of going after “targeted consumer segments”.
RIM's latest financials, announced last night UK time, revealed disappointing figures in all the areas that matter as the company missed its targets for the fifth straight quarter. One of the few bits of good news was that sales of the BlackBerry PlayBook came in at a better-than-expected 500,000 units, but that in itself was probably only the result of some heavy discounting.
In his conference call to discuss the figures, RIM CEO Heins spoke of plans “to refocus on the enterprise business and capitalise on our leading position in this segment”.
“We believe that BlackBerry cannot succeed if we tried to be everybody's darling and all things to all people. Therefore, we plan to build on our strength.”
This was interpreted by ourselves, and pretty much everyone else, as RIM deciding to cut its losses on the consumer front and redouble its efforts in the one area where it still carries a fair bit of clout.
But we were all wrong, it seems. RIM has contacted us directly via email to insist that the claim is misleading and Heins' comments have been taken out of context – an email we suspect that has gone out to a fair number of sites as the company tries to rein in the speculation.
“The claim that RIM has said it will withdraw from the consumer market is wholly misleading,” says Patrick Spence, RIM's senior VP and managing director of global sales and regional marketing.
“Whilst we announced plans to re-focus our efforts on our core strengths, and on our enterprise customer base, we were very explicit that we will continue to build on our strengths to go after targeted consumer segments. We listed BBM, as well as the security and manageability of our platform, amongst our strengths.”
Now fair's fair, RIM asked us to report the clarification, and we're doing so. But let's not lose sight of Spence's job title – making things look better than they really are is what he's paid to do.
In reality, though, trying to spin results this bad simply moves the scene of the train wreck. If RIM is focusing purely on business users and ditching consumers, people will point out that it was BlackBerry's eroding hold on the business market that saw the company expand its focus to include consumers in the first place.
And if – as Spence suggests – RIM really can step up its efforts on the business front without compromising its push to win over consumers, it begs a very simple question: why the hell is it only doing so now?