German blackberry boss gets off lightly

At the annual general meeting, german-born CEO thorsten heins and his colleagues faced criticism, but in the end the meeting went smoothly for them.

The shareholders elected all the proposed candidates to the highest corporate body, the board of directors – but not without giving them a think-ticket. The rejection rate was 23 percent for the chairman of the board barbara stymiest and 19 percent for the company co-founder and former head mike lazaridis. Heins was denied 15 percent of the vote.

"This is not an overwhelming confirmation of the members of the board of directors," said vic alboini of jaguar financial. Heins tried to reassure shareholders who have lost a lot of money with the share price at rock bottom: "we know that this is a difficult time for shareholders and that many are frustrated."He himself is not satisfied with the company’s performance.

Sales of blackberry phones are sluggish because more and more customers are turning to apple’s iphone or smartphones with the android operating system. In the last quarter, manufacturer RIM lost more than half a billion dollars. Heins, who has been in charge since the beginning of the year, has reacted to the problems with a reorganization that is expected to save 1 billion dollars. 5000 of the last 16,500 jobs will be eliminated.

Hopes are now pinned on the new blackberry 10 operating system, which is due for release in the first quarter of 2013 after several delays. A lot of program code has to be transferred, said heins. But the time until then will be difficult, he repeated. Pressure on prices of current blackberry devices will continue, he said. The former status symbol of managers has become an entry-level device in many established markets, such as the USA.

Heins pointed out that there are still 78 million users for the blackberry services and that one can build on this basis. One shareholder showed gallows humor at the end of the annual general meeting: "the venue is not as nice as last year and i didn’t see any refreshments when i went in. It is already seen that they save costs."

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