Research in Motion leadership squeaked through the company's annual presentation to shareholders Tuesday morning with a minimum of contention and even with its existing board of directors intact.
That doesn't mean shareholders who attended the meeting at its corporate hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, were at all happy with the cratering of the BlackBerry brand, RIM's huge financial losses, its announcement of massive layoffs, the musical-chair game of top management, the shrinking stock price, or the company's widely bemoaned executive decision to delay the launch of the crucial BlackBerry 10 phone until next year.
And they're certainly not happy with how the iPhone and Droid have eaten BlackBerry's lunch lately or how some corporate customers already are contingency planning for a day when BlackBerry might no longer exist or be viable.
"There was no mention of a sale of the company, no mention of a breakup of the company, and again, our big, big concern is if the BB10s are a dud," said Jaguar Financial CEO Vic Alboini, who said he spoke for an ad hoc alliance of disgruntled investors, according to a Reuters report from the meeting.
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins, presiding over his first annual general meeting, certainly acknowledged the company's woes. He and other RIM executives have been on a PR offensive in the lead-up to the meeting, during which Heins said that the company essentially is in good shape.
"I am not satisfied with the performance of the company over the last year," Heins said at today's meeting. "Many of you are frustrated with the time it has taken us to make our way through the transition." In fact, there is buzz about the possibliity of shareholders suing RIM executives for continuing to talk up the company's prospects recently even as they were preparing for last month's flood of bad news including the delay in BlackBerry 10.
Still, RIM shareholders weren't frustrated enough to toss out some or all of the company's directors, which had been a focus of speculation before the meeting; the incumbent slate was re-elected with token opposition. But ex-CEO Mike Lazaridis, one of the previous regime of co-CEOs that got BlackBerry into this mess, sustained the withdrawal of a significant chunk of shareholder support for his re-election as a director.
But the assembled shareholders allowed Heins to amplify his recent public utterances to cast an optimistic vision. "I have assembled a leadership team for RIM that's truly capable of taking us into the future," he told shareholders. He emphasized that BlackBerry's path back to success also would rely on its strong base of business users, on more mobile-computing applications and on the breakthrough nature of the platform for the BlackBerry 10 when it is introduced. BlackBerry just passed three billion downloads on its app store.
One member of that executive team, Richard Piasaentin, recently echoed such sentiments. "We're very focused on what we have to do both in the short term and long term," he told brandchannel. "And very explicitly, in the context of a solid foundation, we're here for the long haul."
Now the heat's on the entire team, including brand new CMO Frank Boulben, to turn around the perception, centralize marketing and deliver a unified global marketing strategy, as he hinted at this week to AP.