THE WRAP: RIM changes CEOs; Apple turns up heat in 4Q

Staff writer
27 Jan 2012

Device vendors dominated proceedings this week, with the resignation of RIM’s embattled co-chief executives quickly followed by news of another record quarter for Apple, and a continued decline in Nokia’s smartphone business. Also this week, equipment vendor Ericsson posted a 66% fall in net profit in the fourth quarter, and Dutch telco KPN cut its forecasts for the year ahead.

Thorsten Heins was named the new chief executive of Canadian device vendor RIM, after co-chiefs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie bowed to calls for them to quit the post amid falling earnings and device shipments.

RIM’s investors have long believed the two-man approach was hindering the firm’s fightback in the mobile phone sector, however not everyone was convinced the new man will be any better than the departing twins. Analysts questioned Heins' ability to steer the firm onto a new path, particularly after he stated he won’t be doing much different to his predecessors.

The departing bosses maintain an interest in RIM, with Lazaridis named vice chair of the board, and Balsillie continuing his role as a company director.

Rival Apple, meanwhile, turned the screw with another record quarter during which it shipped 37 million iPhones – twice the number of calendar 4Q10 – and almost doubled net profit to $13.06 billion.

The vendor briefly regained the crown of the world’s most valuable company as the bumper results caused a spike in its stock price, and was later named the top seller of tablet PCs by research firm Strategy Analytics, shipping 15.4 million iPads in 4Q10 compared to 10.5 million Android tablets.

There was no such respite for Nokia, which slipped to a loss of €1.2 billion ($1.57 billion) in 2011, compared to a profit of €1.8 billion in 2010, as all its businesses struggledduring the year. Smartphone shipments in the final quarter hit 19.6 million as its new Windows Phone 7 models hit stores, but the vendor has now conceded that future shipments of Symbian devices will be lower than originally forecast and declined to issue financial forecasts for 2012.

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