RIM's Balsillie on Blackberry's future: What? Me Worry?

RIM's co-CEO is sounding pretty optimistic about his company's place in the competitive world of smartphones. Is his optimism justified?
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

To hear Research in Motion's co-CEO Jim Balsillie talk about the future of smartphones and the Blackberry's role in the competitive industry, it's easy to imagine him leaning back in a big leather chair, feet up on the desk and a stogie sticking out of a corner of his mouth.

Listening to Balsillie field questions during his fourth quarter earnings call today, you'd never think that there were rumors floating around about new iPhones - and possibly new carriers for it - later this year. You might not believe that Google's Android is going to have a big impact. And you'd pretty much feel like RIM is headed for a smooth ride in Latin America and China.

After all, Blackberry is a powerful brand name - the strongest, in fact, Balisillie said - and it's only getting stronger.

His voice was as smooth as silk as he answered question after question about growth markets, the competition and inventory issues. And on at least two instances, he suggested that analysts reading deeper into some issues might just "misconstruing" things.

What asked about net subscriber adds in North America, he replied that the continent is just fine and "quite frankly strengthening." Those who think otherwise might be "misconstruing something." He was also asked about inventory issues, but dismissed any concerns by calling them one-time adjustments. "To interpret that as any kind of weakness is misconstrued,” he said.

Stay tuned, he suggested, because the roadmap for fiscal 2011, which began on March 1, is "really quite amazing." No, he didn't offer any hints to what's coming - other than some new hardware that would drive growth in the second half.

It's hard to imagine anyone in this space being so calm, cool and collected in this competitive climate - but RIM has continued to ride the storm well in recent quarters. Maybe there's a Golden Ace up RIM's sleeve and the company's roadmap will, in fact, blow us all away.

We'll know soon enough.

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