RIM deflects criticism at annual meeting

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 12, 2011 8:18 PM
RIM deflects criticism at annual meeting

WATERLOO, Ontario (Reuters) - Research In Motion executives deflected criticism from investors who complained the BlackBerry maker has been mismanaged and marketed poorly as rivals Apple and Google steal its market share.

While welcomed with applause by most of the roughly 700 people at its annual meeting on Tuesday, some shareholders lobbed tough questions about product delays, lack of shelf space for its PlayBook tablet and whether a limp share price made RIM a takeover target.

Co-Chief Executive Mike Lazaridis said the new Bold smartphone, one of seven updated models in RIM's product pipeline, could have been brought to market sooner but RIM returned it to its laboratories after realizing handset makers were engaging in a "arms race" in the United States.

The decision "may have delayed us but we're going to come out ahead," Lazaridis said.

The company has 67 million subscribers using its BlackBerry smartphones, co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie said.

RIM avoided what would have been an embarrassing vote of confidence in its top brass when an activist shareholder withdrew a motion to force co-founder Lazaridis and Balsillie to relinquish their other shared role as board chairman.

RIM has promised it will create a committee to study the issue and report back early next year.

Its directors were returned to the board unopposed, with an initial count showing more than 90 percent support for each.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Richard Chang)