TORONTO (AP) — The newest board member of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. said Thursday that a turnaround could take three to five years.
Prem Watsa, RIM's third-largest investor, said he sees his investment in the company as a long-term one, adding that RIM's fortunes won't be reversed soon.
The once-iconic maker of the BlackBerry smartphone is facing its most difficult period in its history. Americans are abandoning their BlackBerrys for flashier touch-screen phones such as Apple's iPhone and models that run Google's Android software, including those made by Samsung Electronics Co.
"Is it going to turn around in three months, six months, nine months? No," Watsa said.
"Three years or five years is how I'm looking at it. But there's no guarantees. You've seen all the earnings from Apple. It's not easy to compete with Apple or Samsung or the Android group of companies."
Apple reported another strong quarter on Tuesday. The company sold 35 million iPhones in the January-to-March quarter, almost twice as many as it sold a year ago. Apple nearly doubled its quarterly profits.
By contrast RIM shipped 11.1 million BlackBerrys in the latest quarter and has written down the value of its product inventory in its past two quarters.
Watsa is one of Canada's best-known value investors and the billionaire founder of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. He has been compared to Warren Buffett because of his investing approach.
RIM founder Mike Lazaridis recruited Watsa to join RIM's board when Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepped aside as RIM's co-CEOs in January. Watsa increased his stake in the Canadian company from 2.2 percent to more than 5 percent.
Lazaridis is RIM's largest investor with a 5.7 percent stake while U.S. money management firm Primecap Management owns 5.5 percent.