When the New York Times ran a story Tuesday declaring Research In Motion’s BlackBerry to be a source of shame for the execs carrying them around, company CEO Thorsten Heins wasted no time firing back.

Heins sent letter to the editor, telling the newspaper that the article “lacks the balance your readers expect.”

“With more than 80 million customers globally, BlackBerry is growing and remains one of the world’s most popular smartphones,” Heins wrote. “I’ve just come from visiting carriers and partners in all parts of the world, and they have told me that there are millions of BlackBerry fans out there who not only find great value in their device, but also pride in being a BlackBerry owner.”

In an article titled “BlackBerry As Black Sheep,” The Times had reported that RIM’s signature BlackBerry “was once proudly carried by the high-powered and the elite, but those who still hold one today say the device has become a magnet for mockery and derision from those with iPhones and the latest Android phones.”

RIM’s blog jumped into the fray as well, declaring the company and its customers to be “black sheep by choice.”

No doubt, we’ve got a fighting spirit and developed some thick skin being the brunt of jokes, rumors and speculation,” the blog declared. “Hey, we’re all for competition, and a jab here and there keeps us on our toes. Not only do we believe in BlackBerry 10 [the company's long-awaited new platform], but we are proud to be a part of RIM.”

Tech blogger Zach Epstein writes that RIM’s strategy is “to keep its users feeling like they’re part of an underdog team on the verge of a comeback. The strategy is indeed a wise one — playing up RIM’s role as the underdog further unites devoted BlackBerry users as they await RIM’s next-generation devices, which are due to begin launching early next year.”

But that strategy will have to overcome some serious resistance, at least from the people quoted in the Times story.

“I want to take a bat to it,” Rachel Crosby, a sales rep from Los Angeles, said of her BlackBerry, complaining of the phone’s battery life and relative lack of apps.

“You can’t do anything with it. You’re supposed to, but it’s all a big lie.”

Loading Slideshow...
  • BlackBerry 10 First Look

    In email, when you select a message, it swoops in from the side.

  • BlackBerry 10 Preview

    A look at the "Glance" view on attachments in email.

  • BlackBerry 10 Preview

    A look at the new touchscreen keyboard, with predictions of what word you are going to type next. Hold down the letter and swipe up briefly to choose that word.

  • BlackBerry 10 Preview

    Another look at the predictive keyboard.

  • BlackBerry 10 Preview

    The phone call screen. Swipe up to dismiss, down to answer.

  • BlackBerry 10 Preview

    The phone call screen.


Loading Slideshow...
  • Blackberry PlayBook Flops, Prices Slashed

    The PlayBook tablet, which was the BlackBerry maker's answer to the iPad, went on sale in April 2011. Since then, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/03/blackberry-playbook-price-rim_n_1181167.html" target="_hplink">RIM has lost $485 million</a> on unsold units. At the beginning of January, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/03/blackberry-playbook-price-rim_n_1181167.html" target="_hplink">RIM slashed the price of all models</a> of its tablet to $299. The special pricing will last until February 4. PlayBooks, which come in 16, 32 and 64 gigabyte models, typically retail for $499, $599 and $699, respectively, <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-57351162-92/blackberry-playbook-price-now-$299-for-all-models/" target="_hplink">according to CNET</a>. In November, RIM temporarily <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/22/blackberry-playbook-price-drop_n_1107941.html" target="_hplink">slashed the price</a> of the 16GB version of the tablet to $199 at certain retail locations.

  • Network Outages

    In October, BlackBerry <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/13/blackberry-outage-2011-rim-says-services-returning_n_1008596.html" target="_hplink">suffered an outage that affected</a> many of its then 70-million worldwide users, leaving some of its customers in Asia, Europe, Latin American and Africa without service for as many as three days. Some users in the U.S. were affected, but not for as long a period.

  • Drunk Execs Disrupt International Flight

    In December, two RIM executives were fired after a flight they were on was forced to be diverted because the pair's "drunken rowdiness," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/02/two-men-face-hefty-fine-a_0_n_1125214.html" target="_hplink">the AP reports</a>.

  • BlackBerry 10 Platform Delayed

    Research in Motion announced in December 2011 that its highly anticipated BlackBerry 10 platform won't be available until the end of 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/blackberry-10-phones-rim_n_1153314.html" target="_hplink">According to the AP</a>, the company claims the holdup is because the chipset needed for the phones running the platform won't be available until the middle of this year.

  • Stock Slides In 2011

    In 2011, <a href="http://www.dailyfinance.com/quote/nasdaq/research-in-motion-limited-usa/rimm" target="_hplink">RIM's stock</a> dropped <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/rim-ceos-jim-balsillie-mike-lazaridis_n_1222605.html#s629929&title=Lessien" target="_hplink">a massive 75 percent</a>.

  • Falling U.S. Market Share

    In less than a year, RIM's share of the U.S. smartphone market <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/rim-ceos-jim-balsillie-mike-lazaridis_n_1222605.html#s629929&title=Lessien" target="_hplink">dropped by almost 50 percent</a>, from <a href="http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2011/3/comScore_Reports_January_2011_U.S._Mobile_Subscriber_Market_Share" target="_hplink">30.4 percent</a> in January 2011 to <a href="http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2011/12/comScore_Reports_November_2011_U.S._Mobile_Subscriber_Market_Share" target="_hplink">16.6 percent</a> in November 2011. In 2009, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/blackberry-10-phones-rim_n_1153314.html" target="_hplink">RIM controlled 44 percent</a> of the US smartphone market. (Pictured above is the HTC Desire HD Android, which runs on Google's much more popular Android platform.)

  • Investors Urge Company Sell Itself

    A nearly 75 percent drop in stock price in 2011 did not please investors. At the end of 2011, Jaguar Financial Corp, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/01/03/balsillie-lazaridis-rim-research-in-motion-jaguar-financial_n_1180885.html" target="_hplink">one of the largest investors</a> in RIM, called "for substantial corporate governance change and for a sale of RIM, whether as a whole or as separate parts." Vic Alboini, the chief executive of Jaguar Financial, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16393180" target="_hplink">told the BBC earlier this month</a> that RIM has "lost it." "The party is over, we believe, in terms of trying to design that cool, tech savvy smartphone," he said. "Microsoft has over $50 billion in cash, RIM has $1.5 billion. There is no way they'll be able to compete."

  • Exploding BlackBerry

    The family of 11-year-old Kian McCreath of Coventry, U.K., gave RIM some of its worst publicity in 2012, telling the media the boy was burned and left with permanent scarring when his BlackBerry Curve 9320 exploded. Although cell phones that are left to charge too long are known to explode, for RIM the news represented a horrible publicity disaster that came just weeks ahead of the launch of its BlackBerry 10.