Research in Motion CEO Thorsten Heins is the Mr. Fix-it who is going to restructure and revamp the company. The problem is Heins increasingly sounds like the old tag-team of co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis.
Reuters recapped a Heins interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Heins said:
"with the company as it exists right now. I'm not talking about the company as I, kind of, took it over six months ago. I'm talking about the company (in the) state it's in right now."
Heins then acknowledged that RIM has its challenges but talk of a death spiral is way overblown.
His comments were the second dose of Balsillie deja vu in recent days. On RIM's earnings call---following a dismal loss report---Heins broke out the same playbook that Balsillie had. That playbook---not to be confused with RIM's tablet---goes like this:
- Announce a delay launching the BlackBerry 10 platform.
- Tell the world that BlackBerry 10 is a game changer.
- Convince folks that BlackBerry 7 devices are worth buying in the meantime.
Heins' conference call talk came straight from the Osborne Effect recaps. There were multiple times on RIM's conference call when I thought the quotes could have come from Balsillie, who talked up BlackBerry 10 more than a year ago.
Although RIM may have restructured and could be different than six months ago, the same results appear. A 52-week low, worries about cash flow and serious questions about BlackBerry 10's ability to save RIM indicate that there's a lot more than "nothing" wrong about the company.
Granted, Heins can't say publicly that RIM is in big trouble, but his comments rhyme a little too much with the former regime's talk. I understand why Heins talks this way. His comments are geared to investors---the ones still around---RIM's home country, customers and employees. If RIM is going to be saved Heins has to make all the stakeholders believe.
The risk here is obvious. If Heins comes off as Balsillie with an accent, any hopes of a turnaround are dashed. Heins and RIM have a fine line to walk.