Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

Summary: Research in Motion will lay off 2,000 employees as it struggles to navigate a void in its product line-up as well as lower-than-expected sales.

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Research in Motion said Monday it will lay off 2,000 employees as it struggles to navigate a void in its product line-up as well as lower-than-expected sales.

When the layoffs are complete, RIM will have about 17,000 employees globally. The company said that it will take a charge in its fiscal second quarter and exact figures will be disclosed when RIM reports earning Sept. 15.

Along with the layoffs, RIM is shuffling its executive suite. First, Don Morrison, RIM's chief operating officer who is currently on medical leave, will retire. Thorsten Heins will become chief operating officer for product and sales. In a nutshell, all product engineering---hardware and software---will be consolidated under Thorsten.

Patrick Spence will become managing director of global sales and regional marketing. Spence will report to Heins.

Among other key management roles at RIM:

  • Robin Bienfait will become responsible to RIM's enterprise unit. She is already RIM's CIO focused on BlackBerry operations, customer service and corporate IT.
  • David Yach, CTO of software, will focus on RIM's developer relations and application ecosystem.
  • Jim Rowan will be chief operating officer of operations and focus on manufacturing, supply chain and repair. Rowan and CFO Brian Bidulka will oversee RIM's current cost cutting efforts.

Overall, these moves are designed to help RIM "create greater alignment of the organization" and "streamline operations to better position the company for future growth and profitability." However, RIM needs to get on the board with new products more than anything. RIM needs a hit device more than cost cutting moves.

RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis took some heat from shareholders earlier this month at the company's annual meeting. The co-CEOs talked up RIM's upcoming BlackBerry OS 7.0 devices and the company's next big product launches. The problem is that these devices are the warm-up act for so-called superphones powered by the QNX operating system.

Some analysts are questioning the leadership of Balsillie and Lazaridis and have noted that RIM has missed key inflection points in the smartphone industry. Specifically, RIM has wrestled with the software integration with its hardware. In the meantime, RIM's market share in the smartphone industry continues to erode.

Today's cost-cutting efforts are designed to help RIM hold the fort until its new products juice growth. At least that's the plan of Balsillie and Lazaridis.

RIM has made a series of acquisitions to better compete on the software front. For instance, RIM acquired JayCut last week. And last year RIM acquired The Astonishing Tribe, a user interface optimization firm. Before that purchase RIM bought Torch Mobile and QNX. Add it up and RIM is serious about software, but it's unclear whether the company can master hardware, software and the necessary integration in between. Balsillie has argued that the next wave of RIM products will set the company up for the next decade, but skeptics abound.

Related:

Vultures circle RIM management: BlackBerry 7 devices as savior?

CNET: RIM, the picture of a top-heavy company

Topics: BlackBerry, Mobility, Security

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36 comments
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  • Bla Bla Blackberry, Have you any phones?

    Yessir, yessir ... they'll be here soon ...
    Ludovit
    • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

      @Ludovit Aye :) <a href="http://www.gigsource.co.uk">Entertainers</a>
      mrswilliamson
  • RIM should adopt android

    as a hedge against the axis of evil software( Oracle, Apple & M$).
    Then it will shine again.
    Linux Geek
    • Why?

      @Linux Geek QNX is technically a far superior operating system, and will have an Android compatibility layer. Given that they can have and eat their cake at the same time, why in blazes would they do this?
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @rbethell
        people demand native android not emulators or 'layers'.
        and QNX can't be superior to a Linux based OS as the sales show.
        Linux Geek
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @Linux Geek As a technical person, I don't care about sales. QNX is technically superior to any other small device/embedded operating system on the planet, Linux or Android included. That's not even really up for debate - even RIM's detractors tend to concede it.
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @Linux Geek
        Android runs on top of Linux, and could run on top of any other O/S (like QNX), there is no such thing as "native Android" (go ahead and try to run it w/o Linux).

        I'm betting that you have never hardly heard of QNX prior the RIM Playbook, and have absolutely no clue about its superiority or lack thereof. It is installed in a whole bunch of embedded stuff you probably have heard of and/or used. I would be willing to bet there are a whole lot more sales of QNX than Linux (duh, I can pretty easily count to zero for Linux, and no, paying for support doesn't count).

        Perhaps you should stick to programming in Visual Basic on the LoseDoze O/S platform as a Micr0$uck$ "Certified Professional".
        HackerJ
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @rbethell No doubt, QNX is a very good OS but I honestly think RIM needs to ditch any sort of compatibility layer & focus on getting developers to write native QNX apps to strengthen their own platform.
        smulji
    • Share some of what you're smoking. It must be good.

      @Linux Geek

      Drop a perfectly capable OS that has the ability to run Android for.....Android. And that lets Google drive their software ship.

      RIM's problem is a lack of vision. They let the market catch up and no longer has the momentum. Like a drag race, if you put your foot on the gas late, you need twice the acceleration to catch up or you will lose.

      Basillie et al need to step aside, but the problem is, none of RIM's B team is up to the challenge and they're too stubborn to quit. I think the over-under on RIM is about 3 more years before they follow Nokia into whocares-ville.
      alsw
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @alsw
        only android and an alliance with google could bring a new 'vision'.
        Linux Geek
    • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

      @Linux Geek : Probblem is that nobody shares your "vision" [or for that matter your rediculously childish behaviour]. Now why in the world would anyone want to use buggy Android? While RIM's OS may not be perfect it is still way more secure than Android. Shoot, even iOS is way more secure than Android.
      Gis Bun
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @Gis Bun
        android is the best and fastest growing OS. QNX is unproven to the OSS community and the users.
        Linux Geek
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @Gis Bun

        I agree that Android is buggy as I have one (supplied by my job) and it does have it's bugs and secutiry issues.
        hjagla
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @Linux Geek

        QNX has been around since long before Linux. (Think almost a decade longer.) It has proved it's merits in embedded systems time and time again. Any REAL embedded systems developer knows and (probably) respects the OS... even if they don't actively use it themselves.

        That car that you can't afford because you are too busy sitting in your mum's basement writing idiotic statements on ZDnet probably runs QNX, the wind turbine that generates power so you can post idiotic comments from your Windows ME... yep, that's probably QNX. The semi-automated factory that assembled your Star Wars action dolls that are your only real friends... Yep, QNX.

        The nice thing about a real-time microkernel architecture (like QNX) is that it is a lot more flexible than a monolithic POS like Linux.
        eak2000
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @Gis Bun

        I'm confused... why is it that everytime someone disagrees with someone else, the first thing they can think of saying is that the other guy is exhibiting "childish" behavior... Anyone?? Can anyone help me out here?? Anyone??

        Of course, I guess I have to give you *some* credit, at least you didn't take the typical defensive approach that @hackerj did, immediately jumping on the anti-BIGBUSINESS flaming...

        I know at least *some* of you are older than age 12...

        Geez... keep it constructive, can we at least do that??

        Anyone???

        -mark
        thatwindowsuserguy
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @Linux Geek I will give you that Android is the fastest growing of the mobile OSes but fastest doesn't not necessarily equal best. Each of the OSes out there have their pluses and minuses but you have blinders on that don't allow you to see the pluses of any OS other than Android or the minuses in Android. Android might be perfect for you but it is FAR from perfect just like the rest of them.
        non-biased
    • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

      @Linux Geek
      Why would they go to a lesser system?
      My phone is Android. It's okay, but not all that great.

      Your suggestion is similar to the Beta vs VHS video battle. Some people suggested that Sony go with the system which won the battle, and trash their own system which many considered to the be the superior of the two. After many years of struggle, Sony did release some VHS devices but not because they felt it was a step-up.
      camcost@...
    • Yes, RIM should adopt android, but

      @Linux Geek RIM should adopt Android not because it's OSS or because it's a fight against "the axis of evil". RIM should adopt Adroid because there's not any other real choice (unless MS wants to pay them a bunch of money like they did Nokia).

      @ the rest of you who commented to Linux Geek: Those who say that QNX is a better OS, that may be the case, but it doesn't matter. Android has reached critical mass, RIM has lost the critical mass that it once had. The only way to get it back on the QNX platform would be to have a game-changing technology. It can't just work a little better or be less buggy, it has to do something totally different that appeals to a large audience that other smartphones won't be able to do any time soon. I don't see that happening.

      Since RIM handles hardware and software, they should take advantage of this fact to build the best Android phones possible. They may even be able to get the attention of the media by producing a "Droidberry" phone or something like that.
      K B
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @K B I guess the point people keep making is why should there be a need to? QNX Blackberries will run Android applications. As someone noted earlier about one of the foolish counter-arguments, Android's APIs are all Dalik-Java based, so it isn't even like QNX would be disadvantaged in terms of run speed or footprint.

        What would motivate RIM to give up QNX's technical advantages in order to do a pure Android phone, when that pure Android phone won't do anything a QNX phone can't?
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • RE: Research in Motion lays off 2,000 workers, still needs a hit device

        @rbethell Android has the critical mass now and will be tough for anyone besides Apple to compete against. RIM still has some marketing power with the Blackberry name and will get some press coverage for whatever big moves they make. They need to use this fact to their advantage while they still have some capital to work with.

        The problem for RIM is that no one is going to think that the QNX OS will run an Android app as well an Android phone will. There's always going to be a fear that there will be some configuration issue that will prevent some apps from working. So they are at a disadvantage with the QNX platform.

        If the new blackberries can really run Android as fast and good as an equally matched Android phone (call me a skeptic), then they ought to consider licensing the OS for dirt cheap or open source it. Then the OS might stand a chance of surviving.
        K B