RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

Summary: New RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said the company was innovative and would stick to its current strategy.


Research in Motion finally ditched its not-so-dynamic co-CEO duo of Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, but the new man in charge---Thorsten Heins---may be saddled by the same failed strategy.

In a statement, RIM confirmed that the co-CEO structure is toast. The move is overdue. RIM has stumbled repeatedly and touted next-generation products that never delivered. In the U.S., RIM is an also ran that can barely get shelf space with carriers. Internationally, RIM is strong, but that position is showing cracks too.

More: RIM chiefs step aside; board appoints new chairwoman | RIM statement | Heins video | RIM co-CEOs finally step aside, Thorsten Heins to take over as CEO by himself | CNET: RIM's leadership shakeup too little, too late? | ZDNet AU: RIM drops co-CEOs


What will Heins---formerly chief operating officer at RIM and a Siemens alum---really do?

Stick with the current strategy.

Heins said:

"Mike and Jim took a bold step 18 months ago when RIM purchased QNX to shepherd the transformation of the BlackBerry platform for the next decade. We are more confident than ever that was the right path. It is Mike and Jim's continued unwillingness to sacrifice long-term value for short-term gain which has made RIM the great company that it is today. I share that philosophy and am very excited about the company's future."

And then Heins touted the balance sheet and said:

"BlackBerry 7 has been well received. We are very excited about PlayBook 2.0 and BlackBerry 10. The reception of our products at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was encouraging."

The problem: RIM's booth didn't do all that hot at CES based on anecdotal reports. In fact, RIM had nothing to show. RIM touted its new PlayBook OS, but all that does is add the stuff---email and calendar---that should have been in the company's first tablet. In a video, Heins portrayed RIM as innovative with a improving expectation. He said RIM's journey is just beginning and the company would prototype and develop products more efficiently. The aim: Be a top 3 mobile player.

Heins said he'd do the following with RIM:

  • Become more efficient.
  • Develop better processes.
  • Prototype and develop products continually.
  • Communicate better with stakeholders.
  • Attract key designers to focus on consumerization.
  • Move decisively.

Add it up and the removal of Balsillie and Lazaridis looks like a move to appease shareholders for a bit without changing the strategy overall. Balsillie and Lazaridis are still on RIM's board. Barbara Stymiest is now the chairwoman of the board.

With any luck Heins will go for something more dramatic once he has a few months under his belt. If not, RIM still may not survive and thrive. The problems for RIM go like this:

PlayBook 2.0: RIM is a tablet joke at the moment. The PlayBook is tainted and it's unclear whether RIM can position it as an enterprise device. There's also the price tag. RIM will have to lose money on the PlayBook with little to no ecosystem backing it.

QNX or BlackBerry 10. Heins was on the BlackBerry 10 bandwagon. That could be the wrong horse to bet on. BlackBerry 10 looks like one of those home run products that fail to come through.

Balsillie and Lazaridis are still in the picture. The former co-CEOS will be directors and shareholders. They basically control the company. How much independence will Heins really have?

RIM isn't nimble and certainly isn't bold. It would be more encouraging if Heins indicated that there would be a software and services strategy. Instead, he pushed the same tired products that made RIM irrelevant in the first place.

Heins could be the second coming of Steve Jobs, but his first words cast a lot of doubt on RIM's ability to turn things around.

Topics: BlackBerry, CXO, Mobility, Security, Tablets

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  • QNX is a superior OS, that's not even debatable

    After all the current investment, they'd be fools to abandon it. Whatever else may or should change, that would be pure idiocy.
    • not sure about qnx

      @rbethell android or linux is the only viable path.
      RIM should adopt FOSS and deliver a jab to the axis of evil software: M$, Apple and Oracle. That would make the stock to rise quickly.
      The Linux Geek
      • Only if they want to go bankrupt.

        @The Linux Geek

        No advantage to RIMM doing what you suggest.
    • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

      @rbethell But if they fail to communicate that message, the same way they've failed to communicate every other message thus far, they will fail.

      But that's not really been the biggest issue with RIM, it's their lack of understanding of the market they are in. An innovative company sails ahead of the wind and carries the market and their customers with them. What RIM has done is allow a status quo situation to persist for too long.

      Resting on your laurels is a sign you want to die! Failing to innovate is a sure sign you're going to die. And being in denial of these realities is a sure sign you might as well be dead.

      All these same maladies have afflicted companies for centuries. Where the incumbent doesn't know what business it's in, new players will take over and define the future. RIM and Microsoft are both far too interdependent upon boardroom dictated and IT manager specified, complicated solutions that aren't necessary.

      For this reason, both are dead already, they just haven't lain down yet. But one did just kill its father and step father over breakfast - something they should have done years ago! The rot is at the top.
      Graham Ellison
  • Steve Jobs is still dead

    The market has room for multiple players.
    Your Non Advocate
  • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

    You're blogs suck. A) there was lots to show at ces. 2.0 offers more than email and calander, do you know what it offers? Clearly you don't but I do, so perhaps I should write these blogs. Remote over bridge and open on playbook are two awesome features, to name just the two I'm more excited for. B) the playbook tablet its pretty damn good, I got one on sale and I like the UI far better than android and ios. Also it has apps now, so that conversation isn't relvant for any of the haters.
    • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

      @rich.b Must be nice to be delusional. QNX could make magic unicorns arrive in your living room, RIM is still done and in the toilet.
  • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

    Stick a fork in it.
  • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

    A pretty low-key announcement from the new CEO - but that gives me more hope than an all bells & whistles list of promises that may not be delivered. It's much too soon to write him off, but the clock is against him - he has an aircraft carrier to turn round before it hits the rocks, and that's no small agenda.
  • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

    I have to agree with Rich B. You don't understand the folks that buy RIM products, but they do. It may always be a number 3, as it does not have the mass appeal of Droid or iPhone. BUT, it will have a keyboard, and be a solid platform. The phone part will work well.
  • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

    I've been calling for this since 2007, but committing Patricide won't save them. Is there anything else to say? Let me just check.

    Graham Ellison
  • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

    It seems like RIM cannot plesae anyone these days. They have addressed most of the issues that people have complained about and yet it is still not good enough. The biggest problem RIM has now is execution. The delays on BB10 phones are not acceptable. Hopefully the new CEO can fix that and get the release date moved up. However the biggest problem I see are the constant negative blogs like this one that do not recognize what the company is doing in a fair light.
  • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

    RIM's strategy for survival is fairly simple, as ZDNet indicate<br><br>- Junk Hardware<br>- Junk QNX (or rather resell on to a more worthy owner)<br>- Deliver secure Blackberry Messaging App for IOS, WP7, Android (esp. Kindle Fire), Windows, OSX, Linux, Samsung SmarTV, Microsoft Mediaroom, OpenTV<br>- Develop BES and BES Client goiong forward<br><br>Climb out of the toilet, and sit back and watch the revenues stabalise and start to increase.
  • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

    QNX is really a much better OS than the rest. And there are more apps than ever coming on now. ZDNet seems to be always in a hurry to post and I've often times spotted spelling and grammar mistakes in their writings. Well, signs of cracks in the quality of work overall. Users are fickle mostly, and will switch to a better experience whenever it becomes available. I used playbook and was greatly impressed w the QNX. Screen quality amongst others is already better than iPad. It is true that the current bb7 is not as good as the android. But when bb10 is launched, I believe we will see something quite different. Heins did mention one thing which I see is a very important area that RIM should have done more - marketing, and more marketing. Apple won it there!
    Samuel Koh
    • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

      @Samuel Koh

      I'll second that!

      QNX is IMHO the most elegant, efficient, and scalable microkernel modular OS to date. I've been using it professionally since 1982 and am continually amazed at it's instantaneous real-time response.

      To some only the perception matters. To others, reality is more important.

      Where Apple won hands down was in disseminating FUD while spewing disinformation propaganda to the unsuspecting (and unknowledgeable) general public with self-serving half-truths.

      But no worries, in the end, the truth always comes out. Like it or not.

      To tell only half the truth is to give life to a new lie.
      {Chinese Proverb}

      Advertising is 85% confusion and 15% commission.
      ~ Fred Allen, American humorist (1894-1956)

      Advertising is the most potent influence in adapting and changing the habits and modes of life affecting what we eat, what we wear, and the work and play of a whole nation.
      ~ Calvin Coolidge (1872 - 1933), 30th president of the US.

      You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough.
      ~ Joseph E. Levine

      Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.
      ~ Stephen Leacock

      Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
      ~ Mark Twain

      The philosophy behind much advertising is based on the old observation that every man is really two men - the man he is and the man he wants to be.
      ~ William Feather

      The simplest way to assure sales is to keep changing the product???the market for new things is indefinitely elastic. One of the fundamental purposes of advertising, styling, and research is to foster a healthy dissatisfaction.
      ~ Charles Kettering, former (1950's) GM president
  • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

    I am currently doubtful RIM can pull out of this tailspin. I recently purchased a Playbook based on the recommendations of a friend, and let's face it, at the $199 price it seemed a pretty good deal. I had tried out my friends prior to my purchase so I was familiar with the product. After opening up my Playbook and using it and the very limited selectio of apps available on it, I thought there was promise in it as a possible business tool and entertainment device. Then disaster struck. I've had to return and exchange the device 4 times for the same problem, the tablet died and was unable to accept a charge, even when there was a partial charge left in it. I finally returned it and got my money back. It's somethig like that that shakes your faith in a company trying to maintain their position as a leader or making a comeback and I think RIM is at the point of no return.
    • Weird? I bought my Playbook when it originally appeared at the full price


      And yet have to experience any negative issue with it. I am also fully satisfied with this device.

      I've also loaded the PlayBook 2.0 Developer Beta and Runtime for Android available from RIM by just Googling [b]Register your PlayBook for Beta access[/b]


      In my case, two minutes later, the update appeared on my PlayBook tablet as available for download for free.

      Also, you did know the PlayBook supports true HTML5 and also Flash (flawlessly) thus do not require dedicated crippled apps, since the ultimate app is the Web Browser itself?

      And I think some paid shill would do anything just to discredit RIM or more precisely please their sponsors...

      One can also Google [b]youtube playbook ice cream[/b] and witness examples of Android apps (all three flavors) running smoothly, without any lag, simultaneously under the true and only multitasking Real-Time OS QNX.

      Don't worry, soon evidence all this BS propaganda about the evils of Flash will be dispelled as delusional RDF insanity for the feeble minded; put forth by the greatest con artist of all times...

      Smart is when you believe only half of what you hear. Brilliant is when you know which half to believe.
      ~ Orben's Current Comedy[/i]
      • RE: RIM: New CEO but same old problems, failed strategy

        @WinTard I honestly thought the software was of the best UI's I've tried. My complaint is with the hardware and the unbelevable run of failures I had with it.
        The comment "And I think some paid shill would do anything just to discredit RIM or more precisely please their sponsors..." was just ignorant. To imply anyone is a "shill" is usually a desperate attempt to veer attention away from the actual topic or to discredit the cotributor's opinion. I am not an "Apple Fanboy" although I own several of their products, nor do I belong to the army of Android fans or Microsoft's Evil Empire.
        The things you listed were what helped guide my decision AWAY from Apple, towards the Playbook. Even though everything looks like a potential winner it's the way RIM leadership has handled operations in recent years that has had the detiorating effect on the company's former market leadership position. The shift in the leadership, that is shift, not completly new, is only going to keep RIM following the same path they have been the past couple years, and possibly contributing to their demise.
  • How Do You Spell RIM?

  • Try using the communication powerhouses

    What would happen if some of the pundits actually tried using a new BlackBerry and a Playbook for a couple of weeks? I think they would be much more positive and that would help turn the perception tide around.

    Actual users of newer BlackBerry products love them, it's just a piling on mentality that still frustrates me. Why all of the hate for RIM?
    John Hanks