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RIM's co-CEO team fiddles while company burns

Posted: , by Alan F.

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RIM's co-CEO team fiddles while company burns
Nero, who reportedly fiddled while Rome burned, had nothing on RIM's co-CEO team of Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. During a conference call yesterday that followed some rather negative announcements from the company, the pair seemed out of touch with reality. The company's stock is set to open this morning at a new 52 week low south of $30, more than a 50% drop from the 52 week high above $70. This is happening because RIM cut expectations of its second quarter and full year profits as we reported. How bad is it? Just a few weeks ago, the company was guiding Wall Street analysts to expect $7.00 a share in earnings for the year. Now, that has been sliced to $5.25-$6.00. Clearly, some key people at RIM are out of touch.

But being out of touch has been the Canadian manufacturer's MO recently. While the Apple iPhone and Android handsets have been sizzling hot, RIM tried to stem the tide with the BlackBerry Torch. While the idea was good, the execution was poor as 2 year old specs kept buyers away and while rivals had Super AMOLED and Super LCD displays with sharp, crisp resolution, the Torch had a screen that might have been outstanding-a few years before. While the Wi-Fi version of the BlackBerry PlayBook did top expectations with 500,000 units sold, many of those tablets went into the sales distribution channel and RIM would not say how many units were eventually sold to end users. While RIM was counting on the 4G version of the tablet to bring in some revenue, the company announced yesterday that the 4G PlayBook would be delayed until the fall.

Speaking of delays, the highly anticipated BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930, which adds a 2.8 inch touchscreen to the stunning good looks and awesome QWERTY keyboard of the Bold 9000, is delayed until September which means it might be too late for RIM to capture important Back to School sales. The latter will run the new BlackBerry 7 OS-a transition piece of software until the QNX OS, used on the PlayBook, has been developed for smartphones. RIM has said that the new browser is one of the elite browsers in the industry.

Yesterday's conference call saw the co-CEOs pat each other on the back. Mike Laziridis said, "Our co-CEO arrangement is what led to RIM’s success over the past two decades." The comment was made in response to a recent call by some RIM investors to end the two-man CEO team. Jim Balsillie had comments of his own. He noted that, "Mike and I have been partners in this business for almost 20 years, and during that time RIM has grown to $20 billion in annual revenue. We are currently approaching the tail end of a significant transition in our business, that, frankly, few companies would have survived. But we have. And I believe, and I think Mike would agree, that neither of us could have taken RIM this far alone." Remember, this is the duo that allegedly said that RIM would never produce a touchscreen phone after watching the success of the original Apple iPhone in the marketplace. And who could forget when Jim Balsillie said to expect all new smartphones to be launched with bugs after the BlackBerry Storm was rushed out the doors with half-finished software.

With job cuts looming, co-CEO Laziridis seems to be stuck in the past, a glorious pre-iPhone time when BlackBerry was a generic word for a cellphone. He said yesterday, "Jim and I have the perfect balance to make the hard decisions,” Lazaridis said. "This is fun. … We’re changing the world. We’re transforming the way people work. … We birthed a tablet in a year! … We transitioned to a new operating system!” So according to the two guys running the company, it is fun to watch your product line become irrelevant, your stock price drop precipitously and the few promising products you do have get pushed out into the future.

What might be fun for Balsillie and Laziridis doesn't appear to be fun for stockholders losing money and the still large group of BlackBerry fans. Yes, believe it or not, RIM has a hardy group of fans that still love the platform, especially the push email and BBM. Those are the people that RIM should be concerned with when it comes to having fun. But if the share price continues to drop as fast as the Florida Marlins' NL East hopes, BlackBerry fans will get their day of revenge when another company-Microsoft or Samsung or perhaps even HTC-decides to put RIM out of its misery and buys the company. For RIM fans, that day can't happen soon enough as getting real leadership into the company with an idea of what the public wants could turn around the manufacturer and start producing BlackBerry devices that could honestly compete with the Apple iPhone and Android handsets. Now, BlackBerry fans, wouldn't THAT be fun?

source: AllThingsDigital

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posted on 17 Jun 2011, 08:29 1

1. Gawain (Posts: 363; Member since: 15 Apr 2010)


Ahhh...denial...it ain't a river in Egypt.

I'm all for RIM's success. As a BES user, nothing else can touch the coherent experience overall. However, the hardware can no longer keep up with the software. The software can not keep up with what developers are pushing out at a dizzying rate for other platforms.

BBM, a cornerstone and example by which all other IM clients should be measured, is not enough.

Unfortunately, and Laziridis said this himself, RIM got caught with their pants down with regards to iOS, and Android. They are probably underestimating the push that's about to come from HP and webOS as we speak, and WP7 is marching along at an astonishing rate while no one pays attention.

BlackBerry OS 7 will not be enough either, it is OS 6 with extras, and it's not related to any QNX platform down the road.

They don't get it.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 19:09 1

20. cheetah2k (Posts: 837; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)


RIM is right where Motorola was a few years back. If they stay in denial, then they will crash and burn.

They should learn from Motorola's misfortune and use their recovery model to dig their way out all of this mess.

Its a shame really. I love where they are headed with the Playbook (and I bought one - my first RIM product) but I'll be ditching it for a 8.9" Galaxy Tab if RIM continues to drop the ball...

posted on 19 Jun 2011, 20:25

30. Phoneguy007 (Posts: 218; Member since: 02 Jun 2011)


RIM does not want to really change its phones because they really made the key board what it is today. I think they will eventually sale or offer its os on different phones (lg sumsung) to stay alive.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 09:03 2

2. cornerofthemoon (Posts: 514; Member since: 20 Apr 2010)


The whole Tweedledee and Tweedledumb dual CEO thing is goofy. RIM needs to clean house and get (a) leader who has a clue.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 09:07 1

3. cornerofthemoon (Posts: 514; Member since: 20 Apr 2010)


I've had many blackberries in the past. I really like some of their latest products but they're still too slow and OS6 feels like what it is, a stopgap OS.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 09:28 4

5. PhoneLuver (Posts: 467; Member since: 05 Jul 2010)


And who really wants a stopgap product? That's why nobody is really buying Nokias. Everybody's waiting for the new Windows Phone OS.

Same applies to BB. I have a Bold and an iPhone. I only switch on the BB to BBM, but not much more...


P.S. If I find the guy that put that 'Du-doo-Too' disconnect tone on high volume for some reason, we're gonna have some SERIOUS words! My ears demand that he be shot!!

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 09:18 5

4. ilia1986 (unregistered)


Good Good.. 1 down (Nokia) 2 more to go (RIM, HP).

That is unless Nokia somehow survives with WP7.

You cannot bring a golf cart to a NASCAR race and expect to survive.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 10:16 2

6. derricob (Posts: 24; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


I totally agree.

Blackberrys are just entry-level smartphones now, compared to other smartphones. They would have to get QNX on a touchscreen phone with a dual core processor, 4G, front facing camera, and it would have to be on every major carrier just for the company to survive. If not, they might as well sell the company while they can for a good price.

And, HP needs to get a move on it. They spent $1 billion...act like it! Push some products, and stop giving us Palm's developer phones that never saw the light of day. Make some new products and make them available to every carrier (I say this because they're so far behind they can't afford to do "exclusive" deals). If not, then sell the Palm division to another company, or just take the money as a lost.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 12:30 2

13. snowgator (Posts: 3233; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Guess I will take the other side of the argument, just for arguments sake...

Unless I have been reading the headlines wrong, RIM is simply marching in place until their QNX systems are ready. About 7 months ago,"crackberry" had a nice article about RIM's 2 year plan- updating their servers to keep the buisness side of their revenue was included. But the basic idea was to get the Playbook out, get the QNX experience and real life results, then transition to dual-core tech by 2012. On this site alone, PA has reported that RIM has purchased new gaming development companies, new UI developers, and have really pushed to get developers to work on their "super-apps" multi-tasking app idea. Seeing how Blackberry handles the hardware and software for every device the put out, these plans just seem like a group willing to sacrifice the short term for the long term. They ARE running out of goodwill and loyal customers, so I get that they are on their last chance. But, if the patience pays off, 2012 is the year for it.

As far as Nokia- they may never get their perch back as #1 overall, but since they will not bear the brunt of the software development anymore, they stand to become more profitable. Worth the risk for them- but this also may be a 2- year project.

As for HP- come on people, this is their first go around since buying Palm. Let them build their product. If they put out 3 good handsets (Pre 3, the full touch screen with the 4-inch display I saw in development stage, and another low end device that is NOT the Veer), a good line of Tablets, and get a couple other manufaturers to help develop some WebOS devices down the road, they could be serious players. Again- 2 years or so.

Not every gamble is done overnight.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 14:41 3

17. digitaljedi (unregistered)


I wholeheartedly agree. The thing with sites like phonearena, these so-called analysts and fickle consumers is that they all want everything now. RIM already rushed a product out to meet consumer demand and it failed miserably(the Storm). People need to be patient and wait for the finished product.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 10:50 1

7. WirelessCon (Posts: 309; Member since: 11 May 2010)


That rapper from England said it best "Blackberry is dead."

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 11:10 1

8. bossmt_2 (Posts: 435; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)


Actually Blackberries demise has less to do with the iPhone and more to do with the G1, Droid, and Evo. Especially the Droid,

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 11:12 2

9. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5850; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Meh. I think the real reason behind RIM's troubles is that they rested on their laurels. They got too comfortable thinking that the market would buy whatever they put out. It was all of the above (including the iPhone) that is the reason for RIM's troubles.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 11:54 2

11. remixfa (Posts: 13930; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


true. RIM's leadership has its head in the sand and they are still pretending its 2005. The world has passed them by and they cant admit it.

Ive been calling for their resignation for a while now, its the only thing that can save the company. Hell, I'd do better as CEO. I'd have QNX pushed out immediately and id start partnering with sammy or LG to get better screen techs and such. 1 year turn around.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 12:30

14. bucky (Posts: 1502; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


I think it is the iphone more so than droid. I have alot of friends who no longer receive BB's from work but rather iphones. The corporate market is all rim has left so thats where it will take the largest hit.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 11:15 1

10. cornerofthemoon (Posts: 514; Member since: 20 Apr 2010)


Actually, RIM's troubles and the long wait for the Nokia WP7 phones may be a great opportunity for HP (finally) get webOS into the game, unless they fumble the ball too.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 19:02 2

19. CRICKETownz (Posts: 980; Member since: 24 Oct 2009)


HP needs to abandon the Pre line. We already seen the Pre 1. All their offerings are just reiterations of the original Pre are tweaked. We all know the iPhone is guilty of this but the Pre's eggish design hasn't exactly won over a huge consumer base. Do something fresh & new, that's all I'm wanting HP to do. It doesn't take a lot of time to come up with a new design.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 12:30 2

12. Sniggly (Posts: 7113; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Lol. Ah, Blackberry, you guys don't cease to amuse me. With thinking like yours, it's no wonder your products are two to three years out of date.

Though you haven't hit rock bottom yet, so you don't qualify for a Motorola style resurgence.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 12:38 3

15. snowgator (Posts: 3233; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Actually, I had forgotten how far Moto had fallen. They were on the verge of giving up the mobile industry altogether and concentrate on industrial handsets when the Droid line and Verizon saved their mobile division. Nice analogy, Sniggly....

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 13:12 1

16. Sniggly (Posts: 7113; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Ohhhh, yeah. And the planned liquidation was only after they tried to sell the handset division off to pretty much every single handset manufacturer in existence and were laughed out of the negotiation rooms. Their products were boring at best, absolute s**tpiles at worst, and they had losses so bad even a Pyrrhic victory seemed impossible.

But then they embraced Android, and like a wounded warrior pulling the knife out of his chest, they struggled to their feet.

Now they're still stumbling back up to speed, and have slowed the bleeding. They can still collapse and die at this point, but if they get their marketing up to pass muster, that won't happen.

And it's still possible for RIM to do all this. They can survive. Maybe what they need is to collapse to the floor like Moto did before their life flashes before their eyes and they resolve to not go out with a whimper.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 16:26 3

18. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)


Dear blackberry,
get your head out of the stone age and adopt other OS or improve yours quick.
sincerely your disappointing Os user.

posted on 18 Jun 2011, 15:34 1

29. cornerofthemoon (Posts: 514; Member since: 20 Apr 2010)


P.S. While your at it. please improve your hardware beyond the specs of a 1970's Texas Instruments calculator.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 21:07

21. vzwbb21 (Posts: 33; Member since: 05 Jun 2010)


I love BlackBerry, their keyboards are the best, but, my bold ALWAYS freezes and I'm tired of it. I like webOS alot, and their specs are coming up to speed without any delays, I'm sorry RIM, but it's time to make some serious changes, not take OS 6 and add some things and call it OS 7

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 22:17 1

22. Dudleydoright (unregistered)


From the insider perspective of a major wireless company tech, this has been a predictable collapse for a long time and here's why: 1) track ball introduced at a time (2006) when the world was abandoning fail-prone mice with dirt and lint collecting rubber balls for lazer-mice: did nobody at RIM see the hazzard of a trackball? 2) memory problems have plagued the OS since the Pearl - again 2006; 3) the STORM was an utter complete FAIL - hoe can any company think satisfying 40% of users is good enough? The screen technology was not just clunky, it could not be manufactured at a quality level needed because the manufacturing world didn't have a known success path with it. These product defects required replacements and down-time for professionals who needed "utility-level" "up-time". RIM, did you thinking toying with success was a good idea? Pioneering twice: both times utter failures. By the time RIM realized how badly they had faled they had abused their dedicated customers to their endpoint. I can't tell you how many 100's of customers at the point of tears, or yelling, I've dealt with over this. RIM - you drove your customers away with incompetance!

But then so did Microsoft with WinMo. A very similar story. I wonder if anyone with a thinking cap at these companies will institute a "debrief" policy asking cell-techs for recomendations? Likely not. Buh bye RIM. Just like buh-bye WinMo before you.

Maybe Motorola will want you... The only other company trying to make a secure environment for security-demanding businesses is Motorola with their GOOD email application & service. Android is a "back-alley meth lab"

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 22:19 1

23. SPcamert (Posts: 56; Member since: 06 Feb 2010)


Google should buy RIM and all their architecture. Google already has a wide array of devices and they could really benefit in the email delivery arena if they could get hold of RIM's SMTP setup. I doubt very much this will happen but it would be a really great thing if it did. Imagine the openess of Android with the email delivery and PIN to PIN capability of Blackberry.

posted on 17 Jun 2011, 22:20

24. Dudleydoright (unregistered)


From the insider perspective of a major wireless company tech, this has been a predictable collapse for a long time and here's why: 1) track ball introduced at a time (2006) when the world was abandoning fail-prone mice with dirt and lint collecting rubber balls for lazer-mice: did nobody at RIM see the hazzard of a trackball? 2) memory problems have plagued the OS since the Pearl - again 2006; 3) the STORM was an utter complete FAIL - hoe can any company think satisfying 40% of users is good enough? The screen technology was not just clunky, it could not be manufactured at a quality level needed because the manufacturing world didn't have a known success path with it. These product defects required replacements and down-time for professionals who needed "utility-level" "up-time". RIM, did you thinking toying with success was a good idea? Pioneering twice: both times utter failures. By the time RIM realized how badly they had faled they had abused their dedicated customers to their endpoint. I can't tell you how many 100's of customers at the point of tears, or yelling, I've dealt with over this. RIM - you drove your customers away with incompetance!

But then so did Microsoft with WinMo. A very similar story. I wonder if anyone with a thinking cap at these companies will institute a "debrief" policy asking cell-techs for recomendations? Likely not. Buh bye RIM. Just like buh-bye WinMo before you.

Maybe Motorola will want you... The only other company trying to make a secure environment for security-demanding businesses is Motorola with their GOOD email application & service. Android is a "back-alley meth lab"

posted on 18 Jun 2011, 11:32

25. loveraaj77 (Posts: 3; Member since: 18 Jun 2011)


RIM, the maker of BlackBerry, was absolutelydestroyed yesterday in the stock market. But that's just part of the story. RIM is screwed.
1. No new products until the summer

RIM's current lineup of phones is subpar, to say the least. Worse, basically none of the current models will get the marginally newer and better BlackBerry OS 7.0 update. Yet, RIM says there are going to be "delays in new product introductions into the very late part of August." Ugh.
2. Upcoming leaked products are boooooooring

Just look what is coming up next, supposedly: Stuff like the BlackBerry Bold 9900. Sure, it'll run BlackBerry OS 7 and might have a touchscreen! But it's also the same handset RIM has been pumping out for the last five years.
3. The Playbook

RIM's jump into the tablet market has been pretty floppy. The PlayBook is impressive under the hood and we liked it, at first. But the lack of basic features like email—something BlackBerry is very known for!—and a basically deserted app store makes it non-buyable. For basically anyone.
4. Blackberry App World is a ghost town

BlackBerry App World debuted in 2009 and hadabout 26,000 applications as of April 2011. Android had over 200,000 apps and iOS was pushing 350,000. More importantly, the number of quality apps? A barren wasteland.
5. Developers hate making BlackBerry apps

It's a bad sign when a developer who wants to code for your platform, throws up his hands in exasperation and says "screw it." It's even worse when that letter is posted on the Internet, goes viral and many nod in agreement.
6. Financials are in ruins

RIM's latest quarterly earnings were lower than expected. Terribly so. The expectation for next quarter has been cut 20 percent and serious layoffs loom. Hope you weren't planning on using your RIM stock to fund your retirement.
7. Leadership is struggling

RIM still has two CEOs, neither of which is a bold, innovative leader, even if Mike Lazaridis is an engineering genius. The pair spent a large portion of RIM's recent earnings conference call justifying why this co-leadership is a good thing. How about they just prove it with awesome phones and tons of happy users?
8. Even BlackBerry owners don't want BlackBerrys

A survey from last year suggested more than half of current BlackBerry owners were going to switch to Android or iOS. Enough said.
9. Enterprise interest is falling

This is death. RIM has a stronghold in the corporate world, but its grip is loosening. In the past, everyone from the CEO to the office manager had a BlackBerry on their hip. Slowly but surely, those BlackBerry handsets are beingreplaced with iPhones and Droids. Even the iPad is gaining ground. Apple's Tim Cook said recently that "more than 80 percent" of Fortune 100 companies are testing out the iPad.
10. Other companies are eating RIM's lunch

posted on 18 Jun 2011, 11:33 1

26. loveraaj77 (Posts: 3; Member since: 18 Jun 2011)


RIM's biggest advantage was its push email and BlackBerry Messenger service. Now just about every smartphone platform has push email (in some form) and Apple's new iMessage is gunning for BBM. BlackBerry OS 7 is already behind, and it's not even out yet. Just look at the voice control and navigation built into Android.

Co-CEO Mike Lazardis tried to put a positive spin on the company's "transitional" periodwhen he said, "RIM has taken a unique path, and why we do things might not be obvious from the outside." Someone needs to tell big Mike that it's time to do away with this smokescreen and start releasing quality handsets ASAP. If it doesn't, RIM is going to end up like Palm.

posted on 18 Jun 2011, 11:44

27. loveraaj77 (Posts: 3; Member since: 18 Jun 2011)


RIM, the maker of BlackBerry, was absolutelydestroyed yesterday in the stock market. But that's just part of the story. RIM is screwed.
1. No new products until the summer

RIM's current lineup of phones is subpar, to say the least. Worse, basically none of the current models will get the marginally newer and better BlackBerry OS 7.0 update. Yet, RIM says there are going to be "delays in new product introductions into the very late part of August." Ugh.
2. Upcoming leaked products are boooooooring

Just look what is coming up next, supposedly: Stuff like the BlackBerry Bold 9900. Sure, it'll run BlackBerry OS 7 and might have a touchscreen! But it's also the same handset RIM has been pumping out for the last five years.
3. The Playbook

RIM's jump into the tablet market has been pretty floppy. The PlayBook is impressive under the hood and we liked it, at first. But the lack of basic features like email—something BlackBerry is very known for!—and a basically deserted app store makes it non-buyable. For basically anyone.
4. Blackberry App World is a ghost town

BlackBerry App World debuted in 2009 and hadabout 26,000 applications as of April 2011. Android had over 200,000 apps and iOS was pushing 350,000. More importantly, the number of quality apps? A barren wasteland.
5. Developers hate making BlackBerry apps

It's a bad sign when a developer who wants to code for your platform, throws up his hands in exasperation and says "screw it." It's even worse when that letter is posted on the Internet, goes viral and many nod in agreement.
6. Financials are in ruins

RIM's latest quarterly earnings were lower than expected. Terribly so. The expectation for next quarter has been cut 20 percent and serious layoffs loom. Hope you weren't planning on using your RIM stock to fund your retirement.
7. Leadership is struggling

RIM still has two CEOs, neither of which is a bold, innovative leader, even if Mike Lazaridis is an engineering genius. The pair spent a large portion of RIM's recent earnings conference call justifying why this co-leadership is a good thing. How about they just prove it with awesome phones and tons of happy users?
8. Even BlackBerry owners don't want BlackBerrys

A survey from last year suggested more than half of current BlackBerry owners were going to switch to Android or iOS. Enough said.
9. Enterprise interest is falling

This is death. RIM has a stronghold in the corporate world, but its grip is loosening. In the past, everyone from the CEO to the office manager had a BlackBerry on their hip. Slowly but surely, those BlackBerry handsets are beingreplaced with iPhones and Droids. Even the iPad is gaining ground. Apple's Tim Cook said recently that "more than 80 percent" of Fortune 100 companies are testing out the iPad.
10. Other companies are eating RIM's lunch

posted on 18 Jun 2011, 14:29 1

28. Dudleydoright (unregistered)


Excellent comments Mr. loveraaj77. Also consider that business needs business tools. When the Storm offered enhancements ON TO OF OR IN ADDITION TO the business needs it was very attractive and accounted for a large part of the 2008 market share increase. HOWEVER, the hardware was a failure and so was the OS and RIM's ability to fix the flaws. This DOES NOT diminish the need for a secure business tool. This points to business users desire for MORE.. Android is a "back alley meth lab" that no respectable IT CIO will endorse. Apple is a little better. Can RIM survive on the remaining business customers? It has too many commitments and financial obligations along with its failures- it needs a bitter restructuring like NOKIA. This is gonna hurt. But secure IT has just become a critical selling point. Read again my Motorola comments and think deeply. Who and where are RIMs devoted customers . I am confident I know, but does the market?

Palm didn't die because of OS failures but because of HARDWARE FAILURES PLUS COMPETITOR ENCRACHMENT. Customers weree driven away by unreliable hardware and had a choice. Where is the secure alternative to RIM? Apple iOS? pffffft! Ask Motorola aboout market app security and google it too. Maybe HP has a solutiuon in the works for webOS... but there's no signs of life in that product.

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