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RIM Responds To an Employee's Open Letter

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the don't-ignore-red-flags dept.

Blackberry 197

An anonymous reader writes "An executive at Research In Motion has written an open letter to the company's leadership, begging them to focus more on user experience, developers, and accountability. 'We urgently need to invest like we never have before in becoming developer friendly. The return will be worth every cent. There is no polite way to say this, but it’s true — BlackBerry smartphone apps suck. Even PlayBook, with all its glorious power, looks like a Fisher Price toy with its Adobe AIR/Flash apps.' RIM decided to address the letter, but their response completely skates over the issues. Unfortunately for them, the original letter triggered many more from current and former employees, who largely agreed with the need for better decisions at the top."

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Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (0)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634200)

Career Ending Move, that is

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634290)

Career ending? Hardly. Where I work, this kind of feedback is usually appreciated.

If it's correct, of course.

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (3, Interesting)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634556)

Perhaps "job ending" is more appropriate.

Keep in mind that the judgment of correctness is going to be made by the very people being called out. Don't get me wrong, I think this guy is right on - people like him that have the stones to tell it like it is, damn the consequences, are far too rare in my opinion. This is true in business and politics.

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635038)

Dunno where you worked but most of the places I worked would fire this guy for "reducing user confidence in the brand" or some such. They'd probably lose any money in the salary/pension pipeline too.

If they sued the company's lawyers would say that they've owed the company millions - i.e. they were solely to blame for any subsequent share price decline.

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36635674)

Career ending? Hardly. Where I work, this kind of feedback is usually appreciated.

I'm your boss, Mr Anonymous Coward,. and I want you to know I value your feedback so much I've asked HR to safekeep a collection of all your memos for me.

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634302)

Actually, if I ran a competing tech company and RIM fired this guy, I'd be calling him up as soon as I heard about it. The PR boost you would get from that would be enormous, and well worth the cost of this guy's salary. It would make it look like you actually care about all those things he claims RIM doesn't.

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634328)

And of course, you'd gain an employee that cares about doing things properly, and the success of the company. And hopefully has some skills.

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (0)

xkuehn (2202854) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634464)

I don't think your average CEO cares about that.

As long as the six-month bottom line makes it look like the next guy's screw-up, they'd be perfectly happy to run the company into the ground.

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634478)

This is business we're talking about. Everyone knows the only thing that's important is how your company appears to the public.

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634766)

That would be wrong. The only important issue is how much you as a shareholder or managment earn.
Company going towards the bottom of the deep sea? Lets do something silly to fix this ship, ignoring the given list of issues.......

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (0, Troll)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634510)

Or you'd be gaining a passive-aggressive loser who doesn't know how to deal with problems head-on. Maybe it's this kind of mentality which has kept RIM from evolving as fast as they should.

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635396)

Actually, if I ran a competing tech company and RIM fired this guy, I'd be calling him up as soon as I heard about it.

I assume a company like RIM is smart enough to put non-competes in their employment contracts. Then again, I did just read that letter...

Re:Latest CEM Hall of Fame Entrant (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634984)

So, what you are saying is: no more RIM job for this employee?

Balls (5, Insightful)

molnarcs (675885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634270)

That guy certainly had balls. He's basically asking the CEOs of the company to resign, along with half the management. And if half of what he writes is true (and based on other employee reaction, it seems to be), they should go! I found the links in the open later very interesting as well. I have no love for Apple, their vision of the future of computing quite frankly scares me - I prefer to decide myself what is or isn't appropriate for my consumption (censoring Ulysses ffs?!). That said, there are a lot to be admired about Apple - their marketing strategies, their organization and management techniques, etc. I never saw the linked keynote, and I found it quite interesting. The second link to the video about leadership/marketing was equally interesting.

It's such a pity that RIM's response is basically "fuck off!" - way to bury their heads in the sand.

Re:Balls (3, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634388)

It's entirely possible that the CEO and his cronies are making more money at RIM than they could anywhere else, at any time, even if they drive the company into the ground.

If that's the case, they are going to hold on for dear life with both hands, the company and stockholders be damned.

Re:Balls (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634648)

If that's the case, they are going to hold on for dear life with both hands, the company and stockholders be damned.

The larger stockholders can band together to fire the CEO.

Re:Balls (2)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635222)

It's entirely possible that the CEO and his cronies are making more money at RIM than they could anywhere else, at any time, even if they drive the company into the ground.

Pretty much really.

Most CEO's have share options and a very generous golden parachute. So their incentive is to convince people everything is OK for long enough for the shares to vest and then bail out.

I think most medium sized companies follow a ballistic path in terms of value. They start off small and very efficient and grow very quickly. Then there is a plateau when they are highly inefficient but still have a large enough income to be viable. Eventually there is a decline as old sources of income dry up and the company is too sclerotic to find new ones. During the plateau phase everyone keeps their heads down and says positive things and hopes the decline will come after they've moved on.

Except for dudes like this that don't. But they just get fired. Of course if you really want to work for a dynamic company then you need to start your own. Mind you you're unlikely to get as good a salary as you'd get at RIM.

Re:Balls (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635378)

The RIM CEOs have more money than they could possibly need in one life... by orders of magnitude; as long as they're not complete idiots. And considering they started the secure handset market (android and iphone/ipad still aren't secure) and the messaging handset in general, they are NOT idiots. Lazaridis started RIM (with a couple of other guys) as a tech startup in Waterloo, ON. Canada where he previously attended The University of Waterloo, and eventually served as chancellor (it has one of the top engineering faculties in Canada). Balsillie is the business school grad.

The only reason they are still in it (in my opinion), like most CEOs, is for the feelings of power and control. Most CEOs are narcissists and often sociopaths. Even if they don't start that way, the power eventually goes to their heads and they end up that way. Take Balsillie and his quest to bully the NHL for a franchise for example. "I have a lot of money and I deserve a team." No need to look further.

I do believe RIM needs fresh thinking at the top. They are beginning to "Novell". i.e. The company starts thinking and acting like, "we are the big boys and we don't have to work as hard to make things easy and innovative for our customers." Meanwhile the competitors see the holes in RIM's thinking and take advantage of new and fresh trends in technology to beat down RIM's market share. Kind of like winning the last war... the winners think they can win the next war with the technology and tactics that they used for the last one (perhaps the biggest exception to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" axiom). The losers know they need to think of a better way to do things. That was why Germany kicked the crap out of the allies at the beginning of WWII after losing WWI. Good thing they were run by madmen who believed "Pyrrhic victories/Cadmean victories were real victories... and for the North American supply lines where factories were out of harm's way. Anyway you get my point: fresh thinking is probably a good thing, and from a distance looks like a good idea to implement at RIM.

To Lazaridis's credit, he has stayed in Waterloo where he went to university and started RIM (he even goes for lunch some times at local restaurants... and not the steakhouse variety... although I am sure he frequents those too :). More than half of RIM's employees are located there, and up till lately they had hired a few thousand more to work in Waterloo in the last two or three years (yes they have some offshore employees but they are a bit of an anomaly considering the number of jobs percentage-wise which they created in North America... mostly in Waterloo where it was started... as opposed to in Asia). Lazaridis founded one of the top theoretical physics institutes in the world in Waterloo with his own money to the tune of $400M to $500M (The Perimeter Institute), and which hosted Steven Hawking for a 6 month stint there last year. They have done a lot for Waterloo, forming the kernel of a high tech industry there (OpenText is another of many companies that is headquartered in Waterloo which started as a tech startup).

Bottom line is that money is not the issue. Besides, when have you ever seen a CEO not be able to drive a company into the ground and not get hired to do the same thing elsewhere. Big money CEOs belong to a well established "old boys club" where ability means nothing... only who you know counts.

No I don't work for RIM, nor have I ever worked for RIM. I don't like rim jobs ... yuck yuck yuck... I'm here all week, try the veal. (But seriously, I am in no way affiliated with RIM, nor do I own a Crackberry.)

Re:Balls (2)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634590)

Having balls would mean that he put his name out there. Fighting anonymously is not showing bravery.

Re:Balls (1)

maeka (518272) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634712)

Having balls would mean that he put his name out there. Fighting anonymously is not showing bravery.

What would be gained by putting his name out there?


Re:Balls (1)

wideBlueSkies (618979) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634920)

Just because he fights for what is right, it doesn't necessarily mean that he wants to put his future at risk. Probably has a family to worry about. So he CAN care about the issues at RIM, speak out about it, and still have a way to protect his current interests.

And as someone else said, putting his name out there would not affect the situation at hand one way or the other.

Re:Balls (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635188)

Well, in an ideal world, he would be consulted for what he feels are the problems, and their potential solutions. Or, since he complained, he would be put in charge of fixing them.

Re:Balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36635168)

Maybe you should put your name out there.

Cry some more you pathetic feeb.

Michael Kristoppit

Re:Balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634602)

assuming all is legit. bgr is not a very reliable/trustworthy source. i came across this which sums it up: http://marcparadise.com/a-word-on-the-open-letter-at-bgr-com/. hes a bb dev so I guess take it with a grain of salt - but raises a good point.

Re:Balls (2)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635118)

A comment from RIM employee on the same link...

FWIW, I’m a former RIM employee and I believe the letters were written by RIM employees. BGR is the site that most RIM employees rely on for news about RIM. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the company is pretty secretive internally, and BGR usually has the scoop before things are announced internally. BGR largely got its start with news on BlackBerry devices, and it has a special place in the heart of most RIM employees. It makes sense to me that of all the news/blog sites out there, BGR would be the one chosen to air these letters.

Re:Balls (2)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634618)

That's untrue. He specifically calls out one product manager, who headed a disastrous release and yet wasn't removed from his position. And even then, he's not saying "this man should be fired," he's using it as an example to demonstrate that the company has no accountability.

He *does* say that perhaps the dual CEOs should step down in favor of a different, single CEO and take positions in the company more in-line with their strengths. I agree with this; the dual-CEO arrangement is just weird, and I think the cause of many of RIM's problems.

The most interesting thing to me is how the rise of RIM's overseas sales is cloaking their weakness in the North America market. Every time there's a criticism of RIM, they do the same thing they've done here: respond with a laundry list of their strong financials. That response completely misses the point.

Re:Balls (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635176)

The most interesting thing to me is how the rise of RIM's overseas sales is cloaking their weakness in the North America market. Every time there's a criticism of RIM, they do the same thing they've done here: respond with a laundry list of their strong financials. That response completely misses the point.

I think you are totally right, RIM looks like Nokia two years ago or Ericsson around 1999. There's an entire new platform type which has been developed. Only Apple has it and only Google understands what it is and is ready to compete with it. Making a great looking new user interface like Microsoft's and a new app store is still going to leave you five years behind. RIM needs to get their key features ported onto Android and make a telephone based on that or they will die. The only other chance would be to find a big group of other companies with serious cash to establish a proper open standard. Maybe take MeeGo and get Oracle to build an Android source compatible JVM system on top of that. Probably Oracle and Intel combined have enough patents to defend such a platform.

Re:Balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36635048)

This guy did what Jerry Maguire did. His days are numbered even if the initial response is positive.

Gone in 10 years. (3, Interesting)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634294)

RIM is the AOL of the 20teens. The once juggernaut who will be a footnote a lot sooner than they might have thought.

I've got any number of users who are asking me how well our company integrates business features with iPhones and Android phones, and I keep telling them "well, decently, but not as good as with blackberry", and the thing is... none of them care. As contracts expire, phones die, or just as they get sick of their BBs, they're all going to iOS and android anyway cause the rest of the RIM experience is crap, and I don't blame them. I've got two phones on my waist, a droid and a curve, and I use the curve for email and phone calls. that's it. It's just inferior to the droid at, well, everything else.

BB executives don't have to "right the ship" at this point, they need to build a whole new boat, and instantly. Somehow, I don't see it.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634440)

RIM has a chance to come back though...
Unlike AOL who based their technology a well understood dying tech (Dial Up), even back in the early 90's most educated people knew that Dial Up networks will soon be leaving for broadband, then with the growth of the Web Browsers and normal Internet access their specialized services will become more and more useless. As well it was known for a lot of service problems.
RIM is in the current field Mobile tech, It's product Quality is good, I don't hear too many people saying Black Berries Suck a lot of people actually like them a lot they just want them to do the new cool things that iPhones and Androids do, and if they can get app development and also perhaps target more to average Joe vs. Mr. Exec. they can do it.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (2)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634650)

They could, but they aren't.

Check the story on the front page from a couple days ago where mobile developer after mobile developer say "when we have to decide where to cut out a product to focus on the quality of our others, it's always the BB version of an app".

While BBs are struggling to reach the likes of the android and iOS app markets, android and iOS app writers are coming on strong for business. My marketing department recently purchased an ipad2 for business use, which I internally scoffed at until I saw the width, breadth, and quality of apps targeted at not only our business, but at our respective markets. It was good stuff too!. If stuff this good is available already for something I previously considered a toy, it's only going to get better as time goes on.

TL;DR: iOS and Android app markets are coming on STRONG at RIM's traditional strengths, while RIM apps struggle to do with iOS and Android are good at. Why stick with RIM and wait for it to get all the fancy neato apps other phones have, if those phones already have those apps AND are nearly as good as BBs at other stuff.

BTW, check out the keyboard on the Motorala Droid Pro. It's probably my favorite mobile keyboard out there.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634844)

best keyboard, best email, strong battery life.

androids and iProducts typically need a charge during the day, or at a minimum need to be charged every night, blackberries do not

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635072)

Email is decent. I wouldn't say it's better than what my droid can do. If you mean exchange integration, then yes blackberry's built-in enterprise integration is better than something like goodlink for iOS/android. but not by that much anymore...

Maybe your BB is better than mine, but mine will go for about a day and a half on a full charge (it is about 8 months old, so battery should still be fine), while my two year old droid will outlast it by at least 12 hours.

Also, my wife's droid pro keyboard is way better than my BB curve's KB, although my office manager's BB Bold KB may be the equal of the droid pro. All of them are better than my droid original KB (and I've got the "bubble" version, the "flat" version was worse), but all of that is preferable to a touchscreen keyboard like on most android and all iphones... which isn't to say I haven't become pretty dam quick with those too out of necessity.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635232)

That used to be enough. Nowadays the other products are "good enough" at those things, and the strengths they have far outweigh the capabilities of the BBs.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635604)

RuPaul has a bigger pecker than Kim Kardashian, but that's not a feature I'm looking for when I want a woman to shit on my chest.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635342)

AOL could have very easily moved into specialized services. Huge classes of services existed in the early 90s that don't exist today. Other features like facebook, Myspace, 2ndlife, twitter could have been AOL products. Wikipedia could have been funded out of AOL. For a long time they were funding but not using Mozilla / Firefox. AOL could have been in the 2000s where they were in the late 90s a wrapper around the raw internet offering specialized content.

They didn't have to die just because dialup did. Dialup was just one of their offerings.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634632)

Well, as much as AOL sucks, it's still around and generating millions of dollars of revenue every day. Calling them--or RIM--a footnote is maybe a bit sensational.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634740)

well perhaps "gone" is not the right word. perhaps "ignored, maligned, disregarded, and clinging to a tiny toehold in the market" would be more accurate. Whatever AOL is today (I admit I didn't even google/wikipedia it before writing the OP), you don't hear it in the same breath with google, facebook, twitter, apple, microsoft, etc as a pillar of the modern online technological world. This is the same company which (if memory serves) leveraged themselves to buy freakin Time Warner in the 90s. to millions upon millions, AOL WAS the online world. That's a long hard way to fall.

All I'm saying is that in 10 years, probably better than 9 out of 10 businessmen you run in to, when you say "What can you tell me about RIM", they're going to say "Didn't they make those phones with the roller balls that I used back in 2007? I wonder what happened to them."

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635318)

well perhaps "gone" is not the right word. perhaps "ignored, maligned, disregarded, and clinging to a tiny toehold in the market" would be more accurate.

Amongst nerds, maybe, but I still know plenty of people that use AOL still. Considering they made nearly $2.5 billion in revenue last year they must have some sizable user base left.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634642)

RIM is the AOL of the 20teens. The once juggernaut who will be a footnote a lot sooner than they might have thought.

I worked for AOL for a while in the '90s. The development team was fantastic and the work environment was very casual and intimate - hell they even stocked the refrigerators with wine and beer. The problem with AOL, much like RIM, came from the top. Management had the idea that what has been, will always be. By the time I started working there, it was obvious to everyone from middle management on down that it was the Internet that was important, and that the internet access experience needs to be as painless as possible, but to distinguish AOL you really needed to focus on what everyone wanted from the Internet. Had they not been stuck on the "online service" mentality that came from Quantum Link they could have implemented Facebook, Amazon, and iTunes all in one, via a broadband connection, and give subscribers a compelling reason to stay. It was their unwillingness to listen which caused their long, painful and ongoing demise. Heck even at the time I didn't ever use my "free" AOL account for anything not directly work-related; I used standard PPP through a standard ISP to get online.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

squidguy (846256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634758)

Plus the fact that Steve Case was gay, along with You've Got Mail (TM)...

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634968)

It makes me really sad, too, because with Nokia and RIM becoming irrelevant, there's not many other smartphone manufacturers out there who are willing to put a physical keyboard on their phones. There's very few models out there with one these days.

Re:Gone in 10 years. (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635236)

I've mentioned it elsewhere in this thread, but motorala will still do it, and they still make some pretty decent phones. Droid Pro, Droid 3, etc.

Sad thing is, as much as I like physical keyboards, I think on sheer weight of features my next phone will probably be a Droid Bionic because my previous "waiting patiently for it" phone choice of droid 3 just doesn't have the 4g connectivity I want for the future (my city is scheduled to get 4g this summer), nor a couple other nice features of the Bionic. The Keyboard may have to go, sad as it is.

Enterprise - gone. Gov't - staying. (2)

vinn (4370) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635428)

Mostly I agree that Blackberry is very quickly losing the enterprise. Next January my phone contract will be up and I plan on getting a new Android phone to demo. If I can make everything work (calendaring, mail, etc) work with our enterprise, then I plan on ditching Blackberry by the end of 2012 for the whole company. I see no reason to keep Blackberry at this point. They went from being a year ahead of everyone to being at least 1 year behind, most likely 2.

However, don't forget that Blackberry really got it's start as a government provider. That's why the security has been ultra high and why it took them so long to get a phone with a camera. Because of those government contracts, they'll continue to exist for quite a while. I don't see those changing any time soon.

Don't try to compete with iPhone and Android (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634326)

It's useless for Blackberry to try to compete with iPhone and Android. They'll lose. Instead, they have their own sizable and very profitable niche in the market: business. Blackberries aren't made for their users, but for their users' employers. The tight central control, ability to lock everything down, and link to MS Exchange are the main selling points. And their (relatively) good keyboards, obviously.

Re:Don't try to compete with iPhone and Android (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634410)

I agree. On the other hand, they have to be careful about Microsoft. They are a very attractive target, and the obvious market for MS to take over first, before going for iPhone's and Android's.

Re:Don't try to compete with iPhone and Android (1)

Tolleman (606762) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634690)

Well that, and Nokias E-series is also buisiness oriented. So Nokia and Microsoft are RIMs real enemies in this the phone market.

The upcoming E6 from Nokia looks rather nice. I've always liked the professional look of their E phones, like the E71 and E72. Goes well with a suite.

What about the E70 then (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634910)

That was a real big lemon.

Re:Don't try to compete with iPhone and Android (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634456)

Apparently they're ok with not competing.

In fact, while growth has slowed in the US, RIM still shipped 13.2 million BlackBerry smartphones last quarter (which is about 100 smartphones per minute, 24 hours per day) and RIM is more committed than ever to serving its loyal customers and partners around the world.

13.2 million is a drop in the bucket compared to Apple and Android.

Re:Don't try to compete with iPhone and Android (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635014)

They don't have to go chasing after a niche.

They have to go make their products not suck.

Business and government are fleeing blackberry for Android and iOS because they don't suck(if you're a fanboy of either, use a modern blackberry, use the competing device, then go back to your flavor of choice; you will never want to argue about phone OSes ever again).

Re:Don't try to compete with iPhone and Android (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635186)

On the contrary, it's VITAL they compete with Android and Apple. Why? Because Android, and to a lesser extent Apple are eating into the niche that the BB currently has. Inside of a year you'll start seeing businesses abandoning RIM en masse. As Android gets better at doing what businesses want out of them there will be less and less reason to stick with a dying platform.

When your competitor moves into your niche and has other killer apps that you don't have, you're not going to last long. RIM needs to aggressively pursue new and expanding markets or they are going to whither on the vine. Not competing with Android and Apple is what's killing them.

Re:Don't try to compete with iPhone and Android (1)

ebunga (95613) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635462)

Everyone is already abandoning the blackberry platform. Why spend over $1000 per user per year for the phones and BES when you can achieve just as much control using other technologies on other platforms with less effort and half the cost?

Re:Don't try to compete with iPhone and Android (2)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635208)

And when Google, Microsoft, and Apple catch up to that feature set RIM is totally screwed. You've got a great short-term plan, but when you can lock down and control an iPhone to the same degree as a BlackBerry; but have way more usability and features available without the substantial cost of BES because you're using an ActiveSync reverse proxy, RIM is done.

Unfortunately it's true (2)

gyaku_zuki (1778282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634334)

Having recently left RIM (BlackBerry Storm 2) for an Android (Galaxy S 2) I'm 100% happier. The Storm 2 had great potential, but was marred by RIM not innovating with apps and core functionality - it didn't even get an upgrade to BB OS6 despite being only 8 months old. That, I could have lived with, but the worst was they'd been saying all along that it WOULD. Suddenly, nope, it didn't. The advantage of RIM was always in email, and it still does email very well, but not so much better than iPhones and Androids anymore. BBM is equally being made redundant by things like PingChat. Its variety of market apps is poor and ridiculously expensive for mediocre apps. Finally, even when their phone is JUST onto the market, its already so far behind the curve. Processors, displays, memory... they all suck, making the phone a slow, unattractive smartphone for this day and age.

Gruber summed up this response perfectly (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634366)

"330 words to say nothing"

Re:Gruber summed up this response perfectly (1)

Elbart (1233584) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635020)

And what do YOU think?

Re:Gruber summed up this response perfectly (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635516)

And what do YOU think?

That RIM's co-CEOs are a pair of delusional morons.

RIM is losing in the Enterprise too (4, Interesting)

fruey (563914) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634420)

From basic observation I have seen execs moving from BlackBerry to iPhone & Android because the latter platforms are in fact now both capable of syncing reasonably well with Exchange.

BlackBerry is still a powerful platform for corporate email but they're mostly used for reading - rather than writing - email so the data entry & ergonomy for basic email operations isn't *killer* enough. On top of that new >200 DPI screens on Android & iPhone devices make reading much more pleasant. If you read a lot, then having hardware keys to scroll (I love being able to use space to page down on BB) is great though, but the text resolution is shit.

The thing most have missed so far is that the gadget that is invading the boardroom is the iPad. Meetings where everyone has a slide deck on their own tablet make sense, especially when (if indeed it isn't already out there but has escaped my attention) a collaboration tool allows slick collective annotation on iPad.

Many apps on BlackBerry are pretty awful, and my all-time favourite, viigo, was bought by BlackBerry and then almost instantly killed. It relied on a proxy to format RSS properly and serve it to the terminal, and the proxy never works any more. The new RIM News Reader app isn't available in my country. WTF? It was the only app that allowed RSS + Twitter (multiple accounts) + stocks + weather in one easy place.

Note also that the processing power on smartphones make BlackBerry appear exceptionally slow. RIM are going to lose, unless they bring back something a bit more *killer* in the corporate space. They have some interesting niches though, esp. for teen texting where BlackBerry does come into its own. iPhone text messaging is way sexier though, mostly thanks to the higher DPI.

Re:RIM is losing in the Enterprise too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634606)

RIM is not going to lose _if_; the atttude in the response shows they are going to lose _period_.

The only real answer is for RIM to run Android (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634436)

Developers are struggling as it is to support multiple platforms (alng with the java stigma invented for the past 10 years) but it's possible to do. If RIM tries to stick to it's abhorrent, single-platform support, horrendous java development environment *nobody* is going to want to touch it. It's just too difficult to implement and support when you're not a mainstream market-share holder anymore.

Re:The only real answer is for RIM to run Android (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634628)

Wait, you're saying the market needs yet MORE me-too android phones? There are already so many that we're due for a natural culling...

Re:The only real answer is for RIM to run Android (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634822)

Yes, in a sense. The market is created by the needs (or rather perceived needs) of the consumer. RIM has only a wee bit of the market share right now and In order to remain relevant they will need to compete in an area dominated by two major systems (apple/android). If RIM thinks they are going to come to the table and be a game changer with their current offering, their execs are on more crack than mundie and ballmer.

RIM needs to change and they need to do it fast. What they offer needs to suck less than what's currently out there (Including their own).

The only other option is for them to dump large wads of cash into the pockets of the Kill-Android-Coalition (aka: Microsoft, Oracle, Apple) and hope for the best but they are going to be standing behind Windows phone 7.

Re:The only real answer is for RIM to run Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36635330)

Apple started out with a "me to" BSD kernel and made it shine.

RIM should do the same.

I don't think they have the balls to do away with the management, wherein the real problem lies. They're a bloated company. They need to fix that.

They make cheap, plastic phones that are low quality and pale in comparison to the product they started with. Go look at their phones in a store. Pick it up. Now go pick up an iphone. One of them feels like a quality product. One of them smacks of "hey I can save $0.05 if we change the plasic compound" . People will pay for quality. Someone needs to tell them that. (hey, you listening RIM?)

QNX.. sigh, QNX. I love QNX. I have a theory, though, that it is a cursed operating system. They're using it to be different.

I don't care what OS they use. Fix your product.

PS. The PlayBook .. sigh.

You know what would be revolutionary? Make a tablet that replaces a 8.5" x 11" piece of paper at 300DPI. I've wanted one of those for 10 years. Screen tech doesn't exist? Take some of those billions.. and FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO IT.

Apple is about to steal that from you, too.

Android doesn't meet many enterprise requirenents (1)

zizzybaloobah (1021731) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635000)

Android, while it may offer an improved UI, and more/better apps, it doesn't meet many needs of the enterprise:
  • Security and encryption
  • Enterprise device management
  • Intranet access

These are things that have always set Blackberry devices apart, and both iOS and Android are still playing catch-up. What would be nice is if RIM could make Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) deliver all the benefits to iOS and Android devices also. But even here, Good Mobile Messaging (GMM) has already become well-known for providing enterprise features across a wide-array of mobile devices.

Wrong apps (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634480)

RIM's "app store" has as its lead product something for getting sports news. Wrong answer.

They should be focusing on being a really good business tool, and having applications for business users. Some examples:

  • GetMeThere - a travel application for executives. You want to get somewhere, it figures out how and makes all the arrangements. It knows where you are, it knows your company travel policies, it knows your frequent flyer information, it knows your preferences, it knows about travel delays, and it knows how to talk to all the reservation systems. Including NetJets. The iPhone travel applications [seatguru.com] have all that data, but are too dumb to put it together.
  • ExceptionMonitor This ties in with corporate systems to report exceptions. If something was supposed to ship by Thursday, and it didn't, you get an alert. Monitors key ratios for your business while you're out of town, too.
  • BackgroundCheck Check out a company or an individual. Connects to Dun and Bradstreet, Hoovers, corporate registration information, criminal records, etc.

That's what executives need, not Angry Birds.

Re:Wrong apps (1)

gameweld (215362) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634514)


Re:Wrong apps (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634788)

the execs are a niche market, though - and all these take a lot setting up.

The response should have been... (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634494)

As I tweeted yesterday, RIM's response should have been, 'We were caught with our pants down. The bozos are getting the golden chute. We'll be back, or die trying.'

Revolutionary Management Strategy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634502)

Jack Welch's strategy for turning around GE involved sending questionnaires to his employees asking them how to make the company better. Revolutionary, I know. Sounds like a RIM could use a healthy dose of that. -www.awkwardengineer.com [awkwardengineer.com]

Re:Revolutionary Management Strategy (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634816)

Jack Welch also had a philosophy of giving 80 percent of the rewards to 20 percent of the employees, and requiring a certain percentage of employees be fired as "underperformers" every single year after year. This is the fastest way I know to change an organization from being product and external competition focused to being process-laden and competing against itself internally.

A certain large software company we all love to bash has gone down this same road, and has many of the same problems that RIM is facing.

As for sending questionnaires to employees, good luck at finding employees who actually believe it would be listened to and not be used against them for speaking out against the current status quo.

A BlackBerry that can't read email (2, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634522)

Research in Motion have broken much-needed barriers with the PlayBook tablet [newstechnica.com] , a BlackBerry that can’t read email. And needs to be tethered to a phone.

“We feel a technology preview is just the thing we need to fight iPhone and Android in the consumer market,” said founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. “The missing core functionality should be seen as areas of spectacular potential. Also, the board has ascertained that you should stay away from the brown acid, it’s not so good.”

The PlayBook has launched remarkably, with thousands of the devices being recalled for crippling operating system bugs straight after release.

In a double-tap Osborne through the head, the PlayBook uses the new QNX BlackBerry OS, which does not run current BlackBerry apps, will not be available on phones for another year and will not work on any current BlackBerry device. This is separate from OS 7, to be released soon, which will also not work on any existing BlackBerry. RIM’s present mobile carrier partners were “overwhelmed” to be stuck with so much already-obsolete stock, and developers were simply thrilled to have two dead platforms and one that didn't work yet..

RIM led the world into the smartphone era, several years before Apple’s iPhone turned everyone into the sort of twat you only ever used to see carrying a BlackBerry.

Technology industry rumours suggest a Microsoft takeover of RIM, considered an excellent match in competence and vision. “Synergy’s just another word for two and two makes one!” said Steve Ballmer. “We will assimilate your technological stench of death into our own.”

Re:A BlackBerry that can't read email (0)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634802)

If you are going to put the punch line in the subject, why bother following it up with a couple hundred words?

Perhaps we could take up a collection..... (0)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634560)

......and give the money to RIM so they can buy a clue!

Re:Perhaps we could take up a collection..... (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634982)

The open letter gave them many clues, for free. Based upon RIM's reply, they would recognize a clue if you shoved it down their throats.

Eek... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634578)

you just lost your RiM job.

Response?? (1)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634580)

RIM calls this a response. They would have been better off just posting a message saying something along the lines of "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"
or "Theres nothing to see here , move along"
Their response was basic say everythings fine, and its not.

I wonder if he used his blackberry to send this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634646)

be interesting , would you really trust RIM not to try and trace it if it was

It is a stupid Canadian tech company... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634706)

The operative word in there is "Canadian" which means risk averse, slow moving, and mostly static. It will die like all other Canadian tech companies and Canadians don't have what it takes to compete on a global scale. Hint: Nortel!

The only good think about RIM is the opportunity to make money by shorting its stock, assuming they don't get bought out.

Re:It is a stupid Canadian tech company... (1)

canistel (1103079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635148)

You sound... ...bitter... Did a Canadian hurt your poor little feelings once upon a time?

Shareholder revolt needed ASAP to save RIM (4, Insightful)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634724)

I'm not a fan of RIM products but I'd hate to see a Canadian company go the way of Commodore by having incompetent management run it into the ground.

The co-ceos need to be "FIRED" for cause for failing to do their jobs to protect shareholder equity and grow the business. They should not get any golden parachute and should be black balled from getting another CEO jobs in any publicly traded company.

Contrary to other commentaries, I do not believe Android is the answer. They need to work on QNX and develop a bridge API similar to Apple's Carbon to allow developers of BB apps to quickly port/recompile on their QNX platform.

They also need to refocus on their core competency which is corporate users. Get out of the BB for consumers market and focus their app world store on applications applicable to business users including getting apps like gotomeeting, join.me, Citrix receiver, Salesforce.com to work seamlessly on their future "superphones" and their tablets. Speaking of tablets, get a native email, calendaring and contacts client on their tablets. They need to have a "universal" app model for their tablet/superphone platform as well.

Finally, scrap the "Playbook" name. Think of something like "WorkBook", "WorkSlate", "WorkPad", "TaskBook", "TaskPad" , or "LaunchPad" instead. Not everyone is into football which I assume is where the playbook name comes from.

Basically, they have to either do that or sell off their hardware completely and get into the application market with BBM and BB Email clients for Android and iOS to compete with Good Technologies to offer "secure" corporate email on employee's personal smartphones and tablets that is kept encrypted and separate from the personal email. Think of it like a mini VM that just runs the BB stuff securely between the mobile device and the BES servers.

Stick a fork in them... (0)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634730)

The empty words in the response letter are very telling. Upper management can't see the forest for the trees. They remind me of Kevin Bacon in Animal house when the riot is going on . "ALL IS WELL! REMAIN CALM!"

The RIM ship is sinking. RIM is losing huge chunks of market share left and right. It will come as no surprise in the coming months as more and more of the best and brightest among their teams get out while they can. And this will put RIM in a downward spiral. As more and more real talent leaves, the capability to deliver will plummet. Things will keep getting worse and worse until they go under.

This company is going to get managed right into the ground by a management team who only wants to surround themselves by yes-men. My advice to every single person at RIM is to get out while you can. It's not a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when".

Who wants to be that the anonymous letter writer will identify himself in the upcoming months, right after he accepts a position at another company (like Google or Apple)?

Re:Stick a fork in them... (2)

jbolden (176878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635450)

I remember people saying the same things about Apple. Companies with a respected brand name and some market share can release a killer product and recover. Shrinking market share often leads to very high margins and a more focused customer base, what RIM had when it essentially invented the smart phone.


Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634734)

Looks like they'll be looking for somebody else to take his RIM-job, nudge nudge.

What an amazing reply from RIM !! (0)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634760)

That is an absolutely amazing response from RIM. Pure PR-crap, written by the clueless, for the clueless. It completely misses the reason for such an anonymous letter, namely, that RIM upper management is apparently in the habit of handing out "career-limiting" results to anyone to dares to express an opinion.

It has been clear since the advent of the iPhone that RIM missed the boat. This company response shows why, and makes it clear that there will be no recovery. RIM may have $3 billion in cash now, but in 10 years they will be just another patent troll.

Yet another "out of touch" team at the helm (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634900)

There has been much talk about Microsoft's leadership failing due to "whatever" it is that the leadership can't seem to get beyond. Even with all this very public discussion, the leadership of Microsoft can't get their heads out of their asses to keep them from rolling.

It looks like RIM is in a similar position. And the fact that they publicly responded with doubt, suspicion and with a hint of anger, I would say they have a lot of trouble looking beyond their own egos as well.

RIM has huge potential in their own market. That market is always being threatened because that's the way the market works.

Do blackberry apps suck? I don't know -- I have never used blackberry apps other than the ones that came on the phone. There's certainly not a "market" in the sense that one exists for Apple and Android. Perhaps they need one too in order to remain interesting and relevant. But more than that, the game is more advanced now that Blackberry currently offers. And perhaps what they should be doing is leveraging their current client-server model so that apps live on servers and not just on clients. I'm already updating RIM with good ideas and I'm just a crappy, know-nothing who has used Blackberries and administered BESes. I know the product(s) and service(s) they offer and they have not evolved in the market significantly.

They are like the movie and music executives who are "risk averse" and simply want to remake the same things over and over again expecting to continue getting good results. The problem is, people get bored with the same things and the market is people.

Coop students know this (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634958)

It's bad when Coop students can point out these issue, Years ago Rim had an all star product but even the SNES at one point was an all star product. Time for a new direction.

As someone who has worked alongside BB devs (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 3 years ago | (#36634962)

I have to agree, it seems to be a horrible system to develop for.

I remember my company had me developing a version of their app for mobile devices that run Java ME and for BB they had an entire team and some BB dev support company to help out in the technical details and still they constantly encountered things that simply could not be worked around and development was slow.

Heard it before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36634992)

When asked for comment, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer replied with "developers! developers developers developers developers developers developers developers developers developers developers!"

Um, excuse me? (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635012)

Clearly this guy has never used an Android phone...

Android has a major weakness — it will always lack the simplicity and elegance that comes with end-to-end device software, middleware and hardware control.

Last I checked, Android was doing better with end-to-end device software than even Apple was, especially when it comes to things like Hardware Control. Apple's hardware has a basic functionality which can never be changed (without purchasing a new device). Android devices are pretty generic, and can be completely changed - at will, on the fly, in software - to use the hardware (correctly) however it wants. I can program my camera to stream over WiFi or 3G, and monitor it on my computer. I can do this in a couple hours this afternoon, and have it on the Market by dinner. With Apple, I have to purchase their XCode bullshit, and then code in an obscure user-unfriendly language - and only on a Mac. After this, I get to wait several months for them to say "Ok, you can put this on the App Store, but you have to charge $___ for it and we're keeping 75%. What kind of headache is that? Fuck Apple.

Blackberry is a waste of time. It has terrible software and hardware support, and it isn't popularly catered-to by most app developers. If they can overcome any or all of these things, perhaps they can get back a foothold on the market, but they will never lead or surpass the other players.

Re:Um, excuse me? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36635328)

Blackberry is a waste of time. It has terrible software and hardware support, and isn't popularly catered-to by most app developers.

Oh, so it's like Android?

Re:Um, excuse me? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36635554)

Awww, is the poor fanboy piece of shit crying?

How dare you... (0)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635076)

How dare you speak this kind of "common sense" that everyone without the word "executive" in their title already knows.

This guy should be fired...from a cannon!

RIM is almost dead! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36635110)

The company I worked for switched all their Black Berry phones for Android and Iphones. We even shutdown the Black Berry Server never to look back. RIM is on life support, and it won't be long now before they become a relic.

Think about it, do you know anyone who has switched from an Android or Iphone to favor a Black Berry? I doubt it!

Solution: Android Blackberry (1)

csumpi (2258986) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635138)

RIM should make a Blackberry that runs android.

In my experience Blackberries are the best made phones out their for business because of the superb keyboard and best sound quality over voice calls. (I also own iPhone and Droid2.)

Don't sink $[huge number here] into trying to get another app ecosystem going, go with android so executives can play angry birds, and just port the mail/calendar integration. It's all in java, too, so should not be hard.

RIM can donate to my bitcoin wallet for saving their company. - funny

Re:Solution: Android Blackberry (2)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635348)

You are as clueless as the RIM CEOs. Angry Birds? The last thing a business platform needs are games. Android is not the solution because the evolution of that platform is in the hands of Google. Google does not have the best interests of its partners at heart. They are as slimy as MSFT.

BB becoming just another Android OEM is as stupid as Nokia becoming an OEM for Windows Phone 7.

RIM needs to concentrate on the business market and come up with a strategy to get their existing app ecosystem over to their new QNX platform.

They need to do that or get into the middleware/app business for other platforms.

Re:Solution: Android Blackberry (2)

faedle (114018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635670)

I think it is you that misses the point.

The CEO wants to play Angry Birds, so everybody gets iPhones. I've actually seen this happen at a few companies.

too late (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635250)

By the time your employees can tell you are making the wrong decisions, your corporate infrastructure is so screwed there is little hope of recovery. They'd basically need to wipe out their entire middle and upper management teams to fix this.

Business people (1)

munky99999 (781012) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635434)

When times are good the business people dont listen on how to improve things; why change something that's working well? When things start going badly they cant afford to change. The leadership's failures then get forced onto the little guy and they start to get abused with needing to work their ass off for free... because naturally the business downturn must be the employee's laziness.

The employees naturally dont take it well and just start slacking it and looking for a new job. The business rarely recovers when they start dying.

RIM is dying because of 1 major reason. Their closed nature. Google does everything it can to get developers to their platform. RIM does everything it can to get rid of developers. For RIM to turn this around they will need to become open like google at least. This isnt going to happen without all the highest up execs being fired.

Open Source (1)

munky99999 (781012) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635512)

If RIM would open source everything blackberry. How fast would RIM turn around? I bet 1 year time they'd push infront of iphone.

Incompetence. (2)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36635566)

The problems that open letter describes is applicable to countless American companies. I've said it many times before and I'll say it again: this is the end result of business, marketing and economics majors being in charge. Engineers and designers should have been in charge. They've got a better understanding of the technology and are far more likely to be passionate about their products. It's not a certainty that things would improve, of course, but the odds are that they would indeed be better off.

I'm not surprised that management glossed offer the letter. It's already too late, even if they wanted to do something about it they can't. They botched things long ago. If they had the ability to turn the company around they wouldn't even be in this situation right now.

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