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RIM CEO On What Went Wrong

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the second-system-syndrome-is-a-killer dept.

Blackberry 299

AZA43 writes "After releasing some very ugly financial numbers in late June, BlackBerry-maker RIM went on a media blitz to downplay the significance of its latest earnings and counter increasingly negative media attention. ... But a new Q&A with BlackBerry chief Thorsten Heins offers a unique take on what exactly went wrong at RIM — Heins blames the company's downfall [partly] on LTE in the U.S. — and he actually seems genuine in his answers." A peek into the mind of RIM's upper management.

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I blame (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613389)

the fact they named the company after an unsavoury sexual practice.

Re:I blame (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614299)

Better than the first choice. Imagine calling out on your Dirty Sanchez Storm.

LTE? How about Android and IPhone (5, Insightful)

Terry Pearson (935552) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613399)

Just thinking that Android had to put up with LTE and it did just fine. Maybe Blackberry's problem is user interface, tight control of apps, and now a crowded market with better products.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613577)

Just thinking that Android had to put up with LTE and it did just fine. Maybe Blackberry's problem is user interface, tight control of apps, and now a crowded market with better products.

I don't know if this is right, but I suspect that the open source nature of Android forces a separation from the operating system and the actual telephony stack. The telephony stack was closed source, I think it may be open now in Ice-cream Sandwich, but the architecture would have had to make the higher level OS layers communicate through a well-defined interface, making it easier to switch telephony technology.

I would be interested if anyone can confirm this suspicion (or show it to be incorrect!).

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613695)

On both iOS and Android the telephony and normal OS are quite seperated. It has nothing to do with open or closed source, just that they treat it as yet another device like the touch screen or the camera. I am not sure how BBOS handles it, but to not do it that way would be stupid.

Even ICS needs closed source drivers for GSM/CDMA radios and often wifi. Hardware companies as always are a huge PITA. The big news with ICS is that all Nexus devices save for Sprints Galaxy Nexus are supported via closed source but publicly available drivers for this kind of hardware. The Nexus S 4G(sprint) and the Verizon branded Galaxy Nexus were the two just recently added back into the AOSP fold.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (5, Insightful)

noh8rz5 (2674523) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613643)

The problem is BYOD - bring your own device. people would rather use their own gear than RIM. Actually, the real problem is that consumer electronics have been growing leaps and bounds, and business electronics have been stuck in the past. It used to be that businesses could afford the real stuff, while consumers got the cheeps. Now, my computer at home is faster and more pleasing to use than my POS at work. RIM fell into the "POS at work" category. People's eyes were opened by the iPhone, and they began to have a higher standard.

^^^ Exactly (4, Interesting)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614177)

We only just recently turned in our pagers at work ( ! ) Meanwhile I own a Samsung Galaxy 2S (Sprint Epic Touch) which is better than 90% of the phones I see during the day. One concern is proprietary info on personal devices - most phones will play friendly with exchange servers, but companies don't want you to have that stuff on your personal device if you are fired or quit.

I think part of the reason isn't enterprises being "stuck in the past", but they are more cautious when deploying new systems and approving software for use.

The economy is another factor. The machine at your desk is already paid for.

New machines vs. someone salary - it's better to keep your job.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613789)

It shows how clueless they actually are. LTE has nothing to do with it. The problem was after the iPhone the phone became a "computer in your pocket" and RIM still had "Email in your pocket" - which suddenly looks a lot less compelling.

RIM can't just do "something like an iPhone" that isn't going to wash. They need something radically new, clearly communication needs to be at its core (what were they thinking with the Playbook v1 - no email?!) Probably they need something with a keyboard (though how do you make THAT exciting?) as so many of their customers want that. They need excellence in industrial design. Personally I think they need the "blinky light" that shows you have a message. They need a far better UI (using the current Blackberry UI is an exercise in irritation). Most of all, "covering the bases" isn't enough, they need a "killer app" - being "competitive" can't save them, they have no momentum.

And they need integration with a mobile device (like an iPad or Ultrabook - Blackberry users are keen on those keyboards).

Can they do it? Hmm... seems vanishingly unlikely.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (3, Insightful)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613865)

Do you think he doesn't know that? This is politics. So you're the CEO of a company. Are you really going to come out to your shareholders and say "We're in the shit 'cause our competitors have done better? We'll one-up up them now! Promise!" Of course not! This raises nasty questions like "Well, why didn't you do better before it was a problem?" or "Oh yeah? And how are you going to do that?", questions which either aren't productive or can't be answered without showing your cards to your competition. No... instead, you make up some silly excuse that sounds plausible to anyone who isn't in the know.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40614113)

didn't steve ballmer basically come out and say this in the past week? basically hinted that apple has outdone them, but that is all about to change?! we shall see.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (3, Funny)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614357)

The difference is, if you don't believe Ballmer, he can throw a chair at you.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (3, Interesting)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613941)

RIM needs to give up on the OS.

Due to the traditional enterprise focus of Microsoft, I personally think it would be in RIM and Microsoft's favor to join forces by releasing a few good WP8-powered Blackberrys.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614117)

I am not sure the blind leading the blind is the best method for RIM to survive. If WP7/8 actually sold a large number of devices it might be worth it. Instead they need to support ActiveSync on their own devices and offer their software/services on non-BB devices as well.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (1)

glebovitz (202712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614167)

Yes, and they should announce the end of life of their current platform so that sales drop to zero. Oh, and they should abandon their entirely new product line in favor of Windows Phone 8. It's probably time for Heins to right some serious memo about how RIM is on a burning platform.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (1)

glebovitz (202712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614185)

Yes, and they should announce the end of life of their current platform so that sales drop to zero. Oh, and they should abandon their entirely new product line in favor of Windows Phone 8. It's probably time for Heins to right some serious memo about how RIM is on a burning platform.

Yes I know, it should be write the memo. Gosh I miss post-posting editing.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (4, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614257)

Give up on the OS? RIM has the only real time kernel on the market. Everyone else is using a server kernel adjusted for the desktop and then readjusted for the phone. The OS is one of their few remaining strengths.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614337)

They already gave up their old OS, which I have real trouble believing was real time.
Their new OS is QNX, which is real time, but I still don't see how a real time kernel helps them.

No desktop operating systems I know bother with them.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (3, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614427)

I was talking about QNX. Real time helps them because it makes the system much more responsive. Phones because of weak CPUs, network interference and limited memory often have noticeable lags. A real time kernel allows the phone to always be responsive to the end user while handling those tasks effectively.. It also allows for vastly more sophisticated power management which can result in much longer battery life.

And you are right desktop OSes don't use them. All the desktop OSes since the days of OS9 have been designed for servers. Which means they focus on throughput not responsiveness, and then adjusted for the desktop to some extent.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (1)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613983)

Just thinking that Android had to put up with LTE and it did just fine. Maybe Blackberry's problem is user interface, tight control of apps, and now a crowded market with better products.

But blaming on LTE means their problem is well-defined and therefore manageable (stock price goes up), while blaming on lousy products, poor strategic vision, and increasing competition means their problems are multifarious and deep rooted (stock price goes down). Thus it is obvious what the problem must be.

it's like an alcoholic who blames his latest bender on someone spiking his shirley temple.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613997)

If you read the article instead of the summary, you'll see that he's actually well aware of that and it's not just him saying "derp we weren't ready for the arrival of LTE" (in spite of how the summary makes that appear to be the case).

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40614175)

Just thinking that Android had to put up with LTE and it did just fine. Maybe Blackberry's problem is user interface, tight control of apps, and now a crowded market with better products.

Tight control of apps? You're kidding, right? Blackberries had apps long before Apple even thought of making the iphone.

Blackberries allow their owner to control what an app can do. After all, you bought the blackberry, YOU can decide what apps to install on YOUR smartphone. You don't need RIM's permission or approval to install an app. RIM doesn't have the ability to remove apps from YOUR smartphone (unlike Apple).

YOU can decide what apps do with YOUR blackberry. Unlike Apple, which seems to feel that any app sold via app store can do whatever they want with the data on your iphone.

If you want no restrictions on what apps can do with your blackberry, you can do that too (but it would be pretty dumb - you shouldn't trust app vendors that much). For example, the very popular WhatsApp messenger takes all the information from your contacts and sends it back to the vendor (you agreed to that in the terms & conditions). WhatsApp uses that for marketing to you and all your contacts.

Apple is starting to realize some of their errors and (allegedly) will have some granular permissions on what apps can do with ios 6.

RIM has always given away free documentation and free SDKs to build apps. RIM even gives away free device emulators to test your apps. RIM doesn't require an NDA the way Apple did.

RIM places no restrictions on how you sell your apps (unlike Apple, which forces you to sell via their app store, and you have to pay Apple their tithe to sell via their app store). You can sell your apps via RIM's app world, or sell your apps by any other method that YOU choose.

It's true that many businesses have restrictions on what can be done with their blackberries, but they bought the smartphone - it's not unreasonable to have some controls over what happens to confidential company data.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40614381)

Nice sentiments, but how do you reconcile the fact that the app experience on all blackberry devices is abject shit?
That nobody develops them, and nobody uses them? I have first hand experience with a lot of pre and post iphone blackberry devices. - At the very best I could describe the app experience as confused and inconsistent. I could go on for pages about the nuances, but it's much easier and accurate enough to say "shit"

Hint: People aren't going to chose shit simply because they're free to choose shit over something better.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614211)

Android (Google) had very little to do with the LTE. Samsung, HTC, Motorola did just find with LTE. And yes as the RIM CEO indicates in the interview they thought it was going to come out more slowly, they were focused on smaller markets and missed the boat.

Re:LTE? How about Android and IPhone (3, Insightful)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614377)

RIM's immediate problem is BlackBerry faithful holding out for BB 10 devices. Up until this last quarter RIM hadn't had a sizable reduction in sales. Their stock has taken a beating because they hadn't grown at the same pace as the smartphone market leading to sensationalist headlines decrying their impending doom because they were losing market share. While technically true it is like saying the baker on the corner is going bankrupt because 500 people moved into the neighborhood and the baker is still selling the 100 cakes a week he had for the last decade while 2 other bakers opened up shop and are selling 200 cakes a week each. The iPhone opened the smart phone market up to a new demographic. RIM was created to serve a completely different demographic and their culture has struggled to reach the new market. That market has started to erode their core market so they are indeed in dire straights if they don't do a course correction and they are well aware of that. They are doing what needs to be done just slower than the market would like. There are a lot of factors that will determine if RIM remains relevant but to count them out would be foolish at this point. Did you bet against Apple in the 90's? I bet you did...

Apple happened (4, Insightful)

oconnorcjo (242077) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613415)

I always thought that the palm pilot was a great idea, but if it had phone functionality, it would be perfect. Blackberry never saw this idea too well. When Apple finally figured it out, Blackberry was dead man walking.

Re:Apple happened (3, Funny)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613627)

but come on, everyone knows that business people aren't allowed to enjoy themselves on flights. if the IT goons didn't lock down the phones so that you can't do anything on them the company will fall apart? imagine the horror of the director of something using his phone to download a non-IT approved app like Angry Birds to play while on a business trip? the client will freak and pull the business

if you take the power away from the IT goons to lock everything down what will they do? how will they get their power trip on?

Re:Apple happened (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613835)

The IT goons as you call us were the ones quite often pushing for the death of RIM.

My and my goon coworkers pushed to have RIM banned from our company. If you have our company buy you a device you can select an iPhone or Android of your desire. If you BYOD same rules apply if you want any support. We aren't total dicks, we just will not do better than best effort. If it a RIM device comes in and does not work out of the box or they have any trouble at all we just suggest they return it for something else.

We have saved tons of time not having to deal with repushing servicebooks, pulling batteries, and restarting the whole BES server. Which is a PITA since it takes out email for all its clients.

IT wants nothing to do with your phone (1, Insightful)

charnov (183495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614039)

IT does nothing.. and I mean NOTHING... without it being crammed down our throats by management, legal, or regulatory departments. We would rather get back to playing CoD or Warcraft and considering our pay has been on average slashed by half in the last 8 years, that's all the living we get any more.

Re:Apple happened (2, Interesting)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613715)

RIM had a complete internal panic when Apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007, a former employee revealed this weekend. The BlackBerry maker is now known to have held multiple all-hands meetings on January 10 that year, a day after the iPhone was on stage, and to have made outlandish claims about its features. Apple was effectively accused of lying as it was supposedly impossible that a device could have such a large touchscreen but still get a usable lifespan away from a power outlet. []

Re:Apple happened (5, Interesting)

kdogg73 (771674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613947)

That link led me to this Dvorak gem, too: []

Re:Apple happened (4, Interesting)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614133)

Oh yeah, that's one of the all-time great bits of self-ownage.

Tech journalists make bad calls all the time, but few tech writers have made such a blisteringly bad call as seasoned columnist John C. Dvorak, who famously predicted back in 2007 that “Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone [because it is just] going to be another phone in a crowded market.”

D’oh. $150 billion in revenue later, the iPhone is the biggest success Apple has ever had, and revolutionized pretty much every single aspect of the smartphone and even telecom business. That’s quite the missed prediction, even by tech journalist standards.

So what does Dvorak have to say to explain himself? Was it just a brain fart, or what? Five years later, Dvorak has explained why he said the iPhone would be a dud, and his excuse is fascinating: he claims he got it wrong because of a conspiracy against tech journalists like him who were too honest about Apple for their own good. []

Re:Apple happened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40614335)


So Dvorak's excuse is that he didn't get to see the pre-release iPhone. So he based his TV appearances and articles on the rumors and his guesses. Is that how tech journalism works these days?

No, don't answer, I knew it was a bad question as soon as I typed it.

I like John Dvorak. (2)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614271)

He's proof that ANYBODY can find a job, no skill required, even in this economy.

Re:Apple happened (4, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614233)

Because Compaq (then later on HP) never invented PDAs (this is what they were called before smartphone became the prominent term) with phone capability called the iPaq, nor was this name used even before the iPod. Palm pilots with phone functionality is basically exactly what newer model iPaqs were.

Apple didn't "figure out" this concept, far from it, it was already well established in the marketplace. What Apple did succeed in doing however was to bring it to consumers - RIM, HP, and even Dell's devices were business oriented, and whilst some consumers liked business features enough to embrace these devices as a consumer oriented tool, they were never going to compete with devices that were targetted purely at consumers, rather than business.

It's the same reason that the likes of Netbooks sold hundreds of millions of units and took the market by storm in just a year or two - because to that point, most laptops out there were focussed either towards businesses, or the expensive high end power user like gamers, and again, whilst plenty of people bought laptops, finding value in them as a personal tool regardless, the consumerisation of them as netbooks really made the whole market explode. Tablets are again no different - the iPad was nothing new, tablets had been done in a way similar to the iPad since at least 2002 with Windows XP Tablet Edition's introduction (of course there were precursors to even that, but this is the point at which they became viable in the way they are now), but they were never consumer oriented, and so never really took off.

Re:Apple happened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40614393)

PalmOS DID have phone functionality. Started with the Kyocera 6031 in 2001. I had one of them.

Blackberry's claim to fame was email push. They'd done it right against the backdrop of their "smartphones" (which weren't really all that capable compared to WinMo or Palm devices of the day...) and they've been basically resting on their laurels ever since that time. They've basically been a dead man walking from nearly their beginnings.

LTE? (5, Informative)

headhot (137860) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613425)

Its not being ready for LTE that kill them, it was the lack of modernizing the user interface and modern phones that killed them.

Re:LTE? (1)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613507)

Its not being ready for LTE that kill them, it was the lack of modernizing the user interface and modern phones that killed them.

Exactly! RIM was dieing way before LTE was anything more than a pipe dream... heck even now LTE isn't that big of a deal for most buyers...

Re:LTE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613697)

His saying big bandwidth hurt them, as they focused on compression and push based email on low bandwidth. The teleco's want their pipes to be in use fully, hence they like android, ios and media heavy platforms.

Re:LTE? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614037)

Big bandwidth does not hurt you if you are not using it. It is just there to be used if you need it.

Telcos sell what people want, BB is not what people want.

Re:LTE? (2)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613725)

This just goes to demonstrate that RIM's upper management is about a few lightyears away from the cause of their downfall.

If this information is genuine, I don't expect RIM to be around anymore in 5 years.

Re:LTE? (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613875)

Haven't you learned not to trust slashdot summaries? Of course there's selective out-of-context quoting - but ultimately he acknowledged several major problems that led to the current situation. LTE was listed as one of them, but indirectly. If you're actually interested, the article is a good read; and shows that they're not *quite* so out of touch as the /. summary leads you to believe.

It's not a phone any more (3, Insightful)

david.emery (127135) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613453)

It's a pocket computer. -THAT's- the big shift that RIMM missed, and -is still missing-.

Nice summary of what the iPhone changed here: []

Re:It's not a phone any more (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613885)

It's a pocket computer.

I agree... and don't. It's certainly not a traditional Windows machine crammed into a pocket computer. It's something for people to surf the web, check their email, do their social network thing, look at the weather, listen to music/watch videos - all the things they use a "computer" for besides work (unless you count email). But there is almost zero time spent on configuration, debugging, etc. People do change background pictures and ringtones and things like that, but they certainly don't interact with the OS in a way they are conscious of. It's always a bit jarring when you have to deal with an actual file location in Android - for the most part the whole file system has been abstracted away. In iOS, it is completely abstracted away.

Re:It's not a phone any more (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614089)

I agree for many people it is that way, and mostly it is a good thing. For me less so, but that is because I use SSH on my phone, I use it to write perl and in general spend a fair bit of time at the console. I also run ROMS, build apps etc. The fact that I can do that and my girlfriend does not even have a file browser installed on hers is great.

Re:It's not a phone any more (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614217)

Yes, I should have started with a disclaimer that I wasn't talking about the Slashdot crowd :)

The first thing I do whether my phone is an iPhone or (currently) an Android is root/jailbreak it and install ssh... it's my preferred way of updating my ports on my FreeBSD machine since it stops so frequently.

Pre-mortem Analysis (4, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613459)

"we missed on some innovation..."
"we weren't ready for it..."
"not being focused on the new, innovative technologies..."

and finally: "I would not say that we failed to innovate."

Re:Pre-mortem Analysis (2)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613727)

and another one:

The delay of BlackBerry 10 is not because we added stuff to it. The delay is because our software groups were actually so successful in coding the [..components and building blocks..] that when we put them into the main "trunk line," [..] we got overwhelmed by integration efforts.

so adding stuff is bad, but adding components is good?


Re:Pre-mortem Analysis (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613797)

That pretty much sums it up. The guy is completely oblivious or in denial. He failed, and if he can't even admit they failed to innovate, then the company isn't out of the woods yet.

Blackberry made an awesome successful product, and thought they could simply coast from its popularity for the next 25 years... they had no idea other companies would come up with better stuff in the blink of an eye. In computer world, 10 years is an eternity. Seeing your shortcomings and fixing them is the key to success. Blackberry didn't see their shortcomings, and from the looks of it, sounds like they still don't.

RIM inherits from C= (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614023)

RIM seems to be the Commodore of this decade. Good product, dedicated following, "killer management".

Re:Pre-mortem Analysis (2)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614235)

I think they lucked into awesome success though - BlackBerry always was a corporate solution, it just turned out that consumers were looking for the same sort of thing they were already making and they managed to jump on that market.

As for innovation, well look at the whole QNX acquisition mess. RIM bought QNX in 2010, but it's going to take until 2013 (at least!) to come up with a QNX-based OS (BlackBerry 10) for their smartphones. The only place they are using QNX is the dead-end PlayBook OS. By 2013 it really won't matter if they can make QNX work on their smartphones or not as they will have passed into irrelevance.

IMO, iOS has a future. Android has a future. Windows might be a niche player. Bada is bound to get some percentage points simply because it is being backed by Samsung. Everything else is irrelevant.. that's not to say that there aren't good OSes out there (MeeGo, Tizen and yes, QNX) but that they are simply more than customers need.

Instead of phones, RIM is now selling jets (4, Informative)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613475)

I just read RIM has sold one of their corporate jets [] in order to stay afloat. That's pretty desperate.

Re:Instead of phones, RIM is now selling jets (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613663)

At least they managed to trim a bit of fat from the top, instead of keeping the jet and firing 150 minions as part of a 'strategic realignment'...

Re:Instead of phones, RIM is now selling jets (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613771)

I just read RIM has sold one of their corporate jets [] in order to stay afloat. That's pretty desperate.


Clearly, RIM should have kept all the corporate jets and ask for a government bailout, the same way GM & Chrysler did.

RIM would get bonus points if they actually flew on their corporate jets to go and ask for a government bailout, the same way GM & Chrysler did.

Re:Instead of phones, RIM is now selling jets (0)

BVis (267028) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613995)

Back under your bridge, troll.

Re:Instead of phones, RIM is now selling jets (4, Funny)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613831)

In a related news, to keep the company afloat, corporate jets were replaced with hot air balloons.

Re:Instead of phones, RIM is now selling jets (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614247)

So its RNIM (research not in motion)

Lack of RIM happened (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613477)

RIM = Research In Motion

They simply sat down and rested on their laurels and forgot what their company name originally meant. No research -> No development -> No innovation .... open the barn door for a new player .... Apple.

Lolwut? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613485)

So, if I understand the situation in bizzaro world correctly, it goes something like this:

Noble RIM, blindsided(because maintaining strong, mutually beneficial carrier partnerships isn't at all part of RIM's job given that they sell both in-house hardware and proprietary data backend services to carriers...) by the US' sudden uptick in LTE enthusiasm(the same one that was proceeded by a blizzard of advertising so relentless that even drooling morons 'knew' that they 'wanted 4G', even if they didn't know what that meant, and which was necessarily accompanied by a flurry of buildouts and upgraded hardware that the professional channel-watchers and trade rags would never have noticed) caused RIM to be horribly blindsided by the iPhone(which, incidentally, has been quite conservative about bumping connection technologies, with HSDPA only introduced on the 3GS and HSUPA exclusive to the 4S) and various Android devices, many of which were brutally smacked down by reviewers and customers for having early-adopted cell modems that their batteries and/or browsers couldn't cope with in order to sell 'zOMG 4G+++!@!!!" to the cluelesss.

This development, catching RIM entirely by surprise, and having no apparent effect on the relatively low-speed requirements of RIM's email/messaging/truly awful browser experience, thereby gutted RIM's position.

Also, the sky is purple, with green dots.

Re:Lolwut? (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614329)

No what happened in his world what that key Blackberry strengths like message compression stopped being important because network speeds increased drastically. Additionally functionality that wouldn't have been possible with lower network speeds like video and extensive browsing became possible.

What went wrong..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613519)

..... is the fact that they did not change what was needed to ensure business continuity.

When I was working there in April and May of last year I warned them for what would happen in case of an outage.
How the outage would last longer cause of the situation they had at that point and how to improve it.

Besides ensuring business continuity they would have also saved close to a million on personal inside their Dutch, belgium and french DC.

They said... yes you are right and no, we are not going to change it!

I left cause I did not want to be responsible and they had an outage.
Look at their stock and see when it plummeted to the ground and besides that I will give you all your personal space to decide.

LTE – iPhone's downfall too? (1)

Henriok (6762) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613537)

Yeah! It's LTE's fault. Really, that's why iPhones are selling so badly oh wait! No, they are not selling badly at all!

RIM Ignored the World (4, Insightful)

SkydiverFL (310021) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613561)

The company was over confident, overly comfortable in the business space, and simply ignored the customer base... both current and potential. While touch screens were popping up all over the place they were still pushing their tiny physical keyboard. While the competition was bumping up processor speeds to up performance RIM simply slapped on a crude semi-touchscreen which was too big and cumbersome for the core of the device. And, they offered virtually NOTHING to the developer market to foster application creation or distribution. And, finally, they simply ignored their own infrastructure multiple times. In short, they were so confident that their position in the business space was so guaranteed that they turned a blind to everything important.

Re:RIM Ignored the World (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613877)

Yep, BlackBerry used to be the "cool" phone to get back when everyone else who owned a smartphone was stuck with the old Windows Mobile. A lot of people back then had BlackBerries who weren't really corporate users, they just wanted the best smartphone, which in the early start of the smartphone was the BlackBerry. Then the iPhone came out, then the flood of Android phones. For business users Android phones and the iPhone have become more and more business centered over time. When it comes down to it, why would anyone who isn't tied into BBES even consider a BlackBerry today? With the problems with BBES, why would any corporation choose that over its competitors?

Re:RIM Ignored the World (0)

BVis (267028) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614025)

Taxation is legalized theft, no more, no less.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:RIM Ignored the World (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614227)

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

It's not theft when you get something for it. It is theft when it's used for bailouts and the bailouts are used for bonuses, and what's more, it's stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.

Re:RIM Ignored the World (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614309)

Calling all taxation "theft" is inaccurate hyperbole. I get plenty back from paying my taxes. I certainly get a lot more value for my money than if I tried to buy the services on my own. Sure, some of it gets spent on things I don't want, but sometimes you have to take the bad with the good.

No mention of ActiveSync? (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613637)

Either this CEO has no idea what he is talking about or does not want to address the elephant in the room. iPhone and Android support of ActiveSync is what did so much damage to RIM. Had BB supported that many people would have stuck with them just to avoid carrying around two devices, one for work one for play.

It also freed IT departments from dealing with restarting the phone, repushing servicebooks restarting the BES server and all the other hassle that went with BES. I know companies that moved to iPhone/Android and either fired or repurposed an full time employee that had been previously dedicated to BES.

Re:No mention of ActiveSync? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613935)


downfall (1)

Muramas95 (2459776) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613647)

What do you think would happen when you don't release a new phone in over a year.

RIM Ignored the consumer (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613673)

RIM ignored the generic consumer in favor of selling their products in the business space. At first it worked because no other phone could do well in the business space and back when the only choices were Windows Mobile (the old, slow, unstable Windows Mobile) or BlackBerry many chose BlackBerry even if it wasn't the ideal smartphone, it was better than the competition. Then Apple released the iPhone which was consumer focused, no longer could RIM keep the consumers who just wanted a smartphone because there was a better option. Soon Android started appearing everywhere and iPhones got a whole lot more business friendly. All the while RIM was selling outdated hardware, an outdated UI, next to no developer support, and any time they tried to innovate it was a half-hearted attempt that failed (remember the storm?).

In a nutshell, why is RIM broke? Because no one wants to buy a BlackBerry because an iPhone/Android does the job a whole lot better.

Re:RIM Ignored the consumer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613927)

Windows Mobile (the old, slow, unstable Windows Mobile)

As opposed to the new, improved, slow, unstable Windows Mobile?

Re:RIM Ignored the consumer (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614015)

Windows Phone 7 (the successor to Windows Mobile) is a whole lot better than Windows Mobile, its not perfect, but it does a few things a bit better than Android and iOS and is about the only real upgrade of an OS that's better in every respect that I've ever seen aside from the upgrades of OS 9 to OS X and WIndows 9x to Windows NT.

Re:RIM Ignored the consumer (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614141)

Well lets look at what you said honestly.
"RIM ignored the generic consumer in favor of selling their products in the business space. "
Who else was buying smartphones? They where expensive and business had the money and the need for them.
"Then Apple released the iPhone which was consumer focused,"
Because Apple couldn't compete with RIM in the Business space. It lacked security and features. The first rev of the iPhone even lacked apps which the Blackberry had.
Apple built a very powerful hardware platform. Their bit of brilliance was that they noticed that you could build a device that you could put in your pocket and run on batteries that was actually more powerful than a VAX 11/780! They figured out you could run a UNIX on a phone aka they put on modified version of OS/X on a phone. Blackberry and frankly everyone else was stuck thinking that phones must use simple OSs and apps. Combine that with Apple getting the UI right which is something Apple is good at and you have the iPhone.
Blackberry wasn't stupid. It was making money hand over fist. They saw a phone as a communication device and expanded it to handle email and messaging really well. It would run all day on a battery and worked well over slow connections. What Apple did was think of the smart phone as a computer that you could make calls on. It's battery life was good enough but not as good as the Blackberry and it and other smart phones like it drove the adoption of faster cellular technology.

Re:RIM Ignored the consumer (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614201)

What? No they didn't. They made a huge play for the generic consumer market. Remember the Pearl? That was their biggest mistake: if they'd stuck to their core strength, the business market, they would have come through a lot better.

That and the PlayBook; what a farce. And their BB server software is crap.

Hmmm (4, Informative)

AdmV0rl0n (98366) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613685)

I have to run Blackberry Enterprise Server. Its a complete pain in the ass in terms of support and main. Its years behind, and its clunky, chunky, and we end up going through endless workload and silly upgrade games. The handsets break if users look at them. I have to do warranty on them daily, and BB now quibble over each return, making the whole thing fail.

The handsets themselves - good email platform, crap at everything else. And the world _is_moving off being email platform centric.
Blackberry messenger is a bright point, but that should be broken out and made an application layer across all mobile devices. The same could well be said for the application layer and so on.

Their network is creaking, but is the one serious advantage that they have, but leverage poorly.

The playbook should have been a blackberry in a tablet form. Instead you needed a BB and as PB to get function. = Fail. Do not now how that ever, ever, ever passed QA and system testing.

If I were BB, I would go software only, and build my whole thing as a software/API/Network package, and build on that. Make the software a package available on all main platforms (Android, IOS, Others) and sell on data packages, and data transit using BB networks. And I'd radically overhaul BB enterprise server into something cleaner, better supported and easier to install, manage, run.

If they stay in the handset market, they need a killer phone/tablet BB 10 release, and they need to cut down handsets to one cheap cheerful, and one kickass model (curve/bold) and stop shipping masses of differening handsets, and make the things robust (the current models are not robust, and are inexusably so) And whatever tablet they ship needs to be a full BB.
(For the record, the playbook was so close to being very very good, and was wrecked by a simplistically small, but incredibly important part, that the whol board and playbook team need to have their heads banged together until they realise how stupid that fail was)

Not that anyone at BB listens anymore.

Nuff said.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614319)

The playbook should have been a blackberry in a tablet form. Instead you needed a BB and as PB to get function. = Fail. Do not now how that ever, ever, ever passed QA and system testing.

My guess is that RIM management considered it to be feature, not a bug. In their previous dominant position, they were so concerned about not competing against themselves, that they forgot to compete with the rest of the market.

Instead of worrying that Playbooks might erode sales of higher-end BBs, or managing turf battles between their phone and tablet groups, perhaps they figured they would tie the two together, and *presto* -- ensure customers would be locked-in to the combination, and guarantee RIM make a two-for-one sale. Except of course, that instead of choosing to buy both, customers chose to buy neither.

The Blackberry way (2)

3CheeseMac (693439) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613717)

If he truly believes that LTE is the cause of their problems they really are sunk. LTE is happening now because iOS and Android are forcing change in how carriers have to supply data to consumers as a result of these devices' rich media capabilities. It is a virtuous (or vicious) circle that RIM was not part of. His enumeration of the Balckberry way (compression, security, etc.) indicates that RIM was happy to live within the restrictions dictated by carriers rather than focusing on what end customers really wanted. Starting with the original iPhone, everyone except RIM suddenly saw another way.

This too shall pass (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613719)

Breaking News: Technology surpassed by another Technology. Former Technology CEO Responds.

"I would not say that we failed to innovate." (Direct Quote)

If he believes any of this, they are doomed. (1)

tinytim (25110) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613735)

> RIM is still a very innovative company. BlackBerry 10 will absolutely prove this.

Translation - we have been and are an innovative company, and let me point out this vaporware as my sole example of this.

I also like the part about their strong discipline with regard to product delays - on a product that's had numerous delays.

They were 10 years late to the touchscreen party, 5 years late to the functional web browser party, and they are still trying to show up to the UI party.

He's not *that* honest (5, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613739)

I'm curious why you decided to take the helm at RIM?

Surely it should be: Money, Al. Huge, heaving, throbbing piles of money, more money than you'll ever see in your entire life, more money than you can possibly imagine.

No matter how much of this festering dinosaur I have to carve off and throw to the dino-wolves, there will still be more than I can eat, and I'm going to gorge myself on its rotting corpse until we're down to the lips and asshole.

They STILL have the BEST KEYBOARD (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613777)

Physical QWERTY Keyboard. You are lying if you think otherwise - easily the fastest and most accurate way to type on any mobile device is the Blackberry keyboard. And good ol' Heinsy points that out. I would gladly switch to an android device if anyone would just make a device with a comparable physical keyboard.

Re:They STILL have the BEST KEYBOARD (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613951)

If you mean that crappy portrait mode keyboard, then there are android devices like that.

I hate them, and would much prefer a slide out keyboard of reasonable size but they exist.

Here is one example: []

You will be sacrificing everything for that though, battery, screen, ram, a good SOC. These are only ever low end to midrange at best devices. Any BB user who is not lying to himself would be ecstatic at the upgrade though.

Re:They STILL have the BEST KEYBOARD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40613959)

I never used a blackberry, but I used a Motorola Q (2005 windows phone) that had a blackberry style keyboard and I loved it. My Motorola Droid keyboard is better than an onscreen keyboard, but nothing compared to that blackberry style keyboard. I want the same thing, Android with a BB keyboard.

Re:They STILL have the BEST KEYBOARD (1)

pnutjam (523990) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614275)

Learn to use the swype keyboard, it is very fast and accurate.

Re:They STILL have the BEST KEYBOARD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40614283)

Those keyboards are a pile of shit.

Market position epic fail (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613783)

Heins blames the company's downfall [partly] on LTE in the U.S

Do any customer decision makers make decisions based on LTE, or even know what LTE is beyond marketing? No.

What killed RIM was they were the first to market and became the corporate near-monopoly standard. They focused hard on F500 customers because thats the only place where the money was in the smartphone market. Until everyone and their brother bought a iphone, which tipped the overall market from being dominated by corporate to being dominated by hipsters buying iphone apps.

Its a balance thing. There are layers of markets. They focused super hard solely on the corporate sub-market of the greater smartphone market, in the early years that submarket was probably 99% of the total market so that was an excellent idea... at that time. Despite being a nearly monopoly player, they actually did a pretty good job almost outta the goodness of their heart. The problem, is years later, the individual submarket explosively grew to a large multiple of the subcorporate market, so they're now a small time player in the overall smartphone market, in a field of near natural monopoly where small time players simply go out of business.

If they could have released the iphone instead of apple... If they could have become the "android competitor equivalent" to iphone instead of the Mighty GOOG ... but they didn't... so bye bye.

A good /. car analogy would be there was recently a fad of obese landwhale SUVs which were so popular they tipped the whole automotive market toward SUVs. Then the fad ended. Whoops. Companies that didn't just tilt toward the SUV side but ran as fast as they could to the extreme while ignoring the rest of the market are toast.

Re:Market position epic fail (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40613921)

Oh oh better /. car analogy:

Every cities got that one car repair shop where they don't care about individual customers because they've got the Big Corporate Contract or the Big Govt Contract.

Then a zillion competitors open who actually care about individual customers.

Inevitably the "all eggs in one basket" contract repair shop has an epic fail when the contract ends or the competitive competitors do so much better that the contract repair shop is left in the dust.

I used to take my car to the local .gov contract shop because my father was a friend of a friend type of deal, otherwise they would not deal with a peon like me. I actually loved it because their workers were used to contract work and had no idea how to BS regular retail customers like me, and the office people barely knew how to bill me (I must be one of the few individuals in the country who paid for CV joint replacement on a Net30 line of credit?). They didn't even have a real waiting room... it was weird yet cool. It advise try it if you get the chance. It was pretty weird, a giant lot full of cop cars and fire engines and yellow DPW service trucks surrounding my little plymouth horizon. Some places do service internally but this was one of those public-private partnerships where a campaign donor charges twice what the internal service department ever charged, etc.

Re:Market position epic fail (1)

whois (27479) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614191)

As an aside, their product was horribly cumbersome to use. The scroll wheel thing was a failure and any setting you had to find was buried deep under sometimes arbitrary submenus. It's bad when your techie people can't even figure out how to get the thing working. It leads even corporate users to start dropping the platform as soon as something comes along that does what they need and is easy to use (iPhone)

Remember for years corporations were refusing to allow iPhones because they didn't support all the BES features like remote management and wipe, but they were giving exceptions to their executives. That is a BAD sign. When none of your customers want your product but feel forced into it, it's time to do something about that or eventually they'll decide whatever is holding them to it isn't worth the pain.

Re:Market position epic fail (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614285)

Until everyone and their brother bought a iphone, which tipped the overall market from being dominated by corporate to being dominated by hipsters buying iphone apps.

Yes, Hipsters. 37 million of them in Q1 of 2012. So many hipsters.

In five years (2)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614003)

Heins will likely join the list of people such as Jonathan Schwartz (Sun Microsystems) and whoever ran DEC at the end as the final CEO of a defunct technology company that one time was a major player. But RIM will likely outlast Nokia for whatever comfort that is worth.

I have an idea (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614057)

I have an idea. Seeing as how I'm the IT Manager at my company and we just switched from blackberries to android devices, maybe they should listen to me. I can't remotely manage android phones at all and certainly not all at once. That pisses me off and makes it so I can't do my job. Why did we switch? The Blackberry Enterprise Server was one giant, glitchy memory leak that caused me to constantly reboot my server. I believe that software is also no longer free. Hmmm. Maybe since they are the only mass remotely managed phone platform out there, they should just develop software that doesn't suck and release it for free then market it to businesses. Then I won't have to deal with rogue purchases and games and music and internet radio streaming and viruses like on our awesome new android devices. The market is wide open, they just need to get their heads out of their asses.

Re:I have an idea (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614373)

There are lots of software solutions for securing Android and remote management along with 2 major strategies. If you are serious in wanting to discuss a remote management solution and/or outsourcing remote management send me an email at jbolden AT BlueLotusSIDC DOT com

Part of what is really wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40614109)

Posting anonymously, this is all second hand.
  RIM has many problems, but a major problem at the moment is poor software design. For instance for BB native apps to talk to one another they write directly to memory, everything is shared. Basically everything has to be re-written for the new OS from scratch to bring it up to modern standards. The shared memory worked great in early models and made things run fast, but as the software got more complicated it slows development time. They are working as fast as they can to re-write everything, so if people wonder why they are so slow bringing out new products this is the major reason.

So if LTE is the problem.... (3, Insightful)

Karlt1 (231423) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614203)

then how is the worlds most profitable cell phone company selling only 3G phones?

Security is the point they missed (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614249)

Security is important to just about every business. The idea that if the handset falls into inappropriate hands that all the email, all the contacts and all the notes are wide open and available.

The iPhone has some security but mostly it relies on two things: a very limited amount of email on the device itself and being able to remote wipe the device from the Exchange server. Which means the user has to (a) recognize the device is missing and (b) call IT real quick to get it wiped.

Blackberry has the edge on this with whole-device encryption which I do not believe exists on either iPhone or Android. This difference all by itself could have been used to RIM's advantage but they apparently missed this being significant.

One huge failing that I see is the handling of HTML email on the device. Blackberry chose - intentionally - to strip HTML email down and send it to the device to display in text-only form. For the purposes of storing hundreds, if not thousands of company emails on the device in 8GB (or less) it works. For the purposes of dealing with internal company email that some secretary has jazzed up with fancy stationary it works by throwing all that garbage away. Unfortunately, it doesn't work if the HTML in the email really has a purpose. Unfortunately, the answer to this is to go the iPhone/Android way and holding almost nothing on the device - which nobody ever explained to the business users.

Today, we have Angry Birds instead of security and everything that entails. Sure, the screen is bigger and in some cases more functional. But is this what business customers need? It is clearly what they want.

RIM Market Share (1)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614297)

From TFA: "I think you will see the shrinkage of the BlackBerry market come to a halt. I think we've bottomed out on this one." - Thorston Heins

That is, IMHO, **extremely** optimistic! With new Android devices coming out seemingly daily and the new iPhone likely this fall, waiting for Q1 2013 for a new platform is a technological eternity. January is 7 months from now. In 7 months, how much more advanced will Android phones and the "new" iPhone be compared to BB10 devices in development? This is all assuming they don't miss the Q1 13 deadline, too.

RIM, you're not paying attention (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614303)

The market is doing what it does... it changes. It is the wet dream of every maker/vendor to think they "control the market" in some way. But before they know what hit them, them market changes direction and they are still moving in the same [now wrong] direction they were moving in when the market changed.

What could RIM do to save their business model? ADAPT.

Don't toss out those BES's. Don't write off those patents. Build an android phone and then build a blackberry inside of it. Make it a tight little ball that encrypts the file system of the VM it runs in... or better, add its own processor, dedicated to doing blackberry functions. This Real/VM could live inside of "The New Blackberry" which is an Android phone and gets updates and all that, but also comes with an app that enables the blackberry within to talk to the screen and other UI elements and, of course, can share the network.

They won't have to compromise security with this approach. The blackberry within will still be tight and nearly unbreakable. Plus it won't be burdened with 3rd party apps! It will just be plain, vanilla, predictable and stable. Want apps? Run them on the Android side.

Re:RIM, you're not paying attention (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614371)

If it is in a VM it cannot be protected from the host. It is that simple.

BB is not currently stable, you make can email stop arriving on their devices by squinting at them. How is this new idea going to fix that problem.

LTE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40614367)

If that is an an acronym for "Less Than Expected", he's nailed it.

There's plenty of room at the bottom (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40614419)

In all seriousness, maybe RIM's problem is pride. They can't let go of their own picture of themselves as a prestige product in the pocket of CEOs. They are so focused on the enterprise they ignore the much wider entry level phone market. They could sell fewer phones for more $ to businesses, or they could flood the low end market such as pay as you go and no contract plans. You don't need to be innovative in that market, you need to be cost effective.

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