RIM Management Shuffle May Offer BlackBerry a New Direction

3 minute read
Chris Knight avatar

RIM Management Shuffle May Offer BlackBerry a New Direction
By sneaking out the news of the dumping of its leading board members between the two NFL championship games, RIM seems to be suggesting it wants to undertake its future plans in a quiet, unassuming manner. Good luck with that, as its possible savior, the "London" BB10 phone sneaks into view.

Time for Plan B?

Canadian firm RIM has appointed Thorsten Heins -- formerly of German giant Siemens, and a RIM executive for four years -- CEO after longtime leaders Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stepped down to less-glamorous positions on Sunday night. RIM stated that it intends to continue on its present path as it looks for new boardroom talent.

The company has seen its share price plummet over the last year, after the disastrous launch of the PlayBook, a highly-public system outage and non-launches of new hardware and software, which has seen it fall behind Apple and Android, and become the first target on Microsoft's way back up the mobile rankings. Initial reaction suggests the move won't be enough with Lazaridis now heading up the company's Innovation initiative. If he couldn't manage that as boss, how can he be expected to drive it now? 

UPDATE: Crackberry.com has the first picture of the BBX phone, code-named London  which the company hopes will propel it back into the limelight.


RIM's future in one sleek design.

Proper Preparation, Planning...

Despite its woes, the company still turned over US$ 20 billion last year and RIM still has a huge and largely loyal enterprise customer base that isn't much into the bells and whistles of cutting-edge smartphones. All those users want is enterprise-grade communications and a decent keyboard to send messages, which BlackBerry phones offer by default.

Learning Opportunities

RIM is spinning the changes as "business as usual," with Heins saying his task is to promote the BlackBerry 7 touchscreen range, deliver Playbook updates and focus on BlackBerry 10. Heins stated:

We are more confident than ever that was the right path. It is Mike and Jim's continued unwillingness to sacrifice long-term value for short-term gain which has made RIM the great company that it is today. I share that philosophy and am very excited about the company's future,"

The problems lie in that PlayBook is largely considered doomed in the marketplace and spending more will hardly help recoup the US$ 500 million RIM billed in losses for it. With BlackBerry 10, the company needs it out right now, in a vibrant marketplace, and not at the end of the year, when consumers and businesses will have brought some half-a-billion other brand smartphones and won't be replacing them for a while.

...Prevents Poor Performance

Whatever it does, the company needs to focus on the consumer market quickly and provide a compelling offering that competes with the iPhones and Galaxy phones of this world. Without it, its place in the enterprise will be squeezed as take-your-own-phone-to-work becomes the predominant model for businesses.

Unfortunately from a quick look at his bio, the company has hired another "industry" man and not one who can appeal directly to the consumer market at a time when the tech leaders of this world are almost under as much scrutiny as their products. Time may prove everyone wrong on this, but the early indications are RIM hasn't done itself any favors, although the company stock is up 4% in pre-market trading.