SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Michael Finneran | January 23, 2012 |

 
   

RIM Finally Pulls the Trigger

RIM Finally Pulls the Trigger Lazaridis and Balsillie are out as co-CEOs, as COO Thorsten Heins (shown here) takes over the smartphone maker at a crucial juncture.

Lazaridis and Balsillie are out as co-CEOs, as COO Thorsten Heins (shown here) takes over the smartphone maker at a crucial juncture.

In a move that has been anticipated (even "prayed for") for the past several months, the Co-Chairmen/CEO’s of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have announced that they are stepping down effective immediately. The company's board of directors unanimously named current director and former Toronto Stock Exchange CEO Barbara Stymiest independent board chair and chief operating officer Thorsten Heins as president and CEO; the moves were endorsed by Messrs. Lazaridis and Balsillie. Fairfax Financial Holdings CEO Prem Watsa was also named to the board.

Mr. Lazaridis will become the vice-chair of the board of directors and will chair the new innovation committee. Mr. Balsillie will remain on board of directors in an undefined role and apparently with no operational responsibilities. Investors were clearly pleased as RIM's Frankfurt-listed shares jumped more than four per cent to 13.77 Euros. In the US, RIM shares were up 67 cents to $17.67 on the Nasdaq before the markets opened Monday, and a similar jump is expected when the Toronto Stock Exchange opens. In 2008 RIM's stock hit $148, but took a historic nosedive as competition from iPhone and Android smartphones took their toll and RIM lumbered from one mis-step to the next.

Mr. Heins is something of an unknown quantity having worked in the shadow of Lazaridis and Balsillie. He the joined RIM four years ago after 20-years with Siemens AG. He was appointed chief operating officer for product and sales in August 2011. A piece in CBC News reads in part "the new CEO Heins is held in high regard for his skill in operational matters". In a conference call Monday morning, Mr. Heins confirmed the company is actively recruiting for a new CMO, a position that has been vacant since Keith Pardy left the company in March of last year.

Clearly this is good news for the beleaguered smartphone icon that at one time had the highest market cap of any company in Canada. Palm essentially invented the smartphone with the Treo, but RIM popularized it and rode the crest of the wave as the market grew. What few realize is the explosive growth in RIM’s sales came from its moving beyond business customers to consumers; at its peak, approximately 70% of BlackBerry sales were to consumers. Unfortunately, those were the first customers to jump ship when the iPhone and Android options burst onto the scene.

While most analysts have already written RIM's obituary, it’s important to remember that the company is still profitable, has 75 million subscribers, and a brand that is recognized around the world. Those profits have been shrinking, and in December the company reported a third-quarter net profit of US$265 million, well below the $911 million recorded for the same period last year.

Mr. Heins will have his work cut out for him. RIM has yet to produce a touch screen phone that comes close to the iPhone or Android models, and the long-awaited BB10-based devices that will use the operating system technology RIM acquired with QNX Software Systems in 2010 are not due out until later this year. In the meantime, Mr. Heins confirmed in the Monday morning conference call that the PlayBook 2.0 software is due out in February and will include a native email client (at last) and more importantly an Android player.

RIM has also been criticized for the relative paucity of the app selection in BlackBerry App World when compared to the Apple and Android options. However, the smartphone market continues to evolve, and the pendulum may be swinging back with regard to "app mania". I've long held that I don't need an app on my phone for a coffee shop I visit twice a year, and I think we will see an accelerating shift toward web-based apps that will be accessible from any smartphone. If you take apps out of the equation, other attributes like design, quality, battery life, and the all-important "user experience" will come to be the driving factors in the smartphone business.

RIM has always made great products- maybe not "insanely great", but great. I feel that many of RIM’s difficulties were a result of the miscalculations and obstinacy of Messrs. Lazaridis and Balsillie; as the saying goes, "they may have been wrong, but they were never in doubt!" While Mr. Heins is an untested quantity, at least there’s hope of some fresh thinking. The first major test will be how quickly RIM can fill that CMO position and with whom.

RIM has a steep hill to climb to regain its position as a significant factor in the smartphone market, but they have a ton of talent that will hopefully get the opportunity to flourish under the new management. The key test will be what BB10 can do and how well it will measure up to the ever-expanding expectations of the mobile consumer. Good luck, Mr. Heins and turn your horses loose.





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

October 18, 2017

Microsofts recent Ignite event had some critically important announcements for enterprise communications. Namely, Microsofts new Team Collaboration offering, Teams, will be its primary communicatio

September 20, 2017

Customer experience can make or break your business. But how do you achieve outstanding customer service when you're dealing with outdated organizational structure, lagging technology, dated proces

September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.