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RIM CEO Says Company 'Seriously' Considered Switch To Android 283

Posted by Soulskill
from the perhaps-reconsidering-now dept.
zacharye writes "RIM CEO Thorsten Heins's interview with the Telegraph on Thursday made headlines for his admission that the company can't keep up with Apple and Samsung without outside help. But there's another interesting nugget buried within the interview that didn't get quite as much attention: Heins says that RIM took a long, hard look at migrating to Android before deciding to plow forward with BlackBerry 10. Heins said, 'We took the conscious decision not to go Android. If you look at other suppliers’ ability to differentiate, there’s very little wiggle room. We looked at it seriously — but if you understand what the promise of BlackBerry is to its user base: it’s all about getting stuff done. Games, media, we have to be good at it, but we have to support those guys who are ahead of the game. Very little time to consume and enjoy content — if you stay true to that purpose you have to build on that basis. And if we want to serve that segment we can’t do it on a me-too approach.'"
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RIM CEO Says Company 'Seriously' Considered Switch To Android

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  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Friday August 03, 2012 @01:39PM (#40870347) Journal
    Well, if it wants a small userbase of executives, it has to accept that small revenue stream comming from those people.
    • by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday August 03, 2012 @01:54PM (#40870553)

      Blackberry could have survived as the business market's option. The security they once offered was unmatched.

      But now we even see RIM migrating away from what little they are good at by giving away their keys to oppressive governments in order to continue doing business in that country. RIM is feeding itself by cutting off its own appendages.

      I don't think Android is going to catch on in the business world. We just had a new vendor selection at my employer and IOS was chosen because the comfort level with security and malware on the Android platform is lower. (The nuances in that discussion don't matter, the fact is that the market sees IOS as safer than Android. Perception is reality)

      It's unfortunate that RIM decided to commit corporate suicide because the market has lost something that was once good. Consumers now have fewer choices, and that's bad.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dkleinsc (563838)

        We just had a new vendor selection at my employer and IOS was chosen because the comfort level with security and malware on the Android platform is lower.

        Actually, what I can almost guarantee happened is that some executive with no technical background whatsoever said "I love my iPhone, it's so shiny!", and the bit about security and malware was made up to justify that.

        • by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday August 03, 2012 @02:11PM (#40870793)

          Nope, the decision was made solely in IT by the desktop/device/network arch staff.

          • Does android have a way to restrict what apps can be put on it yet? Ditto question with IOS.

            Honest question, Im a huge RIM fan but would love to know if ActiveSync can be similarly locked down as thats where people are headed.

            • by jedidiah (1196)

              The sounds a lot like having your own package repositories and excluding the vendor ones.

            • by afidel (530433)

              Yes, it's called a mobile device management platform. There are a variety of options for both iOS and Android (often they support both). Personally I think the future is going to be Android VM's, you'll have a personal profile and a corporate profile, each with their own apps and data and they only thing they will share is the hardware. VMWare already has such a product but it only runs on a small handful of smartphones, I think eventually it will get added to stock Android.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          I will also add:

          It was once said, "Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM".

          Today, nobody ever gets fired for choosing Apple.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by candeoastrum (1262256)

            I will also add:

            It was once said, "Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM".

            Today, nobody ever gets fired for choosing Apple.

            I dont know anyone in business who has chosen Apple for the enterprise so I am not sure how that applies. Consumer devices that they personally own and bring in, yes. I can't think of another scenario where people recommend Apple for servers or clients when its actually purchased by the business.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by nitehawk214 (222219)

              I will also add:

              It was once said, "Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM".

              Today, nobody ever gets fired for choosing Apple.

              I dont know anyone in business who has chosen Apple for the enterprise so I am not sure how that applies. Consumer devices that they personally own and bring in, yes. I can't think of another scenario where people recommend Apple for servers or clients when its actually purchased by the business.

              Easy, nobody chooses Apple for an entire enterprise, so nobody can get fired for doing it. Now choosing IOS as a standardized phone platform... well I suppose this is no more inappropriate than choosing Microsoft.

              Besides it doesn't matter what platform you use for mobile, if the people setting it up are morons it will be insecure.

              I can remember working a company when my manger rushed over to my desk in a panic, waving his blackberry in my face. "OMG, OMG, our internal development server is open to the publi

        • Indeed! RIM had a niche market, however they want everything without giving anything and this is their main problem.
      • Yeah.....perception is reality. Perception of security is safety. Let us know how that turns out.

      • by alphax45 (675119) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [derfla.elyk]> on Friday August 03, 2012 @02:31PM (#40871061)
        RIM can give away the BIS (Blackberry Internet Service - used by a non-corporate person in most cases) keys because those servers are operated by the carriers. BESs (Blackberry Enterprise Servers) are owned/operated by a company and RIM does NOT ever have the keys to give away. So the corporate customers using a BES are safe from the governments that have been the keys, Joe Blow on the street is not.
        • I'm not familar with BES. How does one get the Key? Is it generated on the device? Is the device open source,so I can verify tha the keys are not transmited after generation? Can I buy a HSA plugin module from a third party of my choice, that ensures the key cannot be pulled from the device?
      • Blackberry could have survived as the business market's option. The security they once offered was unmatched.

        IS unmatched. BES STILL has no real rival in terms of security; the second best uses SSL, which has widely reported problems and can be exploited by anyone with a root CA cert unless you take pains to remove all the default trusts from your devices. BES on the otherhand remains about as unhackable as you can be, using symetrical encryption with securely exchanged, privately held, per-device keys.

        But now we even see RIM migrating away from what little they are good at by giving away their keys to oppressive governments in order to continue doing business in that country. RIM is feeding itself by cutting off its own appendages.

        Youre buying into the ignorantly published FUD. RIM gave away BIS keys; they do not and never will have access

      • by tom229 (1640685)
        I seriously died a little inside reading this. You guys should consider firing your entire IT staff.. like... yesterday.

        Almost every company I know of has standardized to android recently. The wide range of price points for their devices is a big drawing factor and with a proper MDM and/or google apps infrastructure they are far more secure than iPhones.
      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        I don't think it would have helped friend, RIM made the classic tech mistake of sitting on ass for too long with their designs while everyone passed them by. We saw the same thing at Palm where they sat on the older designs long after they had been made to look like dinosaurs and by the time they decided to come out with something that was really new nobody cared.

        At one time as you pointed out RIM was THE business phone but while the stupid security moves hurt it ultimately I think its the simple fact the

    • They chose ignorance. The choice was adopt or die. That decision needed to be made almost 10 years ago. Goodbye, RIMjobs. It's proof that the executive management is a complete and utter failure as a whole.

  • Seriously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by postmortem (906676) on Friday August 03, 2012 @01:39PM (#40870359) Journal

    You failed as CEO. Google gives you all apps for multimedia, so you don't have to do anything there. But they give you 0 enterprise apps, so that is what you could have done. Its not like corporations are going to pirate your apps and risk being sued.

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      So, the "Corporate Sync" available on all Android phones is not an enterprise app?
      • Re:Seriously (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday August 03, 2012 @01:58PM (#40870605) Homepage Journal

        It's an enterprise app like Google Apps is enterprise-ready... You can use it for "Enterprise-like" features but do Enterprises truly use it exclusively? Hell no.

        All RIM would have needed to do was make a suite of apps that look like the old apps they had before (not hard since Android apps don't have hard and fast style rules) and then build a management backend that looked like what they had before, so that admins wouldn't have a huge learning curve when going to a BB/Android hybrid.

        Fear of change is what RIM was banking on, by deciding to do things the way they always had and shunning any alternative. For decision makers that fear is quickly going extinct; today if you don't embrace change then you (like RIM) go extinct instead. That was their downfall, they put all their chips in the "lets just not change" category and didn't realize that change is absolutely inevitable. If they had walked the line, catered to those who still had a preference for the old BB style while allowing change to happen organically, they would have had a niche. As of now, their niche is solely organizations who haven't woken up to change (and those companies are either going to wake up or go out of business. Not a good spot to find yourself.

    • Yes, this is exactly true. They could've taken the Android platform and ran in their own direction with it. They lacked imagination, or perhaps misunderstood the purpose and power of Open Source. That's what they should've done.

      And you're right, when it comes to apps for doing stuff at work, Android isn't that great right now.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday August 03, 2012 @01:40PM (#40870371)

    This is the space left for where you admit your error and announce a switch to android.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    The content of this space is why you're going out of business. We all understand that it would be very very hard to be competitive against samsung and HTC and so on. But blackberry is now next to irrelevant in the marketplace. And RIM needs a rapid change in direction. Hell, jumping on windows phone 8 is a better plan than clinging to blackberry 10.

    • by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Friday August 03, 2012 @01:47PM (#40870465)

      And RIM needs a rapid change in direction

      I disagree.

      There's nothing they can do at this point to recover. I use to like blackberry, but your right and now they're just completely irrelevant. To think four years ago Barack Obama was angry because he was told he would have to give up his blackberry after being elected.

      P.S.
      I'm Canadian and nigher for or against Obama. I only mentioned him because I remember reading the news articles discussing his blackberry issue during the last US Presidential election.

      • by stanlyb (1839382)
        It was 4 years ago. In this niche, sleeping for 4 years is usually with fatal consequences. For god sake, they got all the tools and devs and IP, and they are still unable to produce something as simple as OS???? W.T.F.?
        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          I'm not too far from Waterloo, at a university and a few years ago RIM gave us a bunch of phones to do development on. At that time the iPhone 3g was about a year old in canada, and when we walked into the classroom and said 'this years project is on Blackberry' we got a giant groan from the class. Lots of kids still had blackberries. But they saw the winds of change.

          This last year we were doing a project on one or both of iphone and android (or BB if they wanted). And in a class of 35 computer scientis

      • I'm Canadian and nigher for or against Obama.

        what a great world we live in, where people have to announce their non-opinion of the US president lest they be raked over the coals when people interpret their comments and pro or con.

    • by StuartHankins (1020819) on Friday August 03, 2012 @02:03PM (#40870681)
      Yep absolutely. We standardized on BlackBerry and have our own BES server. All new employees who qualified for a work-provided phone received a BlackBerry. A few of us in IT turned in our BlackBerry devices and bought our own iPhones/Androids.

      Then new salespeople came on board with their own iPhones and Androids and we resisted... then executives started switching to iPhones/Androids and wanted us to set them up. You don't tell them "no". We just released an official internal how-to for setting up iPhones although it won't be supported for everyone until the Exchange 2010 upgrade is complete.

      There are few reasons to consider BlackBerry now. A few things don't work as expected, for instance accepting a meeting request on either iPhone / Android doesn't result in a response to the sender for some reason (using Exchange 2003 anyway). This may all be fixed once Exchange 2010 is in place.
      • The thing is, youll note that for the most part it isnt IT people saying "theres something wrong with BES; we need to move to IOS". Its that the employees over the last few years have gotten more leeway, and have started moving to entertainment devices with ActiveSync.

        Im not convinced that RIM did something wrong by sticking to what it remains phenomenally good at, except that they did not see and react to this new phenomenon fast enough.

    • And RIM needs a rapid change in direction.

      Agreed.

      Hell, jumping on windows phone 8 is a better plan than clinging to blackberry 10

      Wait, what? It's a completely new OS for phones, and that's not a change in direction?

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        I mean switching to windows phone 8 would be a better plan than their current one, even though windows phone 8 doesn't seem all that likely to succeed. Blackberry 10 is dead before it arrives because it's the wrong strategy. Windows phone 8 will at least have microsoft flinging money around for a while. That was the joke.

  • amazon e-ink kindle and google nexus phone are both android based.

    They couldn't be more different!

    "no wiggle room" what is he talking about???

  • Heins says that RIM took a long, hard look at migrating to Android before deciding to plow forward with BlackBerry 10.

    And that's definitely, 100%, without a doubt, not an attempt to draw psychological attention and curiosity toward BlackBerry 10 being better than Android OS to drive sales up. Definitely not.

    </snark>

  • by logicassasin (318009) on Friday August 03, 2012 @02:12PM (#40870805)

    The last thing the market needs is a choice between only 2 platforms for smartphones. Yes, I know that Windows Mobile is still out there as is Symbian, but because Microsoft took entirely too long to bring Windows Mobile 7 to market and Nokia really didn't push Symbian as hard as they could have (i.e getting a major player like HTC or Samsung to build Symbian based phones early in the game) they're both pretty much niche players now instead of the former powerhouse enterprise/business players they once were. At one point, when you said "Smartphone", you could only have been referring to a Blackberry, Palm, or Windows Mobile/PocketPC based phone with Symbian being the underdog. Even after June 29, 2007, when the iPhone was released, these were still considered to be true smartphones by many in business with the iPhone being the poseur.

    Palm is gone, RIM is facing tough times, and Symbian is nearly extinct. Windows Mobile 7 is not even a part of the public consciousness even though there is still plenty of advertising for it. This is sad since there's plenty of enterprise users out there that don't need/want "Robot Unicorn Attack" or "iApp For More Stupidity" alongside their messaging services.

    • Whether it's desirable or not, that's the way it is. Everyone has a choice between 2 viable platforms and BlackBerry certainly isn't one of them.
  • Interesting quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Mister Purple (2525152) on Friday August 03, 2012 @02:15PM (#40870847) Homepage

    FTFA, Heins remarks:

    "there’s a very stable, slowly growing base of physical keyboard users and most of them are really highly ranked officers"

    So, he points out that the keyboard users are the demographic with the least growth potential AND the least staying potential, and he thinks that's a positive?

  • Translation... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jemenake (595948)

    but if you understand what the promise of BlackBerry is to its user base: it’s all about getting stuff done

    Translation: "It's all about checking your email and thinking that no other phone can do that".

    Seriously, I've never understood the Blackberry kool-aid. 6-7 years ago, Blackberry people were running around going "Ooh, yeah... I can check my email wherever I am!". Meanwhile, I was on my Palm Treo, checking email, browsing the web, SSH-ing into my servers, playing RPG's, getting turn-by-turn nav

  • by Erbo (384) <obreerbo&gmail,com> on Friday August 03, 2012 @02:19PM (#40870907) Homepage Journal
    The BB10 OS is already capable of running Android apps, as evidenced by the fact that the Playbook can already do so. Out of the box, though, the only Android apps that will run are ones that have been "ported" and show up in their marketplace.

    It is possible, however, by rooting the Playbook, to open it up to full GAPPS capability, including the Google Play Store. RIMM needs to do this for BB10...and then they need to promote the hell out of this capability, saying, "BlackBerry runs all your favorite Android apps...and runs them better!" (Which is true; the QNX kernel of BB10 is far more efficient in an embedded environment than Android's Linux kernel is. This translates into increased battery life.) Karl Denninger has argued [market-ticker.org] that this is the only way for RIMM to avoid complete irrelevance in the marketplace...and the company's performance since he wrote that piece in March seems to bear that out.

    They could go further, too. One enterprising hacker has gotten (some) unmodified iOS apps to run on the Playbook [crackberry.com]. And it's perfectly legal, because the developer has just created his own implementations of relevant Apple APIs, and, under the ruling in Oracle v. Google, APIs are not copyrightable and Apple can't stop him. RIMM should acquire or license this technology and extend it to work with more iOS apps, and promote the hell out of this capability, too. Imagine being able to run virtually any popular smart phone app on one phone...with better battery life than either Android phones or the iPhone. (QNX beats the iOS Darwin kernel for efficiency, too.)

    If RIMM does these two things, they could go from zero to hero in one fell swoop. If they fail to do either one...well, next stop is probably a bankruptcy court.

    • by WiiVault (1039946)
      While I do appreciate you letting us know the potential of BB10, I think where you are mistaken is expecting RIM to do anything intelligent to take advantage of these possibilities and strengths. QNX is solid, and the one phone to rule them all is very nifty. But with the people running RIM none of this matters. The thought of them having the foresight to follow your suggestions is just unrealistic. It's sad in a way that BB10 like WebOS will likely be remembered for what it could have been, had management
      • by Erbo (384)
        You're right, of course. I cited Karl Denninger's March posting in my original post; he has posted about RIMM ten times since then, and in each of those pieces he has called on RIMM to open the platform to GAPPS. They have done no such thing, and the stock price continues to dwindle.

        Soon, the only reasonable asset they'll have left will be their patent portfolio...and the best way for one of the other players to acquire that will be to wait and buy it from the bankruptcy judge.

    • by oakgrove (845019)

      (Which is true; the QNX kernel of BB10 is far more efficient in an embedded environment than Android's Linux kernel is. This translates into increased battery life.)

      Yeah that's why the Kindle Fire despite being very similar hardware to the Playbook and the Fire having a grossly overloaded interface gets better battery life than the Playbook. Where's the "efficiency" going? Calculating fractals in the background?

      • by Erbo (384)
        I can't speak to the Fire, but I know that Denninger compared [market-ticker.org] the battery life of a Playbook and a Galaxy 2 7.0 tablet:

        Side by side, both starting with a 100% charge, the Playbook while idle lasts a workweek with light use before the red light starts flashing at me, telling me I have to plug it in.

        The Galaxy tab lost 30% of its charge in 10 hours overnight sitting in a sleeve while asleep with nothing running in the background -- no apps, no push email, nothing.

        Now take both on a trip and tell me this

  • There is no "try"

  • by tekrat (242117) on Friday August 03, 2012 @02:30PM (#40871039) Homepage Journal

    If you're building a phone for executives ONLY, then make it a $1000 phone. These are people who drive 911's, M5's, Ferrari, or some other similarly high-end car. If these are the people willing to spend $300,000 for a top-of-the-line supercar, then they certainly should be willing to shell out $1 to 2 thousand for a phone. But it better be the best damn phone there is.

    I mean, if you're paying 2k for a phone, not only should it make the iPhone look like a cheap toy, it should make almost all high-tech items look like cheap toys.

    But the problem is that Apple, Samsung and HTC are all making really, really good hardware, and selling it for $200 -- a tenth of the cost. And for all of RIM's wizardry, they aren't going to beat Apple.

    So, the executive who is paying enormous sums of money for a car is going to look at the Blackberry, then look at the iPhone, and still decide that the iPhone is the better product, even though it's cheaper.

    RIM needs to get their act together and make some really smart decisions. Unfortunately, they are not.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      If you're building a phone for executives ONLY, then make it a $1000 phone. These are people who drive 911's, M5's, Ferrari, or some other similarly high-end car. If these are the people willing to spend $300,000 for a top-of-the-line supercar, then they certainly should be willing to shell out $1 to 2 thousand for a phone. But it better be the best damn phone there is.

      I mean, if you're paying 2k for a phone, not only should it make the iPhone look like a cheap toy, it should make almost all high-tech items look like cheap toys.

      But the problem is that Apple, Samsung and HTC are all making really, really good hardware, and selling it for $200 -- a tenth of the cost. And for all of RIM's wizardry, they aren't going to beat Apple.

      So, the executive who is paying enormous sums of money for a car is going to look at the Blackberry, then look at the iPhone, and still decide that the iPhone is the better product, even though it's cheaper.

      RIM needs to get their act together and make some really smart decisions. Unfortunately, they are not.

      A $1000 (or worse $2000) phone will be less capable than any iPhone or $500 Android since your sales will be in the hundreds of thousands, maybe low millions if you're lucky, versus the many millions of Android and iPhones sold.

      The raw materials build a phone are a small part of the total costs -- estimates place the iPhone at around $200 for parts alone (of course, they can keep costs down by buying entire factory production runs). The biggest expense is the billions of dollars of R&D that goes into m

  • It's funny (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FranTaylor (164577) on Friday August 03, 2012 @02:39PM (#40871159)

    People talk about problems with android, and yet these problems are precisely where companies like RIM can differentiate themselves, by solving these problems.

    • I think there's HUGE potential for a 3rd vendor. Don't treat your customers like they're in an involuntary Facebook profiling network like Google does and don't take on an authoritarian attitude like Apple does. But, the DOs are what's tough. iPhones are great because of the UI, not because fanboys are brainwashed. Android is great because of the openness of development. How you bring all that together isn't exactly easy.

  • If you look at other suppliers’ ability to differentiate, there’s very little wiggle room.

    This is very true. Android device manufacturers can't figure out how to advertise their own devices. The ads often point out things like "The Droid Fooboo is a great social networking phone because it comes with the FaceBook app pre-installed" or "Videoconference with your family..." even though these are features available on any Android device. It also doesn't help that they release new phones every 3 - 6 months it confuses the market even more.

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