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CEOs of RIM Step Down 164

An anonymous reader writes "After two decades of leading the BlackBerry maker, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balisillie are stepping down from their roles as Co-CEOs at Canada's Research In Motion Limited. Thorsten Heins will now lead RIM as it attempts to beat the likes of Apple and Google."
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CEOs of RIM Step Down

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  • Too late? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by methamorph ( 950510 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @03:49AM (#38788947)

    it seem's the decision they made is about a year too late.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @04:00AM (#38788975)

    ... will now lead the BlackBerry maker as it attempts to beat the likes of Apple and Google

    Slow down, slow down, one step at a time. How about we get the company nice and healthy first and work on dominating the industry after that.

  • Beat? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by addie ( 470476 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @04:03AM (#38788987)

    "as it attempts to beat the likes of Apple and Google"

    A strange choice of words. I think "as it attempts to compete with the likes of..." would be more accurate and desirable - the last thing the technology market needs these days is a single, clearcut winner (at least, if you're a consumer). That aside, as a Canadian I'd like to see RIM survive on its own and if this helps to shake things up then it's a welcome move; I don't fancy the thought of the Samsung chaebol gaining even more power than it already has.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @04:07AM (#38789001)

    Perhaps they can get nice and healthy by not trying to compete.

    But yes, the quote is a bit of a funny statement, and your response is funny. Perhaps a better way of putting all of this is that it would be more realistic and acceptable for RIM's goal to have a healthy market share alongside its rivals. To coexist, rather than beat or be beaten.

  • Re:Too late? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @04:07AM (#38789003) Journal

    Oh, it's WAY more than a year too late. Maybe 5 or so.

    Of course, Microsoft is setting an absolutely terrible example for the industry. They should have at least demoted the dancing monkey way more than 5 years ago. Kodak board: Hm, there's been some serious financial reporting. We'd better fire the person telling us about it.

    Of course, the only ones that take it in the shorts are the small investors.

  • Re:Beat? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @04:10AM (#38789011)
    In a free market, the ultimate objective of every company is monopoly and the untold wealth that position brings. It is a game that everyone must play, but none may be permitted to win.
  • Re:Too late? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @04:54AM (#38789161) Journal

    If I were a RIM investor, I would be scared if he didn't make big changes. The old co-CEO's weren't tossed because they weren't liked. It was because they couldn't see how the iPhone was physically possible [AFTER it was demonstrated by SJ on stage].

  • Re:Beat? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by noh8rz2 ( 2538714 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @04:55AM (#38789167)
    I'm not sure this is really accurate... Sure, a pie in the sky goal is to make 100 billion dollars and marry a supermodel. But in terms of realistic, achievable goals, these are what you need to be successful. So op is correct, a better goal may be to be a peer in the smartphone game rather than trying to dominate.
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @05:00AM (#38789191) Homepage

    I just don't see that happening. I don't hold great hope for RIM's future, but I just don't think they could limbo under the WP7 bar any time soon.

    I actually do. Remember Microsoft still has Windows 8, Windows 8 Tablets, and Xbox 360 to use to push the Windows Phone 7 UI on everyone. All of that could fail... but "could fail" is still better than RIM's "tried it and already failed."

  • by ajo_arctus ( 1215290 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @05:17AM (#38789259) Homepage

    Their will be a lot of snarky "too late" comments today for this news, but it's a sad day when you have to step down from the company you worked so hard to build -- a company that must feel an extension of yourself -- and it must have been a really tough decision for these guys. No doubt they still wanted to prove themselves (and who wouldn't, given their situation?). I feel sorry for them. It's easy to be an armchair CEO, especially when you have hindsight.

  • by penguinchris ( 1020961 ) <> on Monday January 23, 2012 @05:24AM (#38789281) Homepage

    Surely there's some truth to that, but... as CEOs they've made their millions, and they probably will receive millions more as a severance package. Hard to feel that sad for them.

  • Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @05:35AM (#38789317)
    The big change in RIM is that they have been run by two people who really did not understand the need for marketing. Even when watching the Reality Distortion Factor at work, they didn't understand it. RIM's problem has been that they acquired consumer market share almost by accident and didn't cover it with love, hugs and kisses. They need marketing.

    How many people understand the difference between pull and push email and how it affects them in the pocket? How many developers understand why Neutrino has advantages over iOS?

    A serious marketing department would have launched the Playbook by giving them away to every Android developer who cared to ask for one. They would have spent money in product placement, developed a Curve phone optimised to work with the Playbook, and sold them as a single product so that people "got" the Bridge from day 1. Instead, they launched at far too high a price with a corporate advertisement that nobody understood. People saw the lack of native email as a downside, not seeing that with a BB phone you had one mobile connection that worked both devices. It was a classical launch by engineers who assumed that everybody was as clever as they were.

    However, unlike HP, the tablet is pretty good, and there is still market share to lose. Their best bet is to spend marketing money outside the US in the emergent markets and Europe, since they cannot compete with Apple.

  • by Dynamoo ( 527749 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @05:54AM (#38789375) Homepage
    Thorsten Heins is a RIM guy through-and-through, he was personally responsible for a lot of RIM's decisions in past years. His introductory video [] basically shows a guy who is out of touch with RIM's fundamental problems.. he promises more of the same, which is really just a recipe for disaster. Compare this with Stephen Elop of Nokia and his "burning platform" [] memo which showed a new CEO who realised just how screwed their company was unless they made very radical changes.

    Although it isn't certain that Elop will manage to save Nokia, he at least understood that painful changes needed to be made. I'm not sure that Heins understands the dangers that RIM finds itself in though..

  • by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @05:55AM (#38789381) Homepage

    We already saw that with the iPhone. But that was Apple. Now, as far as telcos are concerned, I don't think Google has had anything to make them bend over and squeak.

    Please try again.

  • by thesuperbigfrog ( 715362 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @05:58AM (#38789393)


    Just wanted to clarify what I meant by "the field is still changing".

    I think that Apple will not increase much further in smartphone market share because Steve Jobs is no longer leading the company. The last time that Steve left Apple things did not go well and the company nearly went under. I don't think Apple is headed downhill yet, but without the visionary man who made the company in the driver's seat, it will be run differently, and I believe, not for the better.

    Android is constantly changing, partly because there are so many players, but also because Microsoft and Apple are applying pressure to most of the Android players through patent lawsuits and license agreements. I expect that Android will continue to hold significant market share because Google wants it to succeed and several of the OEMs have already had success with it.

    With these two dynamics in play, the smartphone market is still changing.

  • Re:Marketing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:27AM (#38789493)

    The big change in RIM is that they have been run by two people who really did not understand the need for marketing. Even when watching the Reality Distortion Factor at work, they didn't understand it. RIM's problem has been that they acquired consumer market share almost by accident and didn't cover it with love, hugs and kisses. They need marketing.

    Marketing? It's maybe not the _last_ of RIM's problems, but it's pretty low on the list. They have worse issues: they kept coming up with a terribly obsolete and clunky phone interface for 5 years and they've been stupidly slow in trying to get their OS into this century, then also stupidly slow in replacing it with a better one they had to purchase outside. I had never used a BB in person until last June when my new workplace issued me with one. I could _not_ believe how primitive it was. It "welcomed" me with a java exception and a reboot, then I had a chance to practice on that famous keyboard. Shudder. Next day I offered to pay for an iPhone out of my own pocket. (Not possible at the time sadly. Maybe this year).

    Also, the playbook: Marketing may have been awful (advertisement, price, etc) but the biggest issue is the damn email's missing. RIM's a one trick pony and their only trick, allowing them to survive way past their expiration date, is MISSING from their tablet? WTF. Just die quickly and stop making products or news.

  • by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:11AM (#38789723) Homepage

    You talk about Elop like he is a good thing, when he is either a complete idiot or a Microsoft shill (I estimate the latter).
    He was correct that Symbian was a difficult environment to develop to (my company gave it up for that reason), however Nokia had explicitly asked Symbian developers to hold on and they would provide a unified dev environment for all their platforms based on QT, so things were getting better. So, with one announcement he breaks the promise and alienates the thousands of Symbian developers. Developers are the only thing more important than consumers, by alienating them he most likely guaranteed Nokia will fail. He is probably confident that Windows developers will jump to Windows OS so he doesn't really need the traditional Nokia developers. He is probably wrong.
    Then, his only problem with MeeGo (that he admitted - not being a Microsoft OS is more likely the true reason) is that at most Nokia would have one MeeGo device this year. Hey! Do you know which other company does not release more than one new device per year? Perhaps the one you are trying to go after? How do THEY do it? And of course, let's not mention that it was a lie - they had TWO devices to release, the N9 which was released in very small markets (Kazakhstan, Denmark etc lest someone might notice how good it is) and the N950 which was not sold but given to a few select MeeGo developers (you can't even find it on ebay at any price).
    And have you seen the N9? Probably not since it was not sold in any major markets, but it is truly an awesome device mainly due to its OS. My company currently mainly works on iOS so I have all the Apple devices at home, but when my wife saw the N9 it was the only time she was impressed by a device. (Her words after trying out "hey, compared to your iphone this looks like it came from 2050!"). So while the N900 was the perfect geek tool, the N9 is the only device I have tried that is easier, more fun to use and much much more powerful than the iOS devices (sorry Android...).
    So, yeah, while Symbian had to go, the developers should not have been scared away. They should have been first moved to MeeGo, which was the original plan with the QT platform being the common denominator, and all resources gone to MeeGo which (sadly, because it is stillborn) is the best current mobile OS, although the limited resources behind it kind of show up as some instability...
    If you think I talked to much about Nokia, you should see how much I could say about RIM. However, current litigation prevents me from doing so, so commenting on RIM's outgoing "NIH" leaders or their successor will have to be deferred to a later time...

  • Re:Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:05AM (#38789969)

    If you never found somebody who loved their blackberry, you just weren't looking very hard. For instance, frickin' Barack Obama.

    They were quite popular and, among a shrinking subset of people, still are (particularly for BBM in social circles where sufficient people have that that you essentially get free texting without fucking with shitty 3rd party IM apps).

  • Re:Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:37AM (#38790113)

    If you never found somebody who loved their blackberry, you just weren't looking very hard. For instance, frickin' Barack Obama.

    I've found the majority of those people didn't love the BB, they loved email on the go. They loved being fully connected all the time, and for a long time the BB was only device that did corporate email at all.

  • Re:Too late? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @09:36AM (#38790541) Homepage Journal

    The happiest scenario would be for MS to buy RIM, and run out of money trying to turn it around :) Then we could be rid of two of the worst UI offenders in one go.

  • by DigiTechGuy ( 1747636 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @10:23AM (#38790969)

    I don't really see any major problems with RIM. Their target market is businesses who need security and granular manageability. The company I work for happens to require those things. RIM is the best choice I'm aware of to meet those requirements. I will qualify that by saying I am a BES admin so maybe a little blinded by that, which is why I'd like fellow technical people to let me know what the real issues with RIM are and how the competition is superior.

    As for devices themselves... I use a Bold 9900 currently and I like it. The touchscreen is great for navigating, though every now and again I have to tap something twice which seems due to slower processor taking a moment. This does not bother me. The built in browser now supports tabbed browsing, a plus but wasn't a big deal for me. The trackball is now a touch sensitive input, like the 9700. Before this phone I thought the 9700 was great with the upgrade from trackball to touch sensor. I disliked the smaller screen and size of the 9700 as I went to that from a 9000.

    The Bolt 9900 meets business needs as I see them and as I use my phone. It provides secure email, whole device encryption, excellent remote management, and a functional level of referencing pdf/doc/xls/ppt... As functional as can be on a small screen. Android/iOS devices are marginally better at this due to the larger screen, gained from lack of a physical keyboard, but still not great. For referencing or especially editing those types of documents you're into tablet or notebook territory simply for the larger screen.

    The only downside I see to the 9900 for the time I've had it, is battery life sucks. If I use it lightly I can get a day and change out of it. If I use it heavily I have to charge before the day is through. If you plan for it you will pretty much always have access to charge, but it's unacceptable to not make it at least a full day of moderate to heavy use. By that I mean phone calls, email, attachments, corporate IM, light web browsing, etc. Not playing games or watching multimedia all day. The 9900 has a much lower capacity battery than the 9000 did. I believe RIM did this to keep the device thin. Personally I don't care about having a thin device. Give the most MAh you can, to be sure it'll last at least two full days of use between charges, preferably longer. I don't care if it's as thick as an old "dumb phone". It stays on my belt out of the way, along with my personal phone ( a 5 year old dumb phone that can make calls and text), knife, flashlight and wahtever else I may be carrying. Smaller/lighter is nice but not at the detriment of battery life.

    So please, /., if I am out of touch with how RIM is not meeting the needs of businesses please let me know. For personal devices, sure, Android and iOS have an edge. What are the real issues with RIM being inadequate for business use, particularly where central manageability and security are critical? To expand on that, if you believe iOS or Android are competitive there, what tools does one use to have easy centralized management and security comparable to BES if managing a few hundred mobile devices?

  • by billybob_jcv ( 967047 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @10:38AM (#38791171)

    Your post shows EXACTLY the problem with RIM - the thinking that screen size, screen quality, browser features and games are unimportant for business users. Of course they are important - and we want our corporate email, calendar & address book AND a good browser, games & a nice screen.

    The most telling part of your post that indicates you are a dinosaur is this line: "It stays on my belt out of the way, along with my personal phone ( a 5 year old dumb phone that can make calls and text), knife, flashlight and wahtever else I may be carrying." Be gone ye demon of the past - there is no place for you in this time!!

  • Re:Too late? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Casca ( 4032 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @12:38PM (#38792771) Journal

    This is a comment I made a few days ago on a related post, and I'm recycling it, because it is still relevant...

    "They're already dead, they just don't know it yet. I have their latest and greatest 9860 (because I don't have a choice - thanks corporate idiots), and it is a complete and utter piece of shit. The first phone bricked itself within the first week, common problem with this model. The screen is plastic, and feels like it. The touchscreen is horribly inaccurate, making typing on it something dreadful and to be avoided. The on/off button is the entire top of the phone, so when you slip it in a pocket, it is very likely to turn the screen on. It is so under-powered, I'm constantly playing the guessing game of "did I tap the dialog box or not". The "app store" looks like the bargain bin at Blockbuster. Every time I pick this phone up it pisses me off."

    Even quoted myself, that is so douchey...

  • Re:Too late? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @05:30PM (#38797375)
    Well they did (Black Berry Thunder) respond but they figured that the iPhone would be a Toy Phone and Black Berries would be for Business. Their mistake wasn't as much in their phones but their software, they needed a full web browser very soon after the iPhone 1. Right when the iPhone came out they needed to push big on third party developers to make custom apps for the black berry. But they waited for Apple to get 3rd party developers to make apps first then all was lost.

    People forgot that the original iPhone had a luke warm reaction. A lot of buzz but a lot of people really couldn't justify getting one. Sure it was cool but limited without apps. Blackberry could have seen the what people wanted from an iPhone and put a lot of effort behind giving the black berry those features. G3 Internet, Well made custom apps, a strong web browser, they could have made it while keeping the keyboard, and the trackball.

    What happened is there are two type of competition.
    Competing with competitors who are trying to be like you.
    Competing with competitors who are trying to bring the next step.
    Previously for BlackBerry most of the smart phones out there were little black berry clones that may have one or two key features that were improvements. Which makes it easy for RIM to add in their next version, in the mean time you can wait and just use your brand name, and see if that new features is liked or not.

    Apple didn't try to make a better Black Berry they wanted to make a new type of phone. RIM tried their old process but it failed because the product was too different. They had to really innovate their product to keep it relevant, and they couldn't make an iPhone clone.

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