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An Inside Look At the Rise and Fall of RIM 267

Posted by Soulskill
from the behind-the-curve dept.
zacharye writes with this excerpt from BGR: "Research In Motion is in the midst of a major transition in every sense of the word. Publicly, the company is portraying a very defensive image — one that is very dismissive, as if RIM is profitable and class-leading, and the media is out of line to criticize its business, as are investors. Internally, however, there's a different story to be told. It's a story filled with attitude, cockiness, heated arguments among the executive team and Co-CEOs, and paranoia. ... The three-year roadmap for RIM products focused on refining the technology in phones had already been released, rather than looking at where to add major new componentry or trying to identify or even shape future trends. 'One of the main reasons RIM missed the mark with the browser was because they were always proud of how little data usage a user would use,' a former executive said. 'There was no three-year plan at RIM.'"
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An Inside Look At the Rise and Fall of RIM

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:36PM (#36750356) Homepage Journal

    RIM was cool back in the day when data was super-expensive. They came up with a then-innovative end-to-end service to cut data consumption to a trickle.

    Those days are over, people want streaming video, full email, full browsers, etc. on their phones.
    • people WANT to stream, but when carriers cap limits, what good is it? wifi, sure, but what about WAN?

      I agree, I admire and prefer small updates over networks than piggish ones. I like lightweight protocols. I remember when snmp was created and they argued about a few BITS in the header and how to save them. each message was 'sacred' and you got good designer points if you minimized the amount of stuff that had to exit your computer and go over the network.

      and with lossy networks or laggy networks, the sa

  • by Infiniti2000 (1720222) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:39PM (#36750398)
    Doesn't their "three-year roadmap" conflict with the company name?
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:39PM (#36750428) Homepage

    If RIM was smart, they would use the Droid platform running on another CPU core. That way, users could have both a BB that corporate users and developers want, why tapping into the popular droid market for future expansion. Eventually, they could migrate 100% toward the Droid platform with some additional BlackBerry APIs glued on to it.

    When you're not in the position to negotiate, sometimes you have to dance with the elephant.

    • by sunfly (1248694) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:43PM (#36750482)
      Droid is a race to the bottom. Why go with something you will be racing against JustStartedCompanyYesterday Corp. for slim or no profits?
      • by ninthbit (623926)
        Because they have NO other choice. It's a "stay and play with the new rules" or "get out of the game" market right now. They no longer have a unique competative advantage other than their established userbase. Setting up a blackberry app that runs within an Android environment could setup a system in which people can bring their own device, but not have to deal with complete Corporate-IT lockdown of the phone since BB runs in it's own little sandbox.
        • They are about to start playing with the new rules. By bringing QNX to phones. Moving to 'Droid WOULD be "getting out of the game". Instead, they're moving to a new platform, and releasing it on phones when it's ready.

          And they still have a competitive advantage. It's called a kick-ass keyboard.

      • by u38cg (607297)
        I'm not sure. Yes, in this space you have to constantly innovate, but that's true no matter your platform. There is no platform out there that will let you create an inviolable market segment for long.
      • by oakgrove (845019)
        If "Droid" is a race to the bottom why are Samsung and HTC reporting record profits selling handsets with it? FUD much?
    • I don't think so. Have you actually looked at the new system they have for the Playbook? It is really nice. Screens scroll smoothly. It is simple and straightforward. From a developer standpoint, you have the option of writing in Flash, or in native C++, or in Blackberry Java, or in Android Java.

      Right now they only have the bare bones, and we haven't seen how their Android VM will be, but if it turns out as nice and clean as the rest of their system, it will be very good. And they will get all the Android
      • The dual-platform strategy didn't work for OS/2 and I don't think it will work for RIM either. I think they would have better luck getting out of the hardware business and go software-only. Build on top of the successful mobile OS's.

        Playbook is a disaster. It's neat and is built on the best (IMHO) embedded OS out there, but it's too little, too late. It would be interesting if they were able to ship a tablet with a better display, longer battery life, and less expensive than the iPad, but they didn't. RIM d

        • Yes, but the dual platform strategy did work for the VM/370, and it also worked for OSX.

          You can say it is too little too late, but you are thinking of Palm. RIM has been hitting record profits for the last few years and is sitting on a huge pile of cash, much like Apple was when they introduced OSX. They introduced a decent platform, and they have the time to make incremental improvements, which is what it will take. Palm didn't have the same cash base and went out like a shooting star.

          RIM actually has
        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          How about a tablet with an e-mail client?

      • by sarhjinian (94086) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:21PM (#36751262)

        I don't think so. Have you actually looked at the new system they have for the Playbook? It is really nice. Screens scroll smoothly. It is simple and straightforward. From a developer standpoint, you have the option of writing in Flash, or in native C++, or in Blackberry Java, or in Android Java.

        Yes, but your users don't have the option of running any of that because RIM hasn't released any of those environments, nor have they provided any hint as to when they might.

        I have a PlayBook. It's pretty slick at it's core, but when it has next to no apps, can't do autocorrect, has all sorts of bizarre interface inconsistencies and stalls mysteriously when browsing the web (no, not because of Flash, which is a non-feature, IMO). This article is dead-bang-on in it's analysis of RIM's problems lying with Laziridis' engineering-induced blindness, and the PlayBook is an example of that mindset: hits all the features, has an amazing foundation but is hideously crippled in ways that matter to average people.

        When people talk up the PlayBook, it's always "It runs Flash" (yes, it does; it does so better than any other tablet, which is like the old "winning a race at the special olympics" joke) or "It multitasks" (yes, it does, but you're challenged to find more than four apps worth running, and even then the memory management will fall down). That you can't type on it, that it's impossble to mark text, that it has no email client (and Bridge is a glitchy bastard) tell you everything you need to know about how RIM and it's people don't think about what actual consumers want.

        It kills me, really. I love the form factor---I wish there was a 7" iPad---and the gestures are brilliant (even though they're not consistent across all apps), but RIM needs to fix this think fast. The problem is that I think they've already moved onto the OS7 phones, which in turn are evolutionary dead ends because a few months after that there's supposed to be QNX phones. I suppose, in a year, the PlayBook might be usable. Maybe.

        It reeks of Nokia, actually.

        • Yeap. It all depends on what Rim does with it. They have potential, but can they deliver? That is the question. Sounds like they are right now having the kinds of internal discussions that they need to be having if they are going to deliver.

          From my perspective, the more quality platforms we have, the better. The rise of Blackberry does not hurt Android or IOS, it is better for all of us.
      • by idiot900 (166952) *

        I have a Playbook. It's nice to use but doesn't do much beyond browsing the web. My Android phone does a lot more, and has many more high-quality third-party apps available.

        Developing for RIM platforms is frustrating. Developer documentation is poor quality and App World takes weeks to months to approve apps. Not acceptable when the base of app-buying users is not near that of iOS and Android. And since when have you been able to develop for Playbook in Java, with Android, or natively? These SDKs have been

  • by sunfly (1248694) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:41PM (#36750444)
    Arrogance rarely wins, why is it so popular?
    • Because it's a good strategy. People believe the CEO making arrogant predictions for long enough that they can cash in their stock options and move to another company before anyone notices that they broke the last one.
    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:08PM (#36751002)

      Because, when arrogance wins, it reaaaally wins. See Apple.

      • by spire3661 (1038968) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:21PM (#36751246) Journal
        ITs fair to say that Steve has earned his arrogance. Founded PC company, was ousted, invents a computer that the WEB WAS INVENTED ON. Comes back to company he founded with the design THE WEB WAS INVENTED ON, said design becomes a decade long OS foundation for the company. He BOUGHT WALT Disney Inc, with a studio he paid a pittance for from Lucas. Itunes, ipod, Ipad all complete revolutions in the marketplace. But yeah, he doesnt deserve his arrogance.
    • by radtea (464814)

      Arrogance rarely wins, why is it so popular?

      Because it pays well.

      Seriously, look at the idiots in the US touting the super-rich as "job creators" and claiming that CEOs of bankrupt companies that had to be bailed out by the American worker are earning their absurd premiums.

      The only thing these clowns have going for them is arrogance, but demonstrably that is sufficient to make them enormously rich.

      On the other hand, winners (like Steve Jobs) tend to become arrogant if they weren't already. So you either have incompetent people who rise to the top be

  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:44PM (#36750512)

    they're probably pissing off a lot of their customers by preventing them from deleting apps that are of no use to them, for example, MySpace

  • by yoshi_mon (172895) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:45PM (#36750530)

    http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2011/7/5/wanna-be-the-ceo-of-nokia-take-the-simple-quiz.aspx [brightsideofnews.com]

    It is a little scary and sad to see the parallels in these two once giants make so many mistakes. Not that they are making the same mistakes but they both clearly have one thing in common: inept top level leadership.

  • do what NeXT did. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:52PM (#36750688)

    RIM needs to do what Jobs did to next in the mid 1990s. It's time for them to accept that their phone business is cooked. Nobody is waiting a week out in front of any stores to buy a RIM device. Nobody even knows what differentiates one device from another. It's 2011, not 1991, cellphone sets are widespread and the market has spoken, nobody wants a RIM phone.

    RIM needs to get out of the hardware business, and port their mail reader to an application and sit on top of android, iOS, and Windows mobile (lol).

    They need to focus on making BES suck less, and getting their application into as many hands as possible.

    Loose the hardware, nobody will miss it.

    • Its a shame you posted as AC because this is a good idea.
    • by sarhjinian (94086)

      This is true, but they problem is revenue. How do they do that without slitting their throat? Apple tried and it nearly killed them; it did kill Palm.

      I don't think they can, not unless they can find a way to make their software essential. Something like a secure BlackBerry Balance environment for the iPhone and Android might work (something that allows secure access to corporate resources, can be removed easily) along with porting BBM. Do you really think Apple or Google will allow such a move?

    • by Rob Y. (110975)

      Why not just stay in the hardware business and produce an android phone with their mail service as a value-add?

      It's not that their hardware sucks. Its that they're trying to go it alone with a smartphone OS, and were too late to make that work.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Hey, they could probably make some actual profit just by making a BBM app for iOS and Android.

  • ...next appears to be RIM. Is there something wrong with Canadian tech giants?

    I have always asked myself why Canada is the only major industrialized country without a car name synonymous with it.

    USA has GM, Italy has Fiat, UK has Landrover/Rover, Japan has Toyota, Germany has Mercedes/BMW, France has Peugeot, Russia has Lada...but Canada has...?

    • by mrops (927562)

      Canada has manufacturing off all those GM and Ford cars.

    • The Campagna T-Rex!

    • by arth1 (260657)

      I have always asked myself why Canada is the only major industrialized country without a car name synonymous with it.

      USA has GM, Italy has Fiat, UK has Landrover/Rover, Japan has Toyota, Germany has Mercedes/BMW, France has Peugeot, Russia has Lada...but Canada has...?

      You've never heard of CC&F?
      There are others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Motor_vehicle_manufacturers_of_Canada [wikipedia.org]

    • by tsalmark (1265778)
      Corel blew up way before NORTEL did.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Well, to start with we have a population that's half of the smallest of those, and even smaller than that for most of them. Spain is quite a bit bigger than Canada, and an industrialized country, but it doesn't have a synonymous car brand either. Also, we made an agreement with the US not to compete on cars, but instead to share Ford, GM and Chrysler.

      I guess a better question would be why a country with such a tiny population seems to so consistently play ball with such bigger countries?

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      Bombardier?

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:00PM (#36750866) Homepage

    I read the first paragraphs and then skimmed further into it. What I got was "RIM started out well but then didn't really do anything new or good after that."

    Okay, let's be clear on what RIM and Blackberry are and what they are not. RIM and Blackberry are about business. They target business users and cater to the needs of business. What they are not and never have been is a pop consumer devices. Many of the comments were targeting recent trends in phones such as iPhone and Android and the like. As much as I like my Samsung Galaxy phone, it's a consumer device just as the iPhone is. Both can be retrofitted with "needed business features" but from its core to its shell, RIM and Blackberry are business first and foremost.

    RIM is not going anywhere just yet. They have their place. Business and government want central control and management of their infrastructure and Blackberry can be used as an extension of their infrastructure in ways that others do not... not yet anyway. (And I presume some of that is based on patents held by RIM.)

    And I am rather disappointed that people these days are unable to look down the road or even back up the road where they came from. I think market trends are good to watch as it is an indicator of what works, what doesn't, what's long-term and what isn't. The iPhone/Android battle makes the market exciting. It's a catalyst for change and improvement... or it would be if it weren't for every business with an "on the internet" patent trying to sue one another to death. It's certainly very lively, I'm sure all will agree. But moving at a rapid pace when you already have a steady market niche would present further risk to RIM that isn't really present for the likes of Apple, HTC or Samsung.

    While Android and iPhone are used in many business environments, only Blackberry doesn't compromise the sovereignty of the business over its data. Apple wants to control all iPhones and the apps that go on them. Android is anarchy. Blackberry provides tools of control and configurability to business over even those of the phone carrier. (For example, using a BES, I was able to turn on tethering for a phone whose carrier did not permit it.) This is important to business people who understand the difference. (Unfortunately, since executives are prone to buying the pie-in-the-sky "cloud" idea for everything, what business people are willing to understand is demonstrably limited.)

    The basic notions that made Blackberry great from the beginning are still valid today. The things I see happening in the industry right now is a lot of glitz and eye candy but not so much in the way of new ideas. RIM isn't making a lot of noise right now, but they don't have to. If RIM wanted to play in the Android market or to create yet another line of phones, they would do so at the peril of their core market. If I were RIM and felt it were necessary, I would create a new brand and not call it Blackberry at all so that people would know the difference. RIM has something that no one else has and they need to stay with it.

    • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:19PM (#36751198)

      "RIM has something that no one else has and they need to stay with it."

      Falling market share and profits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DaemonRun (2363728)
      I would completely agree with all of that... but it doesn't change the fact that the stock price has dropped by half and the market share keeps falling. I think RIM should have taken your advice and stayed focused on the business market... their attempts at "pop phones" as you call them (great term BTW), has been a disaster (think Storm).
    • The problem is, that the other guys are taking such a huge share of hte market on the consumer side that its impossible for RIM to shape the market even on the business side. Economy of scale is going to kill RIM in your scenario. Make no mistake RIM is in a death spiral and will not remain independant for long. The weight of the other players will be too much for them. Its like gaming consoles. For years PCs were king, but the economics of the console masses cannot be denied and geenrally adversely affect
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:30PM (#36751420)

      Yes RIMs are about Business. But the iPhones and Androids are entering the business field too, and they are entering very fast. As they are a Good enough phone for work plus a toy after hours.

      • by acoustix (123925)

        But how do you manage those devices? Like the OP said, businesses and government like centralized management of devices. So far RIM's BB wins that feature category and its not even close.

        Just because someone has a smartphone for a personal device doesn't mean that they should be able to use it to access the business network. Users aren't allowed to put their home computers and notebooks on the company network. Why would mobile devices, with shady privilege practices be any different?

    • by JamesP (688957) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:32PM (#36751464)

      You're thinking exactly like RIM, and that's why they're going down the drain.

      The basic notions that made Blackberry great from the beginning are still valid today

      Absolutely not. Several things changed in smartphones and carriers and IT.

      Why would you bother configuring Blackberry email forwarding if you can have an IMAP client?

      Especially, why would you pay to only have what blackberry offers? And why only sell to corporations?

      You can have a stripped down version of your phone for the tin-hat crowd, no problem there, but evolve!

      • by acoustix (123925)

        Why would you bother configuring Blackberry email forwarding if you can have an IMAP client?

        MAPI > IMAP in the enterprise. Why would any business user choose only email vs email/calendar/contacts/notes/etc?

        • by JamesP (688957)

          Why would you bother configuring Blackberry email forwarding if you can have an IMAP client?

          MAPI > IMAP in the enterprise. Why would any business user choose only email vs email/calendar/contacts/notes/etc?

          You're right I forgot about that. But iPhone syncs with Exchange. Android too, apparently out of the box.

          MAPI is good if you have an exchange environment, and bad for everything else. Of course Outlook only syncs with MAPI properly.

          • by sarhjinian (94086)

            It's not MAPI, it's ActiveSync. And it's more than just sync, it's policy enforcement, device management and app distribution. Currently, RIM's devices do this best, but Apple is not far behind. Android devices are, but that's because they're a fragmented mess. I'd also add that "Out of the box" sync assumes your IT department allows the service and some of the security concerns it entails, whereas chances are most companies of any size have a BES Server already, and BES does more than ActiveSync.

            Now, th

    • I would agree, and there will be a niche for RIM for quite some time, except that people are getting less and less tolerant of having multiple, overlapping devices they have to carry. The newer phones targeted at consumers can do what RIM does from a user point of view, and they do most of it better.

      In business, the old adage is that you're either growing or you're dying. And RIM is not in the position to grow with their current plans.

    • lackberry doesn't compromise the sovereignty of the business over its data. Apple wants to control all iPhones and the apps that go on them. Android is anarchy.

      data is beyond me).

      As for Android, it only has as much anarchy as you let it. The baseline is that - it's where the freedom comes from - but you can definitely lock it down to whatever extent you want.

    • I was in a meeting the other day, and one of the guys on the conference call wanted to know if we would ever get iPads for use in meetings and presentations and the like. I nearly laughed. Then one of the other guys in the room, says no but we are looking at PlayBooks. I nearly cried.

      I do not see business moving to apple any time soon.

      The only competitor in the business world I could possibly see are Windows phones. Only because they can use their huge advantage that everyone in buisness uses Microsoft prod

  • by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:13PM (#36751096)

    That article to me seemed to be nothing more than a bunch of sour grapes and gossip from anonymous sources. I'm not saying RIM is, in fact, a thriving titan of mobile technology on the cusp of taking over the world. What I am saying is that that article provided no more useful information about RIM than US Weekly has about the Celebrity Train Wreck of the Week.

  • Why a blackberry (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I have a 2yr old blackberry, and I'll share a few product comments.

    Message indicator light.
    - pop ups are annoying, why Apple hasn't realized this, I don't know.
    Blackberry messenger.
    - as long as your contacts also use it, it's great.
    Keyboard shortcuts.
    - Designed for blackberry apps can be really fast to use. Ported apps often feel clunky.

    I think the other features are pretty equivalent.
    Native web browser sucks, third party browsers are better
    App selection is narrow, but there are quite a few excellen

    • by edmicman (830206)

      Reboots are a normal part of usage, a reboot app is one of the most popular.

      This. My wife was complaining about having to pull the battery on her Storm 2 recently. I told her to just shut it off (i.e., hold the power button until it shuts down) and to a full reset. She said she couldn't - it just comes back up. I didn't believe it until I looked it up. Pulling the battery is apparently a long time accepted practice for BBs, and like you note - all of the suggestions to do it without pulling the battery were for a reboot app. What the heck??

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Why do Blackberries need to be rebooted so often anyway? Apple seems to have figured out that people want their phones to NOT act like a poorly maintained Windows computer. My iPhone gets rebooted when there's an OS update. Most of the people I know with Android phones look at you blankly when you ask if they've ever rebooted their phones.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Message indicator light.
      - pop ups are annoying, why Apple hasn't realized this, I don't know.

      They have. The next version of the OS adresses it. Free update to everybody with an iPhone newer than about two years.

      Blackberry messenger.
      - as long as your contacts also use it, it's great.

      Fantastic. Texting-type apps on iOS or Android do the same thing but anybody can use them. Even Blackberry users. Or there are MSN/Yahoo/Whatever IM clients that you can even talk to people without phones on!

  • Speed/Efficiency (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:45PM (#36751688)
    For a corporate device, nothing beats the speed and efficiency with which you can use the BlackBerry. I have an Android device and a BlackBerry and I can still respond to email/text messages faster on the BlackBerry. I will give Mike the benefit of that one. It's battery life is also incredible and I do appreciate that feature. That much said, outside of the corporate/government arena, the BlackBerry is pretty well useless. The Android wins hands down for features of web browsing and social networking. I like both of the devices. RIM builds a device that is a workhorse, not full of bling. I think RIM could begin a comeback by not requiring carriers to use their NOC and opening the device up just a little bit.
    • For a corporate device, nothing beats the speed and efficiency with which you can use the BlackBerry.

      Our entire company (10,000+) pretty much dropped Blackberry because it was found that nothing beats the speed and efficiency of an iPhone or Android. We get a nice reimbursement to use our own devices, in the best way to suit our particular tasks. Since no matter what you need to do (sysadmin, marketing, exec level BS) there are apps for it. Corporate Exchange works like a charm, plus it works the same as folks with iPads who need to do more serious work than you can on a phone, without having to drag ar

  • There seems to be an intense eagerness on slashdot to predict RIM's demise. It smells like deliberate FUD, whether from a competitor or just self-flagellating Canadian doomsayers who no longer get their regular fix from staring into the abyss of Nortel.
  • It shouldn't have been all their products. It is and should always be an efficient product. They should have had the marketing that the windows phone has now. But they never really marketed it. The truth is business people are very slow to change so having a conservative product line for businesses was a good idea. But they should have still had an innovative and hip product line too. Quite frankly they should have been the first to jump on the android bandwagon. Not to replace blackberry but to try

  • See NMAtv's take on gadget envy. [youtube.com] This is from Taiwan's biggest fast-turnaround animation house. (Apple fanboys will hate this.)

    From a corporate perspective, a big advantage of the Blackberry is that, in corporate configurations, it has an encrypted link to the corporate servers, with the keys held only by the company, not the carrier. For a large number of business users, this is an essential feature. No device slaved to a carrier can be trusted in today's market.

    • by sarhjinian (94086)

      For collaboration, this isn't an issue. ActiveSync can be secured via SSL, and access to apps and services can be done over VPN.

      For device management, well, that's where RIM still holds an significant advantage. If you do the policies right, losing a BlackBerry is a non-issue. iPhone? Not so much. Android? Ummm....

  • I stopped reading at "The executives would think, ‘so your telling me with this device I am going to sell 40% less car chargers’,"

    Your article, Mr Boy Genius, shows you're not qualified to be an editor.

    And get a 2nd source, or give us a name. "One (disgruntled) former executive" is not a story, no matter how many times you repeat or rephrase the same worthless quote.

  • by sootman (158191) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @02:30PM (#36752290) Homepage Journal

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