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RIM Firing (Nearly) Everybody 440

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-line dept.
itwbennett writes "Research in Motion (RIM) reported grim Q4 results Thursday and announced sweeping personnel changes. Leading the parade of departing execs is Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of the company, who has given up his board seat. David Yach, who has been CTO of software for the company for 13 years, is retiring. And Jim Rowan, chief operating officer of global operations, who has been with the company for four years, is leaving to pursue other interests."
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RIM Firing (Nearly) Everybody

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  • Titanic is sinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by na1led (1030470) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:13AM (#39521131)
    and the first ones to bail are the Captain and ship mates.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:18AM (#39521159)

    RIM's failure is attributable, in no small part, to flat-out engineering laziness. For example, I recall their networking APIs made developers responsible for figuring out which transport mechanism (e.g., cellular, wi-fi) was available when they wanted a HTTP connection. That's nonsense. The developer just wants a connection. Irritants like these were systemic, and these make developing quality software nearly impossible. Granted, users don't see that part, but they do experience it indirectly as programmers are forced to reinvent solutions to simple tasks that ought to be high level abstractions.

  • ITSS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alomex (148003) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:21AM (#39521195) Homepage

    ITSS: It's the software stupid.

    Blackberry got to where it was on the strength of its hardware. Problem is the iPhone changed the game and now the software is as important as the hardware.

    The blackberry web browser was inferior until rather recently. Developing apps for a BB was a mess compared to the iPhone, the playbook couldn't even read emails until the latest update.

    RIM can easily survive: Apple was in worse shape for far longer than RIM and still made a come back. However they need their own Steve Jobs who can refocus the company and develop a product that is a unique proposition, just like Apple developed, in rapid sequence the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoobixCube (1133473) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:27AM (#39521235) Journal

    Too true. This is a prime example of what happens when you fail to innovate in the face of a changing competitive landscape. Blackberry used to be the last word in mobile email, and while they remained very good at email, every other manufacturer caught up, and did far far more, while Blackberries, model after subtly different model, didn't expand their feature set at all. They introduced startling revelations of technology like replacing the trackball (which I didn't mind) with a laptop-style trackpad, which I couldn't stand, and they upped the resolution of their OS a bit. Everyone else offered bajillion megapixel cameras with a solid metric fucktonne of apps, and a proper, i.e. NOT WAP web browsing experience. But hey, Blackberry owners could still get their email, right? By about January last year, I'd say the only people buying Blackberries were people who already had Blackberries and had never tried anything else.

  • Re:Incidentally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoobixCube (1133473) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:31AM (#39521265) Journal

    Different strokes for different folks, I guess. With a Blackberry, I often find myself scratching my head, but with an Android phone, even in the early versions, disarrayed and beta-ish as they were, and the current versions, laden as they are with manufacturer crapware like TouchWiz, I've never been left wondering "now where do I find that feature?"

  • by Jmc23 (2353706) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:40AM (#39521339) Journal
    I remember when slashdot used to cover tech stories before news outlets and definitely before I saw it on the evening news. Now slashdot is covering stuff after it's aired on the evening news, sometimes with a delay of days, and covering it badly with sensationalist titles I'd expect from Fox! It's been dying slowly, discussions becoming more Us and Them and science fanboi yelling with little thought out argument or logic. The tide has turned and in the future this year will probably be seen as when the demise of Slashdot occured. :(
  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcherryholmes (1322535) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:42AM (#39521361)

    Palm innovated its ass off with webOS. It failed anyway, but not because of that.

  • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:46AM (#39521391)

    One of the features on paper is the ability to run Android apps natively....

    Unless they've scrapped that feature, in which case they're boned.

  • by na1led (1030470) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:46AM (#39521399)
    RIM's failure is due to their focus on getting support contracts with businesses. They're biggest selling product was BES which was plagued with bugs and issues. Our company used to have a BES server, and almost every week we had issues with it. RIM's support was also a joke, and sometimes they couldn't even fix a problem that was related to their product. Put it simple, the rest of world moved on to new upgrades, and RIM stayed stagnant.
  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:50AM (#39521433) Homepage Journal

    Well, if you're in the board room your attitude is that the workers don't matter any more than the machinery. To the 1%, only the 1% matter.

  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:52AM (#39521457) Homepage Journal

    either you innovate or you are out of business really soon

    Or you innovate really well and run headlong into a ridiculous patent infringement lawsuit that soaks you for 2-3 years worth of your R&D budget, and then you have no choice but to stop innovating... The NTP shake-down of RIM pretty much directly marked the beginning of the end for them. It's a cautionary tale, really.

  • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:53AM (#39521467)

    Brand : Worthless
    Customers : Leaving in droves, and no reason to stay now
    Patents : the only asset they have left to strip ...

  • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:01AM (#39521539)

    They are working for a Tech company. If they don't keep up with the news, they are idiots who deserve to wake-up to a bankrupt company.

  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:34AM (#39521889) Journal

    No, that's very naive. Its not because people want shiny that RIM is in the dumpster. Its because "business phones" really needed to be able to do everything that the "non business phones" do too. Their web browser sucked, and they didn't do a good job making a phone ( storm sucked) with a decent screen to view more complex documents and emails. A proper business phone is a consumer phone PLUS additional security features. Not a consumer phone MINUS some usability features.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:36AM (#39521917)
    Nothing wrong with people first hearing news elsewhere then coming here to discuss it after stewing on the implications. That makes for more interesting posts.
  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Programmer_In_Traini (566499) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:48AM (#39522069)

    well, i agree with your postting, but i dont think you're right on what RIM's main problem is/was.

    RIM suffered from executive indecision. they just couldn't agree on what the playbook should be like, what features it should sport. Aim to sweep the young adults market or focus on pleasing its already existing business clientele. Ultimately they went for middle ground and they failed because 1. Their first version arrived almost at the same time as the ipad SECOND generation arrived, almost withing the same month. and 2. they failed because the device isn't competitive enough for the ipad, so forget mass consumer market and the device failed to meet the business clientele market and they failed there too.

    Mostly, i would wager that RIM would have made it out alive if they had entered the race within the same month or two as the first ipad. people wouldn't have had expectations of what a proper tablet should be and mass consumer market could have been swayed either way. i think ipad still would have come out ahead, but perhaps RIM wouldn't have bitten the dust so hard.

    There is still hope for RIM and their playbook if they decide to remain in the tablet business. It remains the only tablet certified with the FIPS-140-2 (encryption) standard, and therefore makes it the best tablet for business models. But they got to screw their heads tight and stop trying to get both markets. Their new playbook 2.0 os has potential, the support for android as well. modifying their Blackberry enterprises software (bes) to support android, blackberry and itunes is a move that very well could save them.

    RIM's not done yet, but clearly their boat is heading toward the niagara falls (they're canadians, get it?? :p) so they need to make their next decisions right.

  • It's a common problem. You've seen companies fail due to this sort of thing, (e.g. Palm) and you've plenty of other companies go through years of sitting on their hands and failing to improve their products (including Apple, Microsoft, Motorola). It's a problem of upper management being short-sighted and risk-averse.

    The management probably didn't want to spend too much money on R&D, because that cuts into their profits. Why not keep squeezing the cash-cow they have? You saw this debate recently within Google, where people on Slashdot were arguing about whether Google should be funding all these experimental products, or whether that was a waste of shareholders' money. People don't like spending money, and any exertion of time and effort and money will threaten to alter the status quo. People don't like altering the status quo, especially not when the status quo is working for them.

    But then they're also short-sighted. They don't think about how the world changes and technology changes. They don't have a long-term plan for remaining dominant, because they haven't yet taken note of the challengers. They think, "We're so important, we'll never be displaced."

    This is often how the powerful fall.

  • by DocSavage64109 (799754) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:51AM (#39522107)
    When is the last time you saw an actual photocopier and not a multipurpose copier/printer/scanner/etc.? That's roughly the same problem with Blackberry phones.
  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:57AM (#39522159) Homepage

    I would say this is an example of "Lead, follow, or you'll be pushed out of the way."

    The real story here, the story that most people on Slashdot don't like, is how Apple reinvented the smartphone market. Blackberry was king of a world where smartphones were for self-important middle-managers. Smartphones were annoying, the didn't work very well, and they weren't useful for very much anyway. Yes, you could browse the web, but only on this little mobile-only browser that didn't display web pages the same way as your computer. Yes, you could respond to email, but email. Yes, you could theoretically install a 3rd party app, but there selection of 3rd party apps that weren't complete junk were awfully limited.

    And then Apple came along with the iPhone, and the mobile industry shuddered. You had a phone that rarely crashed, was easy to use, and did many of the things that only full computers used to do. Email could be setup to use normal mail protocols. Web pages looked like web pages. You could sync your music and listen to it as easily as you could on a high-end dedicate music player.

    Apple was leading the way, and most of the cell phone industry was smart enough to follow. You got Android phones in response, and Microsoft developed a better version of their mobile OS. RIM... did nothing. And now, as a result of their inaction, they're being pushed aside.

  • Re:like palm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by errandum (2014454) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:00AM (#39522195)

    I see your point, but I don't agree with you (at all)

    Those protocols were design for computing power lower than a calculators'. They would have run on pretty much anything. What RIM did was construct a whole network to provide secure communications to the users of their phones, while having a great UI for it (at the time), and that was revolutionary. It was never that you couldn't get e-mail on phones, just they went the extra mile. They were what other players aspired to be...

    On the other hand, now they are not doing it. Pretty much everything RIM has done in the past few years has been trying to catch up, and when they do, their competitors are already miles ahead.

    The only way RIM will ever reach the pack is if they skip trying to develop everything from scratch and just add their ideas to Android (Nokia is living proof that windows mobile 7 will not sell, even if you do great handsets). With it they can take advantage of everything Android already does and differentiate themselves by doing some of the things better (much like they did in the past).

  • Re:Incidentally (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:12AM (#39522329) Homepage Journal

    You do know that you can get a iPhone 3GS for $1, right?

    You mean, you can get an iPhone 3GS and a contract for $1 plus the contract fees, right?

  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by careysub (976506) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:38AM (#39522601)

    No, that's very naive. Its not because people want shiny that RIM is in the dumpster. Its because "business phones" really needed to be able to do everything that the "non business phones" do too.....

    Amen. That Blackberry is automatically competing against everyone's personal cellphone. A job I had several years ago they provided their tech staff with Blackberries, but I refused to use/carry it. Why? I already had a cell phone, which I still needed to carry since the rest of the world uses it to call me, and it was smaller (the Blackberry had a permanent keyboard making too big to fit in the pocket), and did more. So I changed my contact info to my personal cell phone.

    When a product is sufficiently uncompelling that you don't want to use it even when they give it to you free, that product has a long term problem.

  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:51AM (#39522769)

    Unfortunately now everyone wants the latest/shiniest/coolest gadget, not just a business phone.

    It was a decent phone, I suppose. And it was fantastic for text emails.

    But other phones came along that simply outclassed it and absorbed it's capability into their feature sets.

    It's like what happened to the alphanumeric pager companies once SMS came along.

  • Re:like palm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Proaxiom (544639) on Friday March 30, 2012 @11:28AM (#39523203)

    So the ability to play games, browse a better web, and do non-business things too really made alternatives more attractive.

    Several years ago I first heard the argument that BlackBerry was getting its brand poisoned a bit because IT administrators were disabling most of the features that shipped on the phones (for security reasons, or whatever). So a large percentage of users didn't even know you could load third party apps or browse the web on it (though the web browser sucked until BB 6 shipped in 2010), and so the phones seemed much less compelling to get for personal use. Of course that's not the whole story of BlackBerry's decline, but it's an interesting point nonetheless.

  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday March 30, 2012 @11:53AM (#39523483)

    Dumbphones compete against land-line telephones and VOIP home phones largely for the business of the elderly.

    Among the rest of us, smartphones compete with smartphones. When the original iPhone came out, Blackberry never responded (and still has not, 5 years later) and that's why they are suffering.

    It's like they're trying to sell us laptops without wifi. Well, it's a business tool, so it'll always be used in our narrow use case, right?

  • Re:like palm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday March 30, 2012 @11:55AM (#39523497)

    I think 80% of Blackberries keep themselves out of the trash can because some corporate policies haven't yet caught up to BOYD.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

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