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RIM Firing (Nearly) Everybody 440

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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  • like palm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scafuz ( 985517 ) <> on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:08AM (#39521097)
    either you innovate or you are out of business really soon
  • by alphax45 ( 675119 ) <kyle.alfred@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:17AM (#39521153) []

    Looks like Thorsten is actually being the CEO now. Might get worse before it get's better. I have faith (mostly because not much else is left)!
  • Incidentally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xacid ( 560407 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:17AM (#39521157) Journal

    I got issued a Blackberry Bold for work yesterday and so far I've been incredibly impressed and actually like it more than my Android phone. It's something I never thought I'd get into but the physical format and the UI made pretty good sense to me (unlike android which feels disorganized/non-intuitive in a few places).

    Where I think RIM has really failed is in regards to creating a culture around their devices outside of the workplace. Android has geeks and counterculture, Apple has the hipsters...and well everyone else. When I think of people with Blackberries I think of corporate culture and suit and ties - what young consumer wants to be a part of that?

    Anywho - for my own selfish reasons I hope they continue (at least from my first impression) making quality devices and figure out how to market themselves outside of the enterprise.

  • by Sgs-Cruz ( 526085 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:18AM (#39521177) Homepage Journal

    Having only recently gotten into the smartphone game (July 2011), I didn't really know anything about the industry back when RIM/Blackberry was king.

    But now, having read some about it... wow, what a waste. They basically had huge, fat, margins, essentially no competition in the smartphone arena, for almost five years - and freaking sat on it and did almost nothing. Meanwhile Apple and Google were in the lab inventing the future. Unbelievable.

    Like most Canadians the story concerns me because what does it say about the country? I sometimes wonder - even if RIM had had a clue and tried to come up with something iPhone- or Android-like, could they have done it without the California engineer and developer community? They had the money, but could they have enticed the brilliant graduates of top American schools to move to Ontario? And I don't mean to say that Canadian engineers aren't good, but that Apple and Google have access to a global talent pool - did/does RIM? (Fascinating question: How much does snow and ice have to do with the fortunes of a mobile phone developer?)

    It's a sad but interesting story all around. I hope they can turn things around but I don't see much chance of it at this point.

  • Re:Incidentally (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:23AM (#39521215)
    Thank you. It's good to see someone else who actually likes their Blackberry. I've had one for years, and am getting tired hearing from everyone else how much better the Androids are and iterating reasons despite the fact that they've never owned one. I've tried Androids on multiple occasions. I returned them. They're fun for a few days, but when it comes to being productive, I prefer my Blackberry.
  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:38AM (#39521319)

    Ok, it was primarily a business phone, but it didnt support good software APIs for gaming. Consequence? People would have to buy a second phone just for entertainment. They had a quite complete Java Stack, but wouldnt bother to implement not even JSR184 or OpenGL ES. And they had friggin' GPU phones!

  • Re:Incidentally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RubberMallet ( 2499906 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:41AM (#39521355)

    I've got both a Blackberry Curve 9360 (my work phone) and an HTC Android... and I detest using my Blackberry. The UI is terrible... really terrible. The call quality (on the exact same provider as my Android) is atrocious to say the least - which is a much bigger issue than an annoying UI. Trying to read an email, type an email, send an email is an exercise in annoyance and frustration, swiping that stupid track spot and invariably having to back-track all the time.. Trying to dial a phone number... or worse, remember which button it is to hang up the call instead of leaving the call open which I always seem to do first.... every single call.

    Basically my Blackberry sits on my desk in standby because I have to have it there... but if I want to do anything "real" I use my Android which works very very very well.

    I'm not the only one that feels this way either. Amongst the staff where I work, exactly zero like the Blackberry phones (we all have slightly different models of either Bold or Curve and 2 people have the Touch).

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

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:51AM (#39521447) Journal
    Arguably, RIM's real problem(aside from glacial movement) was that their core specialty, mobile email, was something that could be done 'well enough' by the less elegant means of simply shoving technologies and protocols designed for full computers into smaller devices.(very strong similarity to Palm, here)

    Back in the day, when pagers were still pretty hip and running from AAA batteries wasn't yet somewhat deviant for a mobile device, RIM's ability to shove email onto handsets was pretty serious business. Trouble is, as team silicon advanced, the "Um, just run an IMAP or Activesync client, like a real computer, y'know?" solution became viable. Harder on the battery and the data plan; but trivially interoperable with everything already set up for real computers to get email.

    Windows Mobile should have been RIM's wake-up call: UX was pretty dismal; but it was a more or less architecturally successful implementation of 'well, just build the computer smaller!' school of mobile design. Once Apple came along and dealt with the UX problem... Game over man, game over.

    Palm went down a somewhat similar road: under the assumption that mobile devices would be highly power constrained and very infrequently connected, their 'conduit/sync' system was crazy elegant, and they managed to shove some pretty impressive capability into gizmos with weedy little ColdFire CPUs and absurdly small slices of RAM. Again, though, team silicon marched on, and it became possible to just shove a computer into a smaller box. Microsoft's attempt was a usability disaster, which gave Palm some extra time to live; but their attempts to scale classic PalmOS up to take advantage of more powerful hardware and more frequent connectivity never really came to much.
  • Re:like palm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:56AM (#39521495)

    Several years ago I looked into becoming a Blackberry developer. I noticed their site was terribly unprofessional and it reminded me of a mom-and-pop shop at times. Just from visiting their site and wading through the developers section I decided to forgo wasting my time on their platform since it was obvious their management had serious problems. I think the principles made out like bandits many years ago and really just stopped caring all that much. They milked it for what they could, and now you see the end. RIM has been dead for years.

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

    by glop ( 181086 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:01AM (#39521537)

    Well, that was after a long stagnation. And the disruption was so major that there was little connection between the old business and the new. A customer with a Treo or Palm V probably had the same shock switching to an iPhone or a Palm Pre.

    Also, webOS came after the iPhone. That makes it less innovative, since most of the differences between an old Pam were pioneered by the iPhone:
    - get rid of pen, use fingers
    - capacitive multi touch makes keyboard less needed, so get rid of it.
    - get modern OS and not 16/32 bit kludgy memory address space
    - get real browser
    - PDA swallows the phone and not the reverse

    Personally, for me the Treo was the time when Palm failed to innovate. Notably, they rejected the low end. I remember seeing 100$ phones, 100$ Palms. But there was no 150$ Palm-phone, only a very expensive Treo.

    So, in the end, I'd say Palm is really a company that failed to innovate in time. And note this is really a case of innovating and not inventing. If you look at my bullet list, nothing was really groundbreaking in 2000. So it's not that they were unlucky and the guys in the labs didn't have the "Eureka moment". It's that they didn't look at what was possible and put it together quickly enough.

    That's really quite sad, Palm was a company that had understood some really important things about simplicity and focus on the core features.

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

    by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:21AM (#39521747)

    People would have to buy a second phone just for entertainment.

    The Blackberry was a business tool, just like a photocopier. Nobody complains about having to buy a game console because their photocopier can't play games.

    The Blackberry was an effective business tool because it only had business-related functionality - so any company buying them didn't feel they were providing free toys for their employees, they were only providing a necessary tool. Unfortunately now everyone wants the latest/shiniest/coolest gadget, not just a business phone.

  • They panicked. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by concealment ( 2447304 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:25AM (#39521771) Homepage Journal

    This reminds me of Yahoo: they're listening too much to the pundits, looking too much at trends, and not doing what is known to succeed, which is figuring out what you do right that people like to buy and getting better at it.

    I am sorry to see this happen to RIM, but their competition did just up the ante with Android. I still like a lot of the Blackberry features better and often feel their hardware and software is better engineered, but a generation or so behind. Sometimes that's the price you pay for stability but sometimes it's a liability.

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

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:36AM (#39521921) Journal
    Did you miss my use of phrases like "well enough" and "less elegant means"?

    My whole point is that RIM developed a (to the best of my knowledge) uniquely parsimonious and full featured mechanism for delivering email to power and computationally constrained clients. The battery life and minimal specs of blackberry handsets attests to this.

    The problem for them(as it was for Palm) is that it has become possible to just throw power at the problem(in the sense that you can afford the SoC and squeeze just about one waking day out of the battery), which leads to devices that are capable of things that only full mobile computers are capable of and capable of largely adequately emulating the features of more parsimonious devices.

    For whatever reason, it has proven to be quite difficult to take the historically platform-constrained system and augment it to take advantage of more powerful hardware(both Palm and RIM tacked on some features to their existing OSes, with limited success; but ended up grabbing an entirely new operating system and attempting to move to that. We now know that Palm did a good job; but not fast enough to save themselves. Jury is still out on RIM); but it is comparatively trivial(although deeply inelegant and wasteful) for a less platform constrained system to brute-force most of the features of a more carefully designed system.
  • Re:like palm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:51AM (#39522103) Homepage

    Wrong. Google C2DM is extremely efficient, and can be used for multiple purposes in addition to providing the genuine push email you claim that only BlackBerry has.

    Now, Android with an Exchange server... that's a different story.

  • by swalve ( 1980968 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:52AM (#39522119)
    CEO pay is a tiny fraction of operating costs. Cutting one's pay to zero would mean a failing company could run in the black for another couple of hours.
  • by Sgs-Cruz ( 526085 ) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:22AM (#39522427) Homepage Journal

    Haha, I guess that's true. Maybe what it most says is that Canadians are insecure because we wring our hands over a single big company falling from greatness :) But on the other hand, didn't Nortel go much the same way?

    I guess it's a problem for smaller countries where their is only one world-class player in a given market. China or the U.S. doesn't agonize over a single big enterprise stagnating because there are several more waiting in the wings.

    There must be consternation in Finland over Nokia akin to the parochial concern for RIM in Canada? Or are the Finns more confident.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser