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RIM co-CEOs bemoan critics, admits BlackBerry may not lead

updated 11:35 am EDT, Mon April 11, 2011

RIM's CEOs say critics focus on wrong areas

RIM's co-CEOs in an interview published Monday went on the defensive against critics of their performance in smartphones. Mike Lazaridis didn't "fully understand" the reactions and instead wanted to steer people to high profits, growth, and international expansion that was taking the BlackBerry to 170 countries. The only answer was to "prove it over and over and over," he told the New York Times.

His counterpart Jim Balsillie argued that market share alone wasn't the issue and that RIM could thrive in the next five years just by continuing to grow and be successful. "You don't have to be all things to all people," he said.

He added that the platform transition RIM was performing, to switch from the legacy BlackBerry platform to the QNX roots used first in the BlackBerry PlayBook and later to go into BlackBerry 7. Apple has been one of the few companies to successfully switch over to a completely new OS or hardware platform, having moved first to Mac OS X and later from PowerPC to Intel.

"It's almost never done, and it's way harder than you realize," Balsillie explained. "This transition is where tech companies go to die."

Both responses mostly sidestepped the reason for concern. The BlackBerry has been losing share quickly in its core US market and has also been ceding ground in its home country of Canada as well as parts of Europe. The worldwide growth highlighted by Lazaridis has focused mostly on lower-end phones like the BlackBerry Curve 3G and sometimes on prepaid users, neither of which makes as much money per person as high-end, subscription BlackBerry users.

Premium smartphones have been a major weak point for RIM as Apple's iPhone and Android phones from HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others have consistently outperformed recent BlackBerry phones, even at the low end.

RIM may bounce back in mid-year once it launches the Torch 2, Bold Touch and other parts of a new lineup. All of the phones known so far are much faster and have higher resolution displays, 720p HD video, NFC, and other technologies that should bring them up to date.

By Electronista Staff


  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2009


    Um, Apples done more than that

    They also did a 68000->PPC transition...
    And the transition from single tasking to multitasking, way back...

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    RIM controls their own destiny. Too bad.

    "This transition is where tech companies go to die."

    Because most tech companies only try to make massive transitions when they are getting crushed by the competition. So either they hastily botch the transition and alienate their user base, or they come up with a decent solution but it's too late to save them.

    Microsoft did the former with the non-transition from WinMob 6.5 to WP7. They nuked and paved, jerking the rug out from under their hardware partners and customers. No transition. They just pretended the old OS never existed.

    Oh, and remember Palm? The once-mighty mobile pioneer? They milked their customer base for about a decade with little to no improvement in either hardware or software. They were in trouble even before the first iPhone. So they banged out webOS in an attempt to save themselves. I hear it's nice, but their hardware is still plasticky junk, there is no upgrade path from Palm OS to webOS, and as a result sales were negligible. Too little, too late.

    At least RIM owns both their OS and their hardware design. So, in theory, they could optimize the OS and hardware for each other, then build an ecosystem and infrastructure to give a great user experience. Like Apple does. But no, RIM is hedging its bets and plans to add droid app support. Which makes PlayBook just another generic droid. That also runs a few oddball QNX apps that nobody will care about.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004


    There are more example

    Commodore completely left behind the Commodore 64 for the Commodore Amiga - they were not compatible. It's true they eventually wrote a C64 emulator, but that's just trivia, it was a complete break from C64.

    Atari, going to the ST line, from the 800 line - same thing.

    And both those companies were very successful in the first few years after the transition.

    Nintendo, similarly didn't need compatibility for the Super Nintendo and the original Nintendo.

    The reality is, companies get stuck on these transitions a lot, but one easy way to handle the issue - is simply NOT BE COMPATIBLE.

    It's what Palm eventually did, but years too late. If they had done it sooner, they could've broken to a new OS sooner, and not suffered with Palm OS 5 for so many years, until they finally made the bold move, and their marketshare was already lousy.

  1. bleee

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Mar 2002


    They need to cut dependence on BIS and BES

    I would gladly try a BlackBerry but I don't want to pay an extra $10 bucks a month just so that I can have my data pass through Canada. People who use it in an enterprise environment will want the added security and are willing to pay for it, but the average person just want a lower phone bill.

    Sell the BlackBerry unlocked without the requirement of a BIS or BES plan.

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