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RIM CEO: 'There's Nothing Wrong With the Company' 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the reality-distortion-field-on-the-fritz dept.
redletterdave writes "Research In Motion is in trouble. The BlackBerry maker has been suffering from an identity crisis for the last six months, which has resulted in mass layoffs, lots of job shuffling, dramatic drop-offs in market share and a quickly decaying portfolio for investors. But not according to Thorsten Heins! The newly-appointed CEO published an op-ed in the Toronto Globe and Mail on Tuesday, and also appeared on a radio program the same morning, to deliver one message: 'There's nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now.'"
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RIM CEO: 'There's Nothing Wrong With the Company'

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  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @05:48PM (#40534405) Homepage Journal

    "I'm not dead yet... I'm happpeeeeeeee!"

  • Please, someone call the doctor..
  • CEO: "But this ship can't sink!"

    CFO: "She's made of iron, sir! I assure you, she can... and she will. It is a mathematical certainty."

    CEO (to shareholders and public): " Everything will be juuuuuust fine, folks! "

    • by sjames (1099)

      Then it was off to the bar for his usual afternoon rounds of Maalox martinis and his gin and Alka-Seltzer.

    • by grantek (979387)

      Read your signature as part of the conversation, wasn't out of place.

  • Denial (Score:5, Funny)

    by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @05:51PM (#40534435)

    Why am I reminded of the Iraqi Propaganda Minister?

    • Both the Holy Grail and Baghdad Bob...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by magarity (164372)

      I was reminded of the President saying the private sector is doing fine.

    • Re:Denial (Score:4, Funny)

      by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:15PM (#40535499)

      It sounds like he is stuck on step one on the "12 Steps For Fucked Companies Program." Step one, admitting that your company is fucked.

      "Hi, my name is Thorsten, and my company is like totally fucked."

      Now, what is step two . . . ?

    • Re:Denial (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:37PM (#40535749)

      Because you believe the media's portrayal of RIM -- a company with no debt, $2 billion in assets, positive cash flow, extensive global market share in enterprise and military markets, and a newly reshuffled leadership and pared-down workforce -- as hopelessly crippled merely because they're losing market share in the US consumer market, an area where they have never been a stellar performer.

      People said the same thing about Apple not that long ago, and that demise seemed at least as imminent, if not more.

      That said, RIM has done a spectacularly bad job of marketing itself, which only fuels the fires of the doom-sayers. And the decision to delay the release of their new phones until after the gloriously profitable Christmas season because they want to make sure that the new OS integrates seamlessly with embedded systems in cars which don't yet exist has to be one of the stupidest strategic moves in modern business history, right up there with New Coke.

      But RIM's self-defeating strategic, tactical, and marketing debacles aside, the reports of its death really are quite exaggerated.

      • Re:Denial (Score:4, Insightful)

        by narcc (412956) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @08:00PM (#40535985) Journal

        Don't confuse them with facts. The Slashdot parrots need memes. Facts tempt them to reason and form options, a sin of the highest order.

        Try this instead: "Huur! Durrr! RIM is teh dead! Everything they've ever done sucked, lol!" -- That'll even get an AC a +5 Insightful.

        • Re:Denial (Score:5, Funny)

          by blind monkey 3 (773904) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @09:09PM (#40536641)
          Huur! Durrr! RIM is teh dead! Everything they've ever done sucked, lol!
        • So you're saying this is a "buy?" How many shares are you buying?

      • RIM has yet to present any vision where it has a plausible future as anything but, at best, a marginal maker of nice "feature phones", and even that's unlikely, given their cost structure. Yes, they have cash on hand now, but what good is it doing them? What can they invest it in, beyond the new software, to rescue the company from the death spiral? RIM is in the same boat as Nokia right now, only without the MS-funded lifeline; they are a company with an expensive cost structure selling a shitload of ph

      • They don't have positive cash flow anymore.

        Also, their marketshare is dropping like a rock. It is almost unbelievable how quickly people have stopped buying blackberries. And I say that as someone who likes Blackberries.
      • Re:Denial (Score:5, Informative)

        by saikou (211301) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @01:45AM (#40538545) Homepage

        Let's see...

        - Smartphone market share that's been dropping like a stone? Check
        - Quarterly losses reported? Check
        - Large layoffs? Check
        - Other providers offering remote wipe, encryption of the devices that users love? Check
        - IT departments begrudgingly allowing users to bring their own phones instead of buying a BB for each and every user? Check
        - Messaging service, that was supposed to take like a wildfire on other devices "because everyone wants BB Messaging" failing to catch on? Check
        - PlayBook, that was supposed to be mega-popular with everyone who had BB device failing to sell, costing company shitload of money? Check
        - New Holy Grail Operating System Demo having just one "major sexy feature" which is a camera feature? Check (bonus - made by company that ended up being bought by Nokia)
        - That very same Holy Grail Operating System being delayed, thus no phones in the biggest holiday shopping season? Check
        - New release timeframe being after new iPhone 5 and way after Android Jelly Bean and thus playing catch-up? Check

        Am I missing something? RIM seems to be super-widely off-mark, been off-mark ever since the situation in consumer smart-phones changed enough to require some sort of a response, and so far everything that they can say is "our next product is surely to be a hit" and coast on the current one. Um... oookay....

        Bonus: remember what RIM said about switching platforms? "No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform. It's almost never done, and it's way harder than you realise. This transition is where tech companies go to die." Balsillie, April 2011. (see here [guardian.co.uk]). And now they're switching platforms. Do I believe RIM 2011 or RIM 2012?

        Sure, it's not dead just yet. But they're not in a "death spiral", they are in a "death nosedive" and keep on firing thrusters to the max. Unless they provide a new super-phone now (and not in half a year with, I bet, yet another "but we really-really need to make sure everything is polished so we delay until Q2 2013" announcement coming in January) the only way is down. Less market share, less interesting products. They could probably survive by cutting staff as much as possible, dropping to 1% of market share and not even try to make phones for non-military use. But that would be a different company.

    • Why am I reminded of the Iraqi Propaganda Minister?

      “The Apple infidels are committing suicide at the gates of ...” ... wait, let me check where they're incorporated ...
      Wait, what? “Waterloo”? God, this is the good stuff ...

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @05:55PM (#40534499) Homepage Journal

    They're as good at positioning and marketing in the mobile information technology market as Microsoft is in the on-line advertising market.

  • Of course he's going to say that, he's the CEO and he's expected to say that.

    Coming out and saying "we're screwed" may be technically more accurate - but it'll only hasten the demise of the company even more. Who knows? Maybe BB10 is amazing - but if he says anything other than "we're doing just fine" then he's running the risk of his careless talk meaning that it'll never ever see the light of day.

    • by magarity (164372)

      Of course he's going to say that, he's the CEO and he's expected to say that.

      A good CEO in this situation would say rah-rah things like "Our team has great people working hard on our brilliant strategy to return to market dominance" or somesuch. Yes, a CEO should be eyeing a pie the sky but the given quote is head in the sand.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @05:55PM (#40534507)

    "I'm Thorsten Heins! Try our new Blackberry. I liked the phone so much - I bought the company!"

  • by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin&lunarworks,ca> on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @05:57PM (#40534537) Homepage

    Sure, there's nothing wrong with RIM. You could argue that. Just as you could argue with any company that's seen their market disappear from under them due to inaction. If things simply hadn't changed, they'd still be rolling along nicely.

    But that's the problem: Things change.

  • by kae77 (1006997) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @06:02PM (#40534597)
    I'm not sure why we're seeing all of this. But if you RTFA, you'll see a totally different message. Heins gets that they are in a lot of trouble. He's simply saying that they aren't going anywhere. They are executing their strategy in the midst of a transition. All of the negativity is expected. But they haven't lost their head, they know where they're going. The headline should read: "RIM CEO Acknowledges past, hopeful for future" Nice to see a CEO be candid about their problems.
    • by idontgno (624372)

      Well, there's "hopeful for future", and there's "blowing sunshine up the market's and shareholders' collective asses".

      History will tell which is which in this case.

      • by jimicus (737525)

        It honestly doesn't read like that. As the GP said, it's a very sensationalist headline. It'd be more accurate to say that the CEO takes the view that there is nothing wrong with the company that cannot be fixed.

        They don't have any debt, they still have revenue and while they have problems, there's plans in place to deal with them.

  • Something is wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hawkeey (1920310) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @06:02PM (#40534599)

    Well I think we just found one thing wrong with the company: The CEO is delusional, a liar, or both.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @06:11PM (#40534717)

    I feel for RIM... I really do... this whole iphone thing has f'ed them. And the android isn't helping... and a resurgent interest in smartphones by microsoft is just more bad news.

    The competition for the smartphone has increased exponentially and RIM might well not have a place in the future of it.

    I don't see how they compete with the cool factor of the iphone or the adaptability of the android.

    They still have a pretty solid lock on having the most secure phones but how long is that going to last? And more importantly, will the IT departments that care be able to enforce a RIM only standard over the cries of "But I want an iphone!!!"

    The whole situation is pretty desperate and I don't know how RIM gets out of it.

  • Slightly off-topic, but to avoid making Toronto even more of the center of the Canadian universe than it already is...

    The Globe & Mail is only a Toronto newspaper insofar as it's published in Toronto and is utterly obsessed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It would be much more appropriate to label it a national newspaper, as it's read and distributed throughout Canada, and attempts (not always successfully) to provide a balanced perspective from all regions.

  • At least he didn't announce, "Good news! The company is now safe. Microsoft has decided to invest $1bn in RIM"...

    Phillip.

  • And there'll be nothing wrong with the company as it won't exist in the near future.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @06:23PM (#40534863) Journal
    Lord of De Nile.
  • "The lack of traffic in the forlorn BlackBerry store, which opened in 2007, also reflects how the smartphone brand has lost its allure with consumers and is in huge trouble [detroitnews.com] in the U.S. market."
  • We aren't making any money, but we don't need no stinkin' money!
  • The brilliant thing about apps, from a manufacturer's perspective, is they lock the consumer into using a particular platform. Apple users are reluctant to abandon their app libraries, as are Android users. Folks who have already left RIM for the others over the past couple of years won't be be coming back without something really extraordinary coming from RIM. Which does not appear likely. At best they can hope to mitigate the exodus in order to buy enough time to win some market share back. Personally, I

  • I wonder if this, at some later time if the stock plummets, could be seen as a false material statement, an attempt to defraud the stockholders. The stock seems to be 10% of the value at the beginning of 2011. Another drop like this puts in the dollar stock.
  • He is giving another RIM job
  • ...that the bankruptcy courts can't fix.

  • And then he leapt onto his mighty unipeg and flew off into the night shouting "second star to the right and straight on till morning!".

  • RIM will rise again. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yaztromo (655250) <.moc.cam. .ta. .omortzay.> on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:05PM (#40535369) Homepage Journal

    ...although I doubt they'll ever rise back to pre-iPhone prominence.

    Allow me to preface this by noting that I'm not a fan of RIM's current devices or software. I don't own a Blackberry, or any other cell phone for that matter (I truly have no desire to talk to on the phone. I have a 3G iPad and an iPod touch for messaging and Internet access). I find their phones uninspired, and their existing OS lineup and development environment to be highly fragmented, with older OS based devices often available at the same time as newer OS based devices, and little upgradability to newer OS's on older devices -- not exactly the most developer-friendly sort of environment.

    I'm also not a fan of how they cow-tow to carriers, particularly here in North America. Specifically here in Canada (RIM's home country), newer phones and devices are often available elsewhere first, and Canadians frequently have to wait months for newer models to be made available, after they've already launched elsewhere.

    All that being said, RIM still has over $2 billion sitting in the bank, and they still have a lot of talented people, and own some impressive technologies. I was particularly heartened when I had heard they bought QNX Software Solutions. QNX is quite the powerhouse of an OS that most PC users aren't familiar with, but which has made quite the name for itself in the embedded space as an efficient and extremely stable microkernel based RTOS (Real Time OS) which has powered PC's, vehicles telematics systems, and carrier grade routers, along with a variety of industrial embedded systems. In short, it's an excellent OS for driving smart phones and tablets.

    So RIM has the money, they have the technology, and they have the talent -- and now they have an excellent POSIX compliant OS to base their devices off. I think they're in the right space -- assuming they can execute successfully. They really need to get their software game up, make the OS front and centre, provide best-of-breed development tools and systems, and wean themselves off the idea that the carriers are their device customers. Where Apple really succeeded with the iPhones was in their being able to tell carriers how things were going to work, and in many regions selling their devices directly to customers completely unlocked (which was a real breath of fresh air here in Canada), cutting the carriers out of the loop when it came to device features and functionality. RIM needs to play hardball with the carriers, and if the carriers don't want to play by their ground rules, they too needs to sell unlocked devices directly to consumers, so that their biggest fans don't have to wait for nearly a year (or more) to get the latest and greatest devices. And if they're not going to take older devices out of the sales channels as soon as they're replaced, they at least need to ensure those devices can be upgraded to the latest OS (i.e.: they shouldn't be permitting the retail sale of new devices that can't run the latest and greatest OS. A mishmash of BB OS options available simultaneously on new devices isn't good for a software ecosystem).

    If they can do those things, they have all the things they need to persevere and even return to some form of prominence. Their devices could be great and even desirable once more, and even the Playbook could find a useful niche. But they have to get their software strategy on track, based on a standard OS core across devices and device families, make it friendly and easy to develop for, and start putting the end-user first, and the carriers second. Then they'll be able to produce devices more people will actually want.

    As such, I don't feel the death spiral is inevitable. The pieces are all there for them to get back on track, and as a Canadian I hope they get their development plans in order, get the right people working on the right projects, and execute a smart plan to make devices people want to own.

    Yaz

    • by acoustix (123925)

      I wish I had points to mod you up. The writing is most definitely NOT on the wall. They have a chance to redeem themselves with their new line of phones based on QNX and their new mobile management server software appears to be very promising. We'll know by next summer.

      • RIM have a strategy, at least, with QNX, Qt and HTML5 plus android app player.

        We should at least give them credit for trying where HP (pre 3) & Nokia (n9) abandoned their dreams.

  • RIM had it once.

    Then Apple opened up truly mobile computing and RIM didn't respond.

    End of story.

  • BB phones are actually pretty good for corporate types. They're tough, simple, have great keyboards, battery life, and so on. For corporate tough the basic phones do exactly what they need and do it well. Corporate types have a few critical needs: they need security and they need to respond to long emails with long emails. They don't need GPS, Angry Birds, or much else. I am not saying that BBs are better than the competition overall but they are extremely fit for the purpose they are put to with a single g
  • There is something wrong with the company. They produce phones with minimal storage, especially for applications, and outdated interfaces. The browser is especially terrible.

    • Curious why you say the browser is terrible? It's a webkit browser and compliance wise ranks among the top mobile browsers out there.

      Usually statements like these indicate that someone has had experience with a device from a couple-few years ago - os5 or earlier -and hasn't ever looked back at the platform since.

      • I had a Blackberry Torch 9800 for 2 years and switched to a Samsung Galaxy S2 in March. I was really sad to lose BBM and the physical keyboard, but I find that I like the Galaxy a lot.

        My main problem with the browser stems from the phone's hardware now that I think about it actually. The browser was constantly asking me to close pages because it "ran out of memory". Interestingly enough this happened most on Slashdot, but wasn't limited to just this site. Pretty much any graphically intense page also had

  • I basically see a lot of this [youtube.com] happening right now.

  • Met him once while I accidentally walked into a gay-rights-conference. he gave me a card with 'RIM CEO'... I told him, man, you can't do that... You just can't do that... Brrrr.
  • Denial comes before anger and acceptance, right?

    Or, in this case perhaps, denial comes before the golden parachute.

  • where Leslie Nielsen's nose starts growing after he says there's nothing to worry about :)

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