RIM CEO’s resign:
We knew it was coming, as Research In Motion informed the world that the two CEO’s who have come under a fair amount of criticism of late will finally step down.
The WSJ broke the news, conveniently delivered at the height of a very important game of football on Sunday evening, though it will obviously make pretty big headlines Monday….is there a good time to deliver news like this?
Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, will step down to be replaced by the German born, Thorsten Heins who will be accompanied by financier Barbara Stymiest, the lady we tipped could be somewhere near CEO level when this move took place.
So what happens to the ex RIM CEO’s?
It appears that Lazaridis will become vice chairman leaving Balsillie still with a place on the board, with Barbara Stymiest as chairman.
This leaves the new CEO Thorsten Heins as man at the helm, and it has to be said that at 54 his background appears to be one of highly competent in this industry having worked for Siemens AG and various other wireless and consumer electronics companies over the last 27 years, his last tenure was as COO of RIM and Senior Vice President of their hand held unit. He studied in Hanover, Germany, his native country, and came over to Canada after being impressed by the methods of the two CEO’s when things were more rosy at RIM.
And let us not take anything away from the achievements of Lazaridis and Balsillie, who took a fledgeling tech company that started in 1984 from literally nothing to a multi billion pound shining light of Canada and North America in around 20 years.
All not over at RIM….yet:
The reality right now at RIM is that they actually have quite a healthy balance sheet and with control over all parts of their eco-system they should be able to implement sweeping changes relatively quickly. Changes that are needed to appeal to their core market and perhaps steal new customers if all were to work out well…so things are certainly not over at RIM.
Speaking of the current financial situation at RIM Heins states:
“We have a strong balance sheet with approximately $1.5 billion in cash at the end of the last quarter and negligible debt. We reported revenue of $5.2 billion in our last quarter, up 24 percent from the prior quarter, and a 35 percent year-to-year increase in the BlackBerry subscriber base, which is now over 75 million,”
Now I am not a financial analyst but with no debts of note and a huge $1.5 billion in cash in the coffers seems like room for movement at least for a while.
But adding to this it has to be said that RIM have lost two thirds of their stock value in the last 14 months so things are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
What happened to RIM?
Taking the last 10 years as the tipping point from a company that was moving forward and upwards, to a company that stopped innovating and got caught well and truly in the tech headlights with apples being thrown at it left right and centre.
Research In Motion had managed to conquer a niche, and still do command a huge vantage point in the enterprise market, built on technology that made governments and institutions of a certain size feel “safe”. This technology was related to secure emails and texts, and was important for communication hungry corporations to put their concerns with one firm who sated all those fears.
RIM fitted the bill and in many ways still does.
However, a couple of wacky companies from California were sniffing around mobile tech land with curiosity at what could now be done in this field and eventually the big Apple decided to take a bite of the mobile pie and create something that revolutionised the mobile device market with the arrival of the iPhone, the daddy of the modern smartphone, and with it bring in something even more powerful.
Applications are RIM’s worst enemy:
I know many users of blackberry devices (they can not even be called smartphones) and they all say the same thing in 2012….
I wish “they” would replace it with an iPhone.
This implies that personally they would not be seen dead with a blackberry phone and it is only their companies who they work for that are either still stuck in a lengthy contract or still feel the need to stay secure with RIM’s technology, either way these numbers are falling and quickly.
And why? Because there are so many more things you can do with an iPhone, simple.
The world wants functionality, and Pandora’s box was well and truly opened, now we all know there is never any going back once this happens.
Double whammy is sods law:
As the saying goes that when you want a bus none come along and then two arrive at once, this seemingly was the case with Google and Apple (on a seemingly much more disastrous road), both bringing in new entrants to the blackberry market that would influence company IT departments choices on which device to furnish colleagues and staff.
Android was an open source iOS and wanted to make smartphone functionality available to the masses, so where the iPhone and iOS stood as a benevolent dictator, Google’s Android O/S was to be the free loving tart of the smartphone world.
Looking back at 2011 they also had the acutely embarrassing issue of days long blackberry outages, and the crazy plane antics of RIM employees making headlines.
Things needed to change.
With two very powerful offerings taking the globe by storm RIM and Blackberry have now basically started to look crap.
So how can RIM get back to where they perhaps deserve to be?
With the arrival of their new operating system called Blackberry 10 in a few months time, and a new playbook tablet that will run their new operating system, could it be that this will see RIM find a niche within the growing smartphone and tablet market?…Not just yet I imagine.
But, as Microsoft and Nokia have managed to get their focus back after being hit hard by Google, Samsung, HTC and Apple and have finally stepped back into the game with Windows Phone 7 and the Lumia Series, there is time left for RIM, but I suspect not much.
Single Superphone or Licensing could save RIM:
One of a few options open for Research In Motion is to make the new operating system much easier for other device manufacturers to develop on, so they could open source the operating system to a degree, or fully, this would then give them a chance to compete with Android and Apple and perhaps still focus on their core business of enterprise clients.
Having more devices with one operating system opens up the market to app developers who otherwise have enough on their plates with Android iterations and conflicts and iOS demands.
And in my mind what they need to make this new O/S work is applications.
It was Androids tough hill to climb and continues to be Windows task to win, and will certainly be RIM’s main challenge.
Indeed we have already covered the potential for licensing the new Blackberry 10 operating system out to the likes of Samsung and HTC and I for one see this as a serious proposition worthy of a few late night talks.
They could easily start with having a plan of updating their operating system as is the current focus with their current clients in mind, knowing that Samsung and HTC are all missing out on this lucrative enterprise market to some degree so will be more than happy to potentially partner with a company such as RIM if the plan was indeed to create a specific O/S for this market so everyone knew where they stood.
And let us not forget that the likes of Samsung And HTC sometimes worry about being too reliant on the big G for their operating system so diversification in this area may help alleviate concerns moving forward that they are not putting all their eggs in one basket.
Indeed we reported that the South Korean government were prepared to finance the creation of a brand new operating system for Samsung (and South Korea) to combat this potential issue.
Another way to compete with Apple and others is to make a Superphone of a smartphone that can actually compete with an iPhone and be a real contender to the Apple device, this option I would love to see but probably comes with more risks attached.
Now check out Thorsten Heins interview about his new role at RIM:
With the new operating system likely to show at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona next month it will indeed be one hell of a year for the new people at the helm of Canada’s once mighty RIM, what a job…;)
Do you think they can come back and conquer again, if so how, if not why?Anthony Munns